The summer solstice, on June 21st, 2022, kicked off the official first day of summer with Earth’s longest day of sunshine in the Northern Hemisphere. There are a variety of traditions across the world that celebrate the midnight sun; however, most use this celestial event to give thanks to nature and its gifts.
With each shift in season, the type and number of wild patients follow suit based on their natural cycles. Over the course of the year, the number of onsite animals at a specific time depends on many factors, such as specific species, required level of care, and rehabilitation progress. In 2021, over 4,000 animals were treated at Greenwood.
The summer season proves to be the busiest time here at the Center with more babies and more human-wildlife conflicts as we participate in our favorite warm-weathered activities.
Most birds nest into mid-summer, even laying multiple clutches of eggs. Our feathered patients are abundant at the peak of the summer season with about 500 birds, including songbirds, waterfowl and shorebirds, onsite during this period in 2021. This can be due to injury or illness and, more commonly, the concerned citizen. Many birds that make their way into our care are unnecessarily removed from the wild in fear of being orphaned.
If you find a bird, please call Greenwood to explore next steps with licensed wildlife rehabilitators. More information on different stages of bird development can be found here: I Found A Baby Bird.
Racoons hold a steady population of about 80 onsite throughout the summer months. Based on the specific space and care required for these critters, Greenwood does have a smaller capacity for these cute creatures. This makes it especially important to do everything we can as a community to reunite racoon kits with their mothers. Other smaller mammals, such as bunnies, chipmunks and foxes, mostly inhabit Greenwood’s facilities in the summer months as well.
As the heat begins to dwindle, so do the number of critters in need of care, except our squirrel friends. Due to their mating patterns, these baby mammals find themselves at Greenwood twice a year. By September, most of these critters have found their way out into the wild world after about 12 weeks with their mothers. Last year, about 150 squirrels were onsite during the fall season – more than any other animal.
If you find a healthy juvenile squirrel on the ground, it may just need time to be reunited with the mother. Remember to contact Greenwood with any concerns with small mammals.
Fluffy insulation and cozy dens help Colorado wildlife survive through the colder months. Some birds will migrate down south to more ideal temperatures where as small mammals, like raccoons and squirrels, hunker down in their dens and nests during the temperatures rise once more.
During this time, Greenwood does not have as many critters onsite. This gives the caretakers time to prepare for the spring season and review how to better help the wildlife community in Colorado next time around the sun.
Wildlife conflicts pop up along with the wildflowers again as the temperature warm. The number of onsite animals rise at Greenwood. April and May brings another group of baby squirrels into the wild world. Nesting season begins for birds. Fox and racoon kits start to make an appearance.
To prepare for their babies, mother mammals and birds try to find a safe space to raise their young. Nests of baby bunnies in compost piles are common, as are bird nests in precarious hanging baskets. Spaces under houses or sheds may seem like ideal dens for foxes and raccoons, as do attics and even window wells. For humane ways to prevent these conflicts, click on this link: Solutions for Wildlife Conflicts.