Rehabbers are all – well, almost all – connected by the internet. We join listservs so we can talk to compatriots, even if they live across the country, about things like the latest treatment for aspergillosis, what’s going on with West Nile, and who’s had what kind of experience with eye infections. Every once in awhile, though, night will fall and you’ll read some kind of rant, and you know there’s a rehabber out there in cyberspace sitting in front of his/her computer with a great big glass of wine.
My favorite group rants are when rehabbers report their calls from the public. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the names of those involved in this one except for Linda Hufford, who started it. Linda runs a wildlife rehabilitation center in Austin County, Texas, and one night she wrote to our listserv that a woman had called her that afternoon and told her that Mockingbirds had gotten into her house, taken over her brain, and were telling her what to do.
“I know what you mean,” Linda had replied to the woman. “That happens to me all the time.”
The starting gate opened.
“I had one yesterday,” wrote another rehabber. “It was a guy who said he’d found a baby crow, and he could tell it was a baby because it opened its mouth to bite him, and he could see it didn’t have any teeth yet.”
“A woman called me about a hawk in her yard,” wrote another, “and she said the hawk was about two feet tall when it was standing on its hind legs. I wanted to ask her, ‘but how tall is it when it’s on all fours?’”
“I had one who called me up,” wrote another, “and said ‘you’ve got to get over here right away and get this killjoy out of my yard.’”
“Do you know how many times I’ve wanted to get killjoys out of my yard?’ replied another. “I just didn’t know who to call.”
As it turned out, the killjoy turned out to be not a killdeer but a thrasher, which provoked even greater internet rehabber hilarity.
It might seem as if all we do is sit around making fun of people who call us. That’s not true. We also send each other pictures of birds in spa clothing.
But the truth is, rehabbing can be tough, grueling work, and you get your heart broken over and over again, so whenever we get the chance to get some yuks … we take it.
Anyone have any good ones to add?
Every July, without fail, the calls start coming in about the ‘chimney sweeps’ falling into the fireplaces.
I lead kids on forays into the woods and to a stream where we catch crayfish and frogs, etc. I find teenagers who don’t know what poison ivy looks like, kids who ask me if a rare plant is worth a lot of money, and kids who had never played in the woods. The stories your rehabber friends are reporting just make me sad that even the most basic understanding of the natural world is totally lacking. You shouldn’t need to be a nature-geek to know that it’s a killdeer, not a killjoy, or that hawks (or any bird, really) always “stands on its hind legs.”
LOL, Bettina, don’t you love those chimney sweeps?
Carolyn, kudos to you for teaching kids about nature. It is sadly lacking. It’s not just kids, either. These were adults:
1) “I’m not touching those baby birds, they might have rabies.”
2) “But can’t you amputate the wing? It’ll grow back, won’t it?”
3) “Turkeys have bones in their legs?” (This questioner was, I swear to God, an orthopedist.)
This is why education is so important!
At about 2:30 AM on a weekday I received a call from a man who wanted me to do something about an armadillo that was digging up his flowerbed. My initial comments on the matter were way past PG-13, but once I calmed down a little, I eventually got around to telling him what he needed to do to keep armadillos out of his flowerbed. And I’m a bird guy — I don’t even rehab armadillos.
Suzie, There is the Cheagle. I know you remember the call from the man with the Eagle in his bushes. It was a black and white chicken. Thank goodness for smart phones. We asked for a photo before we made the hour drive. HAHA!
Dennis, I can imagine the language at 2 30 AM, but maybe the universe is telling you that you should rehab armadillos? 🙂
Yeah, LIsa, I remember that cheagle! So funny …
I once talked to a woman who was flabbergasted by the concept that birds had spines…
Nate, I feel your pain. We could always x-ray a bird and show her the spine. However, if we CAT-scanned her head, what do you think we’d find?