The Case of the Common Grackle

Guest post by second year veterinary student, Megan Stuart.

On a hot summer’s day in late May, a Common Grackle was found on a driveway in Springfield, Illinois and brought to the Wildlife Clinic as a healthy fledgling. Common Grackles are large blackbirds that have adapted well to city and surburban habitats, and are resourceful omnivores: in agricultural fields they’ll follow plows to pick out insects and mice, near marshes they will pick leeches off of turtles and wade into water to catch small fish, raid smaller birds’ nests to eat eggs and live birds, and can even use a special beak adaptation to saw into acorns and eat the insides! Adult Common Grackle males have brightly iridescent feathers of blue, purple, and bronze, but young Common Grackles do not show any sign of sexual dimorphism (distinct difference in size or appearance between the sexes of an animal in addition to difference between the sexual organs themselves), so volunteers are unsure of this fledgling’s sex.

The small fledgling received nestling care as often as possible for the first few days in the clinic to supports his growing body and nutritional needs – in some cases, volunteers will check on these young ones nearly 10 times per day! Once he had grown some more, he received little balls of food 5 times a day, and was promoted to mealworms once he showed signs of eating on his own. Since he was caged alone, the fledgling was given a mirror to encourage self-recognition, which he sat by all day and was even spotted playing with his reflection!

Towards the end of the Grackle’s stay, a fledgling American Robin came into the Wildlife Medical Clinic, and was placed in the cage so the grackle could have a feathered companion. Soon after, he was consistently eating mealworms on his own, and so the fledgling was transferred to a local, licensed wildlife rehabilitator to grow a little more before being released. All of the volunteers enjoyed working with adorable fledgling, who never turned down the opportunity to eat! He went from 48.8 grams to 89 grams while in the Wildlife Medical Clinic at the University of Illinois.

An example of a Common Grackle fledgling.

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Don’t trash our home: Recycle!

Guest post by Niki Gianni, a second year veterinary student and Illinois native. Besides the WMC, Niki has also volunteered with the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association to bring veterinary care to Arizona’s rural communities in need, and traveled to South America to volunteer with “Wildtracks Belize” by providing around-the-clock care for orphaned and sick manatees.

It’s their home, too! How can we reduce harmful effects on the environment in our backyard?

Recycling is just one way to protect natural resources and keep our Earth beautiful for future generations.

  • Each year, Americans generate about 254 million TONS of trash, but only about 35% is recycled.
  • Only about 5% of food waste is composted.
  • Recycling a single aluminum soda can conserve the equivalent of 26 barrels of oil (153 million Btu energy units).
  • About 42% of greenhouse gases come from the harvesting of materials/food or their production and transport. Therefore, by recycling, we are collectively reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Source for statistics: https://www.epa.gov/recycle

Ok, so we know recycling is important, but what are some resources for us living in Champaign-Urbana (C-U)? Since C-U Department of Public Works initiated its “Feed the Beast” recycling program (more here) in December 2010, more than 2 million pounds of recyclable items have been diverted from landfills! Let’s keep up the good work!

  1. If you live in the C-U area and would like to request curbside recycling pick-up at your residence, school, or workplace, please check out this page.
  2. What kind of items can be recycled in C-U? View a larger version here!
  3. While single use-type plastic bags (“grocery bags”) are not recyclable in regular blue bins, you can return clean plastic bags for recycling at County Market, Wal-Mart, Schnucks, and Meijier stores.
  4. Battery recycling: http://feedthething.org/2017/03/battery-recycling-program/
  5. To reduce stress on landfills, if you have furniture, clothing, or other household goods still in usable condition, please contact one of the following:
    1. Goodwill: 912 W. Anthony Dr. Champaign, IL (217) 359-8729
    2. Habitat for Humanity ReStore: 119 E. University Ave. Champaign, IL  (217) 355-6460
    3. Salvation Army:

On Saturday, May 20, 2017, there will be a large electronics-recycling event. Televisions, DVD players, microwaves, computer parts, and other items will be accepted. Be sure to register in advance here: http://ecycle.simplybook.me/sheduler/manage/event/1/unit/1

 

Other resources:

Illinois Recycling Association: http://www.illinoisrecycles.org/

Recycling at UIUC: http://www.fs.illinois.edu/services/waste-management-and-recycling

Earth 911 (general info on sustainability): http://earth911.com/

Composting 101 by UIUC: https://web.extension.illinois.edu/homecompost/intro.cfm

DIY worm composting for an apartment: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=clC9yAJ6WBM

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