Saturday, June 15, 2013

My first day at Drumlin Farm

Today was my first official day at the wildlife care section of Drumlin Farm in Lincoln, MA. Drumlin Wildlife Care is responsible for all of the wildlife in the farm and across the street in the sanctuary. Foxes, a fisher, rabbits, woodchucks, red-tailed hawks, and barred owls are just some of the many animals that are taken care of.
My first official day of internship started off with a lot of cage and enclosure cleaning. It was our duty to ensure that all the mammals (the rabbits, the groundhogs, the skunk, mice, and the opossum) were fed and well cared for. We also had to clean the pigeon cage and the four duck pens.
The ducks are cleaned very systematically. There are five ducks and one goose, three pairs total. Mrs. Mallard and the call duck (above) are one mated pair. Louis the Peking duck and JP the Canada goose are two buddies who love spending time together. The last pair, Paddy and a second female mallard (below), enjoy each other's company very much, but unfortunately Paddy tends to get really rough during mating season around the small mallard and rips her head feathers out. This is a natural habit for Peking ducks but because she is more fragile than him she gets hurt. They have to be separated this time of year by a metal gate. 

 Once the ducks were taken care of it was time to move onto the indoor mammals and birds. Drumlin Wildlife Care has 6 main mammals; two woodchucks, two domestic rabbits, an opossum, and a skunk. There are also some cages for breeding mice. Because a majority of the mammals aren't domesticated they all have to be handled carefully and consistently. In Massachusetts captive wild mammals must be euthanize and tested for rabies if an accidental bite occurs. And more often than not a bite is caused by carelessness on the handler's part. Therefore thick gloves are used at all times when moving mammals, they are put in cages when enclosures are cleaned, and great care is taken when moving cages. On nice days when the weather isn't too hot a lot of the indoor animals get to go outside for enrichment in a large enclosure.

 When outside the animals are stimulated with a more natural environment and can romp, dig, and sunbathe; activities that cannot be performed inside.

Birds also live inside the Drumlin Wildlife Care facility. There are two crows (Bebe, seen below and Po), a pigeon, and Paddy's female mallard mate (until mating season is over!). The crows are staff only cleans because they are very social animals and sensitive to new people. Training and interactions have to stay consistent. Pigeon is much more docile (though she still doesn't like me) so cleaning her cage is easier. The female mallard is out in her day pen when we clean her cage. 

After the wildlife care facility cages are clean we head over to Bird Hill to clean out the raptor enclosures. There are two barred owls, a great horned, two red-tailed hawks, two broad-wing hawks, a turkey, and a turkey vulture. We are able to get right in the enclosure with the birds while cleaning and feeding, which is really cool! 
After the birds are cleaned and fed we head back over to do diets. Diet preparation is a nice, relaxing part of the day. Each animal has its own set dietary needs for the afternoon and the morning. Mice play a very large role in diets as almost every carnivore eats them. 

That wraps up my first official day of internship at Drumlin Farm wildlife care. I know I'll have many more great days after this! 


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