Friday, October 30, 2009

REGI Turkey Vultures Debut at Oregon Coastal Aquarium

( Photos: Turkey Vultures raised at REGI look out over their new home at the Oregon Coastal Aquarium in Newport, Oregon. )

Today was a special day for some of our former patients. This was the day they were presented to the public in Newport, Oregon at the Oregon Coastal Aquarium. We at REGI are glowing with pride at the photos that demonstrate their "perfect behavior" on this important day. By all accounts both staff and the public were delighted with the birds.

Their story started in the summer of 2008 in Central WI. Some young boys found a Turkey Vulture nest. Somehow two tiny Turkey Vulture Chicks ended up in the boys bedroom. The boys parents didn't discover the "secret" in the bedroom for a week or so. We were called and soon the tiny balls of down were patients at REGI. The diet the boys provided to the baby vultures was bread rather than the meat and bone young vultures need. They suffered serious nutritional deficiency.

( Photo: The female Turkey Vulture (Baby B) Leaves REGI for the last time as we headed to the CWA airport on Friday Oct 16th. She would be taking her first flight without using her own wings!)

The Turkey Vulture chicks were raised at REGI, but due to their delicate condition when admitted, they required additional handling and care. We were not able to put them with foster parents to be raised. Sadly, the chicks became imprinted to humans. They would never be able to be released to the wild. The next best option was placement in an educational facility. We are very selective about where our former patients are placed. We were pleased when we received a call this spring from CJ McCarty the Curator of Birds at the Oregon Coastal Aquarium inquiring about our young Turkey Vultures. We agreed the Aquarium was a fine placement. With the decision made, work began on the aquarium's Turkey Vulture exhibit.

CJ flew to Wisconsin in early October and spent five days with us at REGI. She learned everything she could about the vultures from how to handle them to the key to their very individual personalities. She wanted them to feel comfortable with her. THAT is the sign of an excellent curator. We were already pleased with the facility but after meeting CJ we were thrilled and confident the Turkey Vulture chicks we cared for and grew so fond of would have a wonderful forever home.

( Photo: CJ McCarty, Curator of Birds at the Oregon Aquarium makes last minute checks on the vultures carriers at the airport.)

( Photo: The Turkey Vultures leave WI from CWA. They were gently handled by some great staff at the Northwest counter. (thanks guys)

Our Turkey Vulture kids have a great new home and an adoring public. We could not be happier.

One more thing, tonight the vultures are still being called "A" and "B", but tomorrow they will have real names after the results of a naming contest are revealed.
There is a great video and article in the Oregonian Click here for the news coverage.

Have a great night everyone.
Marge Gibson 2009

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Great -horned Owl "BEAN" Released in Mosinee,

( Photo: The Great-horned Owlet that became known as "BEAN" was tiny and helpless when she was found.)

In late April I received a call from Wildlife Rehabilitator Nicki Christianson. Nicki is a friend and State of WI Mammal Wildlife Rehabilitator near Wisconsin Rapids. She has been a tremendous help for years helping us many times with injured birds and often serves as an overnight facility for birds until they can be transported to REGI in Antigo. REGI cares for injured birds from a large area of Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. As a mostly volunteer organization getting transport for our patients sometimes from several hours away in not always easy. That is especially true during bad weather or at night. Without Nicki, we would not have been able to help many birds from the Wood and Adams County areas. On this stormy evening the call was about a tiny, wet Great-horned Owlet that was on the ground during a storm. The words below are from Nicki as she describes the call she received on the night of the major storm.

( Photo: That is a Great-horned Owlet under that down. They camouflage very well. If it wasn't for his single black talon showing this baby would virtually "disappear" from vision especially on a background of leaves in the woods.)

Nicki writes:
I got the call a few hours before a bad storm was to hit. I was told that they (The Beans) had seen the little owl earlier in the day on the ground under some tall trees. They thought it best to leave her alone, in hopes mom was still around. But after most of the day had past, the little owl still sat alone. They knew she needed help. That is when I got the call. I went out to check the situation. The little owl looked like a fuzzy melon with huge feet. We searched the entire area, no parents were found. We found two nests one had the bottom falling out the other was empty. We even tried a crow call in hopes a worried parent would show up fearing there youngster was in danger.
The storm now on us I called Marge at REGI ask what we should do. She advised I take the little one back to my facility, feed her and put her in an incubator. If the weather broke we would try again to take her back. The owlet was very cold, starving and sick...and the weather did not break. The rest of the story is REGI's.

( Photo: Tiny "Bean" meets her foster mom Great-horned Owl soon after she arrives at REGI. Foster parents raise orphans,of their species, so the babies are not imprinted to humans and can be released to the wild. )

CHECK BLOG ON MAY 2, 2009 for the day Bean was admitted to REGI.

Summer passed. The owlet was raised by two non-releasable Great-horned Owls. The adults are not able to be wild but serve their species by raising orphans every year here at REGI. We don't have much contact with the youngsters during their growing up stages because we want them to be wild and not comfortable with humans. Not much contact means not many photos are taken during the process either. Pretty much the young birds hardly know they are in captivity.

Great-horned Owls stay near their youngsters until October when they begin to think about their next family. Like many birds, Great-horned Owls mate for life. About a month before the release Bean went into a large flight area to begin her hunting training. She excelled at rodent control in our flights. The time had come to set her free. Fred Lane, Wausau business man and friend of REGI had a perfect site for her release. It was his farm in Mosinee. They have horses and therefore lots of mice and rodents hanging about. A local Great-horned Owl would be a valuable addition to the area. it was a safe place to release BEAN as they use no rodent poison in the area.

( Photo: Don Gibson with the now grown Great-horned Owl "Bean" in her last minutes at REGI after her physical for her wild release.)

( Photo: Onlookers including a local Boy Scout Troop had the opportunity to see and photograph this beautiful Great-horned Owl up close and personal before her release.)

( Photo: The young Great-horned Owl was full of vigor and more than ready to be a wild owl. She gets some last minute instructions from Marge minutes before she was released to the wild.)

( Photo: Fred Lane had the honor of releasing Bean into the wild. We hope he is the last person ever to touch her. )

We love stories that end on a positive note. Everything went perfectly every step of the way for this young owl to to fly off last night as a wild owl. Bean would not have lived had the Bean family not noted her situation and wanted to help. She would not have survived the first night without Nicki Christianson giving her emergency care on that cold April night. Once at REGI the foster-parent owls raised her to assure she know she was a Great-horned Owl and be able to be released to the wild. REGI staff checked and made sure the owls were getting enough food and enough mice for the owlet. Great-horned Owl chicks can eat up to seventeen mice each night when they are growing the fastest.

Bean is a wild owl tonight thanks to so many.

I am confident the owl formerly known as Bean, is having a grand time tonight happy to be free of humans and on her own. She is a huge strong Great-horned Owl a with an equally strong personality. We have no concerns about her ability to fend for herself and attract a mate when the time comes.

Thanks everyone.
Have a great night everyone.
Marge Gibson © 2009

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Updates on Eagles, Vulture and Coot

It was a tough day yesterday. The adult trapped Bald Eagle had a serious crash. He developed pneumonia. By noon I thought we would lose him.

( Photo: My grandson feeding the male Bald Eagle small pieces of meat. A gentle bird, this Bald Eagle just seems to look at us and wonder "Why"? )

Our veterinarians came through with an injectable form of a different antibiotic. Within a few hours the eagle looked better. Pneumonia is a very difficult illness in birds due to their tiny but very efficient lungs. Lungs are one area where birds are very different than mammals. Keep us in your thoughts that he can pull out of this.

We have been told that they found a name and address on the trap and therefore it was a legal set. We get trapped eagles in every year. It is not an easy thing on any level. I am not anti-sportsmen, but I do not think it is fair that we foot the bill and care for these magnificent eagles that were simply fishing in the wrong place. Trapping is less a sport than a business. My private frustration is there seems to be no sense of responsibility in these cases. It seems to be more a sense of someones "right" to do it. In all the years I have done this, I have only had one trapper horrified at having caught a "non-target" species. He cared, I wish they all did. Forgive my grumbling but I think it is valid in this case.

( Photo: The young Bald Eagle admitted with the wing fracture voices her opinion.)

On the other side of things the young Bald Eagle with the wing fracture is doing well. Her sassy personality is good for us especially with the sad case next to her. Her DNA needs to be out there for the future.

I picked up a young Turkey Vulture with a wing fracture and an American Coot that has been hit by a car at the same stop yesterday. The Turkey Vulture was transported by DNR Biologist Chris Cold from Ladysmith area. Chris is an amazing person, great biologist, educator and all around great guy. I wish we could clone him.

The Turkey Vulture was found wing an injured wing at least ten days after the other vultures migrated from the area. The little guy was scared! I put him in with my adult foster parent Turkey Vulture when we got back to REGI. The little guy could not believe his eyes! The adult actually fed him within minutes of meeting him for the first time. He reverted to babyhood and gladly accepted being treated like a fledgling. The other young Turkey Vulture admitted last week is also doing well in the company of our foster parents. What a difference those adults make for the frightened babes. We could learn so much about parenting from birds. They do not have to be their biologic young for them to care for and protect them.

( Photo: Turkey Vulture foster mom (on stump) helps the young vultures feel comfortable after the trauma of having been first injured and then left alone when their biologic parents had to migrate south. REGI is filled with amazing stories like this. )

We admitted a young American Coot that had been hit by a car. This guy is so young we have to wonder what his folks were thinking when they had such a late brood! The staff loves him! Within an hour he was happily eating and swimming. He has an injured leg, but everything else seems to be working.

( Photo: This American Coot was hit by a car. )

( Photo: American Coot swims in the clinic tub. )

Today will busy. We are releasing a Great-horned Owl in the Wausau area at 6:00 pm if anyone is interested in seeing the release give us a call for the location. This is a young bird that was raised at REGI by foster parents. She is SOOO Beautiful. Photos will be on the blog tomorrow!

Have a good day and keep us in your thoughts.
Marge Gibson © 2009

Monday, October 26, 2009

Trapped Bald Eagle Update, New Bald Eagle Admitted

( Photo: This is the male Bald Eagle that was rescued last night by some great folks. This photo was taken about a little over an hour ago.)

It is beginning to feel like we should be called "Eagles are US" here at REGI. Last night we had the dramatic rescue of a beautiful adult male Bald Eagle and this afternoon we picked up another Bald Eagle, although this time a 3-4 year old female bird.

The male eagle from last night looks a lot better. You can see that from the photo. Don't let the photo fool you however, he is still in critical condition. We have tube fed him small amounts through the day. He is still very weak. I gave him a few small bits of meat, but he was unable to digest it. We are back to tube feeding him liquid diet until his body can process real food. This eagle was not only stressed, injured and suffering from hypothermia when admitted, but he is starving as well. What a quadruple whammy for him to have to overcome. Tomorrow we will get xrays of his wings and his left foot if he is stable enough. So much rides on if his foot is going to recover. A Bald Eagle with one foot is not releasable to the wild. Keep your fingers crossed and positive energy coming for this eagle. He has been through so much. It is time for him to catch a break.

( Photo: for those of you that did not see the blog yesterday, this is what the male Bald Eagle in the first photo looked like about 24 hours ago. He has made some headway.)

Tonight we drove again this time to Wausau to pick up the female Bald Eagle. She was rescued and transported from Mead Wildlife Area.
She is a big young lady bird between three and four years old. Bald Eagles do not get that distinctive white head and tail until they are over four years old, but it usually it is between five and seven years of age. The white head and tail tells the world they are ready for breeding and all the responsibilities adulthood brings.

( Photo: This immature Bald Eagle is a big female. She has a broken left wing. We do not know how she fractured the wing yet. She is twice as big as the male that was admitted last night. )

This little lady is a survivor with a capital S. From the time she was captured she made it known that she was in charge and wasn't having any pity party from humans.

( Photo: The immature plumage of this Bald Eagle has a beautiful mottled appearance. Each birds plumage is slightly different. This bird is a stunning young lady. Kind of an "Angelina Jolie" of the Bald Eagle world. )

( Photo: That is no smile on this young lady eagles beak. She is all business and if she has anything to say about it, she will recover and be out of here in six weeks or so. Birds bones are hollow so they heal more quickly that bones of mammals.)

I know our blogging public pretty well by now and I can "hear" you all wondering what the difference is between the male and the female Bald Eagle. Size matters in the eagle world and actually for most raptors. The female is about 1/3 LARGER than the male. In the case of the two eagles in our clinic tonight, the female is slightly over twice his size.
Here is the photo to prove it. That is no trick photography. The male is an older bird, I would say over 15 or more. The female still a kid at age 3 or 4.

( Photo: The adult male Bald Eagle is half the size of the immature female Bald Eagle in the box next to him. Male eagles are VERY nice to their mates, if they are wise that is. :)

It was a long night and a longer day. I am off to bed without even proof reading this blog. Forgive me for typos I will fix them tomorrow. Lets hope tomorrow brings no more Bald Eagle Drama.
Thanks again to everyone that helped get help for both of these beautiful birds.

Marge Gibson © 2009

Saturday, October 24, 2009

UWSP Pre-Vet Club, Great-horned Owl Shot

( Photo: UWSP Pre-Vet Club Members Alecia Stewart-Malone, Jacob Hunter, Catherine Kist and Kyle George with Don Gibson leading the way, put plastic weather shield on the mews.)

It was a busy day at REGI today. It was suppose to be even busier with 21 veterinary students from UW-Madison coming to volunteering, but the weather took a nasty turn. We worried about their traveling today. They will come in the spring. The Pre-Vet Club from UWSP did not have so far to drive. They took the chance and came on over. Preparing for winter is a big deal around here. We have to be certain that the birds in our care are protected from those north winds that can whip last year to a documented 72 degrees F. below zero. Winter has been seriously threatening so we haven't a moment to spare.

( Photo: Amy Hibbard helps rake out the eagle flight.)

( Photo: Amy and REGI staffers Lance Holm and Alberta Halfmann put the screen cages away for the winter. Those screen cages held lots of baby birds this summer. We could not help but think of them as the cages were being stored.)

After working hard all morning we enjoyed bowls of chili and hot chocolate to warm up. After that it was time for the students to get some handling experience with the raptors. This training is good for everyone. From our perspective we have more students that can help with wildlife rescues in the Stevens Point area and even better students that may be thinking about a career in wildlife medicine for their future. We will be elated to say " we knew them when".

( Photo: Marge shows the students how to handle a Great-horned Owl. We also talk about the specifics of owls and what makes them the amazing predators that they are.)

Later this evening we admitted a beautiful young female Great-horned Owl that had been shot. She was lucky to have been found by caring people that called and brought her to REGI as soon as they could. The owl weighs only 2 lbs which is well under her normal weight. She is anemic and was dehydrated as well. She was stabilized and put in a heated box for the night. Tomorrow we will have a better idea as to her prognosis. Shooting is illegal for these state and federally protected birds but it seems there are those out there that either don't understand that or don't care. It is a sad statement for our society.

( Photo: Lance holds the Great-horned Owl during her physical exam while the folks the rescued her look on. )

Nicole Swanson, our Director of Education, got back from the conference she attended much of this week in Eau Claire. She brought back lots of great ideas and renewed enthusiasm from the conference. It is so good to network with people and in doing so trade ideas. Nicole did a presentation at the conference and will do a blog entry next week to tell us all about it. Busy lady, she did a program tonight in Wausau as well.

Off for tonight. Morning comes early and it is going to be another busy one.

Have a great tomorrow everyone.

Marge Gibson 2009

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Broad-winged Hawk Needs Trip South, Cedar Waxwings Admitted,

( Photo: This handsome male Broad-winged Hawk should be in Central America by now!)

What do we do when birds are injured on the way south on migration? The answer is it really depends on the kind of bird and how south they need to go before they reach their winter destination. Sometimes we network with wildlife rehabilitators in other states. In the case of passerine birds like robins or bluebirds, once they are have recovered, we can transport them to a state where flocks of their species are still moving through. In many cases the Southern U.S. is their winter destination. That is not going to work for this Broad-winged Hawk however nor for the species of birds that winter in Central or South America.

The young Broad-winged Hawk in the photo above was admitted to REGI in late September. He had a fractured wing. The "kettle" of other Broad-winged Hawks with whom he was migrating, continued on their way. He healed quickly and is now flying. He needs a few weeks of stamina training in the flight building to assure he is back in perfect form however by that time others of his species will be enjoying the weather in Central and South America. He is stuck here in cold Wisconsin. How the heck do we get his there? That is the question.

We could find a private pilot to fly this youngster to Texas or Arizona, but this late in the season, he would be alone. Crossing the International Border into Mexico is not something that we are allowed to do. That limits the options for this youngster. In the end he and many others will "winter-over" with us at REGI. They will rejoin the flocks of returning birds in late spring. Over-wintered birds are kept in a heated area indoors until the weather is acceptable for their particular species. Next fall he will have the chance to travel to distant countries.

Wildlife rehabilitators have to have a strong network of many people from other wildlife rehabilitators, birders, biologists and even pilots to help assure the best success for our patients once they are released.

( Photo: This young Cedar Waxwing was wet and suffering hypothermia when Connie rescued him from the street. )

Connie drove a young Cedar Waxwing over from the Stevens Point area this evening. He was in the street wet and hypothermic when she found him. He had some bad luck earlier in the day but his luck changed when Connie found him and got him help.
Many thanks to her for making a difference for this little one. He is doing much better tonight. While he still prefers to sit by a heat lamp, he is eating and making friends with several other Cedar Waxwing patients currently in care at REGI. He doe4s have a broken wing, but we expect him to make a full recovery.

It is a good thing when we have other patients at REGI of the same species. The stress level of captivity is decreased when they know they are not alone at this place.

I have had questions this past week about Cedar Waxwings. Many appear to be in trouble. In the interest of time I will cut and paste a reply I offered someone that found several Cedar Waxwings in his yard that had died.

>>>>>snip >>>>>
When we find more than one bird in a yard recently dead there are a few things we think of.

Leading the list is:

1. Poisoning or toxin.

Most homeowners that care about wildlife and birds do not use pesticide. That does not preclude your neighbors from using products that are hazardous to birds. Cedar Waxwings eat both insects and berries. Either of which can be either sprayed or somehow "treated" with a toxin in efforts to prevent a fungal problem or parasite.

Even lawn treatments when freshly applied can be mistaken for seed.
The chemical can absorb into the skin of an insect and then be ingested by birds. Many hummingbirds for instance are killed when flowers are treated with powered fungicide which first absorb into the bodies of aphids before hummingbirds eat them. Even a bit of the actual powder can be ingested accidentally.

2. Shootings by neighbors.

We have come across a situation where a youngster has a new b b gun and shoots his neighbors birds. That is particularly true with flocking birds during migration. It is not always visible that the bird has been shot. This is strictly illegal, but unfortunately does occur more often than I want to admit.

3. Intoxication on berries
Odd as it seems berry eating birds can become intoxicated on berries and crab-apples. The temperature changes causes the berry to ferment. Just like fermented berries are used to make wine the same thing happens to the birds when they eat the berries. Simply put they become intoxicated. That condition causes the birds to go into a low metabolic state. If the weather turns unseasonably cold the birds can die as they are unable to get their heart rate up and therefore their body temperature. That does occur and would apply in our recent weather in WI this past week.

Disease is possible but not likely unless the birds are carrying a chronic problem. That can overwhelmed the birds when cold temperatures hit. Low body weight could be an issue in very cold temperatures. Cedar Waxwings have a wide food base so lack of natural food does not usually apply. It was a problem for many species this spring however including all species of swallows, Purple Martins and other insect eating birds. Even Sandhill Cranes colts were affected when their died before they were thermo regulating and after hatch when it was so cold.

Even with WNV we don't find birds grouped together unless it is a family that dies together simply because they refuse to leave each other.


Hope you found the information helpful.
Have a good night everyone.
Marge Gibson ©2009

Monday, October 19, 2009

Wild Turkey Vultures Leave for South America, New Vulture Patient, Pommersche Verein Club Program

( Photo: Morrie our Turkey Vulture is a handsome bird. The local wild Turkey Vultures left Antigo for South American on Tuesday of this week.)

All of our local wild Turkey Vultures apparently lost their sense of humor over the snow last Monday. On Tuesday, they left our area for the winter. They will be in Mexico or Central America until spring arrives. Unfortunately, the adults leave first and their youngsters follow after a few days. I am not sure why that is, but it happens every year and it seems to work for the species, so who and I to judge their behavior. I do know that the youngsters look pretty darn lost as they hang out in the trees over the swan compound after the adults have left. REGI staff takes pity on the poor tykes and leave plenty of left overs for them to munch on to sooth their nerves.

In a few short weeks the same Turkey Vultures that graced the area around the REGI facility will be enjoying South American. They have a migration route of approximately 3700 miles! They will return here in April. We have one special wild vulture that has a mate attachment to one of our foster mom vultures. He is the first to come back in the spring time and the last to leave in the fall. When I think of all the things he has seen and experienced in the months since they have seen each other it boggles my mind.

( Photo: Veterinary students from UW-Madison, Kristina and Kendra, watch as I examine our new patient. The Turkey Vulture hatched this spring was admitted from the Stevens Point area. I am not choking him, honest.) )

We have a new Turkey Vulture patient. What makes this one a little different is the vulture is a young bird and he has quite a story that came with him. The Zimmerman family found the young bird, or perhaps it is more correct to say the young vulture found them. The youngster was on porch of their home on Tuesday. If the vultures in Stevens Point area followed the same pattern as the birds in Antigo, the adults would have left early in the day on Tuesday, leaving the youngster behind. The young bird had a broken left wing that has healed before he was brought into rehabilitation. The fracture was a serious one when it happened. They youngsters parents would have cared for him not only feeding him but protecting him from predators during the healing process. In the end they had no choice but to leave him as their migration became necessary.

( Photo: The Zimmerman family found a young Turkey Vulture on their porch. After the youngsters parents left Central WI on migration, he used his skills to find food. In this case his skills were in the form of charming people into feeding him. Turkey Vultures are intelligent beyond description. In this photo they are delivering the young vulture to the REGI clinic.)

( Photo: The young vulture shortly after he was admitted to REGI.)

We were able to put the young vulture with our adult foster parent birds. The resident birds are non -releasable due to old injuries and will spend the winter with us here at REGI. The young vulture was delighted to see them and quickly fit into the group. His injury has healed and likely he will not be able to be released to the wild due to the severity of that fracture. However there are many options for non releasable turkey vultures in educational facilities around the country. The important thing for now is he is safe, well fed and happy to be back with his own species.

( Photos: Steve and Evie Fisher has a very busy weekend doing programs all over the state. In the photos above Steve is shown at a program on Sunday in Rib Ballroom for the Pommersche Verein Club.)

We are happy Steve and Evie Fisher are such good sports. This weekend was a little over the top even for our good natured and seasoned educators including the educational birds. They had programs all weekend long but never complained once! We feel lucky to enjoy the wonderful people we get to meet thought our raptor programs. It is kind of the chicken or the egg scenario. We wonder is it only terrific people that invite us or that are interested in wildlife? HUMM.
Thanks to Steve and Evie.

Have a great tomorrow everyone,
Marge Gibson ©2009

Saturday, October 17, 2009

REGI Programs at Owlfest/ Woodland Dunes Nature Center Program

Woodland Dunes Nature Center in Two Rivers, WI held their annual "OWL FEST" today. Steve and Evie Fisher made the long trek to Two Rivers last night taking 4 owl species, a Barred Owl, Great-horned Owl, Gray Phase Screech Owl and Red Phase Screech Owl with them as well as a Juliet our Red-tailed Hawk. While the programs was all about owls, it is also all about environmental education. Adding the unexpected hawk to the mix underscores the difference between the types of raptors. Over 400 people attended the event this year.

( Photo: Steve Fisher with Malcolm our Barred Owl. Both Steve and Malcolm has been a part of the REGI team for many years and both continues to thrill those attending programs.)

( Photo: REGIs Great-horned Owl, Fonzie pays rapt attention to the audience just as they do to him.)

( photo: Steve Fisher with Juliet our 19 year old Red-tailed Hawk.)

We love the opportunity to teach the public about the world around them. October, the season of Halloween and the Harvest Moon makes teaching about owls especially fun.
Thanks to the Woodland Dunes Nature Center and the fine people of Two Rivers for inviting us.

Marge Gibson 2009

Friday, October 16, 2009

Owls Improve, Red-tailed Hawk Admitted, Vultures Fly Via Delta

( Photo: Turkey Vulture "A" checks out her carrier as she leaves REGI this morning for her new home at the Oregon Aquarium in Newport, Oregon.)

By 6 A.M. CJ McCarty, Curator of Birds from the Oregon Aquarium in Newport, Oregon and I were on our way to the airport. By that time we had already caught up the Turkey Vultures, installed them in their airline kennels and got them into the suburban for the hour plus trip to the airport and of course had to scrape ice off the windshield. :( Oh how I love October in Wisconsin.
CJ called me earlier this evening to let me know they are arrived at the Portland Oregon airport and were beginning the three hour drive to the facility. She promised photos soon of the vultures in their new digs. I will write about the entire adventure when I get those photos. We are happy when some of our birds that are not releasable to the wild find great homes in educational facilities such as the Oregon Aquarium. They will educate thousands of folks on a daily basis about how amazing vultures are and that is one of the missions here at REGI.

( Photo: Alberta and I tube feed one of the Great-horned Owls that was admitted Tuesday night.)

The Great-horned owls admitted on Tuesday are doing much better. While still on heat and being tube fed, they have improved to the point where they will likely begin eating some on their own tomorrow. It is great when we can see improvement in birds that arrived in such critical condition.

( Photo: This adult male Red-tailed Hawk has a broken wing and a story to tell. He is pictured with John and Vicki Kuester. The Kuesters rescued and transported the hawk to REGI.)

A few hours ago long time REGI volunteers John and Vicki Kuester brought in a Red-tailed Hawk with a broken wing from Rib Lake, WI. It turns out the capture of this beautiful adult male hawk was quite a story and they have promised to share it with me this weekend. I will update everyone then. When we called John and Vicki, we understood the bird was located near their home. In the end it was about 50 miles away from their location. We appreciate our volunteers so much and John and Vicki have so much on their plate as it is. They do animal rescue for llamas, rabbits and other animals. As they say if you want something done ask a busy person, and John and Vicki have come through for us so many times.

It has been a long week so I am off to bed. I can count on tomorrow being a busy one as well.

Marge Gibson 2009

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Great-horned Owls Admitted, Sandhill Crane Hit by Car, Mourning Doves

Last night two Great-horned Owls were admitted within minutes of each other. They came from areas about a 50 miles apart.
The bird in the photos is from the Wausau area. He is a young of the year male Great-horned Owl. He was probably hatched in February of 2009.
( Photo: Young male Great-horned Owl with an old eye injury was admitted suffering starvation.)

( Photo: Notice the difference in attitude in the same bird from the photo above after he was rehydrated and tube fed liquid food. The photos were taken only a few minutes apart. Fluids make all the difference in an injured or starving animal.)
This owl has an old eye injury. The injury could have occurred months ago. It has caused some visual problems, and possibly some hearing loss. The owl does have some vision in the affected eye, however the eye and the ear are very close in owls. In this case there is still significant bruising in the ear canal. Owls use their hearing for hunting even more than their vision! For an owl that is not yet a skilled hunter, that can be a serious problem. The youngsters parents would have continued to be active in his life until this month. After October the young are pretty much on their own at least as far as hunting. When the time for independence occurred he was unable to hunt adequately enough to survive. Finally, he was weak enough to be captured. Once this young owl is stable we will be able to access his ability to hunt and better understand if he will be able to be released again to the wild or if he will need captive placement. REGI's own Steve Fisher, our Environmental Education Coordinator, braved the snow and wilds of Wisconsin to rescue this bird. Given our rural location, that is often no easy task.

( Photo: This Great-horned Owl was rescued from the side of a road in rural WI. He has a spinal injury but is improving.)

The Great-horned Owl in the photo above may look like he has gone on to Great-horned Owl heaven, but he has not. This photo was taken when he arrived and was still suffering hypothermia. He was rescued by some caring folks that saw him on the side of the road and wanted to help. He does not have any broken bones. He can move his legs, but likely has an injury to his spine. He is much more aware now and is improving. Spinal injuries in animals are just as serious as those in people. They need lots of supportive care and physical therapy. Time will tell if this owl will fly again. Meanwhile, we will continue to tube feed him and offer supportive care.

( Photo: This young Sandhill Crane was hit by a car in Adams County. She has serious injuries.)

A young Sandhill Crane was admitted last night. She had been hit by a car in Adams County. She has several fractures and is in very critical condition. She was likely hatched in July as she is still in very immature plumage. The weather this summer was so cold many Sandhill Cranes lost their first attempt at nesting to freezing temperatures. Some pairs nested again. That is what probably what happened to this family.

( Photo: Fledgling Mourning Doves have been flooding into the REGI clinic. These three came in the same day but from different areas. )

We were not sure what was going on when young fledgling Mourning Doves began flooding the REGI clinic. They were out of the nest, but still being fed by the parents. Young doves are fed "crop milk" and therefore need the adults even more some other bird species. The situation became clear however when we realized Mourning Dove "hunting season" had opened. It is disgusting and just wrong when parent animals are killed for sport, particularly when they still have young in the nest or are dependent on them. Somehow, it becomes our responsibility to then care for the starving youngsters so someone can have target practice. Chicks that were still in the nest would have starved without intervention if they were not found. I cannot help but think someone needs to examine the ethics of the dates of that season...and the season itself but that topic is for another day.

All of the birds admitted Tuesday and Wednesday were reported by members of the public that saw the helpless birds and seized to chance to help. We are so grateful when the public steps in to help wildlife. Several years ago the state wildlife agency may have helped rescue wildlife. Budget cut-backs of the past fifteen years have changed state employees ability to be involved in wildlife rescue. Now it is up to the public and non-profits such as REGI to help. Thanks everyone for doing your part.

Another busy day today as we ready the Turkey Vultures for their trip to Oregon and their new home.

Have a great day everyone.
Marge Gibson ©2009

Thank you Staff!! Home from California and it Snows!!

( Photo: Steve, Alberta and Nicole clown around in the snow this afternoon. Katie slipped down just as the photo was taken.)

I have been away for a week to attend the funeral of a beloved aunt. An amazing person, Betty was nearly 102 years of age when she passed away. She lead a a wonderful life, continued to live in her own home and lead an active life. It was fitting that her long and full life should continue to be well lived to the very last day. We will miss her very much. The memorial provided an opportunity to reconnect with relatives and friends we don't see often enough.

The funeral was in Southern California. We enjoyed the sun and warm weather for a few days, but were greeted on our return to Wisconsin with a snowstorm! I had to remind myself that it was not yet mid-October.

( Photo: REGI is appropriately decorated for fall, but this scarecrow looks more like a snowman today.

( Photo: REGI front yard was covered in snow on Oct 12, 2009)

In our absence the REGI staff was just terrific. Despite the reason for the days away, we were able to relax as we tended to family business without a worry about what was happening at home. That IS the definition of having great staff. Not only were the patients well cared for, but they managed to fill our freezers with 4000 lbs of salmon and get the newsletter finished, printed and mailed! We don't have a large staff but Nicole, Steve, Alberta and Katie along with Aprill and Lance were beyond great! Thanks everyone. You are appreciated so much.

Speaking of terrific staff, Alberta had a birthday on Monday. Since I was recovering from the flu, we had a small but non-the-less heartfelt birthday celebration for her.


We have admitted several cases during the past week. I will catch up on those as well as update others this week. We also have a visitor from the Oregon Aquarium this week that will be learning some handling techniques and then take two non-releasable Turkey Vultures back to Newport, Oregon with her on Friday. They will part of the new educational display at the the Oregon Aquarium. We have much to do!

Thanks again to everyone that pitched in during our absence.

Marge Gibson 2009