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

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