May 5, 2020 — While many businesses are required to pause their work during our health crisis, animal shelters are on the list of essential businesses in New York State. This means that, while limiting what we can offer Erie County, we can still do everything possible to serve the people and animals of our community, and that includes wild animals.

Check out this update from the Wildlife Department of the SPCA Serving Erie County. Clearly the wild work is definitely taking flight this spring:

Spring migration is fully underway! Baltimore orioles have been sighted at area feeders and ruby-throated hummingbirds are never far behind! (People used to think that hummingbirds hitched a ride on the backs of migrating geese, but now we know that these tiny iridescent birds fly 500 miles NON-STOP across the Gulf of Mexico under their own power!)

To the delight of area birdwatchers, warblers have begun arriving in the past few days. In the spring, these tiny colorful songbirds migrate huge distances from their wintering grounds in the tropics to their nesting grounds in the north. The first to arrive in late April are pine warblers and palm warblers, followed soon after by yellow warblers and yellow-rumped warblers. The first two weeks of May are when we really see the full range of warblers passing through, from the understated black-and-white warblers to the beautiful and elusive cerulean, blackburnian, and prothonatary warblers.

Other neotropical migrants include swifts and swallows, herons and bitterns, flycatchers, sandpipers, and other shorebirds.

One hazard that these birds face on their long migration is completely unexpected: SHARKS! It was recently discovered that small songbirds make up a not-insignificant part of the diet of baby tiger sharks! (https://cosmosmagazine.com/biology/tiger-sharks-eat-songbirds).

We received our first baby mallards this week and will begin to have waterfowl volunteers coming in to care for them starting next week! We also received two goslings who are now being fostered by a nice family of Canada geese at Tifft Nature Preserve!

Other notable admissions this week include two baby short-tailed weasels (also known as stoats), three baby chipmunks, and our first baby birds of the season!

Finally, the least bittern who has been our guest since November 1 is almost ready to go! He has been living in an outdoor enclosure for the past week, and as soon as the weather is cooperative we will be releasing him!

— James Sevigny, SPCA Serving Erie County