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

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