On February 28, 2016 we were fortunate to partner with the Wildlife and Zoology Club at UTC for a box-building day. The members of the Wildlife Club constructed nest boxes for rehabilitated wildlife, under the instruction of local woodworking expert, Tyler Luttrell, of Grain Surgeons, LLC. Lowe’s Home Improvement of Hixson, TN, generously donated all the materials to Happinest. Kate Harrell graciously organized the project.
The nesting boxes are a necessary component of the release process for many rehabilitated animals. The boxes provide a safe place for the animals to nest while they are exploring their new environment. The boxes also remove the stress of competing with other animals for space and nesting resources. Oftentimes, food and water are provided along with the nesting box, so that the newly released animal has the best possible chance for adapting to the wild.
Tyler designed the nesting box plans, and pre-cut the pieces to make assembly as easy as possible for the Wildlife Club. The faculty advisers of the Wildlife Club were also present; Dr. Brad Reynolds and Dr. Tom Wilson are members of the UTC Department of Biology, Geology & Environmental Science and assisted with organizing the event. The UTC students worked in small groups to drill holes, and fit the pieces together, reinforcing the seams with wood glue. Volunteers from Happinest, including Tyler, and the faculty advisers of the Wildlife Club brought power tools for the students who did not have their own.
It was a great day for everyone; twenty nesting boxes were constructed for Happinest. Ten boxes are designed for raptors and ten boxes were designed for squirrels. The students were excited for the opportunity to directly help local rehabilitated wildlife, and Happinest is so grateful for their enthusiasm and interest, as well as their assistance! We would like to express our sincere gratitude to Lowe’s Home Improvement of Hixson for their support, and the UTC Wildlife & Zoology Club for all of their hard work!
Some people may go their entire life without ever coming across a wildlife animal in need; but others are faced with the decision to step in to help on many occasions.
Charlie Benton, a truck driver, has become a familiar face at Happinest because of all the wildlife he has rescued since 2012. The first was a screech owl that fell out of the grill of a semi at a truck stop. Later, he saved a lifeless American Robin hit by a car, a severely injured Canada Goose, a male House Finch sickened by conjunctivitis at his own bird feeder and an orphaned baby raccoon. Charlie called Happinest when he found the tiny raccoon and Sherry referred him to a licensed rehabber who specialized in rabies vector species. He drove two hours out of town to make sure the raccoon received the care it needed.
Weeks ago, on February 9, Charlie’s GPS guided him 24 miles out of the way in Bristol. When he stopped to turn around, he noticed an American Robin lying upside down on the side of the road…it was as if the GPS took him out of the way for a reason. He picked up the injured bird, wrapped it in his jacket, and again, contacted Sherry at Happinest for advice. The Robin was lethargic and in shock, so he placed him in the cab of the truck and turned up the heat to warm him up as advised. Amazingly, the Robin perked up and was admitted at Happinest later that same day. The robin has a broken right wing and slight head trauma, but thanks to the steps Charlie took to save this bird, he is expected to make a full recovery.
Linda Koller became a Happinester in the summer of 2015, during the height of baby season. She’s a devoted rehab volunteer who always brings something special for the birds, from newspapers to homemade treats. She even donated a double macaw cage, which serves as a flight cage for our songbirds. Linda has also gone out of her way to assist us in emergency out-of-town transports to Walden’s Puddle and UT College of Veterinarian Medicine.
After observing a Carolina Wren nest in her own backyard, Linda realized all the baby birds had died except one. She brought the singlet baby bird to Happinest for rehab. It turned out to be a brown-headed cowbird, which is a parasitic species. A female cowbird lays her eggs in the nests of other bird species, who then foster the cowbird baby as their own. We kept Linda’s cowbird for almost six weeks, and she released him once he was ready to go.
We appreciate Linda for all she has done and we look forward to more great experiences with her in the future!