I looked to the sky at just the right time. A Red-tailed hawk had just dived down to grab a live rat in its talons. She was ascending directly above me while I was walking Murray, our rescue mutt, in our neighborhood not far from Big Sur Land Trust open space. What happened next was pretty cool.
Murray, 12 years old in a few months, didn’t mind stopping, having just crested a steep block. I kept my head up, and his went down to investigate new smells. The hawk and the hawk’s chicks began a series of back and forth contact calls, a version of the popular swimming pool game, Marco Polo. In this case, calls help the adult find chicks eagerly awaiting their next meal. Red-tailed hawks co-parent so the adult could have been male or female. I’ll go with “she.”
Eric Clower, the SPCA’s super-talented Maintenance Manager, oversees all aspects of our 200+ acre campus. Our resident MacGyver tackles complicated HVAC systems, maintains a small fleet of vehicles, and chases down water intrusions from rooftops in a single bound. He didn’t wake up last Wednesday morning thinking he’d be building a turtle platform. But, it’s what he did and it’s among the many reasons I love this organization.
The backstory: our equally talented Humane Investigations Supervisor, Marty Opseth, was out playing a round of golf. Knowing he was with the SPCA, the golf course staff brought him their animal-related dilemma: turtles in their man-made pond were having trouble sunning themselves, clinging to the pond’s steep edge. Aquatic turtles, as some of you know, need sunlight. They spend the good part of their day basking in it. Basically, they live the lives of Kardashians.
The SPCA for Monterey County Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center is caring for a tiny baby hummingbird who was a victim of the winter storm.
During the powerful storm last night, a tree blew over on Kennedy Road in Salinas. A local resident had been watching hummingbirds nest in the tree over the last few days and knew, sadly, the tiny nest was somewhere in the debris.
New people bring a fresh pair of eyes, another perspective on programs or services, opportunities others may not have seen or, some things less important. This falls into the latter category.
Most days, I take my shelter dog on a short walk to enjoy some of the SPCA’s magnificent, 200 acres. Our buildings sit on a somewhat flat five-acre bowl and the surrounding land is oak-studded, sloped and rugged, with meandering unpaved access trails. Truly, an amazing gift.
My walk takes me past our oldest structure — a wooden, two-story building which houses programs for kids and an office for our Humane Investigations team.
The SPCA for Monterey County advises our community for their safety and the safety of our wildlife to please leave baby deer, known as fawns, alone. So far this Spring, the SPCA Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center has received 11 fawns and six of them were healthy babies taken from their mothers unintentionally. While two were successfully reunited with their mothers and two are still in our care, sadly, two did not survive their encounters with humans.
Mother deer leave their babies hidden and alone in a safe space during most of the day, often only visiting them during dawn and dusk. These fawns are not abandoned; the mother is likely out of sight watching you. If you find a fawn lying quietly in the grass leave it where it is, stay back and out of sight, and keep dogs as far away as possible. The mother will not return if she senses people or dogs are too close. If a fawn has been picked up or handled, gently place it back in the exact place where it was found, or within sight of that spot. Stand back several hundred feet, and wait for the mother’s return (which could take hours).