Al Batt: Ways to care for an injured animal, one by giving a second chance

Published 9:00 am Saturday, July 22, 2017

Al Batt of Hartland is a member of the Albert Lea Audubon Society. Email him at

My neighbor Crandall stops by.

“How are you doing?” I ask.

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“Everything is nearly copacetic. I was in the grocery store, in a hurry to spend some dead presidents on food. The lady ahead of me left her cart in the checkout line to go get something she’d forgotten. She just took off. She’d left without saying a word, so I added a few extra high-priced items to her shopping cart.”


I did a scientific and precise survey of the number of rabbits in my yard. I came up with way too many.

I watched a pair of eastern kingbirds harassing a crow moving along the ground. The kingbirds were kicking the corvid’s butt. The scientific name of this kingbird is Tyrannus tyrannus. Tyrannus means “tyrant, despot, or king,” in reference to the aggression kingbirds exhibit with crows and others they perceive as enemies. I often see them attacking hawks and squirrels. I wish they held a grudge against eastern cottontails. 

Melissa Bell of Owatonna stopped by the Batt Cave. She brought me something. It was a handsome red-headed woodpecker that she had found on the road not far from my home. It was still feisty. I had two choices for treatment. The first one was to drive the bird to a wonderful place called the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Roseville. That was impossible on that day. My second choice of treatment was what I went with. My wife and I placed the patient into a shoebox located in a dark, quiet corner. That is the same emergency room care that I give to a bird that had hit a window. I know some folks use other methods, but this is what I recommend. It has worked many times for me, but this woodpecker had likely been hit by a car. My optimism was guarded.

Later that day, I heard some scuffling coming from the shoebox. I peeked in and a bill flashed. I carried the shoebox outside. I opened the lid. My wife and I watched as that lovely creature flew away. It landed in a tree and scolded us severely.

We wished the bird the best.

My thanks to Melissa and her children Hank and Hazel for giving a beautiful bird a second chance.

Watching my step

I’m seeing lots of geese grazing on grass. It’s the molting season for Canada geese. The molt begins in mid-June and lasts throughout July. They drop all of their flight feathers and become unable to fly for a period of about six weeks. The geese turn grass into fertilizer rapidly.

I walked by a large container growing flowers that was situated on a busy city sidewalk. The planter was in full sun. Much bigger than the flowers and easily visible was a mallard incubating eggs. The hen paid no attention to me. Mallards are known to nest in undesirable areas that only they find desirable. Only the females incubate the eggs and take care of the ducklings.


“What’s an easy way to keep mosquitoes away while I’m sitting on my deck?” There are many methods used — foggers, sprays, repellents, sticking pins into tiny voodoo dolls and others. Mosquitoes are weak flyers and it doesn’t take much of a breeze to blow them away. A box fan or two on the deck should blow the skeeters away.

Get a pass

A senior pass is your ticket to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites. Each pass covers entrance fees at national parks and national wildlife refuges as well as standard amenity fees (day use fees) at national forests and grasslands, and at lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. A pass covers a driver and all passengers in a personal vehicle at per vehicle fee areas or up to four adults at sites that charge per person. A lifetime pass costs $10 for U.S. citizens or permanent residents age 62 or over. It’s $20 online or through the mail. The price of the lifetime senior pass will increase to $80 on Aug. 28 of this year.

Duck Stamp

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released its newest Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (duck stamp). For $25, this is a swell way to help provide habitat for North America’s birds. They also provide a pass to national wildlife refuges. Duck stamps are available at the post office. The 2017-18 federal duck stamp features a trio of Canada geese painted by James Hautman of Chaska.

Thanks for stopping by

“Silence was the cure, if only temporarily, silence and geography. But of what was I being cured? I do not know, have never known. I only know the cure. Silence, and no connections except to landscape.” — Mary Cantwell

“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” — George Bernard Shaw

Do good.