Projects at Ripples: Orphan Mice, Downed Trees, Cute Kittens and Hummingbirds!

My days are filled with art, writing, and animal care. And waiting.

Female Rubythroated Hummingbird 2Male Rubythroated Hummingbird 2Waiting for both the conservation easement and residential lease to be finished and signed is a project of patience, wrapped in excitement and hope bordering on faith (something I’ve struggled with in both a religious sense and at Ripples). Meanwhile, I’m very busy at my “day jobs” illustrating a children’s book, designing greeting cards, and taking photos and writing for magazines and the Free Weekly paper. These hummingbird pictures were taken for my latest Making Ripples column on our local jewels. Researching our Ruby-thoated hummingbirds was enthralling. But lately I haven’t had much time to meet deadlines; a few things came up (and down).

2016 summer big trees over road (8)2016 summer big trees over road (12)Several trees came down in a windstorm, partially blocking the gravel driveway. Ryan applied his saw skills but couldn’t get through the largest tree without a chainsaw. Before we could finish the job, an anonymous angel cleared away most of it! When we returned, the road was clear. Notice the beautiful patterns made in the wood by some sort of tree parasite? Entomologists have my full respect for discovering and carrying knowledge about things like this.

Two baby deer or white-footed mice were caught in a sticky trap a few days ago. I was quickly educated in how to release a mouse from such a trap (pour small amounts of vegetable oil onto the trap near the mouse and watch it wiggle free).

Feeding with paintbrush dipped in almond milkSmallest baby mouse and quarterThey are probably around 2-3 weeks old because they’re fully furred, capable of moving quickly, their eyes and ears are open – but they have no interest in eating solid food, drinking water, or doing anything other than snuggling up next to each and falling asleep. Dropper feeding wasn’t going well, so I learned from mouse-rearing experts that a clean paintbrush dipped in almond milk works better. Imagine, an artist using a paintbrush to feed baby mice instead of paint! It is an art, I guess. Despite them being on the cusp of weaning, I’m not sure they will survive to be released as young adults. But it’s worth a try. I don’t handle them without gloves – these are not pets, and they do bite.

Kitten reaching outYounger Kitten 1One of our main purposes for living here is conservation work and education. We established five nest boxes for cavity nesting birds near the house, but have problems with three feral cats killing bluebirds, cardinals, woodpeckers and chipmunks (to name a few). The owner agreed to let us spay/neuter the cats, as long as we paid for it and handled the logistics of transportation and care, and also was happy to see the only sociable adult cat adopted to a super loving home where he’s now getting the attention he craved. The other two are females who each gave birth to one kitten this past April. The manx kitten was successfully socialized enough to be adopted by a coworker of Ryan’s, and we’re hearing great reports on its progress. The remaining kitten, a real cutie, has not been socialized fully yet. But once it is, it’s playful and cuddly personality will be sure to please its new human friends. If you’re interested in adopting it and helping us protect all of nature by reducing the feral cat population here, please contact me at AmandaBancroft (at) Spread the word! This kitten is reaching out for a good home. Thanks!

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