Friday, September 3, 2010

The summer is winding down

Wow! What a summer it has been! It seems like only yesterday our interns were arriving. Fresh, full of enthusiasm and eager to learn. We were lucky to have gotten an amazing crew of interns this year. The summer was full of learning experiences for them. (Above: Summer interns left to right, Karissa Mohr, Katie Rymer, Robert Prinsen and Jennifer Rothe, pose before their first release of the summer. The interns were all able to participate in the release of many patients after this one.)
Our last intern left earlier this week. They are all headed of either back to school, or on to their next wildlife jobs.
We had out usual influx of babies, and we all enjoyed watching them grow from little balls of fluff into beautiful feathered birds. (Quite rapidly, I might add.) Many of our summer babies have already returned to the wild to live what we hope will be a full life. A few others just were not healthy enough to be released.Let me introduce you to some of our summer babies.3 Northern Harriers came in this year (Above: top photo). Northern Harriers are also called Marsh Hawks and are ground nesters. When farmers mow early in the year they will often mow down nests. This farmer stopped to pick up the babies and brought them in to REGI. 2 of the 3 were healthy and active from the start. Those 2 are just about ready for release. Unfortunately their sister was very sickly for the first few weeks. She was just not as quick about getting food, her eyes were crusted shut for a long time and she appears to have some serious developmental disabilities. We really did not think she would pull through. But, she did! She has a great future in education ahead of her. (Above: lower photo.)Another new member of our education team is Jack, the Prairie/Gyrfalcon hybrid. Jack was bread in captivity for falconry. When he was just a little ball of fluff he had an ingrown eye lash that got severely infected. He wound up completely losing his eye. The falconer called us up to see if we needed another education falcon. (Above photos: [top] Jack when he just arrived at REGI. You can see from his bulbous crop that he just had a big meal. [bottom] Jack is now in full feathers and very beautiful.)We had a rare patient this summer, a beautiful Long Eared Owl. When he came in he was in bad, bad shape. The poor little guy was convulsing and had a well defined injury to his head. Our intern Karissa was transporting him from her hometown to REGI and called to tell us that she was pretty sure he wouldn't even make the trip. Long Eared Owl chicks are known for leaving the nest to sit on tree branches before they can even fly. If they fall from the tree they may become injured on the way down or be injured by a predator after leaving the safety of their nest. It seems that is exactly what happened to our little owl. We suspect that a dog got to him. After all of that intensive care he received in recovery he also has become imprinted on humans.
One of our babies that is on the road to freedom is a baby Turkey Vulture. He came in orphaned but was teamed up with some foster parents. Since he is healthy and the fostering kept him from imprinting he will be released soon. He has already shown us that he is a first class flier. (Above: [top] Baby Turkey Vulture with one of his foster parents, [bottom] Although his adult plumage is in you can tell he is a juvenile by his black face.)
Some of our patients come a long way to be cared for. A set of baby Trumpeter Swans came all the way from Minnesota after they had been orphaned. Trumpeter Swans were very recently removed from the endangered species list. There are few facilities that care for them. Luckily REGI is one of them. (Above: [top] cygnets shortly after arrival exercising in the tub, [bottom] the cygnets are turning to the gray color that juveniles have and spending time with an adult trumpeter who lives here at REGI.)We also had a group of American Kestrel chicks come in. The tree that their nest was in had been cut down. Luckily we found them foster homes in active Kestrel nest boxes where they were adopted into new families. The interns got to work along with a bander to record and band them before placement. (Above: [top to bottom] 4 American Kestrel Chicks when they arrived at REGI, Putting a leg band on, Weighing before the release and Karissa places one of the Kestrels into a nest box).

Molly McKay
Education Coordinator