Release day is the best day! There is nothing quite like watching an animal we've cared for in the Wildlife Hospital find his or her freedom and return to the wild, like this beautiful Red-tailed Hawk.
Just in time for Independence Day on July 4, we wanted to share a collection of some of our favorite releases.
It's cause for celebration every time our team has the opportunity to return a patient to the wild. Especially when the animal's journey back to health has been long and arduous, the heart-lifting moment of freedom brings tears to our eyes every time!
Watch some of our favorite videos and celebrate Independence Day for these, and all the animals WildCare is able to give a second chance at life in the wild!
Photo by Nina Zhito
Red-tailed Hawk with an Injured Eye
You met this Red-tailed Hawk in an eNews on March 4, 2022.
She arrived at WildCare thin and covered in matted feathers, after a bad injury to her eye left her grounded.
Read her story here and watch her fly free in the video below!
These young Gray Foxes arrived at WildCare after being found in a culvert. Their mother had likely been killed by a car, and the kits were cold, hungry and frightened when they were rescued.
Fortunately they made a full recovery, and we were able to return them to their mother's territory once they were old enough to survive on their own.
Poisoned Turkey Vulture
This Turkey Vulture was found in a muddy ditch, covered with mud, and wheezing. He was unable to stand or hold his head up upon intake to the Wildlife Hospital, and our team immediately suspected pentobarbital poisoning as the cause of this bird's symptoms.
Every few years, WildCare admits one or more vultures (and sometimes other carrion-eating birds, too) that demonstrate the distinctive symptoms of poisoning from a euthanasia drug used on large animals. Although we have never found the definitive source of these poisonings, everything points to a large animal, like a cow, being euthanized (presumably by a veterinarian) and then not buried properly, meaning the tainted meat is open to the predations of scavengers like this vulture.
Fortunately most of the affected birds recover at WildCare, and this vulture was no exception! Watch him fly free in the video below!
This beautiful female American Badger (being examined under sedation in the photo to the right) arrived at the Wildlife Hospital after an encounter with some dogs. Badgers are reclusive animals, and they generally avoid people. But this one is young, so she likely found her way to a human-inhabited area after leaving her mother’s home territory to make her own way in the wild.
Whatever the reason for coming near the dogs, this badger ended up with tooth punctures in her head and face, and abrasions on her ear from the encounter.
Fortunately, after several weeks in care, she had made a full recovery and was ready to be released.
Our team always tries to capture "the moment" when an animal returns to the wild, and a common technique is to place a camera in the hoped-for path of the former Wildlife Hospital patient. It doesn't always work, but videos like this one mean we keep trying!
It's rare that we admit Sonoma Chipmunks to the Wildlife Hospital, so when these five arrived as tiny, eyes-closed babies, after their nest had been destroyed, our team was very interested in their development.
They were mostly furless, utterly helpless, and chilled to the bone upon intake, which made their eventual transformation into fat, fluffy and releaseable juvenile chipmunks all the more satisfying!
Watch these striped babies grow up in care in the video below, and enjoy the heartwarming video of their return to the wild.
Happy Independence Day to these, and all of our wildlife patients!
Cover photo © Nina Zhito