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By Laura Erickson
Staff Ornithologist, Binoculars.com
Six years ago, I got a sweet little owl named Archimedes. He had almost died as a tiny nestling from a blood parasite that attacks cavity nesting birds. Fortunately, he was brought to the Back to the Wild Wildlife Rehabilitation and Nature Education Center in Castalia, Ohio. Mona Rutger took the poor featherless bird, cold to the touch, covered with scabs and puncture wounds (his brothers and sisters had apparently been perching on him!) and diagnosed the primary problem, gave him appropriate medication to kill the parasites and heal his wounds, and he became healthy. Like the best rehabbers, Mona doesn't feed healthy baby owls--she entrusts them to her educational owls, who serve as foster parents to prevent the babies from becoming imprinted on humans. But Archimedes's weak state (he literally was only hours from death when brought to her) required more intensive care, and he did become imprinted. She provided opportunities for him to learn to hunt, but he was too drawn to humans for companionship and his release wasn't successful. She needed to place him with an education facility or educator licensed to possess a Screech Owl for education. I'll never forget the night I spoke at a birding festival in Ohio, met her, and she entrusted the little owl to me (after my husband faxed my state and federal permits to me, of course).
I was extremely impressed with Mona's work and the facility she built to care for a wide range of creatures--all with absolutely no outside funding. The tools she needed just to diagnose and treat Archimedes were expensive, and she does a lot more complicated, expensive work--all with no funding except individual contributions.
Mona has been nominated for Animal Planet's Hero of the Year Award, and is one of the ten finalists. If she wins, that $10,000 prize would sure be put to good use. I would be ever so grateful if my blog readers would go to the Animal Planet Hero of the Year page, read about Mona Rutger, and vote for her. She really and truly deserves this honor.
POSTED BY: Kathy
COMMENT POSTED: 2006-09-27 07:19:12
Archimedes' is beautiful and I am happy to vote for Mona! Keep up the good work and best of luck!
POSTED BY: Laurie
COMMENT POSTED: 2006-09-27 08:33:22
Thanks for posting this and asking for us to vote. I wouldn't have known about it otherwise and I'm thrilled to participate.
More information on Back to the Wild is available at backtothewild.com or by calling Mona Rutger at 1-419-684-9539.
This blog was used with permission.