Friday, August 14, 2009

Trees are Changing Color, Insect Eating Birds On Their Way, Baby Birds Still Coming In

(Photo: This Eastern Bluebird sibling group are all males. They are from the Amherst, WI area. They have begun to fly and will soon be going into the large flight area to prepare for insect hunting training and release. )

( Photo: Night time baby bird line-up. Left to right. Eastern Bluebird X4, Cedar Waxwing, American Robin, Eastern Bluebird with head feathers missing,Cliff Swallow, Cedar Waxwing x2,Mourning Dove, Eastern Phoebe.

Evening is when I have the baby birds to myself. The staff and interns are off duty so I feed the little ones until midnight or so when we turn in for the night.
The line up photo above is what I saw the other night looking from above after feeding time. Before feeding time the little mouths would all be open/gaping skyward for food. I just couldn't resist sharing the cute little group in a single basket.
I am sorry the photo color quality is not great. The heat lamp above the babes produced odd lighting.

It is hard to believe that the leaves began changing here in Northern WI in the end of July. Now in mid August we are seeing a fair amount of color in the trees that is usually reserved for September. The wild birds have sensed the changing of the seasons too and are beginning to be on their way to their winter homes in the south. Our resident pair of Barn Swallows left on July 24th. That is an early migration time in anybodies book. We have had baby swallows come in that finders feel were left by their parents when the migration urge grew too strong. It has been an unusual summer for sure. Cold and dry many insect eating birds are not finding enough to eat or feed their families. Many in our public tours tell us they have seen less swallows and nighthawks this year.

( Photo: Young American Robin with West Nile Virus. Few birds this small survive the virus.)

We are seeing more West Nile Virus this week. Several species that are the hardest hit are the American Robin, Red-tailed Hawk, Great-horned Owl to name a few. The larger species have a chance of recovery whereas the smallest do not. It is sad to see otherwise healthy youngsters in such a difficult situation.

We had a few odd cases this week as well. We received a Red-tailed Hawk from Merrill, WI. He is an adult and was found floating in a horse watering tank. We could hardly believe our eyes when we examined him. The tumor was surgically removed and pathology was done on the tumor itself. Sadly it turned out to be a Sarcoma. That is a malignant soft tissue tumor. While it has been removed and the bird is now eating and in stable condition, this type of cancer will likely return. We are keeping him comfortable and trying to give him some quality of life during his remaining time.

( Photo: Red-tailed Hawk from Merrill, WI was admitted with a huge tumor on his wing. It proved to be a Sarcoma, which is a malignant soft tissue tumor. )

A Mourning Dove was admitted from Wausau yesterday. An older adult bird she has a tumor on her neck as well as other medical problems such as trichomonas. A section of the tumor was removed. While it is still in pathology for examination it could also be cancer. We are not used to seeing cancer naturally occurring in wildlife. It is very odd to see two in two days.

( Photo: REGI staff gathered for lunch as usual on Friday. Much talk has occured and friendships solidified around this table this summer. We are beginning to miss the interns already. Left to Rt. Aprill, Lance, Alberta, Steve, Nicole,and Elizabeth )

Our interns are getting ready to go back to college. Aprill and Natasha will be leaving on Wednesday. Lance is staying on until the end of August. The summer has gone fast but it has been a good summer for everyone. The list of things to do before the summers end has started. The reality of friends leaving is setting in.

More soon everyone,

Marge Gibson 2009

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