Friday, July 31, 2009

Nighthawk Release Now and Then, Hawk Ridge Nighthawk Article

( Photo: Me at age 15 with a Common Nighthawk. )

Lets face it I have a lot of "favorite birds". My very favorite is usually the species I happen to be working with at the moment. Having said that, the Common Nighthawk is fascinating and really is one of my favorite birds even when I am not working with them.

I was fifteen years old when Bob Dana, of local Audubon fame, brought my first Common Nighthawk patient. I was young, but in part due to my late fathers job as a Deputy Conservation Warden with the State of Wisconsin, I was already taking care of orphaned or injured birds. The first Common Nighthawk I had ever seen close up was the one Mr Dana brought me on a June evening. She was not yet fledged and somehow had fallen from her nest site on top of the bank building in my town. She had a broken mandible and was not in good condition.

With my parents help I set about caring for her. Nighthawks eat only flying insects. They are not small birds so their calorie need, and therefore numbers of insects they need to eat daily is huge. My social life that summer was limited to catching moths,LOTS OF MOTHS, at the street light with my friends.

( Photo: The Common Nighthawk is a beautiful bird of the night. They are beneficial birds with flying insects make up their entire diet.)

I named the little female, "Snookie". She lived with my family for four years. We gave little Snookie opportunity to leave with her own kind. She flew with them for a few hours and always landed back at our house waiting to be brought inside. She was imprinted to humans. I know that now, but little research was done in the 1960's when this saga occurred and we didn't know it then. In fact very few nighthawks had been cared for in captivity by that time.

( Photo: REGI's Common Nighthawk patient was an adult female. She was admitted suffering starvation and a wing injury.)

That is enough ancient history for today. The nighthawk in the photo above was our recent patient. She was admitted with starvation and a wing injury. Nighthawks are members of the Nightjar family. An interesting name for an interesting family of birds. Night jars mode of hunting insects is to fly though the air with their huge mouth open. Insects are gulped down as they enter the mouth. Most nighthawks are not in captivity long enough to learn to eat on their own. That was the situation with our patient.

(Photo: Nighthawks have huge mouths. Insects are captured as they fly through the night with the mouth open. )

Every bit of food she ate was fed to her by REGI staff. The fact that this beautiful bird survived and was released back to the wild speaks volume about my dedicated staff.

Her release to the wild was a cause for celebration at REGI. She was a fascinating patient. The interns learned a great deal from her while she was with us but everyone was delighted to see the beautiful bird take her freedom once more.

( Photos: Intern Lance releases the Common Nighthawk. She disappeared into the night quickly.)

Our patient was lucky to have been found by a concerned citizen and brought to REGI for care. She will be migrating from our area around August 22-26. Central or South America will be her winter home. We hope she will be back in WI next May in time to have a family.

Sadly, nighthawks like many insect eating birds are decreasing in numbers. The article below was taken from the Hawk Ridge Observatory spring/summer 2009 Newsletter. It is a terrific article and offers some good information on the nighthawk.
Check out Hawk Ridge Observatory while you are at it. They do some fine work there particularly with migration.

Have a great tomorrow,
Marge Gibson 2009 ©

The article below was taken from Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory 2009 Spring/Summer Newsletter

Fall Migration:
Common Nighthawk

by Janet Green & Carly Lapin

The North Shore of Lake Superior has been well known as a corridor for the migration of Common Nighthawks. The migration is concentrated in a time window from mid to late August with a peak usually around August 20-27. Sporadically from 1983 to 1996 Duluth Audubon’s Hawk Ridge Committee sponsored Nighthawk counts at both Hawk Ridge and the Lakewood Pumping Station (Congdon Blvd.). Other incidental counts in the Duluth area from 1983 to 2003 turned up some impressive numbers of migrating Nighthawks. Peaks include: 43,690 (2.75 hours) on 8/26/90; 16,495 (2+ hours) on 8/16/86 and 15,173 (no hours given) on 8/23/ 00. In recent years the migration has not been as heavy and peak days reported range from 1,200 to 3,000 Nighthawks.

This lower migration is in keeping with concern about the decline of Nighthawks and other aerial feeding birds. For example, in Ontario the second atlas of breeding birds (2008) showed that the populations of the aerial foraging guild, including the Common Nighthawk, Whip-poor-will, Chimney Swift and six types of swallows, dropped 30 to 50 percent in the past two decades.
Because of that concern, HRBO initiated a count of migrating
Common Nighthawks in Duluth in August 2008.

Counts were completed daily from the rooftop garden of an apartment building located at 6030 E. Superior St., Duluth, Minn., from August 11- 31, 2008. Daily observation began at 4:30 p.m. and concluded at sundown. Common Nighthawks were observed on 8 of the 20 days of the count and a total of 2,514 Nighthawks were counted. The highest number was observed on August 24, 2008, when 1,470 Nighthawks were observed, and the second highest number was observed on August 16, 2008, when 668 Nighthawks were observed. Nighthawks were more consistently
observed on days with high temperatures. Nighthawks also
seemed to migrate irrespective of wind conditions, with observations being recorded on days with westerly, southwesterly, southerly, and northerly winds. This count will be continued in August 2009.

Other programs for monitoring Nighthawks have been started elsewhere in the U. S. The Northeast Partners in Flight created a Nightjar Working Group in 2004 and produced this report: ”Northeast Nightjar Survey – 2006 Summary.” Also the Center for Conservation Biology at the College of William & Mary has inaugurated a program called the Nightjar Survey Network; volunteer participants are welcome. This network essentially uses the USGS Breeding Bird Survey routes; it can be accessed at:

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Future Animal Rehabilitator?

( Photo: Cassi Traggarth job shadowing with the Upward Bound program at REGI. She is shown with the Education Department during an off site presentation.)

Our youth are the most important people in the world of our wildlife. REGI is always excited to educate children about the wonderful world of raptors. After all, soon they will be the ones making management decisions about how to protect their habitats. That is why it is always exciting when we have an enthusiastic young adult come out to job shadow.

Cassi Traggarth came to REGI through the Upward Bound program. She is entering her senior year of high school and is exploring career options that relate to her interests. Cassi wants to be prepared as she narrows down her college list to what school will best fit her career goals best. She came to REGI interested in animal science, veterinary clinics, and education. Wildlife rehabilitation touches all of these areas on any given day. Cassi joined me in the morning on a trip down to Wausau for a summer school educational program as seen in the picture above.

( Photo: Cassi holds baby passerines. She found they are labor intensive patients that need to be fed every twenty minutes their first week of life.)

(Photo: Cassi helped the REGI team during feeding time.)

In the afternoon Cassi followed our rehabilitation staff around. She was able to see how much hard work it takes everyday just to feed, clean, and care for our many bird patients and residents.

She was able to ask questions about our work, quiz our staff about their education background, and experience a real work environment. Whatever path Cassi chooses for her future we hope her time here at REGI helped her to make a decision that will fit her interests and talents best.

Nicole Swanson

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Northern Oriole Goes Home, Tours X Three

( Photo: Female Northern Oriole is patient in my hand just minutes before she was released to the wild. She came in with a wing fracture, but flew perfectly on release. )

The Northern Oriole hits a sentimental chord with me. It was the first bird I ever rescued from the wild when I was about eight years old. Way back then the bird was called a Baltimore Oriole. The bird I rescued was a tiny baby that had come now nest and all in a lightning storm. Some neighborhood boys had discovered the baby birds and were "not being kind" to the hatching's. I grabbed the only one still alive and raced home as fast as my legs would carry me with the boys in hot pursuit. With the help of my parents we raised the little one. he grew up to be the most beautiful bird I had ever seen. Bright orange and black he was like a moving piece of artwork. He came back every year to my parents home even after I was in college for a total of about twelve years.

( Photo: Northern Oriole female just before release with members of the REGI 10 am Tuesday 7-21-09 tour. )

The patient released today did not arrive in such a harrowing way. She was admitted from Weston, WI with a wing fracture. You would not have been able to tell she had any injury as she powered into the willow tree. As she flew she gave a joyful chip that must have meant goodbye because she was gone in a flash.

Female orioles are beautiful but are not as colorful as the male of their species. I am sure this female had youngsters before she was injured. She had a tell-tail brood patch on her abdomen when admitted. That is where the adults pluck their own feathers so they are in close contact to the eggs and are able to keep them warm for hatch. We hope her mate was able to raise the little ones. Perhaps the oriole family will be able to migrate to the southern climates this winter. Like many bird species northern orioles have a strong mate fidelity and often keep their same mate for a lifetime.

( Photo: Northern Oriole powers into the nearby tree with an excited audience. After a few second stop to check out her surroundings she began the journey to the rest of her life. The oriole is that yellowish blur between my hand and the tree.)

We had several tours today. The Northern Oriole was released during the 10 AM tour with the ladies of the Calvary Lutheran Church in Merrill, WI. The tour group was able to take photos of the oriole just before release. That is the one time when the public can take photos of the birds in they are released to the wild.

It was a beautiful day. We took advantage of the sunshine and calm weather to release several other birds that had grown up at REGI and were now ready to be on their own. Fifteen American Robins and a few Mourning Doves were released in the early morning hours. It is hard to imagine that just six weeks or so ago those same youngster were tiny babes. Some of the youngsters had fallen from nests, others were grabbed by domestic cats or dogs and still others hit windows or were hit by cars. They form a family unit here and together they face the world once released.

We wish them all well. Until tomorrow...

Marge Gibson © 2009

Monday, July 20, 2009

Red-shouldered Hawk, Being Spoiled on Monday and Thursday

(Photo: This Red-shouldered Hawk fledgling has the all business no grins, personality that Red-shouldered hawks are known for.)

A young Red-shouldered Hawk was admitted from the Crandon area. Red- shoulders are a threatened species. In the east they are shy and retiring raptors that tend to be very high strung in captivity. They have no sense of humor. :) This little one was came in suffering several problems including having one very small ear opening that is more the size of a large pin than an ear. He eyes are also unequally placed and one is larger than the other. He does not fit the classification of micro-opthalmia but could have been rejected by his parents because he was not perfect. We are working on developing a more clear history for him. He was very thin and had many insect bites all over his body.

( Photo: Mary and Sally serve the REGI crew today. No feeling sorry for us on Mondays!)

Mondays are happy days for REGI staff and interns. It is the day when Mary Draeger and Sally Jansen bring lunch for the entire crew. This isn't just boring "lunch", but we are treated to some spectacular food. Lets just say that recipes are collected weekly from the dynamic duo as we savor their creations. Mary insists on desserts that are so decadent they should be banned. I hate to make our reads drool, but the cakes and brownies are still warm when they get here.

( Photo: Linda and Megan Hendrickson bring lunch on Thursday. Did we mention they both took cooking classes in Tuscany? )

For years now the crew including myself lose weight in the summer. We put in long hours, the work isn't easy and often we just don't eat or, eat the wrong things just because it is fast. That is how Linda Hendrickson started bringing us lunch one day a week several years ago. All of our interns during the past several years know Linda and get a glazed look in their eyes as they go the their food oriented "happy place" when her name is mentioned.:) On her designated lunch day interns would begin to circle the picnic tables awaiting her arrival. One memorable intern was a football player and wrestler in college. He could sense Linda's car coming down the block. We looked forward to that one day a week when we knew we would sit down and enjoy some nutritious home cooked food.

This year Mary called and asked if we could use lunch on another day. She didn't have to ask twice. People avoid taking days off on our "special" days. Lance had to take a Monday off about a month ago and declared it would be the last Monday he took off until the end of his internship.

(Photo: Linda Hendrickson and her granddaughter carry lunch to the great old willow tree tables.)

Thank you to Linda, Mary and Sally for making our days at REGI even more special than they already are. While working with the birds is terrific one of the highlights of REGI internships for some is the food!

OK, so we are no longer suffering waifs. We still work long and hard but we are no longer starving at least two days a week you can find us gathered under the old willow with smiles on our faces.

( Photo: Scrubbing and cleaning the Bald Eagle Display cage...BEFORE lunch today. Alberta is on the power-washer with Aprill, Natasha and Lance busy pulling weeds and carrying rock.)

I feel like I need to remind everyone that we do work here. The photo above was taken this morning.

( Photo: Aprill imitates the Cedar Waxwing chick.)

I have had more people write asking me about when I was going to write about the "Bad" part of the work at REGI. I am working up to it. I will soon I promise. It is not something that comes easy for me.

Until next time.

Marge Gibson 2009

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Hooded Merganser and Wood Ducks Nearing Release

( Photos: Hooded Merganser Ducklings are about half grown in this photo. They are being raised with a Wood Duck duckling of the same age, also in the photo. Age of the ducklings is an important criteria when grouping hatching's.
Photo below are the same ducklings when admitted.)

The Hooded Merganser ducklings that came into REGI just a month ago are about half grown these days. They are very shy guys. It is hard to catch them doing anything but hiding when we come into view. That makes taking photos of them challenging, but that cautious streak will serve them well once they are released to the wild. Both Hooded Merganser and the Wood Duck are some of the most colorful of the ducks in the wild. Mergansers are the fastest ducks in the world. We never get to see them in their adult plumage because they are always released in their juvenile plumage. But, that is fine with us. Once they can take care of themselves and have the skill to do it, they belong in the wild. The diet for both species is similar and that is aquatic insects, crustaceans, frogs and mollusks. No duck food for these guys. That makes them tough to raise and keeps us scrambling for food sources for them.

More updates coming soon.
Marge Gibson 2009

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Training the Educators, Tiny Wren and Cedar Waxwing

( Photos: Jill and Troy with Steve Fisher and I and some of our education birds on their first day of bird handling training at REGI.)

One of the many things we do at REGI is help other educators train the birds that will become their educators. Recently Jill and Troy Walters, of Trees for Tomorrow in Eagle River have been at REGI. Both Troy and Jill are terrific seasoned educators in the field of natural resources but are new to live bird handling and training. We are happy to help these fine educators develop their own program. Wildlife education is a big part of our mission at REGI and sometimes that means helping other programs. Increasing public awareness of the world around is vital to wildlife conservation.

( Photo: Steve helps Jill get Zephyr, our Golden Eagle up on her glove for the first time. After having a Golden Eagle on your glove all other birds seem easy.)

( Photo: Troy Walters with his Great-horned Owl Orion on the first day of their training. )

People often do not realize that the birds in our education programs are all non-releasable. That usually means they were hatched in the wild, but suffered an injury or illness that caused them to come into rehabilitation. Unable to recover 100% from that problem, they are eligible to be used in education programs. We want to make sure they are comfortable with that placement and their new handlers are as well. It doesn't happen overnight and takes tons of patience on both sides, but the result is tremendous. The bird and the handler become a team working together in trust and understanding. Respecting the bird is key to being a good handler. The result is a bird that is comfortable with doing programs in front of hundreds of people. When you consider that these birds are essentially wild and not pets the fact that they cooperate with us and become education team members is really special.

(Photo: Troy and Orion recently. Both are doing great.)

New patients are still coming in to the clinic. The other morning we had two full tours and 5 patients admitted before 10 a.m. I am grateful everyday that my interns and staff are both skilled and dedicated.

( Photo: Cedar Waxwing babies are easy to identify. Note the brilliant iridescent pink mouth on that babe! Don't be concerned about the whitish material in the throat he was just fed.)

( Photo: House Wrens are tiny little things. Here the size of a nearly grown chick next to a penny. He was just admitted and still is cold and tired on the photo.)

( Photo: This baby Merlin is adorable with his little feather tufts on his head, but he is all business as any falcon should be. )

I am off for now. Babies need feeding and changing.

Marge Gibson 2009

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Educator Team Makes the Paper, Red -breasted Nuthatches, Belted Kingfisher Updates.

Our education department made the news in the Wausau Daily Herald yesterday. The article beautifully captured the interaction of the public with the both the birds and the educators. Please click on this link to check out the article. It is great to see both the educators and the birds presented so well.

To View photos

Our education department has been busier than ever this summer. There are two tours a day on Tuesday and Wednesday and one Saturday a month as well as special tours for groups if requested. The tours are very popular and are filled to capacity most days. On days when they do not have tours at REGI they are traveling to other places with the birds for outreach programs. They are a busy team and do a great job.

We do have people that wonder why we have guided tours rather than just letting people come to look around for themselves. The truth is our federal permits do not allow the public to have contact with the birds undergoing rehabilitation unless they are non-releasable and will be used in an educational capacity in the future. There are many good reasons for that not the least of which is the birds that are here for treatment need to remain wild. The less they interact with people the better. When REGI is filled to capacity with patients, and we are very near that now, it is nearly impossible to keep the rehabilitation birds out of public view at least while we are working with them. Nicole our Director of Education and Steve our Education Coordinator conduct the tours . During those times the education birds are displayed on various natural perches so the public can not only see the birds but their habitat as well and even take some great photos. It is the best of all worlds.

( Photos: Natasha, Katie and Lance with the Red-breasted Nuthatches just before and as the birds were released. Look for the blue blur in the second photo as that is the nuthatch impatiently taking his freedom.:) )

We have had many new admits since I last wrote and several releases of birds back to the wild. The days go so fast here and then seem to blend together. We released our Red-breasted Nuthatches. They are such adorable sprites,tiny in size but huge in personality. They are also hyperactive with a capital H. It is hard to believe they were the size of a fingertip when they were admitted and now are adult size.

Our Belted Kingfisher chick that was picked up in a landfill by the trucker last month has reached adult size and beauty. I still remember when we picked her up having survived being dumped in a landfill. She was a pathetic little tyke but had a strong will to survive. Kingfishers are rarely raised successfully in captivity. and we are proud to have had good luck with the species in the past as well as this year.

( Photos; Belted Kingfisher when admitted and her progress though Monday 7-13-09.)

Katie had a birthday this week. Keeping with REGI tradition we had a little party for her during lunch. Mary Draeger, our wonderful volunteer that brings us lunch on Monday, ( Thank you Mary SO much) brought a great lunch for everyone. We wish you many more birthdays Katie and may you always have such terrific friends and great parties.:)

( Photos: Katie's birthday party with the REGI family and Katie with her colorful confetti cake.)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Fourth of July Crabbiness

It is the Fourth of July. It is a meaningful day for citizens of the United States and has come to signify not only the independence of our country but also summer at its fullest. Today all over the U.S. families are gathered, charcoal grills are fired up and the smell of hamburgers and hot dogs permeate the air in towns around the U.S.. Most communities have their own firework displays to cap the celebration of the day. Once again friends and families gather to share the spectacular light display.

With all the joy people laughing and celebrating, I am crabby. It may be more precise to say I am nervous and worried and that makes me crabby. Weeks before the holiday my stress level begins to ramp up for what will be my work post holiday. These days, that holiday begins in late June and extends most of, if not all of July.

Don’t get me wrong. It isn’t the holiday itself that puts me off. I am proud of our country. I love grilled hamburgers and no one loves family gatherings more than me. The holiday part of the Fourth of July is great. Sometimes however I think the meaning gets lost in the craziness of celebrating. Too many people put aside sanity and responsibility during some activities on this holiday.

Fireworks, bottle rockets and other explosive creations produce eardrum splitting bangs, literally shake the earth with reverberation. Fireworks displays explode in the night sky creating temporary daylight.

The past few years’ news media acknowledges that pets, dogs and cats may be frightened by the sights and sounds of fireworks. We are encouraged to keep our pets indoors or better yet in the basement if you have one to prevent the effects from upsetting the animals. Some animals may require sedation from the veterinarian to get them through the noisy celebration. I am happy we humans seem to have caught on that animals are not as thrilled with fireworks as we apparently are. But, how long will it be before we remember wildlife are animals too?

Wild animals are even more sensitive to the intrusions in their home. They are actually “out there” when a bottle rocket screams through their tree home. There is no soothing voice of an “owner” to calm shaky nerves. Complicating this, the time frame, early July is exactly when many species have babies. Can you imagine any situation more frightening to any parent no matter if they are human or other animal species than your young being in the middle of a firefight?

I have heard folks say fireworks are just like lightning and thunder which are totally natural and part of the natural world? REALLY? Give that a moment’s thought before it becomes a defense for human stupidity.

I see a different aspect of the holiday. I see Bald Eagles that have had their nests destroyed with creative combinations of explosives that pass as 4th of July celebratory activity. Bald Eagles in my part of the world are nearly ready to fledge their chicks on July 4th. Eaglets often panic and jump from the nests located high in the tree tops. They fall helplessly into the night hitting limbs and other trees in the process. If they survive the fall, they are often badly injured. This year I have already received a call that an adult bald eagle is on the ground with what appears to be at least a broken leg suffered July 3rd when some knot head shot bottle rockets into the nest tree. Oh did I mention they knew the nest was there? “Kind of wanted to see what the eagle would do”. We are still looking for the eagle as he disappeared into the wilderness when the same people chased him once he was on the ground. He may well starve to death in the same woods in which he lived unable to hunt for himself or protect himself from predators. And..what of his youngsters?

Every part of me wants to scream at these callers, but my job is to take care of the wildlife not evaluate the mental state or IQ of the caller.

Families throughout the country seem unsatisfied with the beautiful fireworks displays their community provides, but also get their own. They have some to expect some pretty spectacular shows in their own backyard. Even worse some take their “personal stash” of fireworks to “the lake” or camping in forests where wildlife abounds.

Most people have no idea how many native birds and other wild creatures are either killed,injured or flee from their home into the unfamiliar night only to starve during this holiday. It isn’t just birds. Consider than deer fawns are only a month of so old at this point. I could go on and on. This is breeding season in most parts of our county. We creative humans seen unaware of the consequences of our actions.

I will be busy during the next week. We will have lots of orphaned or lost babies to rear here at REGI and those will be the lucky ones that are found. No doubt the finders will be stunned that their bottle rockets set off in celebration actually set that young hawk on fire or made the robin babies flee their nest. They always are surprised it seems. Cause and effect is a pretty simple concept but all bets are off when people rationalize they are celebrating. I don’t get it.

My wish is that people could enjoy the fireworks that are done professionally by their community and embrace their beauty and controlled presence. Please think about wildlife when you buy your own. If you need to set off some loud and obnoxious items do it in the street not in your backyard or through a tree. If you want to know what happens when you shoot a bottle rocket into an eagles nest, just call me and I can tell you.

Marge Gibson ©2009

Friday, July 3, 2009

Riding the Roller Coaster of Life at REGI- The Good

(Photos: Stevens Point Bald Eagle eaglet is weighed when admitted. We use a baby scale and they are usually very cooperative laying still. No sedation is used in case you are wondering. Katie, Natasha, Lance and Steve look on.
Photo below: Head shot of the young Bald Eagle.

This has been one of those few days where you feel like you are on a roller coaster. One minute you have GREAT even TERRIFIC news and the next something horrible comes through the door and within a minute there is a call about an animal abuse situation that is intolerable and very literally within minutes after that you are putting food into the mouth of a precious little barn swallow so filled with innocence and enthusiasm of just being alive. Then the whole cycle starts all over again.

On the Terrific end of things, the young Bald Eagle was put with the foster dad and other eaglet that is already in the rearing chamber. Things went perfectly for the newly formed little family. While the photo I could get isn't perfect you can see the dad on the left and the two youngsters in the nest on the right. You may have to look some to see both brown youngsters in the nest. We are still not sure what happened to the eaglet, but continue to work to find out. She will have xrays Monday or Tuesday.

( Photo: Bald Eagle foster dad with the two eaglets. We don't get close to do photos so the quality is always grainy. The male was right in the nest with the kids once it got nigh time. I wish with everything in me that I could share this kind of behavior with the world! It is beautiful.)

More good news in a HUGE way from friend Barry Wallace. Barry is a consummate Trumpeter Swan watcher/protector/helper/health observer. I cannot say enough good about the many years that Barry has spent with the huge Trumpeter Swans near Hudson, Wi where many winter, nor the valuable work he does with this endangered species.

Last winter we were swimming in cases of lead poisoning in Trumpeter Swans. It was a miserable winter with long days and nights spent caring for these magnificent creatures. Lead poisoning is a horrible problem and with the high blood levels we were seeing in the winter swans nearly always fatal.

( Photo: Barry Wallace with Trumpeter Swan #87Y just prior to his March, 2009 release back into the wild after having been treated for and recovered from lead poisoning.)

( Photo: Pat Manthey DNR/BER Avian Ecologist Adjusting the neck collar on 87Y prior to his release in March while Barry holds him one last time.)

Making a very long and agonizing story short...One of the swans that came in to us was a 14 yr old male Trumpeter Swan that Barry has known from a neck collar since he was a youngster. If you can imagine for 14 years this man watched this elegant swan and his family as they wintered on the St Croix River. Last winter the male became very ill with lead poisoning. Barry caught him up and the bird came here for help. His neck collar number is 87Y. That number becomes a "name" for us while there are with us. 87Y had a rough time in rehab. He nearly died several times and finally recovered after months of treatment. There was a celebration when he was released back on the St Croix where he was found. His mate had just left back for her home territory

( Photo: I hold 87Y while Don says his goodbyes just minutes before his release. and a photo taken just after his release with the other wintering swans on the St Croix River which was still frozen in March.)

We heard little from the bird. Barry had an occasional update, but it was on a no-news-is-good-news status.

Yesterday I got an email from Barry. He found 87Y with a new uncollared adult female and they were looking pretty happy. That is GREAT news. We are not sure what happened to his former mate. She may no longer be alive. Swans mate for life or until some situation separates them. We are not sure what happened in this case.

We hope 87Y is deliriously happy with his new mate and has an uneventful fall and winter this year.

This swan episode and the other swan lead poisonings are documented in the blog in March and April if you would like to read them.

More good news is our Red-breasted Nuthatches are ready for release. They will be released tomorrow if the weather holds. The Black-capped Chickadees are also nearing release ready as is the Chipping Sparrow.

Many of the American Robins are also ready for release. We were waiting for warmer weather before opening the doors on the aviary and will do that next week after the Fourth of July celebration. Fourth of July and all the firecrackers and fireworks is not as exciting if you are a bird in a tree and terrified of the sound, the reverberation and the light show.

The good news continues as "Slick" the Amercian Robin chick that spent some time in a pail of oil or oil fluid of some kind is doing really well. When he came in he looked like well... SLICK, but these days he is looking pretty much like a normal baby robin. He eats more than most and that may be a reflection of his desire to get on with life.:)

(Photo: "SLICK" the baby American Robin that took a dip in a pail of oil is looking good these days. Many thanks to Lynn Ott who quickly washed him off when he arrived at her house for transport.)

( (Photo: Aprill trying to feed the Northern Flicker chick that was hit by a car but is recovering very well.)
The little Northern Flicker that was hit by a car is doing very well also. Flickers are such interesting youngsters. They are some of the "coolest" of the woodpecker babies and chat all of the time. They insist on hanging from you while you are feeding even when you wish they would not. Most years we have several nests of Northern Flickers by this time of the year. That occurs when trees are cut without people knowing tree contains a nest of the active woodpecker.

( Photo: The Barred Owl that was hit by a car several days ago is in an outdoor flight and doing well. The second photo was taken of the same owl on June 24, 2009. She has done well and come a long way. )

The Barred Owl that came in June 23rd having been hit by a car and looked like she was about to give up on this world is in an outdoor flight and looks great. She still has a bit of a headache and will need to exercise to regain her muscle strength, but she looks great and her vision and hearing are perfect. So many times when owls are hit by cars they lose vision or hearing and are then not releasable to the wild.

I will finish up the Bad and the Ugly portions of the blog in a few days. Then a warning, don't read it if you feeling delicate. ::((

Remember wildife when you use fireworks and loud poppers. Have a great and safe holiday everyone.

Marge Gibson 2009

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Bald Eagle Falls From Nest, Cold Temperatures Cause Problems in Swallows, Nighthawks, Phoebes

( Photos: This eleven week old Bald Eagle eaglet fell from its nest on its first flight in Stevens Point and injured itself.)

It was another cold day in North Central Wisconsin. We had snow a few days ago and I might remind you today is July 1. We are pretty tried of the cold temperatures. The native birds that have diets made up entirely of insects such as swallows, nighthawks and phoebes are coming in to rehab now because they are starving. Our region that has jokes developed entirely on the huge mosquito problem in the summer has an absence of any insects due to cold. UNHEARD OF!

( Photo: Birds that eat insects are having a very hard time surviving in the recent and continued cold weather. In the photo a Barn Swallow, Eastern Phoebe and the tiny Bank Swallow share a box in rehab.)

We are going through a huge number of insects to keep our patients fed during this time. Birds can eat their weight or more in insects a day! Each eats several hundred per day and that is for the tiny birds like swallows. I don't even want to think about the bill for insects this month.:(

We got a call early this morning about a young Bald Eagle that apparently had fallen or injured herself on her maiden flight from the nest on the Stevens Point Golf Course. Steve Fisher and I went to investigate and captured the beautiful youngster without incident. Many thanks to the fine folks at the Stevens Point Golf Course for observing the problem and getting help for the little one even as golfers continued to play. Special thanks to Sally for sitting near the little one until help arrived.

People are always amazed at how big young bald eagles are at such a young age. Their egg is a little larger than a duck egg and within 12 weeks are pretty much full size and often weigh more than their parents at that time.

Back at the REGI clinic the eaglet was weighed, a physical was done as was blood work. She is anemic, but does not have lead poisoning which honestly is surprising. Lead poisoning is so common in these amazing birds and others we have come to expect it. That is a sad commentary on our toxic environment.

The eaglet has not yet eaten on her own but has been tube fed and is resting comfortably. More tests will be done tomorrow.
( Photo: The eaglet as she was captured.)

She is not with a foster parent yet but if she checks out tomorrow she will be put into the fostering chamber with our other eaglet and the foster dad. The less time she spends away from an adult the better at this age. It will be easier for her to transition back to her parents when she can go home. We hope her stay here in not extended, but we will know more tomorrow.

( Photo: Thanks to Sally and the staff at the Stevens Point Golf Course for getting help for the eaglet. )

I complained in the last blog about the weeds getting taller and not having time to cut them. That very night a volunteer showed up in the form of Mike Brietenfelt. Mike has a day job, but wants to help us out too. We are grateful.
We don't have many volunteers but those we do
have are terrific. Many thanks to Mike for his help. We hope he comes back lots and lots.

( Photo: Mike " taking out" our weeds! )

Our patient numbers continue to grow. People have called to see how the Belted Kingfisher kid is doing and we are delighted that she is well and growing.
The Osprey is still having problems. She can only digest liquid food and tests indicate she has liver damage. I hope it is temporary. My great staff is tube feeding her many times a day to keep her in calories.

I am signing off for tonight, but will be back tomorrow. I HOPE tomorrow is a bit warmer.

Best to all,
Marge Gibson 2009

( Photo: Belted Kingfisher chick in photo taken today. She is getting those blue feathers and is eating tons of minnows. Note in the second photo she has a minnow in her mouth. Sorry for the poor photo but she is fast at swallowing and that is the only shot I could get.)