South Florida's Wild Side - Fall 2021

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Fall 2021

South Florida Wildlife Center’s Quarterly Newsletter | Education | Patient Updates | Events


2021 Top-rated Nonprofit Meet our newest


all of our upcoming events

954 524 4302 • Hours: 9:00AM - 5:00PM

Our mission:




Executive Director Alessandra Medri


SFWC named 2021 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Director of Development Anne Marie Taglienti

06 Meet our newest Ambassador

Director of Outreach Carolina Segarra


Medical Director Antonia Gardner, DVM

08 Wild Lecture Series

Veterinarian Renata Schneider, DVM

09 | Introducing our Online Shop

Office Manager JoAnne Mayz Rehabilitation and Release Supervisor Mariangelique Diaz Fallick Clinic Supervisor Christel Sama

10 | Quarter in Review 12 | Fall Migration at SFWC

Nursery Supervisor Jessica Sayre Sonzogni

15 | Species Spotlight - Red Tailed Hawk

Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator Jordan Wheatley

19 | Upcoming Events

Community Service Coordinators: Sharon Gallardy Janina Morejon

25 | Follow us on Social Media

This Great Horned Owl was brought in from Boynton Beach after finders saw it under a tree, not flying away. Thankfully he was rescued by a long-time volunteer and was brought to our center for care.

Outreach Specialist: Katelyn Forgham Lead Wildlife Rehabilitators: Sanita Bromfield Ericka Dukes Maria Vanegas

Cover photo credit, Brown Pelican by Brandon Gonzalez

Wildlife Rehabilitators: Nick Sonzogni Melanie Lemiux Jessica Ferrigno Jocelyn Phillips Christian Park Veterinary Assistants: Sandy Pagel Shelby Whitebread Facilities Manager Glenn Georgis Maintenance Technician Anthony Weare Board of Directors: Jeffrey J. Arciniaco President, Board Chairman Thomas J. Sabatino Jr. Vice Chairman, Secretary Thomas A. Bartelmo Treasurer Ardath Rosengarden Treasurer Doug Koger Director Eric L. Bernthal Director

This Burrowing Owl was brought in from Tamarac after the finders noticed it had a wing injury. After just one month, he was fully recovered and released back into the wild!

This Common Grackle was brought in from Aventura after falling out of its nest. Unable to be re-nested, he was reared in our nursery and released after a few weeks. | 3

SFWC NAMED 2021 TOP-RATED NONPROFIT The South Florida Wildlife Center has been named a “2021 Top-Rated Nonprofit” by Great Nonprofits, the leading website for community recommendations of charities and nonprofits. “It is an honor to be named a 2021 Top-Rated Nonprofit. We are grateful to our community for recognizing us for the lifesaving work we perform each day,” says Alessandra Medri, Executive Director, South Florida Wildlife Center. “Thanks to our friends, donors and volunteers for helping us to continue to serve as a vital resource for this community.” “The South Florida Wildlife Center is a great example of a nonprofit making a real difference in their community”, said Perla Ni, CEO of Great Nonprofits, “Their award is well-deserved recognition not only of their work, but the tremendous support they receive, as shown by the many outstanding reviews they have received from people who have direct experience working with The South Florida Wildlife Center.” Great Nonprofits is the largest donation website for nonprofits and where people share stories about their personal experiences on more than 1.6 million charities and nonprofits. The Great Nonprofits Top-Rated Awards are the only awards for nonprofits determined by those who have direct experience with the charities – as donors, volunteers, and recipients of aid. The complete list of 2021 Top Rated Nonprofits can be found here.

4 | South Florida’s WildSide | Fall 2021

This Osprey was brought in after finders saw it was very weak and unable to move. After almost three months, staff was able to help him gain weight, regain his strength, and even replaced some feathers prior to being released back into the wild.

South Florida Wildlife Center Inc Congratulations Your community has selected your organization as one of the 2021 Top-Rated Nonprofits using GreatNonprofits. You are among a distinguished few to receive this community endorsement.

Perla Ni CEO Greatnonprofits

MEET OUR NEWEST AMBASSADOR ANIMALS Several months ago, two box turtles were brought to the AWARE Wildlife Center for assessment after they were found by members of the community and kept as pets. An initial exam of these animals revealed shell deformities due to improper nutrition. Unfortunately, the shell deformities on these animals prevented them from being able to be released back into the wild, due to the fact that they would not be able to escape predators. The AWARE Wildlife Center rehabilitates injured and orphaned native Georgia wild animals and educates the public about peaceful coexistence with wildlife. Arrangements were made in July to transfer these two box turtles to SFWC. After a quick flight, they were admitted to our center and had a thorough medical exam done. Several deformities were noted along the carapace (top shell) and plastron (bottom shell), as well as with all their limbs and even their beaks (mouth). Proper nutrition, housing and various forms of enrichment are now being offered to them. Though the damage cannot be reversed or fixed, they will help us to tell their story on how wild animals belong in the wild, and not as pets. Reptiles make excellent pets, however, they need to be cared for properly since they are so dependent on their environment for proper growth. Also, not all reptiles are legal to own as pets. We are providing a safe home for these two little ones here at the center, where they can be free to be box turtles, and educate the community while helping the rest of their kind.

6 | South Florida’s WildSide | Fall 2021

This infant Virginia Opossum was found orphaned one evening and brought to SFWC for treatment and care. After discovering there weren’t any obvious wounds, he was transferred to our nursery for rearing and preparation for release. After a month of being cared for by staff, it was noticed how friendly this opossum was, questioning whether he imprinted on people during his time here. After further observation, it was noted that he didn’t fear people, was generally curious, and didn’t mind physical affection—all behaviors we don’t see or encourage in wild animals. The decision was made to not release him into the wild and keep him as a Ambassador Animal who could educate others on his species. Affectionately named Brussel Sprout (after adoptive big brother Cabbage), he has grown into a sub-adult who loves public appearances and is changing people’s perspectives on Virginia Opossums every day. | 7

WILD LECTURE SERIES Missed our Zoom talks this quarter? Check them out on YouTube!

8 | South Florida’s WildSide | Fall 2021



July 1, 2021 – September 30, 2021

Total Patients Total Species



Birds 1,434 Mammals 809 Reptiles 83 Amphibians 0



Hours Donated

5,239 Gray Squirrel

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Meet some of our patients from this quarter:

Great Horned Owl

Eastern Screech Owl


Florida Softshell

Blue Gray Gnatcatcher

Burmese Python | 11

FALL MIGRATION AT SFWC Not all birds migrate, but the majority of birds do. In fact, in North America, about 75% of birds migrate at some point. They do this for various reasons, such as finding a more abundant source of food or a better climate. Fall migration typically happens when birds head south to warmer temperatures for the winter and usually begins in September and lasts well into November. Now that fall has arrived in South Florida, the migration of patients we see this time of year has already begun. Intake of patients includes weakness attained from physical trauma, getting entangled in fishing lines, flying into windows, and getting hit by cars. The most extensive grouping of migratory birds seen here are the warblers; however, coastal waterbirds like Brown Pelicans will also be seen more frequently this time of year. Raptors, such as hawks and falcons, are also included in some migratory species. The raptors commonly seen in south Florida year-round include the Osprey, Redtailed Hawk, and Red-shouldered hawk. Sharp-shinned Hawks can be seen here in winter, as well as Cooper's Hawks and Broad-winged Hawks as they migrate to Central and South America for the winter.

12 | South Florida’s WildSide | Fall 2021

This Brown Pelican was brought in from Dania Beach with a large hook | 13 superficially embedded in its lower left beak. After removing the hook and observing for a few days, she was released back out to the ocean.


14 | South Florida’s WildSide | Spring 2021


Buteo jamaicensis

The Red-tailed hawk is widespread in North America, and easily one of the most common hawks soaring the sky. According to the Audubon Field Guide, this species has increased in some areas since the 1960s, and the numbers are now stable or still growing.

5 of these hawks a year, although in some locales they are much more common. This little hawk had a very guarded prognosis at first. Staff also diagnosed him with anemia, a blood parasite called Hemoproteus, and a fractured left leg.

An inhabitant of open country, it is commonly seen perched on roadside poles or sailing over fields and woods. Although the trademark reddish-brown tail can usually be recognized in adults, the rest of their plumage can be quite variable, especially in the western part of the United States, where they range from blackish to brown to nearly white.

Given his weak state and age, the veterinary team opted to treat his fracture with splinting, which can be a very difficult treatment to manage in birds, as well as pain medications to keep him comfortable. He adapted surprisingly well to the splint, gaining weight, and healing from his anemia on a carefully monitored diet with iron and calcium supplementation. Birds’ bones heal surprisingly quickly. Less than 2 weeks after beginning treatment for his fracture he was ready to stand on his own!

Red-tailed hawks in the north may migrate far to the south, while many at central or southern latitudes, especially adults, are permanent residents. Most migration is relatively late in fall and early in spring. It is something to look forward to as we approach winter here in South Florida. Birds are amazingly adapted for life in the air. The Red-tailed Hawk is one of the largest birds you’ll see in North America, with a wing span of 4 feet, yet even the biggest females weigh only 3 pounds. A small dog of similar size might weigh 10 times that. SFWC successfully raised an injured red-tailed hawk fledgling and released it into the wild, for the first time in its history. Antonia Gardner, DVM - Medical Director writes: One morning in May, a weak, emaciated hawk fledgling presented to the veterinary department. With some difficulty, staff identified the little guy as a red-tailed hawk – a species we had not in recent history admitted as a fledgling. In fact, the SFWC admits on average only about

Shortly after having the splint removed, he was moved to an outdoor habitat, where he could have the benefit of sunlight and a greater area to exercise his leg and growing wings. Thankfully it was all downhill from there! He continued to grow and thrive, shedding his baby fluff and growing magnificent primary wing and tail feathers. After over 3 months in care, we are so pleased and proud to announce his return to the wild. Fly free our magnificent boy!

Watch the release here | 15

MEET SANITA Sanita is one of three lead wildlife rehabilitators at SFWC.

16 | South Florida’s WildSide | Fall 2021

Sanita was hired as an animal care staff member at SFWC in February 2013. After years of hard work, dedication, and demonstrated leadership qualities, she was promoted to a lead in May 2019. Her favorite part of the job is working side by side with an incredible team of caring individuals who dedicate themselves to the care and rehabilitation of sick and injured wildlife. She loves that she is able to see animals that are admitted near-death gain health and strength, day by day under our care, and loves to give them a second chance that they may not have had if it wasn’t for all our efforts. “I feel like I do play a role in SFWC’s mission by helping with the education of the many eager young interns and volunteers that flow through our facility each year. Teaching them the skills they need to be a rehabilitator, along with showing them the hard work, passion, and dedication it takes to work in this field. Nurturing the spark they have to help wildlife, and channelling their talents to be the best advocates they can be for our wild neighbors.”


Our educational Ambassador Animals can be a fantastic tool to teach the community about wildlife and nature. We are now offering virtual interactive lessons, as well as in-person visits. The South Florida Wildlife Center Outreach Program is designed to showcase a variety of native and exotic animals, to illustrate the principles of ecology, and teach life science in an educational and entertaining format. Wildlife Outreach programs are carefully designed to showcase who we are, what we do, and how you can help. In-Person Outreach and Virtual Outreach Programs are available for public and private schools, clubs, community organizations, youth groups, and community events. Outreach programming is available year-round. Email to schedule your Wild Talk and Private Tour at the center or plan a field trip where we visit you! | 17


Volunteers, interns, and externs play a critical role at the South Florida Wildlife Center by increasing our ability to rescue and rehabilitate sick, injured, and orphaned wildlife. We have opportunities available in wildlife rehabilitation, veterinary medicine, our nursery, outreach and education, and more.

This Nine-banded Armadiilo was brought in after finders in Cooper City saw it was bleeding and unable to move. Thankfully, it was brought to our center for further analysis and treatment.

UPCOMING EVENTS: 18 | South Florida’s WildSide | Fall 2021

10.21.21 6 - 9:30pm




Join us for a night of wicked fun and fundraising to benefit wildlife rescue. Food, drinks, entertainment and a "Wizard of Oz" theme costume contest ... and so much more!

3200 SW 4th Avenue | 19 Fort Lauderdale 33315


Join us for a beach clean-up and watch recovered wildlife patients be released back into the wild! NOVEMBER 6, 2021 FROM 7 AM -12 PM DR. VON D. MIZELL – EULA JOHNSON STATE PARK

Kindly RSVP at

DRINK 4 THE LOCALS NOVEMBER 11 5PM - 9PM Come snag a beer, raise funds for wildlife education and meet the Animal Ambassadors of the South Florida Wildlife Center!

3305 SE 14TH AVE, FORT LAUDERDALE, FL 33316 | 21

MEET YOUR WILDLIFE NEIGHBORS! Join the South Florida Wildlife Center staff on these Saturdays for a free presentation featuring wild animals. 6/19 @ 10:30AM 7/17 @ 10:30AM 8/21 @ 10:30AM 9/25 @ 2:30PM 10/16 @ 2:30PM 11/20 @ 2:30PM Presentations will be held at the Monarch Interpretive Center inside Secret Woods Nature Center located at 2701 W State Road 84, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312. For more information, please email us at

22 | South Florida’s WildSide | Spring 2021

Wildlife 101

EXPLORE BEYOND YOUR DOOR presentation by the South Florida Wildlife Center on understanding your wild neighbors, how to help if you ever see a wild animal in distress and how you can do your part to help save local wildlife.


at 12P h t 7 2 M June at 12P h t 5 2 July 12PM t a h t t 29 M at 12P Augus h t 6 2 mber t 12PM a Septe t s 1 er 3 t 12PM Octob a h t 8 ber 2 Novem

Presentations will be held at the CALDWELL PAVILION at SNYDER PARK (3299 S.W. 4th Ave, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33315) right across from the South Florida Wildlife Center. Free to attend but parking fees apply.


For more information, please email us at




24 | South Florida’s WildSide | Fall 2021

This Gray Squirrel was brought in after finders saw it alone on the ground near their home. After trying to reunite with mom and had no success, this little one was raised in our nursery and released back into the wild months later.


Thank you for being a part of our family this quarter! We feel humbled by the incredible support that we have received from everyone. Since we are an independent non-profit organization, only your support and commitment allow us to continue our mission to rescue, rehabilitate and release wildlife. To all our wonderful donors, supporters, friends, and wildlife champions, thank you for giving us the much-needed funds to ensure the care for the injured, sick, and orphaned animals brought into the Center each day. We would also like to express our gratitude to our community and corporate partners for assisting us to fundraise and educate, while engaging the community in wildlife conservation. Lastly, we would like to thank all the volunteers, interns, and externs who continue to support our work and stand by our sides daily, as we strive to make a difference for our local wildlife. We invite you to get involved and join us to help restore South Florida’s wildlife!

FOLLOW US! Check us out on social media and share what we are up to. Join us for events and help us spread awareness about wildlife protection and species preservation.

@SouthFloridaWildlifeCenter | 25

Sleep like a baby

squirrel, opossum, blue jay, pelican, hawk...

This Northern Mockingbird nestling was brought in after finders saw it alone on the ground near their home in Miramar. After trying to locate his nest and having no success, this little one was raised in our nursery and released back into the wild months later.

It’s still baby season, they all need your help.


Learn more 954 524 4302 3200 SW 4th Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33315 Hours: 9:00AM - 5:00PM @SouthFloridaWildlifeCenter