Sunday, November 18, 2012

Staten Island Zoo Bald Eagle, IWRC Conference

Intern Brian and I do the final check on Tweety before he takes his flight to New York.  In this photo Brian is applying Udder Balm to his feet to keep them soft as a baby's bottom.  ...which is important for raptors.

In early October we sent one of our non-releasable Bald Eagles to the Staten Island Zoo.  He will be a permanent member of the zoo family there.  After the Super Storm Sandy, we were gravely concerned for our friends and their families as well as for the animals including the Bald Eagle that was once our patient. We contacted the Staten Island Zoo staff and heard back that the zoo personal were all affected by the storm. Sadly, many staff members have lost their homes and some lost loved ones.  The zoo itself weathered the storm with little damage and no animals were lost due to the quick thinking and pre-planning of the zoo veterinarian and staff.  Our Bald Eagle is doing well and enjoying his enclosure and the lovely lady Bald Eagle with whom he shares the space.  We will continue to keep our friends and all the residents of Staten Island and surrounding areas in our thoughts as they recover from this disaster.

People often ask us how we transport eagles and other birds cross country.  The answer is by domestic airlines on the same flights you would take...but in a different part of the plane.  The photos below are from the mid October when "Tweety" our handsome male Bald Eagle flew to New York to begin his new life.  Before any bird leaves our care they receive a physical to make sure they are in top shape for travel and their new homes.  We don't usually name our patients.  This eagle was named by the young family that found and rescued him and the name stuck.

All is ready and Intern Peter is about to put "Tweety" into the carrier bound for New York.


Airline personal and TSA are always excited to see a Bald Eagle staring back at them .

We had to arrive at the airport at 0500. Brian and Peter wait with the eagle while the paperwork is finished.

Good Luck sweet bird.  We hope he has a long and happy life at the Staten Island Zoo.

This week is the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council (IWRC) Symposium in Appleton, WI.  We hosted a field trip to our facility on Wednesday 11-14-12.   It was great to see so many wildlife rehabilitators from around the country visiting REGI.  I will be presenting 6 professional papers at the conference this week. 

It was terrific to have so many IWRC members tour the REGI facility this week. 

Touring the REGI ground this time of year is not as comfortable as in the summer.  Because our guests came from across the country we had to remind them to dress warmly as we have already experienced snow in our part of the world.
 Patients continue to flow into REGI at a rapid rate.  More updates soon.

Have a great week everyone.

Marge Gibson

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Eagle Release Success, Release photos

 The eagle releases last Saturday were a resounding success.  Each eagle soared into the sky and soared and soared... It was exactly what we like to see when we release there magnificent birds.  Enjoy the following photos as each bird regained their freedom.

This magnificent adult female Bald Eagle had the highest blood lead level of any eagle we have ever worked with.  The fact that she recovered 100% is miraculous.  She was dealt a difficult blow by humans through the lead exposure. We hope the remainder of her life is peaceful and trouble free.

The adult eagle is about to feel the wind of freedom for the first time in several months. She is focused and well aware her captive status is about to change.

There is nothing more beautiful than a former patient flying free once again.  We at REGI are honored to have helped her regain her health and to give her  a second chance at life.
This young Bald Eagle was found by a family from Iowa while spending time in Northern WI.    The eagle was caught in a snare.  He had been there for some time and was starving and suffered from lead poisoning.  We were delighted the entire family could be there for his release back to the wild.

Photo by Bill Michaels....Female immature Bald Eagle takes to the sky after recovering from a wing fracture.
And he is off to reclaim his place in the natural world.  This young eagle flew and flew in circles and loops and was so enjoying his freedom. Stay safe little one. 

Release is always the best part of doing wildlife rehabilitation.  People ask us if we will miss these magnificent patients.  The answer is a resounding "NO".  We certainly will think of them and wish them well, but seeing them fly free and in good health is our success as rehabilitators as well as the success of our patients. 

Have a great day!
Marge Gibson

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Eagle Releases Nov.3, 2012 Sauk Praire, WI

Just a note to let our friends and eagle affectionados that we will be releasing 4 Bald Eagles on Saturday Nov.3, 2012 at VFW Memorial Park in Sauk Praire, WI. The Park is right on the WI River in Sauk Praire.  The release time will be about noon.  Photos are welcomed.

One of the eagles will be an adult that recovered from the highest level of lead we have ever seen.  She is an older bird and is amazing from a number of perspectives.  Three of the eagles will be immatures between the ages of 2-4.  All have incredible stories . Two were hit by a cars and recovered from broken wings. One was a lead poisoning case with an wonderful story or rescue and survival by an Iowa family while in northern WI.  More on the birds soon.  Enjoy the photos below from recent eagle releases, 
Bald Eagle release Sept 2012.

Bald Eagle Release on Oct 6, 2012
 Hope to see you there.
Marge Gibson

Friday, September 21, 2012

Fall Has Arrived: A REGI Patient Update

Fall seems to have arrived here at REGI.  The air has cooled and the leaves have started to blaze.  Our resident turkey vulture population has doubled in size as they begin preparations for migration.  Our clinic is still full, but not with the chirp of babies waiting to be fed.  We are awaiting the arrival of our fall interns next week; you will get to meet them soon.  These interns will have a different experience then our summer interns, without all of the baby care, but it will be equally important.  This is the first year that we will have fall interns thanks to the generous bunkhouse donation from Wausau Homes.

One of our resident vultures rides the thermals on a beautiful fall afternoon.

The bright reds and oranges make for a beautiful backdrop here at REGI.
Last week we had a very special tribute on 9/11.  We were able to release a bald eagle patient that had suffered botulism poisoning earlier in the summer.  It was an amazing moment.  Seeing her open her wings and soar was such a symbolic moment on such a somber day.

Marge Gibson (center) poses before the release with daughter (left) and friend.
We have a wide range of patients in care, some of them new patients or some just about to be released.  We anticipate that next week will be full of releases.  We have many robins ready to make a big migration along with other birds.

A beautiful sora perches in the aviary while awaiting release.  Look at the size of those feet!  They are designed for wading through the marsh.
Sora are little marsh birds that are more often heard than seen.  They have a distinct descending trill.  Their bright yellow beak is another characteristic that stands out.  This little bird was found near a marsh with a hanging wing.  His wing healed quickly and well allowing for release as soon as the weather improves.

The wing of an Eastern bluebird with severely singed feathers.
This beautiful male Eastern bluebird was found in a dog park which happens to be on the site of an old landfill.  He has obviously burned feathers and the most likely scenario is that it flew over a methane flare and was burnt.  While he will be unable to fly until he grows new feathers in he is in good health, eats well, and behaves normally.

An osprey prepares for a feeding.
This beautiful osprey was found on the ground with a severe injury on the inside of his left wing.  He will have a long road to recovery, but we are hopeful that this injury will heal.  If only the birds could tell us what happened to them!

Great-horned owl that was caught in a trap and severely injured his foot.
If you have been following our blogs for the past few years you may remember seeing quite a few patients with severe foot/toe injuries from traps.  REGI is a big supporter of trapping done well.  Each year we get 1000's of muskrats for our birds from trappers; it keeps them fed through the winter.  But trapping done poorly is the cause of many injuries each year.  We will work our hardest to save this birds toes.

I am certain that we will have many release pictures to share with you soon!  Until then, enjoy your weekend.

Molly McKay
Director of Education

Monday, September 3, 2012

Goshawk, Barred Owl, Red-tails, Broadwing, Nighthawk, & Great-horned Galore

Although baby season has slowed down for this season the clinic is still overflowing with patients. Let's start with a batch of good news. We enjoyed fantastic weather these past couple of weeks which is great for RELEASES. Watching the babies grow up is one of my favorite parts of the summertime. After seeing songbirds come in featherless and pinky-sized and raptors come in looking like abominable snowmen, it's the best feeling in the world to be able to watch them fly freely into the sky in the unruly, teenager phase.

These past couple of weeks gave way to several releases of this summer's babies, and we still have several more to go! Here's some photos of the birds before and during release. The list of released birds included several barn swallows, several Eastern phoebes, cardinal, yellow-rumped warbler (also known as a
butter-butt"), goldfinch, chipping sparrows, bluebirds, a couple of broad-winged hawks, turkey vulture baby, and 10 merlins. The following are photos of some of the released.

 Yellow-rumped warbler before release. See why they get the nickname "butter-butt"?

 Cardinal just before release

 Rehabilitator Brennan opening a box full of songbirds, first out of the gates, a beautiful bluebird

One of several barn swallows released. They all immediately took to the air and began to catch bugs!

 Although she's not quite ready for release yet, this Great-horned owl spends several hours in our long flight hallway each day.

 These two photos were taken right after release. This young turkey vulture graced the blog several weeks back as a white fluff-ball with a black face. After several weeks under the care of a foster parent, this young turkey vulture is soaring high above REGI daily with his new wild family!

We love releases here at REGI. It's always a reason to celebrate. The time and effort put into each individual bird adds up to countless man hours. Even though these birds were ready for release, new patients are coming in daily just beginning their rehabilitation process. We've admitted raptors, wetland birds, and a BABY GOLDFINCH within this past week (I'm not sure what the goldfinch's parental units were thinking when they decided that NOW was a good time to lay eggs). The next several pictures are updates from the clinic and their stories.

This Northern goshawk was found under someone's deck. It most likely had a run in with a window while hunting it's favorite prey... other birds. Her wings are now un-taped from her injury, and she spent several hours in our flight hallway today. The prognosis at this point is great!

This red-tailed hawk came in very thin and a little spacey with what we believe to be West Nile Virus (WNV). The virus is spread through bites of infected mosquitoes. WNV has several effects on birds. Everything from their eyesight to their feathers can be damaged indefinitely. 

 Great-horned owl that entered the clinic after being found in someone's front yard mid-day. Strange behavior for a GHO.

This common nighthawk was also found mid-day. Strange for a bird that flies nearly exclusively in the dusk and night hours. Although they have "hawk" in their name don't let it fool you, they only prey on insects. As of right now he eats every half-hour and can handle nearly 15 waxworms at a time!

Barred owl that came in very thin. He's been on a liquid starvation diet since admittance, and will likely begin to eat solid foods again soon

 Another red-tailed hawk exhibiting signs of WNV.

Getting just as much attention as the raptors is this little sora that was found under someone's vehicle. A strange place since they are mostly found in thick vegetation wetlands. He's thin, but is fattening up as we speak.

Although the songbird babies have flown the proverbial nest, the clinic is still very busy. WNV seems to be hitting the raptor world hard this year in the Wisconsin northwoods, and each bird that enters the clinic comes in a very critical state. Several of these birds come in very weak, emaciated, and spooked. One minute you look into their eyes and everything is okay, the next minute they are looking at you as if you were a giant purple monster and exhibiting more aggression. Each bird is handled with extreme care.

Time to head out for the day! Remember... REGI TOURS HAVE BEEN EXTENDED THROUGH SEPTEMBER! Tours will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10AM. Spots are limited, and pre-registration is required. Please call (715)623-2563 to reserve your spots!

- Katie Rymer, Assistant Avian Rehabilitator 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Lead Loon: Surgery, Recovery, & RELEASE!

We have spectacular news on the lead filled loon

Our staff & loon breathed a sigh of relief at the Antigo Veterinary Clinic this past week as an operation was completed to remove the lead sinkers. We crossed our fingers as the loon underwent a procedure that has only been completed a handful of times in avian rehabilitation history!!! This blog is a recap of the procedure, recovery, and RELEASE!!!!!!

For those of you who are not aware of the loon's story, he was found washed up in a marina unaware of his surroundings. Upon being admitted to the REGI clinic, the loon's blood lead levels were so high our device had no way of knowing what the true level was, and the X-ray a day later confirmed our fears. The loon had 2 lead sinkers in its gizzard. death sentence for any loon not brought in for treatment. To add to the loons growing list of problems, he came in with a severe case of avian botulism.

 The loon upon arrival into the REGI clinic. Lethargic, thin, and extremely high lead levels

 X-rays at the vet clinic showed 2 lead fishing sinkers in the loon's gizzard

 Loon eyes are a beautiful maroon color. Not too often can you see them so closely. This individual loon is beginning to molt it's feathers

Lead poisoning is treated with several series of daily injections, and can take anywhere from weeks to months to see real results depending on the species and how severe the case is.

After a week of trying everything in our power to get the sinkers out, we knew that it was time to take some drastic measures for this bird to have a chance at recovery. We brought the loon in to the Antigo Veterinary Clinic and thus began a physically and emotionally grueling afternoon. The loon was sedated as a tube was fed through its mouth and down to its stomach. Water was then rushed through the tube and into the loons system where it began to pop out pebble, after pebble, after pebble. Just as it seemed like the treatment would show no results, lone behold, 2 lead sinkers sat among the rocks on the table.

The air in the room was tense, but a huge wave of relief flooded the REGI and vet clinic staff.


After monitoring his progress and declining lead levels this week, he was released today (8/17) by the interns! His release is a huge relief to the REGI crew. "I've never seen a loon that close before," said intern Molly. Neither had the rest of the REGI interns. To see a loon that close means that they really are feeling down-in-the-dumps. Loons, for obvious reasons, don't fair well in captivity, and we are happy to see him headed home to the open water! 

The following is a string of photos from the procedure, recovery, and release

 After arrival at the veterinary clinic, the loon was carefully sedated by veterinarian Sarah with help from our Turkish veterinarian Aysegul & interns Molly and Sarah

 Veterinarian Sarah feeds the tube into the loon's mouth. Water will be pushed through the tube in hopes of pushing out the two lead sinkers

 Oxygen is given to the loon following the procedure

 After the procedure, Turkish veterinarian Aysegul checks the loon's vitals as interns Alyssa, Molly, and Sarah hope for a successful recovery

 The two sinkers and one of the several rocks that were pushed out of the loon's system

After fully waking up from the anesthesia, the loon quickly returned to fishing for minnows in the REGI clinic

It's a great feeling to be able to watch the loon catch fish knowing there's no lead sinkers left in his system. He makes quick work of a tub filled with minnows

The Antigo Vet Clinic team accompanied by interns Alyssa, Molly, and Sarah, executive director Marge Gibson, and our visiting Turkish veterinarian Aysegul! GREAT JOB LADIES!

 Interns Alyssa, Molly, Sarah, and Turkish veterinarian Aysegul wishing the loon safe travels!

Please, please, please think about switching to non-lead tackle & ammunition. 
Cases like this are 100% preventable, and YOU have the power to change it!

For alternatives to lead tackle click here.
For alternatives to lead ammunition click here.

A HUGE thank you to the Antigo Veterinary Clinic for their hard work and patience through this case and the countless others that they have helped us out with.

To donate to the Raptor Education Group, Inc.'s patients , CLICK HERE!

- Katie Rymer, Assistant Avian Rehabilitator

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Wrapped In Line: Hayward Eagle

Greetings everyone,

It's hard to explain how incredibly difficult it is to watch patient after patient come into our clinic with human inflicted injuries. Lead poisoned loons, hummingbirds colliding with windows, hawks that have been shot by upset individuals, even great-horned owls that have been hit by snowmobiles... hard to believe, but we've seen it all.

This particular eagle case was no exception.

Before I begin with some pictures of this beautiful bird, I'd just like to make a plug for the health and safety of all wildlife. It was just this past weekend that I went out fishing, and spent more time cleaning up the tangled line in the shrubs and water than I did actually fishing. I suppose working at an animal rehabilitaton center makes you more prone to noticing line hanging in shrubs, washed up on the beach, or caught on logs in the water, but it's something we all need to work at being more aware of. Not every cast can be as perfect as the pros...

  Image from Summit County Citizens Voice, line tangled in grass

but after you stop feeling embarrassed for snagging your line, 
please do your best to clean up after your line and tackle.

A photo of the eagle's face that was taken after fishing line had been untangled from the beak. Notice the white lines engraved near the nares (nostrils) from the fishing line 

After a long journey down from Hayward, WI this juvenile bald eagle made it to the clinic with no time to spare. His injury... tangled in musky fishing line. Not just sort-of tangled in fishing line, but tangled to the point of circulation loss in his toes, damage to his beak, open wounds on his leg, severe muscle loss in his leg, and extremely underweight. To cause such a lengthy list of issues, we estimate that the line had been wrapped around the eagle for several weeks.

The swelling in the toes is astounding, over twice the size as normal

Notice the size difference in the feet, and the injury to the upper left leg, all caused by fishing line

With line wrapped so tightly around his legs and toes, his extremities began to lose circulation. The leg itself had barely any muscle left, and the severe amount of swelling in the foot left the bird physically unable to grasp. 

After the initial exam, treatment is to soak his feet twice daily to help increase circulation back into the feet, and reduce any further infections to the legs

The fishing line perhaps belonged to a bait such as this musky bait that came in on a patient eagle several years back

Many fishermen are honored to see eagles so close in the summertime, especially up here in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. But sadly, young eagles on their first fishing ventures sometimes mistake musky baits for a delicious meal. To their defense, some of them actually look edible these days. Loons can get tangled up in line that has been snagged underwater. Ducks get tangled with line that has been snagged close to shore.

lakefront property owners,
and all water-body seeking outdoor enthusiasts...
You can prevent injuries such as these!!!

Please do your part in cleaning up our natural resources. Future generations of people and wildlife depend on it. Whether it happens to be your mistake or one of someone else, please don't leave it lying around!

The way I look at it... I wouldn't want to see my kids, grand-kids, and great grand-kids stepping on fishing hooks and seeing a line-littered shoreline. To those of you who take the extra couple minutes to remove line, lures, and bobbers from the environment... the birds and myself would like to personally THANK YOU!!

Besides... sometimes those snagged lures are the luckiest ones!

- Katie Rymer, Assistant Avian Rehabilitator