Friday, February 11, 2011

Barred Owl, Canada Goose, Trumpeter Swan, Bald Eagle, Great Horned Owl, and Eastern Screech Owl... Oh My!

It has been a busy few days here around REGI! We have admitted quite a few new patients, six of which I'd like to share with you now.

Photo above: This Barred owl was admitted after being hit by a car near the Langlade, WI area. His first few days here were a little rough; he had blood in his nares (nostrils) which is indicative of internal damage. Internal bleeding is very common in birds that have been hit by cars and can be fatal; luckily for this gorgeous owl, his injuries are healing. We are very pleased to say that he is recovering very well and will soon be ready for release!
If you look closely at the feathers between his eyes you can see what looks like snow stuck to them. That is actually frozen water vapor that has collected from each breath he releases. That proves how perfectly suited these owls are for winter weather. They are so well insulated that their body heat is trapped below their feathers and snow doesn't even melt on them. Amazing!

Photo above: This Canada Goose was admitted this morning from the Stratford, WI area, suffering from an old gunshot injury. Being that Canada Goose hunting season ended in mid December and assuming her injury came from an attempted legal harvest, she has been braving this northern winter for a couple months, unable to fly. In areas of the Midwest that retain open water during all seasons, some Canada geese might attempt to stay the winter, but most geese have long flown South.
Her injury resulted in the loss of part of her wing which means that she will not be able to return to the wild; however, all hope is not lost. She has a big job in her future; every spring, it is inevitable that we will need to raise Canada Goose goslings. Assuming that she is able to regain her strength and a healthy weight, she will make a wonderful foster mom for many orphaned goslings.
Canada Geese are a harvestable species meaning that it is legal to shoot them during designated seasons. Injuries like the ones sustained by this Canada Goose really come down to hunter responsibility. If a poor shot is taken, it is up to the hunter to do everything they can to find the injured bird and prevent suffering. We are very thankful for the person who found this goose and brought her to safety; the world needs more people like that.

Photo above: This Trumpeter Swan cygnet (youngster) was found in the Gilman area which is in North Western Wisconsin. The area in which he was found has no open water and the reasons why he was there are unclear. He is suffering from vision problems from an unspecified injury, and also as a chip in his beak which may indicate head trauma. It is not certain that his vision will ever improve, but we will continue to monitor him. Blood tests showed no lead poisoning which is good news; one less thing he has to overcome.

Photo Above: An upsetting story... This Bald Eagle was found in the Wittenberg, WI area suffering from gunshot wounds. Some very good people found him and brought him to safety, but unfortunately, the damage from the shot was so severe it resulted in the loss of part of the wing. It is likely that he has an occupation as an education bird in his future.
Judging by the coloration on the eagle's head, he is likely around 3 or 4 years old. Bald Eagles don't get their signature "bald" head until they are about 5 years old and this fellow is still showing dark streaks.
Like we have mentioned before, harming ANY raptor is illegal! I plan to do this work for the rest of my life, and I don't think I will ever understand why someone would want to murder our National bird. We are very grateful for the kind people who rescued him.

Photo above: This Great Horned Owl from Arpin, WI was found tangled in a barbed wire fence. He has some damage to his right wing, but it looks like he will be releasable! He looks quite upset in the photo, and that is good! It means he is feeling well enough to be defensive. Great Horned Owls always have a very strong personality so that is another good sign for this guy.
Barbed wire is an especially dangerous obstacle for animals, including birds. The barbs are very effective at hooking into tissue and once an animal is caught, it often needs help from a human to get free. This owl was extremely lucky in that his injuries were minor and someone found in in a short period of time. Unfortunately, most animals found tangled in barbed wire have already died.
Barbed wire can be made "safer" by keeping the wire taut and by tying strips of light colored cloth at multiple points between each fence post. The tautness helps keep animals from twisting in between two wires and the cloth strips make the wire more visible and avoidable for low-flying birds. The same is true for other types of wire fences. They're an unexpected danger that we can and should help to reduce; after all, we are the ones putting them up.

Photo above: This Eastern Screech Owl was found in Antigo, WI, with a very interesting story. A lovely woman walked into her living room to find this adorable little Screech Owl perched atop one of her vases! Imagine her surprise! Being that the owl was covered in soot and had some roughed-up feathers, we deduced that she must have "broken in" through the fireplace chimney. This odd situation isn't as rare as you might think.
Many species of owls, including Eastern Screech Owls, are cavity-nesters, meaning that they nest in holes in trees. As luck would have it, chimneys resemble these tree cavities closely enough for owls to be confused. Raccoons have also found themselves inside people's homes after making the same mistake. If you would like to avoid having owls or raccoons ambling down your chimney, a simple chimney cap should usually do the trick.
Another odd thing about the screech-owl-in-living-room situation is that Eastern Screech Owls are generally found South of Wausau, WI; Antigo, WI is an hour, by car, north of there. Why she was this far North is a mystery.
She is being observed for several days to make sure that there isn't an underlying problem, but she is in good weight and should be released quite soon!

On top of all the patients, we were lucky enough to be visited by a few students today from the University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point. Two of them are here from Japan for a short time doing a training program through the University. We had a great time showing them around and they taught us about the raptors native to Japan; it was a real treat! Katie Rymer, an intern from this past summer, drove them all up to Antigo and it was great to have her "home" at REGI again!

Photo above: The students learned to handle birds during their time with us. We hope they enjoyed their time at REGI as much as we enjoyed having them! (Photo Credit: Molly McKay)

As always, thank you all for your donations and support!
We couldn't do this without you!

Have a great weekend!

Karissa Mohr
REGI Wildlife Educator

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