Monday, October 24, 2011


This past Saturday morning, we had the privilege of participating in an "All About Owls Program" at Wild Birds Unlimited in Wausau. We discussed the amazing adaptations of owls, and all of the visitors got to dissect owl pellets! It was a blast! It seemed like the kids (and even the adults) really enjoyed finding all of the bones!

If you aren't aware of what an owl pellet is, it is a packet of undigested material that an owl coughs up. Owls and other raptors frequently swallow their food whole, ingesting fur and bones along with the meat. Owl stomachs impressively take out all of the digestible material and pack the fur and bones into a neat little packet. This process takes a little while, and usually about 6 to 12 hours after eating, the owl coughs up the pellet. An owl must regurgitate the pellet before eating the next meal, because the pellet blocks the digestive system for a little while.

People can dissect these pellets and identify the prey species of owls in the wild by examining the bones found inside! A lot has been learned about the eating habits of owls by studying their pellets. At REGI, we save the pellets that our education owls regurgitate, bake them to kill any "bugs" and wrap them in tin foil for schools to purchase. We brought a bunch of pellets along with us to the program, and the visitors were able to find out for themselves just how cool this can be!

Enjoy the series of photos I have below!

Photo above: These young men are comparing the bones they found in the owl pellets to the bone sorting chart to identify which creatures the owl likely ate.

Photos above: Making new discoveries!

Photo above: Getting a closer look at those awesome pellets!

Photo above: Everyone seemed to be enthralled with what they were finding in the pellets.

Photo above: This young lady found an intact rodent foot in her owl pellet!

As you can tell, we had a very fun and unconventional Saturday morning! We would like to thank everyone at Wild Birds Unlimited for inviting us to this wonderful event and all of the visitors for attending!

I hope you all have a great week! Thanks everyone!

Karissa Mohr
Wildlife Educator

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

New Patients, Lead Poisoning, and Great-horned Owl Releases

I have a mini update for you all. We continue to see many patients coming through our door, but here is just a peek at what we have now.

I'm going to spend a moment talking about the first patient I'm introducing to you because this is a species that isn't common to our clinic or our blog. Yellow-rumped Warblers are beautiful and fascinating little birds that spend their summers in the far north and west. This time of year, they begin migrating to their warmer wintering grounds in the south, and luckily for us, they pass through our area so we can enjoy their beauty for a short while. The most fascinating fact about these little birds pertains to their digestive system of all things. These birds can forage on bayberries and their relatives which have a thick coating of wax for protection that other birds cannot digest. Because of this unusual trait, Yellow-rumped Warblers can subsist on these berries and live farther north than some of their warbler cousins.

Photo above: This beautiful Yellow-rumped Warbler accidentally hit a window near Woodruff, WI. Luckily for this little one, only a few days of recuperation were needed for a full recovery, and he has been released to continue on his migration southward.

Photo above: This lovely little male Barred Owl was likely hit by a car and has a wing fracture. He is in very good weight, and is expected to make a full recovery!

Photo above: This gorgeous female Bald Eagle was seen feeding on a gut pile when she then tipped over onto her back. She was rescued, and when she arrived at our clinic, a blood test was done to determine if she was suffering from lead poisoning. The results were off the charts. The good news for this beauty is that she is with us for treatment, and with a lot of perseverance on her part, she can pull through. Please excuse the "crumbs" on her beak, she just finished enjoying a piece of salmon when I photographed her.

During and after hunting season, many Bald Eagles are brought to our clinic suffering from lead poisoning. Because they are scavengers, Bald Eagles are at a huge risk of becoming poisoned by lead this time of year. When a deer is shot, bullet fragments containing lead are left in the woods in gut piles. Unknowingly, scavengers, including Bald Eagles, feed on these gut piles and become very ill. With luck, these poisoned animals are found and brought to us for help, but sadly, those that do not get help will ultimately die. Making the switch to non-lead ammunition can be the difference between life and death for wildlife. I am a hunter myself, and the few extra dollars I spend on a box of lead-free ammunition, is worth it. Please, if you are a hunter, make the switch.

Things are slowing down a bit this fall, and we have been experiencing the joy of release with many of our patients. Two Great-horned Owls that were originally admitted due to starvation and being hit by a car were able to make a full recovery and are now free once again!

The gun deer hunting season is fast approaching, and that means it is time once again for Have-A-Heart for REGI! Those of you who are hunters, or know anyone who hunts, please save the deer hearts for us! Heart provides an excellent source of nutrition for the raptors in our care, and you can do your part to help us out. Information about drop-off sites can be found on our website under the "events" tab or by following this link!

Thanks everyone!

Karissa Mohr
Wildlife Educator

Friday, October 7, 2011

Fish galore!

Yesterday we received a pickup-truck load of salmon to feed our eagle and osprey patients! The salmon came from the Strawberry Creek spawning facility near Sturgeon Bay in Door County, Wisconsin. When the salmon swim up Strawberry Creek for spawning, this facility collects Chinook Salmon eggs for stocking in Lake Michigan. After spawning, salmon naturally die, but instead of letting them go to waste, this facility saves the salmon for donating to food pantries, a liquid fertilizer company, and us! We are so thankful for these donations.

Rehabilitator, Alberta Halfmann, her fiance Chris, her niece April, and Assistant Rehabilitation Technician, Stacie Wild set off for Door County at the crack of dawn. Alberta selflessly used her truck to transport the less than pleasant smelling fish. Thank you Alberta!

Photo above: When they arrived back at REGI, we all jumped into action, putting the fish into huge storage bags to preserve them in the freezer. New staff-member, Brennan Rausch must be wondering what he got himself into!

Photo above: Volunteer, April looks like she is having a great time. Thanks for your help!

Photo above: Transporting and storing fish isn't very glamorous, but check out those awesome garbage bag pants! Alberta and Stacie look great! Could this be the next hot fashion trend? ;)

Photo above: Delicious life-saving fish for our dozens of Bald Eagle patients.

Photo above: Qushquluk is about to devour a yummy chunk of fresh salmon! Lucky lady!

We send a huge THANK YOU to everyone at Strawberry Creek for saving these fish for us. Our eagles will be eating very well!

Have a wonderful weekend everyone! It's beautiful out there!

Karissa Mohr
Wildlife Educator

Monday, October 3, 2011

Releases and Thank You!

Hello Everyone! Fall is upon us, and I must say it is glorious!

Photo above: Elva, the little gray phase, Eastern Screech Owl is enjoying this beautiful fall weather.

This lovely weather is perfect for releasing more of our summer patients. The 9 American Kestrels, 3 Cedar Waxwings, and 3 of the American Robins that have been growing up here this summer have all been released!

Photo above: Rehabilitator, Katie Farvour, releases the 9 American Kestrels. The two most eager made it out first. Good luck, little buddies! (Photo courtesy of Katie Rymer)

Photo above: Director of Education, Molly McKay, got to release the robins! The first of the American Robins leaves their temporary transport box for their first taste of freedom! Live long and prosper, little ones!

After releasing the babies from the summer, we received a new baby as a patient! What were his parents thinking?!

Photo above: This Mourning Dove came in as an orphaned baby at the beginning of OCTOBER! His parent's didn't plan very well, but he is safe here and will grow up in good hands with the help of our foster Mourning Doves.

We also need to say thank you to a few wonderful people who helped us out this past week. The basement here at REGI was long over-due for a fresh coat of floor paint, and the Triple Progress 4H group and John and Joanne Starry volunteered their time to help us out. The timing was perfect as we didn't have any patients in the basement mews, so we could safely paint without worrying about the fumes harming the birds. A big THANK YOU to those folks who helped us finish this huge task!

It is also almost time for Have-a-Heart for REGI! Hunters, please save your deer and bear hearts this season! Drop-off locations will be available all over the area, and will be posted closer to gun deer season, but if you bow hunt, simply save your heart in a plastic bag and throw it in the freezer until drop-offs are available! Hearts are an excellent source of food for our raptor patients, and you can make a difference for them just by saving your hearts!

If you are cleaning out your freezers to make room for fresh meat, keep us in mind as we will happily take older meat! No pork please, but anything else is welcome! (715) 623-4015.

Thank you!

Karissa Mohr
Wildlife Educator