Love is in the Air

By: Lauren Vincent, Class of 2023

In honor of Valentine’s Day, we wanted to explore the unique mating rituals of avian species that are seen at the Wildlife Medical Clinic. Interestingly, many of these birds are quite the romantics and have a single mate for life. Some of these species are common in the WMC, while others rarely make an appearance. Keep an eye on our Facebook page (@UIWMC) and in future Hawk Talk editions to note when we next see these birds in our care!

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Winter Word Scramble

While we tend to stay home and avoid the cold, wildlife have developed their own ways to spend the winter. Many birds migrate, traveling to warmer areas with plentiful food and shelter. Some wildlife may find a safe place to enter a sleep like state that helps them conserve energy during a time when food is scarce. This process can be torpor, true hibernation, or brumation, with each process characterized by differing levels of activity and lowered metabolism. Mammals, reptiles, and even birds can change their metabolism and activity as a strategy against the cold. In other cases, animals must eat what’s available in the given season. For example, even though lush prairies aren’t available in the winter, deer can still munch on twigs and grasses. Now that you’re familiar with these three ways animals cope with the cold, unscramble the names of animals that utilize each strategy! Continue reading

I Spy Winter Wildlife Homes

Every winter, as trees lose their leaves, we get a unique view into how trees support the local ecosystem. If you look up at nearby trees this time of year, you may see non-migratory birds perching, squirrels chasing each other from branch to branch, or moss frozen in time. Have you ever wondered why there always seem to be big bunches of leaves and twigs stuck in trees? Those are actually animal nests! Despite seeming precariously perched, they’re strategically placed and carefully constructed to withstand harsh wind, rain, and even snow. At first glance, can be challenging to guess what creature its owner is. Complicating matters, animals will sometimes utilize nests made by completely different species! Birds, squirrels, and even raccoons and opossums will make nests in trees. Here’s a little information about the nests of two wildlife species common in Illinois. Continue reading