Wednesday, May 27, 2009

First Tour of the Season!

Rain or Shine the REGI educators are ready for the summer tour season to begin! Last week we had a special early bird tour for an after school program from Tomahawk. Twenty 4th-6th graders filed off their yellow bus eager to see the REGI facilities first hand. We had many different birds perched out on the fence so everyone could get a close up look at their powerful beauty. The students and adult chaperones alike beamed with excitement when they saw the fastest animal in the world, the Peregrine Falcon. Heads turned to watch the owls flexible neck and hopes rose as they watched the Turkey Vulture soar.

On a REGI tour visitors are able to see the buildings were the injured and sick birds on our blog find time to heal their wounds. Many of our educational birds are perched out to welcome you and the REGI educators, staff, and interns are available to answer all your questions.

Do you want to come to REGI for a tour? We would love to have you! Tour season officially begins in June and continues until the end of August. We offer tours every Tuesday, Wednesday, and second Saturday of each month at 10:00am and 1:00pm. You must PRE-REGISTER! Please call Nicole at 715-623-2563 to sign up today. Our tour fee is $5 per person.

Sad Case of Bald Eagle Caught in Leg Hold Trap

Bald eagles are so incredible to see let alone work with. We are proud to have a very good release rate with our patients including Bald eagles, but there are times when it is not to be.

No matter how many years I have worked with wildlife it is something you really never get used to. After forty plus years euthanizing a patient is still hard even when we know it is the best thing for the patient. People assume we can euthanize a patient with little conscience or feeling. Some people do perhaps but it is not the case at REGI. I tell my interns if you reach that point where you don't feel anymore you need to consider another field.

On Saturday night of the Memorial Day weekend I received a call about a Bald Eagle down on the ground near Tigerton, WI. The bird was located over a half hour drive from the REGI facility. It was getting dark fast and I knew it would be dead dark by the time we arrived in Tigerton. My husband and I mobilized quickly and were on the road within minutes after the call. The situation was the eagle was found by group of friends camping therefore the actual site was fairly remote. We traveled down narrow roads and finally through farm fields etc before we reached the bird.

I am very grateful to the group of people that found this bird. We don't usually go out after dark to capture Bald Eagles, but their description of the situation was compelling. That, and they were going to stay with the bird until we got there so it did not wander off and become hidden in the forest.

We arrived to find the people doing exactly as they said. The adult male eagle was slumped against a woodpile. I was able to approach him quickly. He didn't fight the capture. The photos show the process of approaching the bird and then gathering him up for the trip back to REGI.

When I saw the right leg I was sickened. The leg had obviously been caught in a leg hold trap put out to trap mammalian predators. There are "proper" ways to set traps that all but eliminate bald eagles and other non-target animals from becoming accidentally trapped and then there are the "improper" methods.

On getting back to REGI and examining the eagle we found the injury was at least several weeks old. The eagle weighed only five pounds. That means it was at least weeks trying to survive with this horrific injury. It would have been impossible for the bird to have gotten himself out of the trap. Someone had to have let him out. They would have had to know the leg was badly crushed at the joint and the other was dislocated and yet rather than finding help for this magnificent adult eagle they simply "let him go". He was released to starve. I cannot even imagine what they were thinking except perhaps that they would be in trouble for trapping a bald eagle.

The end result was the eagle had to be euthanized. The right leg was necrotic and there was no way to repair it. The other leg was dislocate likely from the eagle pulling to try to free himself from the offending trap.

Some stories don't end well. The case has been reported as it has to be to USFWS.

My thanks to the people that found the bird and got him help. At least he was warm and no longer in pain when the end came. Sometimes that is all we can do.

Marge Gibson © 2009

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Weekend Catch-up With LOTS of New Patients

( Photo: Barred Owl Owlet fell from its nest in Antigo. An alert homeowner found the owlet and brought it to REGI)

What a weekend it has been! I hardly know where to begin we have been so busy. It is best I give a rough outline and fill in later.

We have had a roller coaster of emotions during the past few days. I am used to it all on some level, but it is all a new experience for the summer interns. I am delighted to announce we have a great group of young people this year. They are proving themselves as super competent quickly.

( Photo: Baby robins like these are just one species of passerines that fill our incubators.)

We had a population explosion of passerine chicks of many species during the weekend. They are tiny but in some ways that hardest to care for. Many species of birds eat only insects their first few weeks of life. We have a few different formulas that augment the insect diet in part to make is possible to raise so many babes. Their fist week of life many of these little mouths have to be fed every 20 minutes. It is EXHAUSTING!

It is exciting to see them developing however and once they are on their own, this labor intensive "baby time" will be but a distant memory. Funny how those memories become sweeter with time.

Katie was very excited the other day when she picked up a bird with an odd description. A caller said her cat caught a bird and she was stymied to come up with a description of the bird. Sometimes it is hard for people to give a good description especially if they are not familiar with nature.
The little guy was a baby American Woodcock.
(Photo: Baby Woodcocks are so odd looking they have to be classified as adorable.)

The American Woodcock is a shorebird with a fascinating natural history. The top beak is flexible. They eat their weight in earthworms daily. Happily our chick is eating tons of earthworms and is growing rapidly.

The little one is doing well and currently is living with two tiny Common Merganser Ducklings. Yes, we know they seem like odd bedfellows, but in this case it is all about age, size and the fact that both species are high strung and need other individuals as companions for the best chance of surviving. The plan is working as all are doing well.

We have a new tiny baby Sandhill Crane colt. She arrived just last night from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Our other Sandhill Colt is now 2 weeks old. He is so tall and interacts with the wild pair of sandhills. It is an odd situation but it seems to be comfortable for the wild pair and for the colt so we are happy with that.
(Photo: Sandhill Crane colt from Michigan's U.P. at just a few days old)

(Photo: Two week old Sandhill Crane colt first appeared in this blog 2 weeks ago. He is now a tall and lanky colt and is interacting well with the wild Sandhill Crane pair.)

The above is just a preview of the weekend. More will follow soon.
Marge Gibson © 2009

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend, Past and Present

On this Memorial Day I want to thank our service men and women for their service to our country. It does not matter if your service is recent or long ago. You have given much and I have great appreciation for your service. We at REGI are involved with veterans from many wars. We often release eagles in their honor. We are thrilled to be able to offer what we can do in tribute to these fine men and women. It it a tiny offering in contrast to their contribution.

On a personal note Memorial Day or as my late parents referred to it, Decoration Day, was always a solemn occasion. For the week or two previous my mother would plant flowers at the cemetery for our late relatives. My family has lived in the same area for a hundred years, so there were lots of graves to decorate.

( Photo: Private Emil Gleich died in France Oct. 14, 1918)

My mother lost a favorite uncle in WWI. Private Emil Gleich died in France in 1918. He was the youngest of the family and adored by everyone. He was the talented one that was earmarked to do great things in life. I heard his story at least once a year until my mother herself passed away a few years ago at age 92. Mother spent extra time on his grave and weep as she did. Memorial Day was sad. It was about remembering and respecting the memory of those that have gone on. It was about not forgetting the lives and contributions many of which affect our lives even today.

As a child I didn't understand it all very well. While our presence at the cemetery was mandatory, my cousin and I would amuse ourselves looking at gravestones. We played games trying to remember where the oldest person was buried and how old each was when they passed. I remember when we found the headstone of a child that was younger than we were at the time. A cold chill ran down us as the reality of that hit us. There were rules such as not walking on the graves, no running and most of all no laughing because it was disrespectful to the memory of those buried. We were very excited to see the parades and the military honor guard that brought the flags and shot the guns in salute. The weekend was an integral part of our life.

I went from a child being there because my mother said it was important to truly understanding the reason behind the solemnness of it all. Now it is I that take flowers to my parents graves and those of the relatives that meant so much to my parents. I spend a little extra time at mothers uncles grave as well.

Everyone in this country has lost someone special in their lives to war or militarily conflict. For some it was a father, mother, son or daughter. For others a husband, wife, or best friend. Memorial Day is a special time that we do take to demonstrate our respect and love.

Cook-outs and family gatherings abound this weekend. Gathering of family and friends is an important aspect of remembering and sharing stories that will be passed down to the younger generation. Take time to pass down some memories of those that are no longer with us. Your kids will benefit in the end with a greater understanding of where they came from and those that have died to make our country safe.

There are a few photos below of past REGI events that have honored veterans.

Marge Gibson © 2009

Friday, May 22, 2009

Summer Interns Have Arrived!

( Photo: Director of Education Nicole Swanson working with the interns on their first day. The photo looks like everyone is just kicking back and having fun. While that is true,learning to handle our education birds and developing a solid base of trust with each bird is important.)

Summer has officially began for us at REGI. Our summer interns have arrived! Everyone has unpacked and ready for a summer of learning. This is an exciting time for all of us. The interns add a new dimension to REGI. They are always eager to learn and bring with them new ideas that add to our organization as well. We quickly become a team.

This year all of our interns are from University of Wisconsin/Stevens Point- College of Natural Resources. UWSP has a terrific program and we are very proud to be part of it.

( Intern Aprill Jaeger with Rommy our Barn Owl)

( Intern Lance Holm with Fonzy our Great-horned Owl)

( Intern Natasha Siegel with Dessa our Rough-legged Hawk)

If you call REGI this summer you may well speak to one of our fine interns.

We are off to feed babies and do more orientation but will be back to the blog soon with new patients and events.

Have a great day everyone.

Marge Gibson © 2009

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Baby Birds Flood In to REGI

We are admitting many patients each day now. We receive 10-15 patients a day at this point. That will only increase as summer approaches.

Baby birds of every shape and species are pouring through the door. Here are some of their photos! They grow so quickly. Baby passerines can go from egg to flight in as little as 8 days. It is hard to even imagine the process unless you have experienced it.

Passerines need to be fed every twenty minutes their first week of life from sun-up to sundown. The next time you see adult birds such as robins in a frantic search for food you can appreciate the reason.

The Saw-whet Owl admitted from Merrill late last week is currently in an exercise flight. We are encouraged with her quick recovery from her head injury. Her vision has all but returned. We will check her depth perception and hearing in the flight. An owls hearing is just as important as their sight. About sixty percent of an owls hunting ability comes from hearing. A head injury could cause problems with hearing so we need to make sure hers is spot on before we send her home. We hope her mate has been taking good care of the youngsters in her absence. Male birds, raptors in particular are incredible parents and can take over raising young without the female in most cases. At REGI we have male foster parents that rear orphans from tiny through release with no female present. I am always tempted to write the "Father of the Year" contests for some of our special "dads".

(Photo: Mallard ducklings in brooder on the left and Canada Goose goslings on the right. The duckings are much bigger than the goslings at this point, but that will not last for long.)

The ducklings rescued by a Wausau Police Officer are growing. They are about ¾ the size of adult Mallards now. They are ravenous all of the time. We wish duckweed was developed on ponds in the area. We harvest the duck weed and bring it home for our ducklings. There is nothing better for them to grow in. Tiny invertebrates hide in the duck weed and give them a meal filled with all the natural things they need. UNFORTUNATELY it has been so cold in our region the duckweed is not yet out in ponds. We are making due with lots of meal worms and wax worms as well as a specialized diet for them. Thanks to Dale Waterhouse of Jada Baits in Antigo for continuing to provide us with cast off wax worms and Lori Schubring owner of Wild Birds Unlimited Wausau. Lori offers “Bird Bucks” at her store on certain items such as books. The public can use the "Bird Bucks" as money off their next order OR donate them to REGI and WE can buy things we need for our patients. YEA! I got 5,000 meal worms yesterday just using the bird bucks. A friend of REGI John Jacobs of Antigo also raises meal worms for our hungry birds. You know your lifestyle is a little different from the rest of the world when you celebrate the gift of insects with the enthusiasm that we do.

The young Canada geese admitted last Wed from Marshfield are growing beautifully. The Mallard ducklings picked on the goslings when they were first admitted. We had to laugh at the sight knowing that soon the goslings would be giant size neighbors to the Mallard Ducks. They better hope the goslings don’t hold a grudge from that first day.

Wood Duck ducklings are very high stress and high energy babes. I can tell when a caller has a box of Wood Ducks when they call just by the sound or their frantic and distinctive peeping. They jump like little jumping beans and find it hard to settle down. We admitted a little Wood Duck family from Medford when their mom was hit by a car as she led them to a pond. Sadly not all survived but those that have are doing very well. They eat insects exclusively their first month of life. The insects have to be small because this duck species is ultra tiny when hatched. We buy frozen bloodworm's, they type people feed tropical fish, from the pet store for our Wood and Merganser ducklings as a first food.

An adult male Coopers Hawk was admitted from Plover. He had been shot. This is an old bird as his eye coloration is so intense. The gray feathers and the deep orange-red eyes are typical of older birds. What a shame he will never fly again. Shooting any native bird is illegal, but happens more than we like to admit. It is actually against the federal law in the Migratory Bird Treaty Act

Tomorrow will be an exciting day as our summer interns are arriving! The addition of college interns is energizing for all of us.

Best to all,

Marge Gibson © 2009

Monday, May 18, 2009

Thank You Hawthorn Hills Elementary School!

Recently, Education Coordinator Steve Fisher stopped by the Hawthorn Hills Elementary School to accept a generous gift from Diane Poirier's after school gardening class. Diane teaches an after school gardening program for first through third graders. The students raise their own plants and then sell them to the local community. This year they raised just over $200 dollars and decided to donate it all to REGI. We are so honored to receive this gift! As environmental educators we are also so proud of these kids for taking the time to learn more about their environment through gardening! Keep up the good work.

Thanks so much for remembering the native birds we work with. Your support means a lot not only us but to our feathered friends. Some of the birds you have helped through your donation may well be those you see when you are outdoors playing this summer!

Thanks again everyone,

Nicole Swanson

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sandhill Crane Colt, Photo Documentary

Young Sandhill Cranes are called colts. People are surprised the baby crane designation is the same as a horse. However with those long legs and their love of running there are similarities if only in concept.
We raise Sandhill Crane colts every year at REGI. Usually we have more than one at a time. A week ago today we admitted a day old Sandhill Crane colt into care at REGI.

(Photo: A day old an already beautiful. Nicki Christianson photos)

The colt was admitted measuring six inches tall. He was in critical condition. We had a few very rough days before the little one turned to corner to better health. He has more than doubled his size in the ensuing week.

(Photo: Weak and suffering from hypothermia the colt was lethargic when admitted)

The day after the colt was admitted a pair of wild cranes that nest on REGI property appeared without their colt. The couple is a new pair. They have not been parents together before. Like new parents of any species it takes a little coordination to be good parents. The lives of wild birds hang in a fragile balance. One mis-step by a parent, or a second of distraction can lead to death for the youngster. That is particularly true in those ultra delicate first days of life. We are not certain what happened to the colt. What is certain is the pair no longer has a baby with them. We were feeling terrible for them and then realized we may just have the key to their future happiness in our care.

The photo below shows the two day old colt with the wild adults in the background. He is very aware of them and vice-versa. He was still very fragile. We let the pair spend some time. They vocalized often to him. (Photo: To see the wild adult look behind the colt carefully. The male in on the right facing you and the female on the left.)

On Monday Katie was walking the colt and digging worms with him. Next thing we know the adults had flown in and were approaching Katie and the little one. They were observing very closely our behavior with this colt. I hate to be anthropomorphic but I swear they were judging our parenting ability with the little one. Crane colts have to be walked about two miles a day EVERYDAY as they grow so rapidly the muscles have to stay well toned. ( Photo: Katie is the stooping figure on the left with colt. The adults were about 15 feet from them.)

Each day the wild pair spends most of the day very near. They walk within five feet of us while we are exercising the youngster. They vocalize to him constantly as if to underscore they want a place in his life. We are elated with their interest and hope we can allow him to go with his new parents soon.

(Photo: He is still not as tall as a Daffodil, but will soon tower over the flowers.)

Due in part to the continued freezing temperatures in our region this year, we need to wait before we allow them to take him with them. So far the experience has been nothing short of incredible for us. Never before have we been able to get this close to the wild cranes. They seem to be including us in their family unit.

We will continue the saga as it goes. For now the colt is still with us and in a brooder for most of the day and night. He is walked as much as possible and is growing very well. We are working hard to make sure he is not imprinted to humans. Because of that our interaction with the colt will minimize and with it the photos ops.

Enjoy the photos of his first week at REGI. We will bring you more as we can.

Have a great weekend everyone,

Marge Gibson ©2009

Friday, May 15, 2009

Steve's Day Off

What does a REGI staff member do for fun on a day off? Go out and watch birds, of course! On Saturday, May 9, my wife Evelyn and I, with our two dogs Dory and Ranger, packed our binoculars, spotting scopes, bird books, and a thermos of good, strong shade-grown, bird-friendly coffee into our vehicle and headed out to watch and count birds.
We participated in the Wausau Bird Club’s annual spring count in Marathon County, and this year our assigned territory included an area in the northeast portion of the county. Driving slowly through the beautiful spring countryside, stopping to watch and listen along a river or stream, and taking walks with binoculars and the dogs (who were very cooperative and seemed to enjoy the experience as much as we did), we saw and heard many interesting birds during the day.
Some of our highlights included: Broad-winged and Red-tailed Hawks, Bald Eagles, Wood Ducks, Bobolinks, Clay-colored Sparrows, an Eastern Wood Pewee, and various colorful warblers. We ended up with a total of sixty-seven different species as we finally headed home in the early evening.
Our day spent outside reminded us that there is plenty of beauty, drama, and variety in our local part of the natural world. If you are looking for something to do that’s simple, educational, and fun, get outside and look up and around; the sights and sounds of the world of birds are just out your door or around the corner or down the road. You may see the brilliant flash of a Yellow Warbler flitting around the shrubbery, the soaring mastery of a circling Turkey Vulture, the orange of a Baltimore Oriole or the red of a Scarlet Tanager. You might hear the croak of a raven or the soothing song of a Hermit Thrush.
Whether you study one of REGI’s raptors up close during one of our summer tours or public programs, watch an American Kestrel hover expertly over an open field, or see a Great Blue Heron stand alert and motionless at the edge of a river or lake, the bird world is waiting for you. It’s a great place to spend your day off!

Steve Fisher ©2009
REGI Environmental Education Coordinator

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Snowy Owl, Bluebird, Saw-whet Owl and Canada Geese OH MY!

Patients are coming through the door rapidly now. They are of every shape and size and keep our life interesting with their diversity of species and medical needs.

A beautiful adult Snowy Owl was admitted on Wednesday. She is thin weighing less than half her normal weight. She is blind in one eye. Her blindness may have played a role in her level of starvation. We do see Snowy Owls in Wisconsin some winters, but this date is too late for her to be here. She should be settling into breeding with her mate in the tundra near Churchill, Canada. Her prognosis is not good to recover from her multiple medical problems, but we have seen miracles before here at REGI. Our rule of thumb is if she is fighting to stay alive we are willing to do our part to help her recover. We will continue to tube feed her oral emaciation diet and give her sub-q fluids. She was found by some very caring people that wanted to make sure she had the best chance at life. As so often happens, without members of the public calling to alert us to emergency situations we would never have the chance to help.

We also admitted an adult female Saw-whet Owl yesterday. How odd we are seeing adult patient this time of year when babies are more the rule. This owl has a brood patch which means she was sitting on eggs before she became ill. She is blind in one eye. Her blindness could be due to a head injury as she has a small patch of feathers in an odd shape on the back of her head. She is doing much better and I hope we can get her home soon.

Three lovely goslings admitted from the Marshfield area. They are lively and doing well. We are have some cold weather again this week, but they were able to spent a short period outside in the sun. It is funny to see the Canada goose goslings at a few days old so much smaller than the Mallard ducklings that came in about 2 weeks ago. It always amazes me how fast they grow. There is something about baby waterfowl that brings joy just to watch them in their excitement and interaction with each other.
A male Bluebird came in late this afternoon. He is very thin and has pneumonia. I suspect he ate some worms that had been sprayed sometime earlier this week. Life is hard for insectivores. If there are plenty of insects we are often out spraying them or the grasses where they live. Secondary poisoning occurs so often to these beautiful birds. This time of year it is a double problem as Bluebirds like many other species have young in the nest that depend on the adult being there. The lose of an adult at a nest could cause the entire nest to fail.

We have so many great updates! The Bald Eagle with the head injury from Neopit is now in a flight. She is recognizing her surroundings better. She is not yet flying and while that is a concern she has time to recover.

Dave Koch volunteered two days this week doing repairs on the middle mews. Dave has volunteered at REGI for a number of years. He is one of those people that can do anything in terms of repairs or carpentry and is a wonderful help and a blessing. Dave wrote me a few weeks back to ask if we had any volunteer labor jobs available. I think my email back to him was one word, YES! No sense wasting time writing a bunch of words when an enthusiastic YES will do it.

E. O. Johnson Co. has begun our technology transformation. We are all like a group of children staring big eyed at the incredible equipment and changes they are making to our computers including networking. While we are up to date on biology and medical issues, technology other than the most basic was always too far a reach for REGI as a non profit. Winning this makeover means more than even we knew.

That is just part of our news. I will have to catch up more tomorrow. I am off to feed babies one more time before catching a few hours of sleep. The Sandhill colt gets me up at 3:00 A.M.and then again at 5:00A.M. if I am not already awake.

Have a great tomorrow everyone.

Marge Gibson ©2009

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mothers Day Babies Are Arriving

( Photo: Coming into rehabilitation weak and tired day old Sandhill Crane colt. Nicki Christianson photo)

Mothers Day is the beginning of our “baby season”. From this time through September we will be working eighteen to twenty hour days, seven days a week without exception.
We are used to long days and sometimes even longer nights with critical care cases, but once baby birds are in care at REGI our life begins to revolve around them and their needs. Wild birds began singing this morning at 4:45 A.M. That is my signal to get up and begin my day stuffing little mouths until the crew arrives.

(Photo: Passerine nestlings have to be fed every 20 minutes the first week of life.It is hard to miss that big mouth! )

We care for a wide range of species at REGI. Passerines, or perching birds are the tiniest babies and have to be fed every twenty minutes their first week of life. They have a huge calorie need to fuel their tremendous growth rate. Some passerines such as the field sparrow and warblers go from hatch to flight in 9 days. You can see why the parent birds are so busy bringing food to the nest. We identify with those busy parents and know exactly what they are going through.  Our region has had several days of freezing temperatures again. That translates into lots of babies not being able to survive in the natural world. As a result we see an influx of fragile patients admitted.

Currently we have baby Goldfinches, Pine Siskins and a Field Sparrow in the passerine incubators.

( Photo: The Mallard ducklings spend part of the day outside now.)

The Mallard ducklings that came in last week have grown so much. They weighed in at nearly 9 ounces this morning. That is over half a pound! They hatched just ten days ago and came in weighing as much as quarter. They spend part of everyday outside now, but still need supplemental heat. They are swimming and enjoying chasing each other in the grass. These are games that make their bodies strong and teach them life skills they will need when they are older.

We have a Sandhill Crane colt. He was admitted on Saturday morning from Milladore, WI. Farm workers were tilling a field and accidentally separated the day old colt from its parents. The colt ran into a machine shed where it was found late in the day. By that time he was hypothermic and needed additional care rather than simply be reunited with his parents. We hope to reunite them in the future. Once again it was friend and mammal wildlife rehabilitator Nicki Christianson that did the actual rescue of the colt and cared for it overnight until we could meet at a midway point early the next morning. We are sure Nicki is a real angel. We appreciate her so much. She has her hands full with baby squirrels these days and didn’t need the additional drama in her life that Sandhill Crane colts bring.

The Sandhill colt has had a rocky beginning. We nearly lost him this weekend, but he is finally gaining strength. Sandhill Cranes have specific needs to assure they grow and develop normally. For instance even at his tiny size he has to be walked a mile or more a day to assure a proper growth of his muscle and ligament particular those in his soon to be long legs. He hatched at about six inches tall but will be full size and flying in fifty-six days! Without a huge amount of exercise he would soon reach a point where he could not walk or use his legs. And since he cannot be out doors walking alone at this point we are also getting our exercise running him around the track.

Sometime very interesting happened here a few days ago. Sadly, it seems our resident wild Sandhill Crane pair has lost their youngster. They are however showing strong interest in our little colt just as he is interested in them. If we are unable to reunite him with his own parents we may well be able to wild foster him to them. It is essential that he maintain his ties with his own species. Once his condition is absolutely stable and the weather warms we will make a strong effort at wild fostering. Stay tuned to see what happens.

It will be yet another exciting release day today! The Bald Eagle that was impaled with a seventeen inch stick and was admitted on April 6th (check blog for that day for photos and story) will be released this afternoon at 3:30. Her story is incredible. I will write about it as a separate entry. Lets just say when she was injured she and her mate had eggs in the nest and now they have eaglets. Her mate is and incredible dad and needs a father of the year award!

Have a wonderful day everyone.

Marge Gibson © 2009

Friday, May 8, 2009

WE WON!!!!

(Photo: The REGI team is overjoyed as we celebrate the happy news of winning the $25,000 Technology Make-over! )
We just got the great news that REGI is the winner in the $25.000 Technology Make-over sponsored by WSAW Channel 7 in Wausau and the E.O. Johnson Company!

(Photo: Nicole Swanson, REGI Director of Education, just heard the announcment.)

Thank you everyone that voted for us! Thank you also to E.O. Johnson Company and WSAW Channel 7 in Wausau.
Thank you, Thank you!
Marge and Don Gibson
Steve Fisher
Nicole Swanson
Katie Farvour
Alberta Halffman
Dan Wildek

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Timing is Everything

Timing is everything for a successful release. For this Eastern Screech Owl his release was a long time coming! He came into REGI in June of 2008 still covered in some juvenile gray fuzz. When he first arrived he captured every summer intern’s heart with is small size and awkward appearance. He came to us with an injured wing, perhaps resulting from a first flight gone wrong. We carefully set his wing and kept a close eye on him. It didn’t take us long to see this bird had a strong personality and he didn’t want anyone to forget that he was NOT happy about his current situation and would like to leave us as soon as possible. The annoyed look on his face only became fiercer if we made any comments on his “cute” appearance. Don’t let his small size fool you: this screech owl was one tough raptor!

All summer we nursed him back to health. He just needed time to heal his wing and grow up a little. When September came he was zipping around the flight cage and was at a good weight. We started to talk about when and where he should be released. Screech owls migrate slightly south during the Wisconsin winters and we knew he needed to be on his way soon. We decided that he would be released in early October near Milwaukee. The week before his set release date we started to notice some scraggly feather. A few days later he had decided to go into a full molt! When we release a bird they need to be in perfect condition and he had feathers sticking out every which way. Sigh. This was not his time.

Even though he was finished molting near the end of November we had to over winter him at REGI. Winter takes forever in my mind. I can’t image what a long winter it was for this spirited screech owl. Finally, in March spring started to arrive in Wisconsin. Once again we started to talk about when and where to release our feisty little screech owl. The weather was becoming better but this little screech had never hunted on his own. We were concerned with no other food alternatives beside small rodents this early in the season of his success rate. We wanted to make sure his transition back to the wild would go smoothly. A little more time was needed for the insects to return, which is another food source for screech owls.

“Happy May Day!” I told the little screech owl as he bit the towel I was picking him up with “Your time has finally come.” I drove him down to Stevens Point and under the safety of the night Jean Rice and I watched him fly away from her back deck into the nearby oaks. The REGI staff had done all we could. It was time for him to take that attitude and put it to some good use for hunting or finding a mate.

Nicole Swanson

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Ozzy, Peregrine Falcon from Weston

Ozzy, REGIs resident Peregrine Falcon, made the news this week. Maybe it was his former mate and her new family that really made the news but Ozzy is part of that still with the local human population. Reporter Rob Metzler wrote a terrific article in Sundays Wausau Daily Herald (May 4, 2009). A link to that article is below.
Ozzy was hatched in Green Bay in 2002. The name Ozzy came from a contest at that time to name the hatchings. He was shot near the Weston Power Plant in June of 2007. He has lived at REGI since that time.
Enjoy the article and the photos taken May 2, 2009 of the stunning Ozzy.

Marge Gibson ©2009
Check out this link to the Wausau Daily Hereld for the full article!