10/10/04 — Mount Olive woman rescues critters

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Mount Olive woman rescues critters

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on October 10, 2004 2:09 AM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Heaven is being a bird and landing in Ann Dewar's backyard.

The family cat bounded onto the back deck with a bird in his mouth.

Mrs. Dewar retrieved the bird and sent the cat into the house with a scolding.

"He's not supposed to be outside," she said, checking the bird. "And he wouldn't have caught this one if he'd been healthy."

The bird appeared to have a fungus that's been going around.

"We'll hang onto him," she said, placing him on a heating pad on her back porch on Wells Street in the heart of Mount Olive.

Mrs. Dewar, licensed in 1990 as a certified wildlife rehabber, has raised animals all her life.

"I drove my mother crazy growing up. She'd say, 'You can't save them all, Ann.'

"I've got very tolerant neighbors on all four sides," she added. "They have been very considerate of us and our menagerie."

She and her husband, Allen, are a team. She feeds the babies and, being a nurse, does the doctoring. He feeds the bigger critters outside.

Mr. Blue, one of two pigeons that are permanent residents of the back porch, flies around the humans and hooooo's at them. He has been with the Dewars since before he had feathers. The other pigeon, which came to them grown, refuses to go wild.

"He was released and came back, so we turned him in," said Mrs. Dewar. She and her husband rehabilitate the animals until they're ready to go back into the wild. The critters will let you know when they're ready, she said. They get unhappy, antsy.

Five doves are sharing the porch with the permanent residents. It's dove season.

A robin named Pudrow came from Wilson. A couple there raised him from a baby but brought him to the Dewar home knowing he needed to go wild.

"It will take him through the winter to decide if he wants to go wild. He's used to people, but he'll get over it," said Mrs. Dewar, feeding Pudrow some millworms from a wormfarm in a covered plastic storage container on the floor. Ugh Lee squawks around the corner. He's a blue crown conyer, a "feather picker," and he is "ugly."

An orange weaver finch is flirting with the females. Females don't turn orange. Neither does he unless he's "got on his courting clothes. He's normally brown. He's a tropical. Somebody just got tired of messing with birds, and Ann Dewar has an aviary. It's good to have some stay. The young birds see them scratching in the food and learn from them. They're the teachers."

Across from the big aviary on the porch are some smaller cages. One holds a kingfisher with a broken wing. He probably will never be released, said Mrs. Dewar.

Beside his cage is another small one holding a yellow shafted flicker. He appears to have some nerve damage to one of his wings, but Mrs. Dewar thinks he will be able to fly again.

Another cage holds a flying squirrel that was released with his sister one day last year. Three weeks later, he showed back up in a flower pot next door.

Three baby eastern gray squirrels nearby will be ready in three weeks to go to one of the big cages inside a large fenced lot in the backyard. They will be released in the spring.

Inside the big lot are two pens, one holding three medium-sized squirrels and the other, five larger ones.

The five will be ready to go free next week in what is called a "soft release." Rather than taking them to a strange place, the Dewars open the door to the cage and put food in it. The squirrels come and go as they want to. But at night, the cage closes, because of predators.

When her squirrels are ready, she has three places where she feels comfortable taking them, one in Grantham, one in Duplin County and another in Seven Springs. "The people want them," she said. "They see that they're fed."

Under a separate permit, she keeps fauns in a deer pen just inside the large lot from time to time. Visitors are not allowed at those times. The deer can't get used to human voices or smells.

Two painted turtles, Alberta and Little Joe, bask in the water in a pen at the other end along the edge. They were raised in an apartment in Raleigh and would not make it in the wild. They've been in captivity too long. They spend the summers outdoors, and they have a cage inside the house for hibernating in the winter.