December 2015 Volume 2, Issue 2

Seed Ball News Founder, Dr. Blake Ketchum
Wrapping up our second year in business. 
  • We've met so many wonderful people through our customers and suppliers.
  • We've learned a lot about making seed balls! 
  • We've donated thousands of seed balls and 100s of pounds of matrix to schools, science centers, and summer camps. 
  • We've sold and donated well over 455,000 milkweed seed balls for monarchs, and countless rare and endangered wildflower seed balls, as well. 
I started the because I love the natural world. I needed to directly leverage change to make the world greener and encourage others to do so.I am proud of what we've achieved so far, and with the fantastic crew that I have working along my side, I feel we can challenge ourselves to get more seeds out in the ground through commerce, educational opportunities, and special discounts and donations to science-based outreach organizations. 

Thanks, everyone, for making the world this much greener!

Certified Wildlife Rehabilitator
Robyn Graboski

Robyn prepares to release a recovered Ava. Ava, a trumpeter swan, had lead poisoning and had been hit by a car.

Robyn Graboski is the founder and certified rehabilitator at Centre Wildlife Care, in Central Pennsylvania. Centre Wildlife Care helps over 1,500 injured or orphand wild animals each year and is active in education and outreach throughout the region. Centre Wildlife Care is a non-profit organization.

How did you become involved in wildlife rehabilitation? 

In Jan of 1988, I started volunteering at Shaver’s creek.  At that time they rehabilitated wildlife.  I realized that there were few resources for orphaned and injured wildlife and I wanted to do something about that.  When Shavers gave up their license to rehabilitate wildlife, I got mine in the fall of 1994.  Since then we have lost about half of our rehabbers in the State of PA.   Little did I realize that the hobby that started 28 years ago would turn into what CWC is today caring for over 1500 animals with 40-50 volunteers.

What are the most important skills for the job?  

Willingness to constantly learn new things, have extreme dedication, a deep appreciation and respect (not just love) of animals and have the where-with-all to do the job which includes learning by apprenticing, having the right location and having the financial means.  One must also learn and follow the laws from the regulatory agencies which are the Game Commission, the Fish & Wildlife Service, the Fish and Boat Commission and the USDA.  In addition, one must be able to not only deal with animals, but also deal with the public, because they are the ones that are finding and bringing the animals to you for care.

What can we do with our gardens to support wildlife in our areas, and minimize negative impacts?  

If you plant things that wild animals like to eat, then you will attract wild animals.  One way to help keep some small mammals (rabbits & raccoons) out of gardens is an electric fence about 4 inches off the ground.  Four strands 6 inches apart will keep bears out.  We use electric fence around the outside enclosures to keep our animals safe because we essentially have live bait.  With plants, you have a different kind of bait.  What types of local organizations should we consult for advice specific to our regions throughout North America?   The cooperative extension service is a very good resource.  HSUS has some good information for dealing with wildlife conflicts. 

Can you tell us about one of your patients that was particularly rewarding to work with?  

Ava the trumpeter swan came in earlier this year after being hit by a car.  She also had pneumonia and lead poisoning.  Trumpeter swans are the largest birds in North America with a wing span of 8 foot.   Any one of those things could have killed her, but she completely recovered and was released.  Being hit by a car actually saved her life.

Centre Wildlife works with volunteers and is funded largely by donations. How do I help? 

CWC is funded by only donations and fundraisers.  We depend on donation for the operations.  We get no government, state or federal funding.  All of the money donated goes into the program to help orphaned and injure wild animals.  We have several ways people can donate including our Sponsor-A-Critter program going on right now.  Donations can be made on our website through PayPal.  Donations can also be mailed to Centre Wildlife Care, PO Box 572, Lemont, PA   16851.

Plant of the Month
All those dead stems and seed heads

Leave them be!

White Breasted Nuthatch feeds upside down on trees and the stems of plants. Its winter diet is dominated by seed. When it warms up, they love insects.
To most gardeners, fall is a time to clean up and prune their lawns and gardens for next season; winter is a time to reflect and plan for the year ahead. But did you know you can skip tidying up the and enjoy your garden even in the dead of winter? As the last leaves and fall blossoms fade away with the daylight, the barren remnants of once flourishing trees and gardens remain to face the cold winter months. They may not be as vibrant and lively as they once were, but the skeletons left behind play a valuable role for the survival of winter wildlife. Birds, insects, and critters will take refuge in stiff frozen gardens as they rely heavily on the food source and shelter it provides to survive and thrive until the spring thaw. By putting down the rake and pruning shears, you have the opportunity to create your own nature reserve by increasing biodiversity in your garden to enjoy all year long.

Instead of raking and bagging your leaves, which no one likes to do anyways, you can reuse them to create a free mulch to improve water retention, improve soil fertility and suppress weed growth in your garden. It can also be used to create a habitat for wildlife by building brush piles to provide food, shelter, and nesting material. Many moth and butterfly caterpillars will overwinter in fallen leaves until emerging when conditions are right. Leaving deadheading and pruning until the spring allows you to provide a prime food and shelter source for birds and critters. By planting Purple Coneflower, Black Eyed Susans, Joe Pye Weed, and Ironweed can provide a reliable source of food and shelter when they are not deadheaded or pruned. By using a few of these tips and planting flowers and shrubs to provide sanctuaries for wildlife, you can have the opportunity to create a wildlife winter garden reserve to bring diversity, color, and life back to your garden year round.

By Katrina Weakland, Staff Scientist.
Photo Credit: Mdf of Wikimedia. This image was Wikimedia Image of the Day on March 17, 2007, and was a contender for Image of the Year 2007. 

Animal of the Month
Upscale Winter Habitat

A fun and funky critter hotel can support wildlife in the winter months.
Have you ever wondered what happens to all of the insects over the winter? Similar to warm-blooded animals, many cold-blooded creatures seek shelter or migrate long distances in order to survive. While many gardeners attempt to attract beneficial insects the rest of the year, they often overlook the importance of maintaining an attractive site during the harsh winter months. In our area, the invasive Asian Lady Beetles (Harmonia axyridis) often invades homes, sometimes by the thousands. Once the beetles enter buildings, they seek out crevices in attics or wall cavities, as well as other protected places to spend the season. We also encounter other less delightful creatures such as mice and spiders during this time.

Don’t fret; there is good news… By recycling household goods, you can offer these uninvited guests their very own Multi-Habitat Hotel. With everyday items such as bricks, old pots, cardboard rolls, wood scrap, twigs, dried flowers, fallen leaves, pinecones and pine needles, you can build a home for a wide-array of animals. You can also assist native bees in the area by drilling holes various sized holes into old logs. Be creative with your reuse, and a few inhabitants will likely stay year-round!

By Brian Moyer, Staff Biologist.
Photo Credit: AnnaER from Pixabay

Secret Passcode

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This passcode entitles you this month's exclusive promotion: $4 off every pack of seed balls from our Wildlife Support Collection. Use code when checking out FREE with purchase.

Add $4 off every pack of seed balls from our Wildlife Support Collection. Use code when checking out to your cart, and type the code at checkout to access your discount.

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