Thursday, December 19, 2013


Compilation of lightning strikes in the Rocky Mountains.
As clouds grow, the ice particles within collide, fracture, break, and acquire charge. The larger particles are thought to gain more negative charge while the smaller particles acquire a more positive charge. Gravity, updrafts, and other influences separate the particles leaving the lower portion of the cloud more negatively charges and the upper portion with positively charge particles. Lightning is an electrical discharge from the enormous electrical potential between positively and negatively charge particles.

There are number of different types of lightnings. One of the best known, and most dangerous, is cloud-to-ground lightning; however, intra-cloud lightning is the most common type of discharge. The charge is usually restricted within the same cloud, but not always.

While fatalities by lightning are rare, life-long health concerns, including heart and lung damage, are more common. Lightning safety is important to know, especially if the hairs on your neck begin to stand on end. Always seek shelter during a storm, but if it is unavailable, crouch down into a ball with only your feet touching the ground (in other words, do not lie down).

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


Red Fox, Vulpes vulpes
Sorry for the delays the past week. Although I will likely take a brief hiatus next week, I am planning an interesting post for this Thursday. Until then, here's another photo from my trip in Colorado. I will be following through with more on red foxes the first week of January!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Partial Solar Halo
The phenomenon of a circle of light sometimes spotted around the sun or moon are known as halos. These are caused by the refraction and reflection of light on ice crystals in the upper atmosphere. High, thin cirrus clouds are made of millions of ice crystals in the upper troposphere, part of the atmosphere almost always below freezing, and are a reason these halos. While a halo can therefore be seen year-round, the descent of the northern jet stream southward from fall to spring brings even more of these ice crystals into the air.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Wildlife Rehabilitation

Eagle properly being rehabilitated by Beverly Grage.
Wildlife Rehabilitation, as mentioned before, is an expensive and time consuming volunteer position, but also a priceless possibility for wildlife to have a second chance at life. To be a wildlife rehabilitator requires permits from the state at minimum, the federal government as well at maximum. It is not, as many think and have done, a simple task to properly raise wildlife, and it is also illegal without permits. Clearing up some misconceptions may help illustrate why rehabilitation is highly regulated and requires experience.

  1. There is often confusion as to what imprint and domestication are, and why they are not similar. A domesticated animal is one that has been bred for hundreds, and even thousands, of years to live with humans. An animal that is imprinted is NOT domestication. Imprinting is an animal who has no fear of humans, creating a danger for the person and the animal as the animal is still wild. The job of a rehabilitator is to keep a fear of humans in the animal and let them remain wild. That is how they will survive, both humans and in the wild where they belong.
  2. Wild animals are wild animals. That has not been bred out of them. Always remember wild animals are unpredictable no matter how tame they seem. Adorable babies grow up to seek mates, and nothing will stand in their way to pass on their genes.
  3. If the animal cannot be re-released, there are only two options: placement or death. Know that an imprinted animal cannot be released into the wild. One of the most unfortunate parts is how many animals lose their lives from careless humans. Sanctuaries are a last resort for the animal, but all sanctuaries have limited caging to house these animals, for their safety and for humans. 

A wildlife rehabilitator only releases an animal that has a chance of survival. They are trained to equip those animals with the skills necessary for survival, including a fear of humans. That is why, unless you have the proper permits and training, call a wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible if you find an injured, sick, or orphaned animal. Even a day's delay can result in imprinting, and unless they can then be placed, the wait could be their death.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Wildlife Rehabilitation

Eagle Release with Beverly Grage
Wildlife Rehabilitation is one of the most underappreciated and solely funded volunteer positions. These individuals go through rigorous obstacles and training in order to provide injured, sick, and/or orphaned wildlife a second chance at life. In addition to hours of dedication, they must go through hoops to even obtain the permits ranging from state permits for mammals to federal permits for birds. Not everyone can rehabilitate as not everyone knows how to properly prepare an animal to live in the wild.

Most wildlife rehabilitators have no funding, but rely solely on donations. For many, the majority of costs from food to veterinarian visits to housing come out-of-pocket. For this #givingtuesday , why not consider a wildlife rehabilitator?

One wildlife rehabilitator I ask you to consider donating to is Beverly Grage. She has helped everything from opossums to eagles, a privilege few are allowed. Raptors are one of her specialties with high rerelease rates, but unfortunately, they are also one of the most expensive. With the majority of raptors having their primary food as mice, cost to feed can easily exceed $1000 a month with less than 30 raptors. Often, it's more than 30 being cared for. With a rate of more than a raptor a day during baby season, the cost can be astounding. But for a second chance at life, wildlife rehabilitators like Beverly think it's worth it and so do her donors. Remember, even $1 can make a difference!

You can learn more, and possibly donating to Beverly Grage, from her site. You can learn of other Texas rehabilitators by visiting the TPWD website. You can usually learn about wildlife rehabilitators in other states by visiting that state's parks and wildlife website.

On the following post I plan to clear up a few misconceptions such as how imprinting is not domestication, why wild animals will never make a good pet (not to mention it is illegal), and how wildlife sanctuaries are providing a chance when rehabilitation fails.