A New Danger to Endangered Cactus Wrens


Glue traps for mice and rats.

It started innocently enough as an attempt to get rid of some pack rats around my home – a frustrating process as many Tucsonans know well….

I purchased two large glue traps, which are coated with a scented sticky substance that attracts rats or mice, which then get stuck.

The traps worked as advertised, catching three small pack rats. But I was horrified to discover that one trap also held a Western screech owl, an adorable species about 8 inches tall, which has had its habitat hammered by development. It wildly flapped its wings, trilled and barked, in a futile effort to escape.
Now what to do? An Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum staffer told me to call Janet or Lewis Miller at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northwest Tucson. Janet told me to carefully wrap the bird in a towel and bring it in….

Lots of human activities maim birds and animals but one of the worst, according to the Millers, are glue traps, which ensnare screech and elf owls, Gila woodpeckers and cactus wrens….

Lewis first used mineral oil to dissolve the sticky substance on the screech owl’s feathers and beak; then Janet used a small dropper to feed it liquid electrolytes to replace those lost by the bird during this horrific experience. A volunteer readied a cage in a warm area. A wash with Dawn dish soap will follow and plenty of feedings over the next couple of days. As of this writing, I don’t know whether my screech owl will survive.


    
    
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