In this morning of June the sun rises in the valley of the Gresse. The wildlife protection center in Isère – Le Tichodrome – is nestled in its heart, discreet and silent. The sun’s rays gently warm the stones of the house.
Care and feeding for young and injured
The inhabitants wake up in their turn and the village comes alive slowly. On the heights, the center is already buzzing for several hours. In the ballet of the round-trips between the cellar – the center’s manger – and the infirmaries, everyone knows their role in order to prepare the first meals of the day: chopped steak, chicks, nutribird, seeds and worms are on the menu, depending everyone’s needs.
In the nursery dozens of young hedgehogs are waiting for their first meal. Often found by individuals following the predation of a domestic animal or the death of the mother, whole siblings were brought this year. In order to better reproduce their environment, siblings are conserved or young people of similar age are grouped together. They are now alongside nestlings nestled in incubators, a young weasel and a baby polecat. It is the excitement in this small room gently lit by the morning light. A choreography where the caretakers cross and complement each other in the care to be provided: the young are weighed, fed, their digestive system activated and the cages cleaned. After several hours to take care of all this small world, the time has come to start again with the first ones!
In the corridor opposite, in the heart of the infirmary 3, a similar dance takes place but this time to feed the adults and to provide care to the wounded: hedgehogs, turtledoves, blackbirds, crows, variable buzzard, martens, squirrels, garden dormouse… Ecovolunteers are organized in teams of two and follow a strict protocol of care to avoid the risk of contamination especially between hedgehogs.
At first, I was not necessarily very comfortable with birds but the more I take care of them, the more I find them fascinating and the more I like to take care of them.
The infirmary 1 has special occupants. In an incubator, hidden from view, are eggs of gray Harrier. Recovered in a field, as part of the protection campaign of the LPO Isère, they were brought to the center to protect them from the harvesters. One of them has already hatched a few weeks ago. This harrier chick, is followed with great attention by the team (paid staff) and fed several times a day with a clamp. The key word for the whole team: avoid the impregnation of all animals – big and small – in order to release them so that they have every chance of survival in the wild.
It is midday and the sun heats the terrace at the back of the center. Installed under tents two ecovolunteers are very caring with residents with special needs. On a table and held with towels, to prevent them from flying, two swifts are fed with crickets. Never landing directly on the floor, but against the walls, they are unable to drink in a cup. The volunteers apply with a syringe a drop of water on the bill between each cricket. In summer the center can count dozens to get back on foot.
Emergency management and advice for wildlife
Throughout the day, Le Tichodrome receives many calls from individuals who found an animal. It advises them on the conduct to take according to the species, the animal’s state and the capacity of reception. A real role of awareness!
It is in the treatment room that the animals brought by private individuals during the day are auscultated. For some, it is a bad fall of a roof and for others a collision with a car. The teams provide first aid, give a diagnostic and entrust them to the infirmaries for further care. Depending on the fractures of some birds, they are taken to one of the veterinarians who accompanies the center.
For some animals, the teams are ready to drive for hours to bring them to the center best suited to welcome them and give them the care and attention they need. This was the case for the baby polecat, because it needs to have a single healer what the team could not provide. The decision was made to take him to another center so that he has the best conditions to grow up and be released.
Regain strength before returning to nature and its freedom
Leaving the center you can read “silence”. Some small and medium aviaries are set up to allow birds to recover. There is a little duke, a young gull or various sparrow like blackbirds.
On the heights of the center, away from the noise of the city, are installed the large aviaries including a 44m one.They allow birds to fly more freely in order to rehabilitate themselves after a period of immobilization following a fracture and to make a wing stroke more towards freedom.
This is the case for one of the variable nozzles of the large aviary. Teams gather to retrieve it to see if it is ready to be released. Equipped with nets, scales and food, teams enter the aviary. After weighing, the director of the center blows gently on her breast (thorax) to see if it is not salient. In this way she can assess whether she has enough weight to be released and have every chance of survival in the wild.
After a favorable analysis, the team is gathering for this moment – this is why everyone is working tirelessly. The box opens and it is without hesitation that it flies into the valley. This is a beautiful moment that rewards hours of work, care and loss. And for the teams it time to go back to the ones still in care!