Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Fox Family Shares NE Ohio Home

One of our great Wildlife Education & Rehabilitation volunteers has a front row view of spring baby season and was kind enough to share her photos with us! A Red Fox has created a den under the her deck and, at this time of year, the kits are starting to explore with the parents.

Wildlife Rehabiltiation Coordinator Amy LeMonds says that it's not uncommon to see a fox family out during the day while the kits are in this learning stage of life, even though these animals are typically nocturnal. We estimate that the kits in the photos are probably a couple months old.

Our volunteer reports that mom is an excellent hunter and is observed providing animals to the kits daily. The youngsters will soon become more successful hunting on their own but stay with their family for up to 9 months.

You never know who or what will wind up sharing your backyard (or deck, if you let them) in Northeast Ohio. We're not disclosing the location of our volunteer's home to make sure both the human and fox families maintain privacy.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Student Rainbarrel Project

Lilly Lowther, Danielle Gaudino
and Katherine Knight pose 
with the rain barrel and Center
Executive Director Catherine Timko.
Just in time for Earth Day last week, students in Mrs. Martha Fisher’s third grade class from Westerly Elementary School in Bay Village dropped off a rain barrel, beautifully painted with flowers and insects. Lake Erie Nature & Science Center is one of several locations around town displaying the students' handiwork, complete with an educatonal message about the benefits of rain barrels (like reduction of erosion, pollution and flooding).

The class is selling each rain barrel  for $100 with the proceeds going to the Bay Education Foundation. If you're interested in buying a decorated rain barrel you can contact Mrs. Fishers class at 440-617-7578. Nice work students and thanks for sharing your work with our visitors!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

List of Duck Prizes and Sponsors Growing

Do you have a duck in the race yet? The list of Family Fun Fest and Great Duck Race sponsors and prize donors is growing. Cash, sports tickets, museum and zoo passes, certificates for tasty dining and more are already on the list of cool stuff that will make up the prize packs given to first 30 ducks to cross the finish line on Porter Creek.

So far, four generous area businesses have stepped up to sponsor this year's event! Join us in recognizing Faber-Castell/Creativity for Kids, The Goddard School for Early Childhood Development, Hyland Software and ShurTech Brands!

Want to join our sponsors or prize donors? There's still time leading up to our Sunday, June 5 event. Call 440-871-2900 today and ask for Ann Miller or Barb Caskey.

Access a Fun Fest Duck Sponsor form here.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Nature & Nesting Ducks Know Best

We're heading into Mallard nesting season and each year, we expect this question on the other end of our frequently ringing Wildlife Education & Rehabilitation phone line: "A duck started a nest in my yard and laid a couple of eggs, but she's not sitting on the nest! What should I do?"

This common question can best be answered through an explanation of how Mallards nest. The female mallard (hen) will spend weeks scouting out an area to build her nest. Mallards will nest almost anywhere within reasonable distance of a water source and often in what seems to be inappropriate locations such as near a road, in a parking lot or a yard with big dogs. It’s helpful for us humans to remember that, most of the time, a duck knows how to choose a good nest area better then we do.

After choosing a location and constructing the nest, the female will lay one egg a day but then leave and join the male (drake) at a nearby water source. Once the whole clutch (usually 8-10 eggs) has been laid, she begins incubation for about 28 days. Not sitting on the eggs until the last egg is laid is what allows all the ducklings to hatch at the same time. Shortly after the female has begun incubation, the male will leave and provides no care for the eggs, hen, or ducklings.
Mallard ducklings are precocial which means that they are mobile and able to eat on their own almost immediately after they hatch. Within hours after hatch, the hen leads the ducklings to her chosen water source where they will remain. A duck nest is only for the eggs and not for the ducklings.

The trip to water can be quite dangerous. However, it's important that we allow the ducklings to remain with the hen so she can teach them everything they need to know to survive in the wild. Most often, human attempts at helping them during this stage results in increased accidents and abandonment as mother and the ducklings react frantically to human intervention.

Often, we humans think the hen doesn’t know what she’s doing when she nests in our yards, parking lots and other “human” places. The fact is she knows exactly what she is doing. While not every nesting attempt by any bird can always be successful, the vast majority of these suburban duck nests produce healthy wild ducklings. Additionally, when a duck nest fails, the hen usually starts the process all over, replacing the lost eggs often in a new location.