This month we had an opportunity to do a similar call to the one that started us on our non profit journey.

The caller had witnessed quail chicks falling into a storm drain through the grate on Friendly Street in Eugene. She was unable to lift the grate to rescue the distressed birds herself and called our hotline.

We arrived on scene to assess the situation and discovered four baby quail chicks were far below street level, in the drain. Once we removed the cover, we worked as a team to remove the four chicks. The caller was feeling unsure, that she thought there had been five that fell. The pipe at the bottom travels vertically and slightly down at the start and we couldn’t leave without somehow checking.

With a little creativity we were able to look down and see the stranded chick had slid down about three feet into the runoff pipe. Using a make-shift scoop with a thick hoop wire, we gently pulled it within reach.

Unfortunately by the time we arrived the mom had disappeared. We let the babies call for a time but they were cold and stressed so we eventually bundled them up for temporary care until we found a suitable home. Two days later we were able to coordinate getting them to a farm with many other quail so they can be raised as naturally as possible without parents.

These little quail could never have navigated this situation of urban infrastructure without the heroic work of humans, namely our caller, who was not only insistent on remembering 5 chicks, but also surprised us by entering the drain of her own volition without hesitation to aid the rescue.

We really appreciate her reaching out to us and we encourage everyone to notice wildlife around you and be aware of the dangers they face, particularly in our beautifully forested county and cities.

It was a very quiet winter for the hotline. That all ended in June, with a record breaking heat dome and a warm spring combining to create many wildlife emergencies.

The warm, dry spring led to a burgeoning population of all types of wildlife causing our only physical, medical resource to be completely overwhelmed and stop taking patients. This complicated many calls as we could no longer offer a location for even the most urgent of cases. Then the heatwave hit.

Wild Animal Rescue of Lane County, like many other wildlife agencies, was overwhelmed by the volume of calls due to birds kicking nestlings out early, fawns separated from parents and ground mammals suffering from the heat. Our phones took more calls in June than the last four years combined.

Many people seemed surprised that wild animals may be unable to mitigate extreme conditions themselves. The conditions brought on by climate change are even more difficult for animals to navigate as they generally lack shelter and fresh water.

While planting bushes, trees and installing natural water features are amazing to aid them, not everyone can do these things. Please also consider leaving out a box to create a shade location and small, shallow containers of water, if it’s a possibility. Also, don’t be surprised if you see animals in distress, acting strangely, or chased out of their normal sleeping schedule and safety due to heatstroke or hyperthermia.

As always, we are here 24 hours a day to help anyway we can. Local wildlife agencies need volunteers too, so if you’ve got time, consider reaching out.