Along with the beauty of Cleveland's peaceful Greenway with its lovely trees, flowing creek and wildflowers, comes the added pleasure of getting to observe deer, possum, squirrels, rabbits and other wildlife in their natural habitat.
This week a friend who especially enjoys watching the ducks swimming during her daily fitness walk with a friend called with worry in her voice.
"The last two days as we were watching the ducks from the area of l7th Street to Raider Drive, we noticed one of the big white ducks down by l7th Street. It seemed to be injured and limping. Do you know if these ducks belong to an individual? If not, is there someone who could check to see if the limping duck needs attention?" she asked.
I immediately called Arlene Faires at 649-0349. Arlene is a widely known retired wildlife rehabber and veterinary technician at Animal Medical Center on Henderson Avenue.
As always, Arlene gave me valuable information about who to contact about the limping duck and also for help for other imperiled wildlife.
Here are numbers to call: TWRA Dispatch, 1-800-262-6704; Alice Parks, a wildlife rehabber who specializes in birds/ducks, 847-5757; Tish Gailmard of the Chattanooga Nature Center, who specializes in fox, squirrels and possum, 309-0186; Greg Miller (not the veterinarian of the same name) who specializes in a variety of wild animal help; Wendy Moore, whose mother does bird rescue, 464-0354; Clinch River Raptor Rescue, Katy Cottrell, 865-483-8265 and also Jennifer Hinson, 865-621-4378.
It is also vital to remember that if you find baby wildlife, call Arlene before you do anything. Never try feeding or handling the babies which can causes fatal results.
Fawns are often left alone for hours as mothers are off feeding, returning briefly at various periods to feed the babies. If baby birds fall out of nests, place them in a makeshift nest in a tree near where you found them. Their mother will undoubtedly return to them.
Other messages have come in this week about sightings of wild turkeys. One of my sons was visiting family in the Charleston hills when he saw what he said was “the biggest wild turkey I've ever seen in an open woodland. He must have weighed at least 20 pounds," he added.
Though wild turkeys are good fliers, experts say they prefer running if they are escaping danger, and they roost in trees.
Another family member told of watching a big male wild turkey surrounded by hens.
"Other, obviously young male turkeys would try to join in but he promptly chased them off," he said, smiling.
Good news came with the call from Bill Edwards that he has two red-headed woodpeckers frequenting his feeders to eat black oil sunflower seeds and feast on suet cakes. I was glad to hear this because I'd read a report that fewer sightings of this bird, our only bird with an all red-head and neck, have been recorded lately — perhaps due, sadly, to pesticide use which afflicts way too many birds and bees.
Other good news came around 6 one morning this week when I was letting my dogs out in our fenced yard and they all ran in a flash toward one end of the fence.
I soon knew why. A skunk was present, probably eating sunflower seeds at feeders just outside the fence. I was sure they'd all gotten sprayed. Fortunately, they escaped any spraying though the scent lingered across the yard for a couple of days.
I quickly made certain no more of the birds' sunflower seeds remained close to the fence! This reminded me of a favorite verse I used to read to our five children: "There was a young man from the city, who saw what he thought was a kitty. Saying, 'Nice little cat,' he gave it a pat. They buried his clothes out of pity!"
Paws up this week to: Cameron Fisher; Allen Mincey; Richard and Kathy Erwin; Kenneth McNeil; Judith Shelby; Joy Seay; and all who adopted a rescued pet with the assurance of providing a long, wonderful life.
To reach the Cleveland Animal Shelter, call 479-2122. Call me with your pet and wildlife stories, 728-5414, or write to: P.O. Box 4864, Cleveland TN 37320.