Saturday, June 25, 2011

News from Rick Schubert on #3

Rick Schubert from the Schuylkill Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic sent this news and some pictures of #3, who is recovering from a fractured leg bone sustained when she left the nest too early last week.

"She is recovering well in our care, eating well and maintaining good energy. We're keeping her in as low stress an environment as possible (stress kills wildlife). Dr. Dazen and Dr. Boutette have a cast on the leg.  She needs to stay in a relatively small cage until the fracture heals, so that she does not injure herself further. 

In a few weeks, she will go outside for some physical therapy and some flight time. In the meantime, it is vitally important that we keep the tail feathers and the flight feathers (called remiges) in perfect condition. 

All flighted birds, and birds of prey especially, live or die by the condition of their feathers. Like a Formula One race car, they are ultra-high performance engines that need to be flawlessly maintained. That's why they can be frequently seen preening and conditioning each individual feather. Their feathers are essential survival tools, and poorly conditioned ones mean decreased likelihood of successful hunting. But in a cage setting, it's easy for a bird to inadvertently break or fray those feathers to the point where they are no longer useful. The tail on these birds is part of the steering and the brakes, as well as assisting with lift. 

For birds that recuperate in cages, we apply a special wet paper tape that dries to form a stiff protector, but when re-wet can be easily removed. I learned this technique and much more while working for the amazing Diane Nickerson, director of the Mercer County Wildlife Center, and one of the smartest rehabbers I've ever met. She taught me to be hyper-aware of the condition of a bird's feathers. That's just one small component of the complex art and science of wildlife rehab that hopefully I've given you a glimpse into."

Many thanks to Rick for sending us this news of #3 who is one of close to twenty injured raptors that he and his staff are currently caring for at the clinic.  

This rehab facility relies on the generosity of people donating to help support their work.  No monetary amount is too small.   In-kind donations for animal handling, food and medical supplies are also greatly appreciated.  

Here is their wish list:

 Gift cards 
ift cards from any major supermarket (particularly Shoprite, Superfresh, and Acme) as well as from Petsmart and PETCO

Animal care and handling
 Unscented liquid laundry detergent
 Chlorine bleach
 Dawn dish detergent -
right now we have a LOT of Dawn dish detergent after a major donation of it
  Food storage bags (gallon size)
 Heating pads
 Rubber gloves (S, M, L, and XL)
 White, unscented paper products (i.e. toilet paper, paper towels)
- our greatest need, believe it or not, is paper towels and trash bags! Regular, kitchen, and superjumbo size (55 gallon)
  Bath towels  
 Bed sheets

 Animal Food
 Canned dog food, any flavor (no lite or special diet)
 Puppy chow  

 Jarred baby food (fruit, vegetables or meat)
  Unsweetened applesauce
 Any dry dog food with chicken, beef, or lamb as first ingredient

Medical Supplies
 French catheters 3.5, 5, & 8
 Telfa pads
 Latex exam gloves (M & L)
 Vet wrap (1’x 2’ & 4’)
 Bandage scissors
 Tegaderm 1620
 Pedialyte oral electrolyte solution, unflavored
 Rolled gauze or gauze pads 

To donate in-kind supplies or pro bono services, contact Emily Simmons, Director of Resource Development, at 215-482-7300, x117 or email

In-kind contributions can also be brought to the Schuylkill Center’s main education building during regular business hours (Mon-Sat, 8-5) or mailed to the following address:
8480 Hagy’s Mill Road
Philadelphia, PA  19128



  1. Many thanks again for keeping the information available on your blog,and thanks to all the people caring for #3. Janet Wlodek

  2. Thanks so much, Della, for your work in helping support the clinic. Just a quick correction to the 'wish list'. It's our fault because it's a tiny bit outdated. I don't know who gave it to you, but we do NOT use
    *wheat germ
    *corn meal
    *moist towlettes,
    *Purina Cat Chow.
    *Baby Rice cereal
    Right now we have a LOT of Dawn dish detergent after a major donation of it.

    We DO need gift cards from any major supermarket (particularly Shoprite, Superfresh, and Acme, as well as Petsmart). Our greatest need, believe it or not, is paper towels and trash bags! Regular, kitchen, and superjumbo size (55 gallon). We also need bed sheets and towels

    Thanks again for supporting us. It means so much that the hawkaholics are rallying around!
    Best wishes
    Michele (Rick's Assistant)

    Michele Wellard
    Assistant Wildlife Rehabilitator, SWRC

  3. Michelle, I updated the wish list based on your comments above.

  4. Della (sunnydixie). Thanks for this! Wonderful info and news. Is there anyway I can contact you. Would love to get some supporting arguments re FI's support of their hawks to use to ask NYU to continue their hawk cam (see their comments on today's City Room blog). Thanks,
    (we could meet at and I could PM you with my email address.)

  5. I am just curious -- how do you maintain a low-stress environment for an injured bird? Seems as though confinement itself would be stress.

    And thanks for the wonderful job you all are doing!

  6. You are right, being in a cage is extremely stressful by its very nature. The goal is to lower the stress as much as possible, by paying attention to cage materials, lighting, what the bird sees and hears, etc. The situation is analogous to being abducted by aliens and stuck in a cage on a spaceship. You have no idea what's going on or what they're going to do. Everything is foreign and extremely frightening. Every time they come to pick you up, for all you know it could be because they're about to kill you. Your free will has been taken away. Awareness of what the bird is going through is the first step in doing whatever you can to mitigate it, however little that may be.

  7. Thanks Della! Also, donations can be mailed directly to the clinic if you prefer: 304 Port Royal Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19128

  8. Ghent, If you scroll down the side of the blog page, and click on my picture, it'll open up my profle and it has an email link there. I'd be glad to help in any way I can.

    The Franklin Institute staff have offered to help NYU construct a nest frame to help the nest stay secure on the ledge. I forwarded the FI contact info to Andy at the NYT City Room (Andy from Pip's cam feed)

  9. From: John Brackett, Boston University

    Perhaps Mr.Schubert could explain what is likely to happen after #3 has recovered from the fracture. Will it be released near its parents with the hope that they will feed it and teach it to hunt? Or is there another approach to reintroduce it to the wild in a manner so that can survive? Or will it it have to live in captivity for the rest of its life?

  10. It is remarkable that one of the FI hawks is still bringing people together. I refer to the new correspondence between Della and Ghent and the cooperation of FI, NYU and NYTimes. And it is wonderful that the result -a nest frame for NYU - will, I hope, benefit more hawks. What a great bunch of people you all are!

  11. Thank you so very much for all the information on the rehab process for #3 and for keeping us informed and learning! This continues to be an extraordinary experience, beyond the awesome nest at the FI. Donation on its way. Thank you thank you! Ann in Devon, PA

  12. It makes my heart glad that all of these years spent photographing and blogging the FI hawks has taught so many people about our hawks, city, nature and community. Thank you Della and all of your assistants for your service!

  13. Rick has been fantastic with both the hawk and updating us. But could he, or perhaps John Blakeman, weigh in now that we know it will be weeks in the cast.... Will hawk #3 - Squishy - be able to catch up on the flying and hunting lessons her parents are giving? Will they even accept her back by the time she's healthy? What will happen to her, if not?

  14. I am so grateful to see regular updates here on the blog! THANK YOU (<---Big 'thanks' to you)

    Good luck to the little one, hope she's able to 'hit the skies' soon!
    ~ AdrieWg

  15. There is every good reason to believe FI #3, when released, will be cared for by the parents, just as with the other siblings. The bird will be behind in learning how to hunt, fly, and land, but the parents will provide food in June and July while the bird learns these lessons. The FI parents are just the best.

    --John Blakeman

  16. #3, when released in a safer environment than the Ben Franklin Parkway, will not be behind...that's the art of science of wildlife rehab, and flight conditioning, and training the bird on live animals, and the hack-out process. Too much to explain here, but if you are interested in learning about wildlife rehabilitation, there are national and international organizations, as well as symposiums and classes and books and certifications and standards. I recommend:
    Dr. Boutette is stopping by today to check the progress of #3, I will update you later.

  17. Rick, fantastic! Thanks for the update and can't wait to hear what the doctor has to say!

  18. Will the public be given the opportunity to witness the release of #3 whenever and wherever that may be? Many of us have been documenting the FI hawks story through photos and it would be the icing on the cake to get snapshots of #3 flying off into the wild.

    Thanks, Joe Debold

  19. What a great idea Joe- and you certainly should be among the first on the list! You can bet that if Squishy's release is made public, all of us loyal hawkaholics in the Philadelphia area will be there to witness it with you and your camera! Thanks to you and all of our other phenomenal photographers, along with Della and Cardi, for keeping us up to date with the comings and goings of our two eyasses and Mom and Dad. And a special thanks to Rick and the folks at the SWRC for taking such special care of Squishy. MMGgolfer

  20. Will Squishy be reunited with her family when she is released and will they recognise her?
    I felt really sorry for them when they flew back to the nest and found her gone, they seemed to look confused and upset. Especially when one of the parents dropped off some greenery and looked around for Squishy before flying off. It was very sad.
    Hope to see the release when it happens, how long now do you think?