South Florida's Wild Side - Winter 2021

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Winter 2021

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

WILDLIFE PROTECTION Holiday Hazards to animals Meet the


954 524 4302 • Hours: 9:00AM - 5:00PM

Our mission:




Executive Director Alessandra Medri Director of Development Anne Marie Taglienti Director of Outreach Carolina Segarra

04 Message from Executive Director 06 Holiday Hazards 08 2021 Wild Lecture Series Recap

Medical Director Antonia Gardner, DVM

10 | Quarter in Review

Veterinarian Renata Schneider, DVM

11 | Learn more about Patient 21-5562

Office Manager JoAnne Mayz

12 | Species Spotlight - Eastern Screech Owl

Rehabilitation and Release Supervisor Mariangelique Diaz Fallick

13 | Meet Olive - our newest ambassador

Clinic Supervisor Christel Sama

14 | We love our volunteers!

Nursery Supervisor Jessica Sayre Sonzogni

16 | Meet the Outreach & Community Services Team

Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator Jordan Wheatley

19 | Staff Spotlight - Nick Sonzogni

Lead Community Service Coordinator Camila Pulido

23 | Stay up to date

Community Service Coordinator Janina Morejon Development Specialist Giannina Orozco Outreach Specialist Katelyn Forgham

We value each and every member of the SFWC Board of Directors and benefit from their expertise, leadership, compassion, and generosity. We thank them for supporting our mission and for their ability to see a better future for wildlife who live in our urban jungle.

Lead Wildlife Rehabilitators: Sanita Bromfield Maria Vanegas Wildlife Rehabilitators: Nick Sonzogni Jessica Ferrigno Lisa Bergwin Joscelyn Phillips Christian Park Rebekah Holder Tristan Colon Veterinary Assistants: Shelby Whitebread Hailey Rogala Facilities Manager Glenn Georgis Maintenance Technician Anthony Weare

Cover photo credit, Egret by Brian Sugerman

Jeffrey J. Arciniaco President, Board Chairman Thomas J. Sabatino Jr. Vice Chairman, Secretary Thomas A. Bartelmo Treasurer Ardath Rosengarden Director Doug Koger Director Eric L. Bernthal Director

Cardinal by David Boughton

“The Cardinal has been christened the “Christmas Bird” for its spectacular red color. Legend proclaims that the Cardinal is the symbol of beauty and warmth of the holiday season. A glimpse of this brilliant bird brings cheer, hope, and inspiration on a gray wintery day.” The Cardinal Rule? Cardinals do not migrate and will stay permanent residents throughout their range, even in colder climates. They will however stay in the same general area year-round. | 3

MESSAGE FROM EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Dear Friends of the South Florida Wildlife Center, During this season of gratitude, we want to thank you for the many ways that you have blessed us at the South Florida Wildlife Center this year. In our 52nd year serving the Tri-County area, we are grateful for friends, like you, who continue to support our work as an essential resource in the 104 cities that we serve. Your support has helped to provide rescue, rehabilitation, and life-saving veterinary care each day this year for more than 10,000 animals from 267 different species. As the largest volume wildlife hospital in Florida, we work tirelessly to provide treatment and specialized care for native animals, as well as the many migratory species that visit Florida. During this Spring and Summer, you helped us care for hundreds of baby squirrels, opossums, racoons, and birds that filled our Nursery. In the Fall and Winter, you were part of the efforts that helped to assist hundreds of birds including ospreys, cooper’s hawks, black and white warblers, blue-gray gnatcatchers, belted kingfishers (and so many more) that needed help for injuries, dehydration, and exhaustion experienced on their migratory path to Florida. This has been our first year operating once again as an independent, self-governed organization unaffiliated with the Humane Society of the United States, and we are proud of our many accomplishments. The South Florida Wildlife Center is committed to continuing our work as the leading wildlife rescue, rehabilitation, and release organization in the region. We are focused on providing the highest quality care for our animals with state-of-the-art technology for acute wildlife trauma. We’ve developed a robust community education program to both engage and motivate our future generations to take action to preserve our environment, protect natural resources, and teach others to peacefully co-exist with wildlife as their natural Florida habitats diminish. We are exceptionally proud of the recognition we have received this year. The South Florida Wildlife Center was voted “2021 Top Non-Profit” by and achieved 2021 Guidestar Platinum Seal of Transparency for excellence. We are so grateful for your compassion and kindness that helped make a difference and save so many helpless and vulnerable creatures this year. Thank you for being an integral part of our mission. We can’t do this alone and we need your help now more than ever before. We appreciate your continued support and know that together, we can make an even greater impact to help injured and orphaned animals and educate our communities about peaceful human coexistence with wildlife and their vital role in our precious ecosystem. Please enjoy this holiday edition of South Florida’s Wildside.

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Alessandra Medri Executive Director South Florida Wildlife Center

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WILD LECTURE SERIES: 2021 RECAP The South Florida Wildlife Center offered its first series of free public lectures this year on various topics presented by professionals in their respective fields. We heard from a diverse range of colleagues in the field, students, and staff and want to thank everyone in our community for contributing to the success of the 2021 Wild Lecture Series. We hope those who joined us were able to learn something new about nature and how it correlates to wildlife, and what we do at SFWC.

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July 2021

All presentations were recorded and are

available to view on our YouTube channel. Check out our list of speakers and topics that we shared with our community in our Wild Lecture Series: March 2021

Let’s Talk Bats with Brian Pope of Lubee Bat Conservancy Brian Pope from the Lubee Bat Conservancy discusses bat biology, conservation efforts and the great work they do.

April 2021

How to make your yard your bird feeder with Ann Wiley Watch a presentation by Ann Wiley as she discusses how to turn your yard into a natural bird feeder using landscaping techniques she has learned over the years.

May 2021

Microplastics and Wildlife with Jonathan Clark of Nova Southeastern University Join us for a talk on microplastics and how it affects wildlife. Graduate student Jonathan Clark from Nova Southeastern University discusses his findings on how much plastic local South Florida wildlife has consumed.

June 2021

Renesting Baby Wildlife with Julie D’Errico of South Florida Wildlife Center Join the South Florida Wildlife Center in a lecture to learn about renesting baby wildlife. You will learn why we renest, how to renest, and what to do if it doesnt work.

Nonnative Fish and Wildlife in Florida with Jan Fore of FWC This month’s speaker is Jan Fore from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). She discusses nonnative wildlife in Florida, and how we can do our part to protect Florida’s wildlife.

August 2021

The Florida Manatee and FWC Rescue Program by Alexandra Rose of FWC Learn all about what Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is doing for Florida Manatees from Southeast Intern Alexandra Rose.

September 2021

Sea Bird Medicine by Antonia Gardner, DVM of South Florida Wildlife Center SFWC Medical Director, Dr. Gardner goes over Sea Bird Medicine and how these patients are cared for at the center.

October 2021

Zoo Conservation Efforts by Callie Carpenter of Palm Beach Zoo Program/Avian Supervisor Callie Carpenter goes over Palm Beach Zoo and Conservation Society’s wildlife conservation efforts.

November 2021

Exotic Pet Amnesty Program by Jan Fore of FWC Learn from Jan Fore how the Exotic Pet Amnesty Program is an effort to reduce the number of nonnative species being released into the wild by pet owners who can no longer care for their pets or no longer wish to keep them.

December 2021

Learn of other ways to help the enviroment by Noelia Suarez of Heal The Planet Check out other ways you can help the enviroment through Heal The Planet. They provide free educational programs and community events aimed at inspiring people of all ages to take ownership of our planet and their contribution to it. | 9


October 1, 2021 – November 22, 2021

Total Patients Total Species





Birds 580 Mammals 274 Reptiles 40 Amphibians 1

Hours Donated


Worm-Eating Warbler This is the time of year when warblers like this migrate to new climates and, unfortunately, fly into windows and are stunned for a few days. This beautiful Warbler was brought to our Center when rescuers indicated they hadn’t seen him move in several days. Upon the initial examination of this chirpy friend, the team noted that he was bright, alert, reactive, and had no obvious injuries. After some fluids and a good night’s rest, this patient passed all the tests for release and re-joined the rest of his worm-eating flock in the natural habitat in which he was found. For birds, glass windows are worse than invisible. By reflecting foliage or sky, they look like inviting places to fly into, and because the sheer number of windows is so great, their toll on birds is enormous. Up to about 1 billion birds die from window strikes in the U.S. each year.

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The barn owl (Tyto alba) is the least common species of owl that breeds in Florida. In addition, it is unique from the other “typical owls” in that it is the only species in its family. They also are welcomed predators that control rodent and other small mammal populations. Their call is an eerie shriek, which may have led to many of the folk tales, superstitions, and urban legends you’ve heard of. This beautiful Barn Owl was brought to SFWC after being found injured near a local water source. After the initial examination, the team discovered that this owl had no obvious wounds or fractures, but was blinking very slowly, and was showing dull and quiet behavior. Further tests including bloodwork, radiographs and an eye exam revealed that this owl had experienced notable trauma. The SFWC trauma team continued to treat and monitor this patient’s progress and over time, he ate well, gained weight and the confidence in his ability to walk and fly again. Like many SFWC patients who experience trauma – time and patience greatly benefit their ability to recover successfully. This owl regained enough strength to move from the ICU trauma unit to the Wildlife Ward (indoor rehab area) and transitioned to the larger outdoor mews. He finished his two-month rehabilitation | 11 in the large outdoor flight cages where he passed his final flight test and was cleared for release back into the habitat in which he was found.


There are myths and legends from all over the world, from the Americas to the Far East. Owls, as they always have, continue to be a source of wisdom, spiritual and intellectual symbolism.

The Eastern Screech Owl is a unique bird with many exceptional qualities. They live in urban areas throughout the eastern United States, and are often seen as mysterious and elusive as this nocturnal bird is often unseen and only detected by its vocalizations. Eastern Screech Owls can be found in wooded habitats near the water.

Eastern Screech Owls Identification • Males and females look alike and often need to be physically examined to determine their sex. • The species is identified by two color phases, rufous and gray. Rufous (red) individuals live mainly in the south (more pine trees) and gray individuals in the north (more oak trees). • The owl’s breast and belly are streaked and spotted with black plumage to help camouflage them, adding a layer of protection in their native environment. • They stand approximately eight inches tall and have yellow eyes. They can raise and lower their ear tufts for display and visual communication. • As a bird of prey, these owls feed on insects, crayfish, earthworms, and all vertebrates, including songbirds, reptiles, fish, amphibians, and small mammals.

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MEET OLIVE Meet the Eastern Screech Owl that is the newest member of our Wildlife Education Ambassador Program Our newest owl ambassador was named “Olive” as a result of popular vote on our Instagram and Facebook pages. She was transferred from another wildlife facility where she was surrendered by someone who found her as a juvenile owl and tried to raise her as a pet. This facility tried to rehabilitate the owl, but unfortunately staff discovered that she may have imprinted on her human handler and would not be viable for release. Animals that imprint on human beings are less likely to thrive successfully on their own when released into their natural habitat. In Florida, there are laws that prevent wild animals from being kept in domestic captivity. This owl has now joined the SFWC family as an Animal Ambassador. She is housed in an environment appropriate for Eastern Screech Owls, and is fed a species-specific diet and trained daily. She receives behavior enrichment each day and receives regular veterinary care toward helping her developmental progress. In 2021, SFWC has treated and rehabilitated 108 eastern screech owls for care. The leading causes for admission include being displaced from their nest, found orphaned due to tree trimming, window and vehicle collisions, and physical trauma.

What is Imprinting? Imprinting is a form of learning in which an animal gains its sense of species identification. Birds do not automatically know what they are when they hatch – they visually imprint on their parents during a critical development period. After imprinting, they will identify with that species for life. | 13


E LOVE OUR OLUNTEERS 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. Our Volunteer Program seeks to provide a wide variety of opportunities for interested people to accomplish their personal, professional, philanthropic and community service goals.

January 1, 2021 – November 22, 2021



Hours Donated


As a wildlife hospital that admits more than 10,000 patients a year, opportunities for our volunteers are abound! • Volunteers are needed in Wildlife Rehabilitation, the Hospital, the Nursery, in Community Outreach & Education, and helping with the Center’s beautification projects. • Various skills can be learned in each area of the Center. Learning opportunities include interacting with wild animals and properly handling them, preparing nutritious meals and caring for their environments, administering medications and physical conditioning. • Other interactions involve field rescues, community wildlife education, and assistance with fundraising events. Thank you to all our South Florida Wildlife Center volunteers, both past and present! Every contribution of time as a volunteer can make a world of difference, especially for our wildlife patients. If you, a family member, or a friend are interested in volunteering at the Center, please visit our website and review the information under “How You Can Help.” | 15

MEET THE OUTREACH AND COMMUNITY SERVICES TEAM! Today, wild animals and their environments face many challenges and threats brought on by shrinking habitats, increasing development and traffic growth . Now more than ever, it is essential to educate our communities about the importance of conservation. Wildlife conservation efforts rely on our future generations for their survival. Programs that dedicate their time to help educate upcoming generations on the importance of saving wildlife are one of the best resources for environmental preservation. The goal of the South Florida Wildlife Center Outreach and Community Services Team is to promote respect and appreciation of nature by teaching children, families, and community members that they can peacefully co-exist with their wildlife neighbors. Our team teaches the principles of environmental conservation through fun, innovative and interactive education activities. The Outreach and Community Services Team provides a multitude of services in the Tri-County area: As an essential community resource, the staff is available 365 days a year for the intake of sick, injured, and orphaned wildlife in our Wildlife Hospital. From assessing and admitting the animals for care, to answering crisis calls for wildlife in need of rescue and providing education during each interaction. They also provide daily care for the Wildlife Education Ambassador Program animals. The team has the responsibility of caring for them, offering them a meaningful life while living at SFWC, and sharing their stories to educate the community about wildlife conservation. They present wildlife education programs at parks, schools, community gatherings, and fundraising events. Lastly they oversee a 200+ member volunteer program that helps to run the Center’s daily operations.

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Winning hearts for wildlife, one interaction at a time. | 17


Nick Sonzogni is one of South Florida Wildlife Center’s animal rehabilitation professionals. His love for wildlife started at a young age, where he would catch lizards, study birds and other small animals while outdoors. Nick started his journey with us in the Nursery in 2005, where he would care for wildlife babies who were orphaned, sick or injured. He continued his career with us, joining the Rehabilitation department in 2010 to work with adult animals—specifically, the rabies vector species, like raccoons, foxes, and coyotes. After eight years as a Rehabilitation expert, he transitioned into his “dream position” of working in the Rescue, Re-nest and Release program. As part of this program , Nick assisted the community with rescues that were too dangerous for the public to be involved with, checked on babies that were reunited with their parents, and helped release patients who had successfully completed rehabilitation. Nick currently works in the Rehabilitation department and continues to assist with wildlife rescues. His passion is apparent in all he does, and he is an excellent brand ambassador for the Center and our mission. A bonus to his career in helping wildlife was meeting the love of his life at the South Florida Wildlife Center, who loves wildlife as much as he does. They now share their passion for wildlife with two daughters, teaching them the importance of conservation, love and respect for all living beings.

Thank you Nick for all that you do and for being part of the South Florida Wildlife Center team!

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THANK YOU TO ALL OUR FRIENDS For supporting our mission, standing alongside us at events and for giving us the opportunity to engage the community after such difficult times. Since COVID-19 first slowed things down for all, we began 2021 with the idea of engaging the community once doing so was deemed safer. Events such as our Drive-Thru Baby Shower for our Nursery allowed you to donate much-needed items for all the babies we would get in spring. We also hosted our first Beach Clean-Up in years and were able to get hundreds of volunteers together to pick up hundreds of pounds of trash from the shores of Dania Beach. Partners like LauderAle were made to help bring awareness to our center and all the resources available in our community for wildlife. So much more is planned for the upcoming year, and we are excited to get everyone involved. If you were at any of these events, thank you again for your support in helping us fulfill our mission! Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission The Green Advisory Board of Dania Beach Barry University Green Council Free Our Seas and Beyond Southwest Regional Library LauderAle Brewery & Tap Room Museum of Discovery and Science Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park Broward County Parks and Recreation City of Coconut Creek Nova Southeastern University City of Fort Lauderdale Flamingo Gardens The Home Depot Rock the Ocean Publix Whole Foods Reelhead Stoked On Salt Heal The Planet | 19

STAY UP TO DATE We have been working on a new website that will not only be more interactive but will easily showcase all that we are doing! WWW.SOUTHFLORIDAWILDLIFECENTER.ORG. Make sure to follow us on FACEBOOK and INSTAGRAM @SouthFloridaWildlifeCenter to learn more about upcoming events, patient highlights, releases back into the wild and more! Check out our South Florida Wildlife Center YOUTUBE page for Wild Lecture Series recordings and other fun videos! Coming soon! Our TIK TOK @SouthFLWildlifeCenter will showcase videos featuring some of our Animal Ambassadors and patients so that you can learn more about your local wildlife!

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. 20 | South Florida’s WildSide | Winter 2021

SFWC WISH LISTS Our lifesaving work requires a variety of items to treat injured and orphaned wildlife. There are several ways to check out our “Wish List” of supplies needed to keep our wildlife hospital operating 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Many of the specific items can be found and purchased through our Amazon Baby Registry or Chewy Wishlist.

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