Rehabilitation Animals of the Month: Surf Scoter and Flying Squirrel
“This is the first one we’ve gotten this year” said curator of animals Lori Bankson.
She said their “old skunk-head” nickname is due to the resemblance in color in females like this one.
Bankson said scoters are diving ducks that migrate to the Arctic from the east coast to breed in the summer months, then stop by the Great Lakes on their way back.
Despite this, they are rare to see here in the Green Bay area.
“She was found near water on the shore in Green Bay. Someone brought her in. She either ran into something or was attacked,” Bankson said.
She said the duck was found three of weeks prior to our visit, possibly around the time we had strong rainfall and heat mixed together.
On closer look, the scoter’s right foot lacked over half of its web material.
“The challenge is going to be her foot, which looked pretty necrotic (when she came in). We are going to be consulting with other wildlife rehabbers out east to see what they recommend,” Bankson said.
She said a best-case scenario option would be to research for presence of other scoter flocks when she is ready to go and send her off for migration with other surf scoter flocks nearby, but Bankson added the main question now is her foot and how it will heal.
“The web will not regenerate on its own” said Bankson of this 800-gram fully grown two-year-old breeding adult specimen.
Her small thin feathers were very soft to our touch during our visit at the Observation Center. Bankson said these feathers are fully waterproof as opposed to cormorants, which need to dry their wings.
“You can tell they are built for the Arctic by just looking at how stocky they are,” she added.
Bankson said they keep her on monitored swim and at times in a full water environment.
Thin at first
“She was on the thin side, but she is now eating really well. Because her feet are really far back, she has to be on water most of the time,” Bankson explained.
Some fish and greens are among her main diet for these “strong divers, built for sea swimming and diving.”
She said they started feeding her the paste they usually tube in the first couple of days following admission at the Observation Building.
However, a key recovery aspect, she said, was adding vitamins to her greens diet, which made this duck regain 300 grams to her rather think weight in the last few days.
“Now she is eating well, and has gained 300 grams in the last few days” said Bankson of a duck that averages about two pounds on the scale, measuring 15-18 inches at most.
The Flying Ambassador
While we were in the visiting area, Wildlife Rehabber Amy Harris brought in “Elmer.” This bonus guest is a one of two flying squirrel ambassadors, plus a total of seven others that can be seen at one of the Wildlife Sanctuary’s exhibits.
Bankson said Elmer was found about eight years ago in the Green Bay area by a glue trap that was set outside. Part of his tail was missing as a result, which prevents him from gliding.
He was found very young, likely one or two years old at most. She said these squirrels can live up to 15-20 years.
“He has to go on a diet every fall season as he likes to hide food in the back,” Bankson said.
In the area, the Howard/Hobart woods can see some populations of flying squirrels but Bankson said they are “very reclusive” coming out to feed at midnight or one in the morning.
She added that as opposed to grey squirrels with a rougher fur to the touch, their fur, which we were able to touch, is very soft and smooth.
On plain sight, the size of this adult specimen was closer to a chipmunk than to their more voluminous grey squirrel cousins.
Glue Trap Awareness
Part of the ambassador role by Elmer is to remind us that glue trap owners need to read instructions and keep those traps inside their homes.
“We have had calls on five sparrows that were stuck to glue traps this year, ”Bankson recounted.
As a reminder, Bankson said if an animal in obvious need of help is found, residents should call the sanctuary’s animal care line at (920) 391-3685.
Bankson said volunteers are always needed, and anyone interested can find more information at baybeachwildlife.com.