Wildlife News From Brent Lodge
Local wildlife hospital, Brent Lodge, is preparing for the release of hundreds of their over-wintered hedgehog casualties. Once healthy and up to weight the hedgehogs will gradually be released into suitable local habitats. The freed-up space will be needed to house the impending seasonal influx of hundreds of injured or orphaned ducklings – typically mallard, tufted, shellduck, baby coots and moorhens, swan cygnets and goslings. The animal care team is anticipating that the mild winter will lead to an earlier breeding season and expect their first duckling casualties to arrive at the hospital in February.
It’s a busy time. The transition from caring mainly for hedgehogs to hundreds of baby birds and animals means an increase in staff hours, a deep clean of the hospital, different patient foods and medicines, and a change in patient care routines.
Ducklings need to be warm and secure. Without their mothers to brood them they are kept in incubators and creches which have heated plates to sleep and hide under. Bathing and swimming lessons take place in the hospital’s sinks. When big enough they move outside to grow and develop their natural behavior. Last year the hospital raised funds and recently built 5 new water bird enclosures. Each has a pool to swim, bathe, preen and water-proof feathers, and space to rest and recuperate prior to being released back into local water habitats.
Keep an eye on young water birds this spring. Storms and high tides can increase the amount of discarded waste washed up on shorelines – fishing line, rope, plastics, and pollutants can cause terrible injuries, and some dogs will chase birds along the shoreline separating young birds from their parents.
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