Something had caught the attention of the tree crew removing two dead oaks from my backyard. It was their lunch break, and Mark Reddinger, the arborist crew leader, was hunched over something. When he stood, I saw him holding a baby raccoon by the scruff of its neck.
The crew found a total of three babies in a hollow section of a tree they were working on.
Mark placed the raccoon babies out of the way, under some bushes. I suggested putting them back in one of the hollowed out sections of the tree trunk where they were found. I thought this would make it easier for the mother to track them down. Mark agreed, and used some of the straw-like dried up plants from my rubbish pile to partially cover them.
Mary Cheh’s backyard borders mine, and she had come outside. Knowing what an animal lover she is, I invited her to see the babies. She was enthralled, but worried. One of the babies was shivering. She fetched some towels to cover the openings of the hollow.
When she returned home, she was still concerned. Mary called Anne Lewis, the president of the DC wildlife protection and rehabilitation nonprofit City Wildlife. When I looked out back a couple of hours later, Mary was there with Anne, examining the three babies. Mary later told me that Anne had put five hand warmers in the hollow to keep the babies warm.
Around 6:00 that evening, the mother returned. She clambered up the part of the tree that was still standing and circled around the top, sniffing at it. She then climbed back down and headed to the area where Mark had initially put the babies. After that I lost sight of her. The next morning I went out to check the hollow. They were gone. I assume that the mother found them, and they are safe and sound in a new tree.
Mary Cheh was particularly happy to hear this. And, she said, “City Wildlife deserves a big shout out for responding to the call for help within an hour – the District is so lucky to have such a diligent and caring team at work for our wildlife.”
So much is changing. Raccoon families had been raised in this tree since at least 1989, when we moved into our home. I will miss them and my trees.