Last year, many of our staff, students, and volunteers recounted their most memorable moments of 2011. We had so much fun reading and sharing these stories, we thought we’d do it again! Check our blog between Christmas and New Year’s for a variety of stories and memories of 2012 from the staff and volunteers of the Wildlife Center.
The end of 2012 also marks the end of my first year of volunteering on the “treatment team” at The Wildlife Center. I have been a supporter of the Center for years and years, but it was the advent of the Critter Cam that started me poking around the website where I discovered, to my amazement, that there were volunteer opportunities that included the chance to actually get my hands on some of the patients! I was always the kid that wanted to hold everything (Snakes? Yes, please!) so I was seriously excited to discover this opportunity existed.
Coming up with one “most memorable moment” of 2012 is frankly impossible. Every time I am at the Center there is something interesting going on and a whole chain of memorable moments come to mind as I look back at the past year: grabbing my first raptor; holding my first eagle; learning to hold a very angry Snapping Turtle; actually appearing on the Critter Cam myself while catching up a hawk; holding that adorable Saw-whet Owl ...
One day that does stand out is the day I was entrusted with a Cooper’s Hawk to bring home to my own house to release. It had been found in Albemarle County, which is where I live, so Dr. Dave said it could be released anywhere in that county. I wanted to share the moment with my husband, who has been tolerant – if with a bit of eye-rolling – of my constant chatter about the Center and its patients. So I loaded the hawk in its carrier into my car, along with two small cardboard boxes which each contained an American Robin that also needed a ride back to Albemarle County. I stopped part-way home to release the robins -- it was deemed to be bad form to release them at my house only to have them immediately become a possible lunch for the COHA.
Arriving at home, I told my husband what I had with me and was immensely gratified by his evident excitement. So excited were we both that we managed to completely mess up our attempt to film the event. But suffice it to say, I opened the hawk’s crate, it stuck its head out, hesitated for a moment and then flew gloriously away. It landed in a tree nearby, sat for a moment looking around and then flew off to another tree, and eventually we lost sight of it. My husband has named it “Gary” and periodically reports that he thinks he’s seen it. Now that our bird feeders are out there again for the winter feeding season, I suppose we are offering Gary a nice buffet. Hard to know who to root for …
I'm looking forward to new adventures in the coming year.
Keep checking the Wildlife Center's blog for more year-end posts this week!