Blog Archive November 2007

Coyote Update

Posted on 24 November 2007 by Dawn Keller

I am very sad to report that yesterday's coyote (that had been caught in a trap) died last night.

The Perception of Pain

Posted on 23 November 2007 by Dawn Keller

I am 45 years old and just today I realized that I have truly never experienced pain. Yeah, sure, I've had surgery where I hit the button on my morphine pump under my doctor's watchful eye, or taken Vicodin or Percocet post-surgically - again under my doctor's watchful eye - but I have truly never expeienced pain.

The call came at about 3:00 pm today - one of our area police departments advising that a coyote had something metal stuck around its head. I agreed to come out and sedate the animal. Preparing for something relatively benign I arrived with sedatives, antibiotics, wound cleansers, tin snips and wire cutters. I sedated the coyote and quickly realized that her head was grotesquely caught in a trap. Not being familiar with the operation of this type of trap and not wanting to injure her further, I put the sleepy coyote in my car and drove back to Barrington while I called Garon Fyffe at ABC Humane Wildlife, a licensed trapping service, for advice.

Garon told me that it sounded like a (double-spring) conibear trap (sometimes known as a killer trap) and told me how to release its death-like grip. I arrived at Barrington and proceeded with Garon's instructions. I tried with all my might and couldn't budge the trap. Desperate, I called Garon again. He offered to meet me.

We assembled in a Walgreens parking lot. I arrived shortly after Garon and two more of Garon's recruits arrived a couple of minutes after me. We placed the coyote under a parking lot light. She was shielded with blankets from the 23 degree night air. Curious on-lookers stared but I advised them that they best not look unless they like the macabre.

It took three men almost fifteen minutes to remove the trap - including one big strong guy named Vito. They strained over and over to release the thick metal bars from around her head and muzzle. They were able to secure the bottom spring, but couldn't get the top spring. Over and over even Vito lacked the hand strength to release the mechanism. Finally, Vito got just enough so that Al could latch the safety. They slid the trap from her head.

I placed the coyote back into my car so that I could head, once again, to Barrington. Before leaving Walgreens, I reversed the sedative and drove off.

Back at Barrington, I administered all necessary meds. She's clearly been through more than enough. Let's hope that she makes it through the night. No person or animal should have to endure such pain.

My sincere thanks to Garon, Vito and Al. I couldn't have done it without you.

Strange Thanksgiving Happenings

Posted on 22 November 2007 by Dawn Keller

As you know, rehabilitation facilities don't take days off...animals need to be fed, medicated and cleaning every day regardless of whether or not it's Thanksgiving. So, this morning was no exception in that regard.

While I was working I heard the distinctive Kreee-eee-eear sound of a Red-tailed Hawk. No, it wasn't a Red-tailed from outside - not even a Red-tailed from the flight chambers. It was a Red-tailed from inside.

It's not unusual to have owls call to each other while in rehab. We've had Great Horned Owls and Screech Owls both call during the evening hours. With all of the birds we treat, however, we've never heard the Kreee-eee-eear of a injured or ill Red-tail.

The Kreee-eee-eear repeated over and over until I went to check on everyone to make sure that no one was hurt (or soaring!). Everyone was fine and they all looked at me like they had no idea why I was so curious. The Kreee-eee-eearing stopped after my visit but it had been a wonderous sound.

Happy Thanksgiving to me!


Northern Flicker Recovering from Major Head Trauma

Posted on 21 November 2007 by Dawn Keller

Pam, one of our great Northerly Island volunteers, admitted a Northern Flicker last month who had suffered head trauma after a collision with a downtown Chicago building. After triaging the bird, Pam transferred the bird to our Barrington facility for extended care.

As we talked about the Flicker's treatment and prognosis, Pam broached the subject of euthanasia. Would the Flicker, whose head was turned upside down, need to be humanely euthanized due to the extensiveness of its brain injury? I told her that we'd had much worse recover completely. Brain injuries can take a long time to heal, but I assured her that the bird's prognosis was good.

Brain injuries can take months to heal, but little by little many birds can and do improve until they are once again functioning at 100%. In the Spring of 2006 we had a much more severe case (see our blog posting "Northern Flicker Fights Back for Freedom") who made a full recovery and was eventually released.

Pam's Flicker ate consistently - actually voraciously - but its head position didn't change noticeably. That is until Monday....the bird's head was almost completely upright! The bird looks fabulous!!! At this point, we will hold the bird until spring; however, we expect that she will fly away in full splendor.

This is why we allow animals the time they need to heal. Wouldn't you want the same?

Volo and the Furries at Midwest FurFest 2007

Posted on 17 November 2007 by Dawn Keller

Our first day at the FurFest convention was fabulous! Some of you may already know that FurFest asked Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation to be their featured charity at this year's convention (twist my arm) and we were thrilled.

FurFest has quite a few attendees that arrive in costume. These are furry costumes - like full head to toe costumes.

Volo eyed his competition up and down - never missing a thing. He saw people-size raccoons, tarantulas, house cats, dogs, wolves, foxes and even a bull. He wasn't sure what to make of these huge animals and the fact that they spoke like humans seemed even more surprising. Volo took it all in and generally was accepting of his huge furry friends.

Volo's anxious to get back to FurFest again today....he'll be leaving soon.


Great Horned Owl Has Much to Say!

Posted on 15 November 2007 by Dawn Keller

For anyone who isn't familiar with our operations, any bird that stays at Flint Creek Wildlife longer than 48 hours goes into outdoor caging prior to release. This lets the birds acclimate to being outdoors and recondition their breast muscles - all under our watchful eye to make sure nothing goes wrong.

Anyway, almost two weeks ago we transferred seven Great Horned Owls into a large flight chamber in anticipation of their release. Several days later, we started hearing a juvenile Great Horned making a food-begging noise from nearby trees. (We knew that our neighborhood Great Horned Owls had at least one baby this year, but we hadn't seen or heard him in quite a long time.)

One of the adults in the flight chamber started calling back to the baby. It was the coolest thing!


Squirrel Water Rescue

Posted on 13 November 2007 by Dawn Keller

A couple of weeks ago I was at our Northerly Island facility in downtown Chicago visiting with another permitted wildlife rehabilitator, Diane, and her husband when one of our favorite Chicago police came to get us. He reported that a squirrel had fallen into a nearby harbor.

We quickly grabbed a few supplies. I hopped in Diane's car and the three of us followed the Chicago policeman over to the scene.

I feared that we would arrive to find an already-drowned squirrel. Fortunately, the squirrel was hanging onto debris in the harbor very near the sea wall and he was able to keep his very wet head above the water line.

We had brought a plastic egg crate with us, approximately 12" X 18", but the squirrel was some twelve feet below ground level. Diane fortunately had a long leather dog leash. We hooked the leash onto the crate and I leaned over the edge of the sea wall with Diane holding onto my jeans to prevent me from joining the squirrel in the water. I lowered the crate in front of the squirrel in hopes that he would climb aboard. Instead he jumped away from the crate, taking a big splash in the harbor. He quickly scrambled back up onto the debris.

We lowered a tree branch to no avail....

The squirrel almost seemed to assess his options. He looked up and around the sea wall looking for a means of escape. The vertical metal surface offered no viable options.

Out of desperation, we lowered the egg crate another time. Amazingly, the squirrel jumped right into the egg crate and we slowly raised the egg crate to dry ground. The squirrel was unharmed despite his swim, so we moved the crate away from the sea wall and allowed the squirrel to jump out. Jump out he did, running away from us without looking back.

We didn't take time for pictures!

Midwest FurFest names Flint Creek Wildlife as their 2007 Charity

Posted on 12 November 2007 by Dawn Keller

We are very excited to have been selected as the chairty for the 2007 Midwest FurFest to be held November 16th - 18th at the Hyatt Regency Woodfield. We will have a table at FurFest all 3 days and look forward to seeing everyone. For more information on Midwest FurFest check out their website at

Flint Creek Wildlife featured on Encyclopaedia Britannica’s Online

Posted on 12 November 2007 by Dawn Keller

Check out the great article on Flint Creek Wildlife on Encyclopaepia Britannica's Online Advocacy for Animals. We are honored to be a part of such a great online resource. Thanks to all of our great volunteers who help make the Northerly Island facility such a great success story.