South Florida's Wild Side - Fall 2022

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Fall 2022

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

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(954) 524 - 4302 • Hours: 9:00AM - 4:30PM



Bird Migrations


Species Spotlight


Wild Lecture Series

09 | Third Quarter in Review 10 | Patient Highlight 13 | Education & Outreach 14 | Staff Feature 16 | Professionals of Tomorrow




STAFF Executive Director Alessandra Medri

Medical Director

Charlotte Cournoyer, DVM

Director of Outreach Carolina Montano

Office Manager JoAnne Mayz

Development Specialist Steven Faviano


Sherry Varrone

Clinic Supervisor Shelby Slevin

Rehabilitation Supervisor Maria Vanegas

Release Supervisor

Mariangelique Diaz Fallick

Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator Khrystyne Jamerson

Lead Community Service Coordinator Camila Pulido

Outreach Specialist Jessica McHugh

Lead Wildlife Rehabilitators: Nick Sonzogni Melanie Lemieux

Wildlife Rehabilitators:


Jessica Ferrigno Lisa Bergwin Erika Piechowski Oasis Saenz Crysta Chabriel Oasis Saenz Eloisa Valencia Karina Pizarro

Veterinary Assistants: Joscelyn Phillips Shannon Lamontagne Sandy Pagel Madison Luce

Facilities Manager Glenn Georgis

Facility Technicians: David Grant Anthony Weare

BOARD OF DIRECTORS Jeffrey J. Arciniaco

President, Board Chairman

Thomas J. Sabatino Jr. Vice Chairman, Secretary

Thomas A. Bartelmo Treasurer


Ardath Rosengarden Director

Doug Koger Director | 3

Eric L. Bernthal Director


What can SFWC expect this Fall?

As the cold fronts begin to sweep through our northern neighbors, a wave of seasonal changes and co become a gathering place for migratory wildlife from across the country. Though different kinds of anima famously associated with bird migration. Typically, birds will head south during the fall to winter and fly b 4 | South Florida’s WildSide | Fall 2022species, some birds will only fly at night, while others will only fly throughou months. Depending on the rehabilitation center, we expect an influx of adult bird patients at the end of each year.

olors makes way for South Florida to als migrate in the Fall, South Florida is back north during the warmer spring ut the day. As a wildlife hospital and

As “baby season” (Spring through Summer) starts to dwindle, the wildlife rehabbers at SFWC begin to prepare for our “Fall season.” This is when we expect to see more birds than any other kind of species as patients. Per previous trends, we expect that shorebirds like Terns, Herons, Egrets, Sandpipers, Plovers, and Stilts will start migrating around late July. They can be seen congregating on different beaches and wetlands in agricultural areas throughout South Florida. When these animals are brought in for medical attention, it is usually for injuries sustained during their travels, obstacles they encountered along the way, or weakness they‘ve suffered. In 2021, we admitted over 9,000 patients. Of those, 500 were shorebirds. Most were treated for botulism, physical trauma, or fishing hook incidents. After the shorebirds have arrived, songbirds are typically next. Our more popular patients are the warblers, such as the Northern Parula, the Worm-eating Warbler, and Scarlet Tanager. With over several hundred species of warblers worldwide, during the Fall of 2021, SFWC admitted over 2000 songbirds, including 23 different species of warblers. Most of these patients were injured by feral cats and flying into building windows or sides. Other well-known migrants in the South Florida community are the raptors or birds of prey. The majority of migratory species seen in the area are the Osprey, Cooper‘s Hawk, American Kestrel, and Peregrine Falcon. These birds are usually rescued for sustained weakness or because they were hit by cars enduring physical injuries. The last species typically admitted are our seabirds. Patients like Pelicans, Northern Gannets, and Boobys are brought to our center for various reasons, but mainly for treatment due to general weakness, fishing line injuries, and swallowed fishing hooks. Every time a patient is accepted to our hospital, it is because of negative interactions with people or urban development. Our staff does their best to educate the public on how it may have occurred and what practices can be implemented to avoid similar incidents in the future. For example, properly disposing of fishing lines and hooks can save hundreds of lives each year. We are hopeful that through education and awareness, we can inspire our community to be more mindful of their actions and look forward to peacefully coexisting with our wildlife neighbors. | 5


PEREGRINE FALCON Falco peregrinus

The Peregrine Falcon is one of the most widespread birds in the world, found on all continents except Antarctica. It is the fastest bird in the world and is also considered the fastest animal, reaching a speed of 200 MPH when plunging for its prey. Due to their specific dietary needs, they play an important role in the ecosystem by helping control the population of pigeons, doves, and ducks. Before the 1970s, this species was in severe decline due to pesticide use, but it has since recovered thanks to efforts put in place to help their nesting areas and bans placed on specific pesticides. Though these birds have come a long way, they still need to be protected as there is an abundance of overgrazing, habitat degradation, and human disturbance. Patient #22-7463 was transferred from the west coast of Florida after Hurricane Ian ravaged the area as a Category 4 Hurricane. Wildlife Hospitals impacted by the storm were unable to admit injured wildlife, so wildlife rehabilitation centers on the east coast of Florida stepped in to help. This Peregrine Falcon was admitted because he was found on the ground and unable to fly. After an in-depth exam, SFWC vet staff confirmed a right-wing fracture.

Administered radiographs diagnosed the fracture as a major metacarpal mid-diaphyseal comminuted spiral fracture with one large piece elevated dorsally and minor metacarpal fracture transverse mid-diaphyseal. In simpler terms, one of the bones responsible for movement in the right-wing sustained several breaks that needed to be realigned and supported to encourage healing. Splints were put in place, and the wing was bandaged while the patient was under general anesthesia. After a week of physical therapy, there was a full range of motion. We are optimistic about this progress 6 | South Florida’s WildSide | Fall 2022 hoping this patient will regain use of the wing soon. | 7

WILD LECTURE SERIES The South Florida Wildlife Center offers a free monthly virtual series of public lectures covering various topics presented by professionals in their respective fields. We hope those who join us learn something new about nature, how it correlates to wildlife, and what we do at SFWC. Missed our talks this quarter? Check them out on our YouTube channel!

8 | South Florida’s WildSide | Fall 2022

On Thursday, August 18th, the City College Student Chapter of the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America held a Painting with a Purpose fundraiser for SFWC. Vet Tech students, SFWC staff and community members all joined for an evening of fun and had a unique, memorable experience. Thank you to everyone who participated! We are grateful when our community comes together to show support for their local wildlife!

THIRD QUARTER IN REVIEW July 1, 2022 – September 30, 2022

Total Patients Total Species



Birds 1498 Mammals 898 Reptiles 61 Amphibians 2



Hours Donated

5,886 | 9


Upon young dehyd was tr more a con left w exami anesth staff tissue and lo injury. was a provid healin stabili includ manag to he swellin

A very dedicated rescuer in Rabbit Key, Florida, noticed that this Bald Eagle was having trouble flying and could not take off after falling into the water. He quickly jumped into action, and climbed through the mangroves to contain it. He immediately brought the bird to the Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center in Tavanier, Florida, where it was evaluated and stabilized. Not having the proper permit to rehabilitate Bald Eagles, FKWBC arranged for an immediate transfer to bring this young male to our wildlife hospital in Fort Lauderdale. The Bald Eagle is one of the largest birds of prey found in North America. It is the national bird and symbol of the United States of America. Though Bald Eagles are not very common in the Keys, they have a handful of pairs scattered from Rabbit Key to Key West. They are one of the largest birds seen in the Keys with females weighing up to fourteen pounds! 10 | South Florida’s WildSide | Fall 2022

SFWC seven past injurie heal. releas other contin long-te

After t care u callous aroun indica healin showe and ph norma

After fractu



Bald Eage #22-6824 from Rabbit Key, FL

admission at SFWC, this g adult male was severely drated but alert. There rauma to the left eye, but than anything, he had nfirmed fracture in the wing. Immediately upon ination, the patient was hetized so our veterinary could remove dead from the affected area ook at the extent of the . A splint with padding appropriately placed to de support and encourage ng. Once the patient was ized, various medications, ding antibiotics and pain gement, were prescribed elp with infection and ng.

has only ever admitted Bald Eagles in the ten years, many with es that were unable to Those who were nonsable were transferred to organizations that could nue to provide them with erm care.

two weeks in the intensive unit, vet staff noted that uses were starting to form nd the fracture of this eagle, ating that the bones were ng correctly. Radiographs ed improved alignments, physical therapy showed a al range of motion.

improve, and we are hopeful the prognosis will continue to indicate that the wing will be able to be used for flight. According to the National Park Service, the Bald Eagle‘s recovery is a spectacular conservation success story. Once abundant in North America, the species became rare in the mid-to-late 1900s as they were the victims of trapping, shooting, and poisoning, as well as pesticidecaused reproductive failures. In 1978, this species was listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act. Since 1980, a greater appreciation for the Bald Eagle and the banning of DDT, the bird‘s main pesticide threat, led to a dramatic resurgence. By the late 1990s, breeding populations of Bald Eagles could be found throughout most of North America. Based on population trends, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species has listed the Bald Eagle as a species of Least Concern. Current data demonstrates that the population is cautiously increasing.

Bald Eagles and all birds of prey still need protection of their habitat for nesting, feeding, and roosting. We are grateful we can do our part in helping return members of this population one month in care, the back to the wild. ure continues to slowly | 11

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 12 | South Florida’s WildSide | Fall 2022

EDUCATION & OUTREACH WHAT ARE WE UP TO? SFWC has received a $30,000 grant from The Jim Moran Foundation to provide educational outreach in Broward and Palm Beach counties. The funding will support our community engagement efforts and education programs delivered by the Center for children and families. A huge thank you to The Jim Moran Foundation for their support!

Meet our newest Wildlife Education Ambassador Program Animal! Pumpkin is an American Kestrel who was admitted to the Avian Reconditioning Center (ARC) in Apopka, FL, in May of 2022 as a fledgling with an injured wing. Upon further examination, they realized it was a compound fracture of the right carpal, and the tip of her wing needed to be amputated. Unable to be released into the wild, and at a young age to be properly conditioned to be handled, ARC reached out to SFWC for a permanent placement. We happily accepted Pumpkin into our family of educators. We look forward to bringing awareness to the smallest falcon in the United States, and the fantastic things falcons and other birds of prey do for the ecosystem. Be sure to check her out at events throughout the years to come! Fun Fact: American Kestrels have sexually dimorphic characteristics where you can physically look at Pumpkin and tell that she’s female. Males have blue plumage along the wings, whereas females have orange and brown plumage. Join our Wildlife Educators at SFWC for a private Wild Talk & Tour! Learn about what we do, the local wildlife of South Florida, and some of the challenges they face that ultimately lead them to our hospital. Meet some of our Animal Ambassadors and discover their personal stories and how you can learn to live with your wildlife neighbors. Please email us at to book your visit. | 13

STAFF FEATURE MELANIE LEMIEUX Wildlife Rehabilitator at SFWC since 2013. Meet Melanie! One of SFWC’s most passionate and dedicated employees. You can typically see her running around getting medical supplies for a procedure, or in hand with a patient that she is caring for. Covered in sweat from cutting down browse for the aviaries, or on her way to rescue an injured animal, Melanie is always on the move. “She is one of the more hardworking people I have ever met, and she does so while always having a smile on her face.” Staff, volunteers, interns, and externs alike all admire her limitless capabilities, as she continues to inspire us to be better and do better (whether she knows it or not) every single day. When did you first start volunteering/working for SFWC? I first started volunteering when I moved down here from Michigan in 2013. I did a three-month internship consisting of 32 hours a week and got hired right after in 2014. What is your favorite part of the job? My favorite part of the job is assisting critical patients, getting them back to full health, and being part of their release. Also, finding safe places for patients to be released back to the wild. Do you feel like you play a role in SFWC’s mission? I feel like I play an essential role in our mission by training new employees to give the best possible care to our patients, educating friends and family on how to respect and protect wildlife, and volunteering my own time doing rescues under my transport permit.

Fun fact about you. I love heavy metal and traveling to find new nature trails. What you look forward to in your career. I look forward to sharing my wildlife rehabilitation knowledge with people with the same passion. What is your favorite patient story? There was a Brown Pelican that we nicknamed Medina, who I rescued. Unfortunately she had a hook injury to her wing and was actually at SFWC for two years undergoing rehabilitation. I took her home during Hurricane Michael when we had to evacuate patients from the center. I actually cried when I saw her fly off and join a nearby flock during her release. Being a part of her journey was amazing and so rewarding. Melanie is now a Lead Wildlife Rehabilitator at SFWC where she helps to train new staff, interns, volunteers, and helps to organize the care our patients receive while in recovery. She also has a permit that allows her to rescue and transport sick and injured wildlife to a licensed wildlife rehabber. We are grateful Melanie is part of our team and know that her positive attitude, work ethic, and gentle demeanor help inspire our staff and volunteers to do their best every day! | 15


Josie did a Veteri Externship with u the way from

Today‘s students are tomorrow‘s future.

16 | South Florida’s WildSide | Fall 2022


inary Medicine us and came all m Germany!

In 2021, we welcomed 17 veterinary medicine externs, 1 veterinary technician extern, and 21 interns. These students added to our community services to bring our total for the year to 419 volunteers, donating 22,428 hours to SFWC. So far, in 2022, we have welcomed 46 new students, including 16 veterinary medicine externs, 1 veterinary technician extern, and 29 departmental interns. They have all joined this year to learn about wildlife medicine by shadowing various parts of our wildlife hospital and rehabilitation center. Their drive to learn about wildlife conservation and community outreach, triage an incoming patient, assist with blood work, radiology, surgery, treatments, wildlife disease, and medications, and learn daily husbandry, diet preparations, and eventual release into the wild, is unmatched. We are proud of the dedicated and passionate students we met and taught this year. We look forward to seeing each student succeed after finishing their studies and are proud of being part of their journey. To our previous, current, and future students, Thank you for your hard work and dedication to this field and for allowing us to help you in your career. We wish you all well and are excited about your future contributions to wildlife conservation.

Regina did a Rotational Internship with us and came all the way from Mexico! Schools represented in 2022: Florida Atlantic University Nova Southeastern University Ohio Wesleyan University Yale University University of Central Florida Western University Colorado State University Oregon State University St. George’s University Ohio State University Oregon State University University of Minnesota University of Florida University of Wisconsin Florida Southern College Broward College University of New Hampshire Bucknell University Cornell University University of Maine Clemson University University of California University of Miami

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