Monday, June 29, 2009

Bald Eagle Surgery Success,

( Photos: Adult Bald Eagle underwent successful surgery this morning for complcations following being shot in the wing and suffering serious injury to it.

I never get used to seeing a magnificent Bald Eagle in a vulnerable position. Yet, that is how I too often see them in my work. The bald eagle that had surgery this morning was a beautiful adult from Sault Saint Marie, MI. He has been shot in the left wing, but it was weeks before he was weak enough to be captured. The wing was mostly healed from the initial injury and had serious infection.

We tried a relatively simple approach to wrapping the wing, but it was not successful. Today he had surgery meant to save his life, but he will never fly again. As sad as that is, he is a bird that seems comfortable with captivity and can be a foster dad or help in the education of OUR species at a permitted facility.

The surgery itself was done at the Antigo Veterinary Clinic under the expert care of our veterinarians Dr. Dennis Bardelmeier and Dr Dan Turunen. Post surgical care is done at REGI. He was kept wrapped and on a warming blanket for the first several hours after surgery.

He continues to recover well and has even ate a hardy dinner tonight.

( Photo: Bald Eagle waking up after his surgery Monday morning.)

We continue to try to get the grass mowed and weeds cut. It rained again today so that was a challenge. There are tours tomorrow so we hoped to finish more than we did.

Tomorrow I am helping Troy Walters of Trees For Tomorrow train his new education owl. It is important to help new educators learn the ropes so their birds an be great ambassadors for wildlife. Education is so important to the field of wildlife.

Thats all for tonight.
Marge Gibson 2009

Sunday, June 28, 2009

American Woodcock Release, Mallards Released,

( Photos: This is our former "baby" American Woodcock, now grown just moments before its release to the wild.
Included are #1 the "baby" picture, #2 The now grown woodcock after its physical and then #3 just as he is being released into the forest.)

There is nothing that makes a day brighter than when we have the chance to release some of our patients back to the wild where they were meant to be. Updating their category as "former patients" is a task we are happy to do.

Katie drove to get this little one after a cat grabbed it near Tomahawk. Woodcocks have such fascinating life histories we were absorbed by the little one from the first day. From my perspective, admitting unusual species when the interns are with us,gives them additional research to do and adds to their preparedness for a life working with wildlife.

( Photo: Aprill, Lance, Natasha and Katie were all smiles after the release. We were all still in the forest, perfect Woodcock habitat.)

I wrote about the adult Woodcock being with this youngster in past blogs entries. Unfortunately we were not able to release the adult with the youngster, but he was 100% ready to be a wild bird and was happy to show us upon release. While we were trying to get photos in the deep forest, he took off flying fast in an effort to put as much space between us and him as possible.

Selecting perfect release habitat is very important to the success of the birds. If released in poor habitat with poor food availability or with strong weather looming can spell disaster for the former patient. Interns learn the importance of the entire process at REGI.

( Photos: Mallard ducks now, grown and flying were released by Natasha, Lance and Alberta on the Red River.
My joyous crew offers a goodbye wave to the mallards now happily seeking the rest of their life.)

When four Mallard Duck ducklings were admitted on May 2 ( see blog for that day) our hearts went out to them. They were pulled from a sewer by a Wausau Police Officer having fallen there following their mother to water on the day of their hatch.

They grew fast and did perfectly during the past seven weeks. It was time for them to be on their own. They were raised by a female Mallard Duck patient for several weeks and were definitely not happy with being caught up for their final physicals. Chubby and feather perfect they were put into a box for the trip to the Red River and perfect habitat for them to continue to thrive.

( Photo: Our Mallard ducklings in mid May with their foster mom Mallard. She was released prior to the ducklings release and is also now free.)
They went out into the water and quickly began eating all the things they grew to love back at REGI and some of the things we were never able to provide for them. It was wonderful to watch them play and eat with such self confidence.

A quick update on our Great Blue Heron chick. He is hardly a baby anymore and is now aware of fish for the first time. The photo is of his first hunting pose the other day when he discovered fish in a pail.

Have a great day everyone. We go into surgery with the Bald Eagle in the morning so be thinking of us.

Marge Gibson 2009

Antigo Garden Club Master Gardeners and Local 4-H Clubs Create Two Gardens at REGI

( Photos: These are a progression of photos that document the flower garden and rock garden designed and completed by the Antigo Garden Club Master Gardeners and the “Strasburg Eveready” and “Lucky Rivers” 4-H Clubs. The Gardens were a project that began last fall and were completed June 27, 2009.)

For the past several months the Antigo Garden Club of Antigo and the “Strasburg Eveready” and “Lucky Rivers” 4-H Clubs have been transforming some areas on the REGI property into works of art in the form of flower gardens and a rock garden.
It all began a few years ago. Lillian Tower and Eva Nelson -Hohensee are both REGI volunteers. They are also Master Gardeners and volunteered in part to tend our plants. I was elated to have their help. Years ago I had beautiful flower beds and a vegetable garden. The REGI organization has grown tremendously over the past several years. The flower beds and vegetable gardens were victims of that growth and my new time constraints.
Late last fall Eva, Lil and Laura Schneider came to me with an idea of giving "design" to one of my well loved but poorly tended flower gardens. My flower gardens would no longer reflect my rather spontaneous plantings. Eva also suggested the 4-H Clubs could take on the project of building a rock garden at the driveway entrance. It was exciting! I knew that if these ladies were involved the end result would be very special indeed.
As winter approached Eva and Laura worked feverishly to begin the project. They dug up and transplanted some of my sentimental favorites into the new flower garden. My late parents had a beautiful purple Clematis in their yard for over forty years. Mom was SO proud of that plant. Every year photos were taken of it covered with blossoms. Believe it or not, there were framed photos of the clematis on the bookcase! After mom passed away, I dug up the old clematis and transplanted it into my yard. It was a constant reminder of my late parents and the beauty of life as they saw it.
Laura Schneider promised me she and Eva would handle the ancient clematis carefully when they moved it to the new garden. This spring both women showed up well before most plants had any sign of life just to make sure the clematis plant was alive and had made it through the winter. I was so touched with their kindness and understanding of the plants importance to me.
One evening a group of 4-H Club members with Eva in charge as well as Lil Tower and Laura Schneider representing the Master Gardeners of Antigo Garden Club arrived. There was mass digging and planting and somehow they even got my neighbor and all around great guy, Nick Salm to help move soil and rocks for the rock garden. When the dust settled there was the executed blueprint of everything just as they said it would be.
I cannot wait for it to be in its full blooming glory. It makes me smile every time I see it. Not only will the flower bed be beautiful in its own right, but knowing the care and thought that went into it by some very special friends makes it even more meaningful.
Saturday REGI was bulging with people from all three clubs. Rain came down and still the 4-H club members didn't waver in their commitment to finishing REGIs gardens. By noon everything was weeded, planted, tilled, post holes dug, rocks moved and the end products were waiting for inspection. The 4-H Clubs are doing this for a community service project and need community input on their project. We have some forms to fill out for the clubs and would love for you to stop in and give your opinion so they can add those statements to their fair folder.

Thanks so much to everyone that helped and especially to Eva, Lil and Laura for their vision and toil and the 4-H Clubs for their help as well.

I hope to get a list of all the names of the children and 4-H Club leaders than participated soon and will add those to this blog entry when I have them.

REGI is a more beautiful place because of your work everyone and we appreciate is so much!

A World of Thanks,

Marge Gibson 2009

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Busy Saturday with New Patients, Barred Owl,Osprey, Phoebe and 4-H Club Community Project and Eagle Scout Project.

The day started off with a bang. It was raining. We love the rain but it can be a hazard to some of the fragile birds. We race from one enclosure to the next to make sure everyone is doing well and does not need extra care or supplemental heat.

( Photo: This adult Barred Owl was hit by a car during the night. She is very weak with internal injuries but has a good chance of survival and release.)

Then there is the normal feeding of babies, checking on critical care patients and returning phone calls that came in during the night that have not already been answered.

The "Strasburg Eveready” and “Lucky Rivers” 4-H Clubs and the Master Gardeners from the Antigo Garden Club were here early as well. They did such a great job on the gardens and worked even with some pretty heavy rain showers. I will do a separate blog entry on the 4-H Clubs and the Garden Club as I want to do it justice. Let me just say the gardens are stunning!
Everyone worked hard and with such enthusiasm even with the rain. Despite the warm temperatures the kids got cold when they were soaked to the skin. The rain was suppose to come tomorrow.::( So everyone dressed as if it was going to be a hot day.
The 4-H Club leaders and the kids were all just great. The work was hard as they weeded, carried huge rocks and hauling pails of mulch to finish up the gardens to perfection. Many thanks to each and every one that was here today.

Joe Lex and Boy Scout Troop, #644 arrived about noon to construct Joe's Eagle Scout Project. They arrived just as the other group left. The rain was still coming down as they got the heavy equipment into the field and began to plan the construction of the Turkey Vulture Nest Box. We have had this project on our "wish list" for eons and were just delighted when Joe and his dad came to inquire about it for Joe's Eagle Scout Project. It is a large project and took lots of help from many people to bring it together and get it up in the field. I will also so a separate blog on this fantastic project. Suffice it to say that it was worth the wait to have such a great final product. Thanks so much to everyone that participated and to Joe for having the inspiration and developing the project.

( Photo: This adult Osprey came in late afternoon from the Wausau area. She is starving and we are still investigating the reason.)

Late afternoon we received several birds. One was an adult Osprey from a nesting site in Wausau. Unfortunately there are young in the nest still. I am not sure what the loss of the parent will mean for the nest. The other concerning thing is this Osprey is starving and should not be as there are plenty of fish around to sustain her and the family. There is an underlying problem that we are investigating at this time. Things we are testing for will be lead poisoning, other toxin and parasites.

Off for tonight. Tomorrow comes early and I still have final feedings to do before I can sleep.

Marge Gibson 2009

Friday, June 26, 2009

Newsletters Mailed! Bald Eagle Treated by Veterinarians at Antigo Veterinary Clinic

Great news! We got our summer issue of the newsletters mailed today! Nicole Swanson our Director of Education took on this issue wholeheartedly. Steve Fisher, our retired English teacher turned wildlife educator and Don Gibson did the editing. We have a newsletter out without the agonizing stress I went through in the past! I am delighted!

It certainly helped that we all were eager to use our new equipment from the E.O. Johnson/Channel 7 technology makeover that we won in May! :) It was like a miracle compared to the work that went into our old method. So, the newsletter is done, edited, printed and mailed as of today! When it arrives in your mailbox let me know what you think.

For those of you that are not on our mailing list and want to be let me know by emailing Nicole your address at
and we will add you to our list, OR you can go to our website and download your own copy there. The copy on line is in full color so that is cool.
web site address:

(Photo: Don Gibson and Nicole Swanson load the car for the trip to the Antigo Post Office to mail our summer newsletter.)

Just as we were doing the afternoon feeding yesterday I found one of our adult Bald Eagle patients that had suffered a wing injury a month ago was in trouble with the wing again. His initial injury was that he was shot in the humerus part of the wing. The part of the wing closest to the body. By the time we got him the injury was several weeks old and necrotic. We cleaned him up and hoped for the best. The wing healed remarkably well and then somehow he re injured the tip of the wing. It is likely nerve damage that just demonstrated itself now.

(Photo: I carry the Bald Eagle into the Antigo Veterinary Clinic not knowing if he would be euthanized or if our veterinarians would be able to try surgery to save his life. )

Antigo Veterinary Clinic are wonderful to us and our patients. Dr Dennis Bardelmeier washed the eagles new wound. We set up a date for surgery on Monday of next week. Until then the eagle is on antibiotics. We use antibiotics infrequently with wildlife as it tends to weaken their immune system, but this was one of those times when it is needed. The eagle is back at REGI now and just had his dinner. He is such a great bird and has been so patient thought his ordeal.

( Photos: Dr Dennis Bardelmeier cleans the injury on the wing of the Bald Eagle, so he would evaluate if the bird could be saved.

(Photo below: Look at the injury on the wing! I wish people that shot this beautiful Bald Eagle would spend some time with us in the clinic. When they aren't faced with and have to see the damage and the pain they cause, it is too easy to ignore their selfish not to mention illegal act. )

( Photo: Dr Bardelmeier and Dr Piwoni wrap the wing until surgery can be done on Monday. Yes, that is Duct Tape over the bandaging on the wing. We discovered it is the best to hold the wing securely while not adhering to the feathers.)

Our little American Crow from last night is doing great this morning. The baby birds that were found in the stairwell in Wausau are also doing very well.

More updates as I can.

Best to all,

Marge Gibson 2009

Escaping Kestrels, Late Night Rendezvous, Oil Covered American Robin, Red-breasted Nuthatch Adventure

I recieved an urgent call a few hours ago from the clinic. It was intern Lance Holm. He wanted some assistance with a female Amercian Kestrel that had escaped the confines of her intensive care enclosure for the second time today. It was clearly time to re-evaluate this patients condition. Perhaps an upgrade was in order.:)

( Photo: This female American Kestrel nearly drowned in a horse watering tank. She was suffering from hypothermia and unable to move when admitted.)

We took the kestrel to test fly her and she was perfect. I think she was trying to tell us something with those escapes. The truth is we were amazed that she was alive after her harrowing experience. A short forty-eight hours earlier she was rushed to REGI by a concerned horse owner that found her floating in a horse watering trough. The woman was upset as she always places a board in standing water including that horse watering tank in event birds accidentally get in the water. Without a means to get out of the water birds inevitably drown.

The kestrel was an adult and likely has a family at home. We hoped she would recover quickly so she could go home but this recovery was quicker than we anticipated.

We did the best thing and after test flying her, doing a quick exit physical and giving her a full crop of meat so she would not have to worry about getting herself dinner tonight she was released. Intern Natasha did the honors of letting her go. It is always exciting to release birds but even better when they have such a short rehabilitation period.

( Photo: Interns Aprill, Natasha and Lance about to release the lucky female American Kestrel that survived a near death drowning experience. )

Several birds and a variety of species have come in this past few days. A few of the cases were really odd. Sometimes we tease here that our name should be "Odd R US".

Lynn Ott, longtime REGI volunteer transporter and member of the Wausau Bird Club called with an true emergency case. A baby American Robin had gotten into a pail of motor oil and had been there for about thirty minutes. Heavy oil is toxic and can absorb through the skin. If not removed quickly the bird will not survive. There was no time to transport the tyke instead something had to be done immediately while Lynn had it in her care. Wausau is about a 45 minute drive from the REGI facility. Lynn rose to the occasion and and followed the procedure to clean oil from birds. Of interest the best thing we have found is Dawn Dish washing Soap. It is gentle to birds delicate skin and yet gets rid of the grease quickly. After washing the little one Lynn drove him over to REGI. Our clinic smelled like motor oil, but to our amazement the baby American Robin was alive this morning and was hungry. We love those happy cases. Much thank to Lynn for always going the extra mile for us and the birds that are out patients.
( Photo: This baby American Robin was lucky to find Lynn Ott, REGI volunteer. He was soaked in motor oil and Lynn quickly cleaned him getting the toxic oil off his skin and feathers.)

Our Red-breasted Nuthatch'ss are nearing release into the aviary from their baby screen porch. One of the little ones escaped yesterday and was flying around the compound. Early this morning he showed up near his siblings enclosure and was hoping to be fed. They are self-feeding, but when stressed they revert just like any kid would. He is back with us and his sibling until he gains confidence in eating and finding food in the wild.

( Photo: A Red-breasted Nuthatch is a very tiny tot. This photo was taken about a week ago when they were still held in an incubator at nighttime. When admitted they were as big as a fingernail. Try feeding one of those teeny mouths once! )

As I write this it is after 11 P.M. and I am sitting in my car in the parking lot of a local grocery store. So in other words it is a normal night for me and the night is still young so much more can happen. I am here because a woman called me about 10:30 PM with an injured baby bird she had picked up in the middle of the road some thirty miles from the REGI facility. She was worried the little one would not make it through the night. So many people would not make that drive particularly at night, so I agreed to meet her and make her trip a few miles less.

( Later at home)

The caller was right about the baby. It is a tiny American Crow and likely fell from his nest and is also thin. Something may well have happened to its parents or a predator could have taken him from his nest and dropped him.

He is at REGI now. He has had a physical, been fed and is on heat for the night. He is sleeping and after his unfortunate adventure he needs the sleep. We will investigate what appears to be a fracture of the left wing in the morning after he stabilizes.

( Photo: Baby American Crow sleeps back at REGI after having fallen from his nest to a hard surface. )

I will sign off now and get back to work. Until tomorrow.

Marge Gibson 2009

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


When a tiny baby bird came to us at REGI on June 15, 2009 we knew it was a few day old Belted Kingfisher. We had no idea of the gender. Birds are funny that way. They have no external hints as to if it is a male or a female. In fact, they hide their gender so well that if there is no feather coloration differences it takes either DNA sampling or a veterinarian to do laparoscopy surgery to investigate the internal sex organs. We don't usually need to know a patients gender that badly, so don't get knotted up about finding out one way or another.

It happens that belted kingfishers DO have a color difference. So, we are proud to announce that our little Belted Kingfisher is a female! Check out her emerging rusty chest feathers that will soon look like a rusty red necklace on a field of white. She is about ten or eleven days old today.

We realize she is not adorable yet, but that will be coming soon. She is eating minnows and a slush of other good things including vitamins and digestive enzymes to keep her healthy. Nutrition is complicated and a very important part of raising a baby bird to adulthood.
( Photos: The day the Belted Kingfisher chick was rescued by a trucker from a landfill near Wisconsin Rapids and today. She is a female and about 10 days old today.)
She wakes up only once a night now and then early A.M. That makes her an easy baby to care for so I am personally a fan of her sleep pattern!

Best to all,

Marge Gibson 2009

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Father’s Day Tribute, REGIs Foster Dads at Work

( Photo: Doug,our foster dad Bald Eagle is a wonderful dad to the 8 week old eaglet that was admitted a few weeks ago after suffering a fall from his nest near Chippewa Falls. )

It’s Fathers Day. For several years now when Fathers Day comes around I wish I could share the incredible dads at REGI with everyone. I realized this year through the blog I could.
People are often surprised to hear that we have several foster-fathers at REGI. These special dads raise orphaned babies, which have brought to REGI, without the benefit of a female partner.

( Photo: Frenchie our Richardson's Canada Goose is a great foster dad. Notice that head down position when I got close enough to take a photo? That means " These are my babies and if you are smart you will stay right where you are." This photo taken Fathers Day)

( Photo: Frenchie with the Canada Goose goslings soon after they arrived at REGI. What a great dad he is! The little ones were more his size when they were young. While they are all Canada Geese, the Richardsons is a smaller size that the Giant Canada Geese. The goslings very quickly grow larger than Frenchie. )

People think of a female as being the main “child rearing” parent. Even when we think about other animals our minds go right to mammal species. As mammals ourselves, we understand parenting of our most common pets such as dogs and cats or livestock such as cows, pigs or sheep. When consider ring wildlife species many people conjure up the thought of a lovely fawn or playful raccoons.

All of the moms above produce milk. They nurse their babies from the day they are born until they begin to eat solid food. Mammal moms ARE the main parent. Mammal babies have to be nursed to live. Creative humans have developed infant formulas and in recent days dads are taking a more hands on role in parenting, but they would be shocked to learn that avian dads have always had an active role.

Given that history it is understandable that many people mentally reject the fact that in the bird world the male is an absolute partner as a parent. Birds have a strong pair bond that often lasts their lifetime. Together they select nest sites, build nests and rear their young. If something should happen to his mate the male can and often does raise his own babies.

( Photo: This male Sandhill Crane
on the right, was captured in the fall by Doug Christianson, Wisconsin Rapids Police Office. The crane had a severe wing fracture and will not be able to be released to the wild, but is a great role model to the young cranes. What a gift he is to the REGI program.)

About twenty years ago I began using foster parents to raise orphans of the same species when they came to REGI. I reasoned that since we had “wild fostered” birds into nest where similar aged young were and the adults didn’t mind then maybe they would take care of babies at our wildlife facility. It worked perfectly. In all those years I’ve never had an adult bird reject a healthy baby. It was a few years into the process that I realized one of my favorite “foster moms”, Great-horned Owl, was a MALE! (There are not many external indicators the clue gender in many birds.)

( Photo: This young Great-horned Owl is lucky enough to have two foster parents. The dad is next to the owlet and mom is on the far left.)

( Photo: Adult male American Robin is a fantastic dad and role model for all of our young robins. He helps them with everything from learning vocalizations, to being aware of predators and hunting worms by hearing. We raise many American Robins at REGI during the spring and summer so our foster dad is one busy guy. )

So as they say, “the rest is history”.
Enjoy the photos most of which were taken on Father’s Day. We do have other foster dads at REGI but they do not have young right now.

We wish all the dads a wonderful Fathers Day from all of us at REGI.

Marge Gibson ©2009

Friday, June 19, 2009

Interns Birthday, Photo updates of Sandhill Cranes, Merganser and Wood Duck Ducklings, Kingfisher chick and more.

( Photos: A series of Intern Natasha, feeding the days old Belted Kingfisher chick. What a stitch this little one is!)

Our days run together this time of the year. It seems we are stuffing little mouths all of the time. The only thing that changes is the type of bird we are stuffing and the food we are using. Each species is so specialized and therefore the diet that it is fed. The Belted Kingfisher chick that Natasha is holding and feeding in the photos to the right is just days old now but it already eating minnows and other meats. What a stitch he is! When he is hungry he yells so loud it is impossible to miss his intent. I took the first photo just to show the baby eating. You can see a minnow going into the crop and then he unexpectantly grabbed Natasha finger and would not let go. They are suprisingly strong with their sucking reflex. The adult Belted Kingfisher would eat minnows and other small fish and then partially digest it in their own crop before coming back to the nest. The babes then take the food from the adults crop. It is a bit like crop milk but pretty fishy! Our hands smell pretty wonderful this time of year!:((

( Photo: Aprill braves the cold water and mucky lake bottom to harvest some duckweed to keep our ducklings healthy. YEA APRILL!)

Speaking of interns Aprill is a bit of a ham and volunteered to get us duckweed from Moose Lake for our baby ducklings. Duckweed is so important to the growth and development of baby ducks, but it does not begin to grow until the water temperature warms some. With the cold springtime we were getting nervous about finding enough duckweed to keep our ducklings healthy. Aprill pretty much just jumped on in and braved the mucky bottom to get to the duckweed and gather some. Yea Aprill!
She is great...all of interns are!! We have been really blessed this year with some fine young people.

( Photo: Merganser and Wood Duck ducklings eat live insects and minnows from the time they hatch through the first month of life!)

The photos shows two Merganser ducklings and a Wood Duck duckling. They are housed together at this point only because of their common age and size. Other ducklings patients of their species are older and larger and would not accept the smaller, younger babies. The merganser and wood ducks eat the same food so they are fine together at this point. When they get older they will be introduced to their own species before they are all released to the wild.

(Photo: Check out our youngest Sandhill Crane colt grazing in the field of wildflowers.)

The Sandhill Crane colts are growing and changing daily. The oldest is very tall these days and while he is not flying yet he is flapping his wings in anticipation. The youngster in the photo in the flowers is FINALLY getting growing. She had some serious health issues and had retarded growth for the first few weeks. She will catch up, but so far remains behind.

The oldest chick came in May 17th so is just about a month old now and the youngest is came in on May 26th. You can see their "baby pictures" on those dates in the blog.

( Photo: This Sandhill Crane colt was about six inches tall when he came in on May 17th. He is only a month old and stands nearly 3 feet tall now and is growing his wing feathers fast. They grow so fast you can almost watch them.)

Two of our interns had birthday early this week. Lance and Natasha both turned 21!
We had a great party with all of the REGI team and a beautiful cake to celebrate their milestone birthday! We are all having a great summer together. The students are terrific and work hard to make sure the birds have the best possible care. I am so grateful to them for their dedication.

( Photo: Natasha and Lance both turned twenty-one! We celebrated with a party with sloppy joes and a yummy chocolate cake with raspberry filling.)

Until tomorrow, have a great weekend!
Marge Gibson 2009