Thursday, October 29, 2015

Their Bags are Packed and They’re Ready to Go…Well, Most of Them

Patty McLaughlin with Wild Bird Care Centre mascot,
Violet the Turkey Vulture, and Indigo, the American Kestrel
The Ottawa Humane Society works in partnership with many community organizations to help the animals. The following is a guest post from the Wild Bird Care Centre.  

Hello from the Wild Bird Care Centre, Ottawa’s only organization dedicated to the care, treatment and rehabilitation of injured or orphaned wild birds. Each year, the centre receives more than 2,400 wild birds from the Ottawa area. 

You may have noticed that the birds are super busy at this time of the year. Either they’re building a flock to travel south or, they are busy growing an extra coat of down feathers and searching for high fat food sources for the cold months ahead. As our winters here in Ottawa are quite cold and sometimes downright unforgiving, the majority of our summer birds have the common sense to head south! The trip is not easy but with the amount of snow we get here, there just isn’t enough food for them to survive otherwise. 

For birds who brave the Ottawa winter, many depend on our feeders as a major food source. Here are some tips and facts to make the most of your feeders:
  • The best thing to offer the birds is high fat seeds, such as black oiled sunflower seeds and peanuts. 
  • Did you know that the Black-capped Chickadee caches extra seeds in small crevices and can remember where they put ALL of them for over a month?!
  • Many small finches also stay throughout the winter and enjoy eating the very small nyjer seed. If you have trouble with unfavorable feeder guests, such as squirrels, consider putting up a nyjer feeder. The design of these feeders only allows a very small beak to grab the seeds and they are not very appealing to squirrels.
  • Once the weather drops below freezing, you can also put out suet feeders and you will likely be quickly rewarded by seeing several of our local woodpecker and nuthatch species.
  • Just as we suffer from more colds and flu in the winter time, so do the birds. It is important to occasionally wash those sick bird germs off your feeder with a 10-parts water to one-part bleach solution.
Many of the injured birds that come into the centre during the fall months have suffered injuries from hitting windows. Most small songbirds migrate at night to reduce their risk of predation and overheating. Large office buildings that keep their lights on during the night disorient the birds causing them to hit the windows. Window strikes during the day are usually due to the sun reflecting images, such as trees, on the outside of the window. Any mitigation measures to prevent window impacts, such as decals, must be placed on the outside of the window for them to be effective.

There is now an organization in Ottawa patrolling some of the known problem buildings for window strikes. For more information about how to prevent birds from hitting your windows visit, as they have many great ideas. 

If you have found a bird that has possibly hit a window or is otherwise injured, toss a small towel over the bird to pick it up and place the bird in a small dark box lined with an old rag or towel. Tossing a towel over the bird will often calm it down. Allow the bird to rest for an hour and then bring the box outside for a release attempt. If the release fails, please bring the bird to the Wild Bird Care Centre for further treatment. The Wild Bird Care Centre is located at 734 Moodie Dr. and is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. We also have drop-off crates on the front porch for after hours drop-offs. 

COME AND VISIT US!  Do you want to get an up close look at some of our local birds? The centre has visiting hours from noon to 3 p.m. daily, where you are welcome to do a self-guided walk through of the centre and see the birds through the viewing windows. There is no cost to visit the centre, however, donations are always greatly appreciated. The trails around the centre are easy to walk and are filled with chickadees eager to come down to your hand for some sunflower seeds!
For more information about the centre please visit

Patty McLaughlin, Education Coordinator
Wild Bird Care Centre

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Pets are the Best Medicine

Whether it’s studies on heart disease, stroke, immunity, allergies, depression, or anxiety, there is an common finding showing up in more and more medical research these days: It helps to have a pet. You don’t have to look hard to find a new report on the positive impacts of pets on our physical and mental health. Indeed, caring for a pet has been linked to everything from physical health to happiness to longevity. The rationale, though, is simpler than you may think. Properly caring for a pet provides us with three key components of a long and healthy life: exercise, purpose, and companionship. 

We all know it: Exercise every day keeps the doctor away. Whether it’s taking Fido for a hike or batting cat nip toys back and forth on the floor with Fluffy, pets get us off the couch and moving, without having to pack a bag for the gym or subscribe to the newest costly at-home fitness program. Our commitment to caring for our pet’s physical needs doubles as caring for our own.

Caring for a pet also provides a sense of purpose and a structure to our daily routine. The thought of heading to work may not make you want to get out of bed in the morning, but knowing a furry companion is waiting for you to start her day with – to feed, walk, play with and snuggle before you launch into other responsibilities – may be just what it takes to motivate you to start your day. Caring for a pet has been proven to result in adults – including the elderly – caring better for themselves on a daily basis. 

And, pets can be the perfect cure for loneliness – in more ways than one. Pets provide us with their unmatched unconditional love and loyalty; they become our someone to wake up with, come home to, and talk to every day. However, owning a pet can also be the best way to boost our social interaction with people. Pets are great conversation starters and easy ice breakers: taking your pet to the park or to obedience classes can be a great way to meet people and make new friends … or more! 

So, whether you’re looking to get fit, prevent health problems in the future, or simply find a date for Saturday, you may not need to look any further than the loyal furball curled up at your feet. Or, if you don’t have a pet at home, maybe it’s time to skip the pharmacy and head to your local humane society – your perfect match (and cure) may be waiting for you.

For details on the specific health benefits of pets, check out these reports:

Andrea Tatarski
Coordinator: Humane Education

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Is a Small Animal the Pet for You?

Phoenix, one of the many small animals waiting
for her forever home at the OHS
When thinking of the Ottawa Humane Society, most people will say that visions of cats, kittens, puppies and dogs come to mind. But what if you are looking to add a small animal to your family? Where would you go? 

Well, look no further than those you trust to help you find your feline and canine companions. What most people don’t realize is that the OHS always has a large variety of small animals that can include budgies, finches, cockatiels, lovebirds, doves, parrotlets, gerbils, mice, hamsters, degus, chinchillas, rats, guinea pigs, rabbits and more. 

Meet Phoenix (A176837), for example, a beautiful three year old Netherland Dwarf rabbit. Since she arrived at the OHS in January 2015, Phoenix has waited very patiently for almost a year while watching a lot of her bunny friends find their forever homes. This independent lady will amuse you with how she likes to keep order in her bunny kingdom. She also loves to spend a lot of time outside of her cage having grand adventures. While she doesn’t enjoy being handled that much, she will always let you know when she needs attention by resting her chin on you or pawing at your leg.

Most often thought of as starter pets, small animals actually require the same level of commitment, enrichment, interaction and vet care as their feline and canine counterparts. Many small animals can also be trained to learn tricks, use a litter box and walk on a leash, among other things. 

What they lack in size, they more than make up for in love and companionship and you will quickly find yourself under their spell as you play with them and discover their personalities. If you have been hoping to add a little bundle of love to your family, come by the Adoption Centre to meet a wide variety of small animals like Phoenix and find that perfect match for your family.

Sarah Oswald
Manager: Admissions and Rehoming

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Legacy Gifts: The Gift of a Lifetime

What is a legacy gift? Once called "planned gifts," simply, these gifts are made by committed individuals upon their deaths.

For most of us, a legacy gift is the culmination of a lifetime commitment to a cause, often the biggest gift we ever make to work that we support and believe in. A handful are made through life insurance, and there are a variety of models that can save taxes to an estate or during a lifetime, but at least at the OHS, almost all are made through wills.

What does the OHS do with legacy gifts? Well, first, we don't spend them in the current year. They are placed in a fund separate from our operating fund. Some humane societies I know just add legacies to their revenue in the current year. Of course, it is their right. But spending legacies when they come is financially risky as they are an inherently unpredictable source of revenue. And frankly it feels slightly disrespectful to me. While donors can specify how their bequest can be spent, almost none do. I feel in my heart that legacy donors hope their gift will be used for something special, something lasting.

The OHS uses its legacy fund for a variety of purposes. Legacy gifts helped to build our shelter. They have purchased major equipment, like x-ray machines, and the vehicles we use to rescue animals in distress. They have funded pilot projects that grew to permanent programs that are now saving lives. They provide security for the animals for rough times. While other gifts are about today, legacy gifts are often about tomorrow.

We understand that your legacy gift is not like others. It represents the work of a lifetime and we take it very seriously.

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

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