Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Another Bald Eagle Patient, Updates, and Klondike Days!

Good Tuesday morning everyone!
It has been a few days since our last update and we have another patient I'd like to introduce you to. Bald Eagle (#019) was brought to us from the Minocqua, WI area unable to fly. We tested his blood for lead and his results came back at a "normal" level, meaning that he is not suffering from lead poisoning. His inability to fly is still currently being determined.

Photo above: Eagle #019. The darker streaking in his beak tells us that he is likely just about 5 years old.

I'd also like to update you on a number of our patients.
The Barred Owl that originally came in after being hit by a vehicle has unfortunately passed away. It is a great loss for his species because he was such a wonderful adult. He will be missed.

The Great-horned Owl found along a road with a broken wing is improving slowly. She still has a swollen wing, but is eating very well. It isn't clear at this point whether she will be able to regain flight.

Eagle #008 is flying in the flight building and looking great. We are so thrilled with his recovery from lead poisoning. He still needs a lot of reconditioning, but the improvements he has shown are fantastic.

Photo above: Eagle #008 just before being moved into the flight building.

Eagle #012 is also beginning to fly back and forth in the flight building. Because of her injured "wrist" joint, we are tentative in our excitement about her short flights.

Eagle #013 has also been moved to the flight building, but is showing no ability of being able to fly. We will likely need to place him as a permanent resident at another facility.

The Snowy Owl has been very active in the clinic so she has been moved to a larger mew to give her more room to move around. She still has chunky lesions in her throat, but has begun to eat solid foods with encouragement from our rehabilitators.

The Rough-legged Hawk is still currently in the clinic and is eating very well.

On a separate note, would any of you like to have some fun this coming weekend?

Director of Education, Molly and I will be at Klondike Days in Eagle River this Saturday and Sunday. We will have a booth set up both days so you can meet our raptors face to face. There are plenty of other things to do and see at Klondike Days like: Native American exhibits; Snow Sculptures; Cut, Stack, & Split contest; Dog Sled weight pulls; Horse pulls; Ice Sculpture; Arts & Crafts; Amish Quilt Show & Sale; and much, much more. It is a great time for the whole family!

Where: Northland Pines High School, Eagle River, WI
When: Saturday and Sunday, March 3rd and 4th, 2012 from 9am to 4pm.

For more information follow this link.

Photo above: Molly and I at Klondike Days in 2011 with a Peregrine Falcon and a Barred Owl. Come and visit us this weekend at Klondike Days in Eagle River and meet some of our resident raptors!

That's all for now :) Have a great week everyone!

Karissa Mohr
Wildlife Educator

Monday, February 20, 2012

Rough-legged Hawk, Eagles Moved to Flight Building, and Patient Updates

Good Monday morning everyone! We admitted a new patient over the weekend; a Rough-legged Hawk. This is the first Rough-legged Hawk we have had in our clinic this season. "Roughies," as we and fellow bird lovers refer to them, are magnificent birds of the north. They spend summers, along with Snowy Owls, in the Arctic rearing their young. We are lucky in the United States because these majestic birds will spend the winter here. Unlike Snowies, Roughies can be seen in Wisconsin every winter, not just when food sources become low up north.

Photo above: This Rough-legged Hawk was found west of Medford, WI unable to fly. He has an injury in his left wing which has been taped to allow it to heal. Thank you to the volunteer who made the 2 hour trip to get him here safely.

For an inexperienced bird watcher, a Roughie can be mistaken for a more common type of hawk around here; Red-tailed Hawks. There are a couple of characteristics which can help you tell which one you're looking at. Roughies have a dark patch of feathers at the "wrist" joint which can be seen from below when they are in flight. These hawks have a wide variety of color morphs which can range from very light with a lot of streaking, like the individual above, to dark, chocolaty brown overall. They frequently have a dark "bib" of feathers on their chest which may be more or less visible depending on the color morph of the individual. If you're very close, you may be able to get a look at their feet. Roughies have relatively small feet which are perfect for catching the small mammals they feed on as well as help to limit body heat lost through their skin. The characteristic from which they get their name are their "rough legs." They have feathers all the way down to their feet, much farther than most other hawks, which keep them warm gives them the appearance of having rough legs.

Our other patients are doing well and improving each day. We are very pleased with the progress we see in the Snowy Owl.

Photo above: The Snowy Owl continues to receive a liquid diet administered through a tube several times per day. The Trichomonas (trich) infection is improving and the caseous (cheesy) material in her throat is beginning to loosen. Licensed Rehabilitator, Katie Farvour, and Assistant Rehabilitator, Stacie Wild, are shown here tube-feeding the Snowy.

Photo above: Have you ever wondered why Snowy Owls look like they have big, wonderful walrus mustaches? The "mustache" is composed of stiff, bristly feathers which help to warm the air that they breathe; an important adaptation for arctic living. As they exhale, the feathers trap some of the warm moist air which then warms up the cooler air as they inhale. Those feathers also provide a barrier to dust and snow, keeping their nares (nostrils) free of debris.

I'd like to update you on the patients we've recently told you about. Sadly, the little Red-breasted Nuthatch passed away. We would like to thank the folks who brought him to us. He was given the best chance of survival through their quick action, but unfortunately his head injury was too much for him.

A bit of positive news... Bald Eagles #012 and #008 are well enough to begin regaining their flight muscles! They have been moved to our huge flight building where they can stretch their wings and fly. Yeah!

Thank you everyone!

Karissa Mohr
Wildlife Educator

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Snowy Owl, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Patient Updates, Golden Hawk Canoes

We have two new patients to introduce you to.

We admitted a Snowy Owl last evening with a fairly uncommon illness for an owl. This female Snowy has Trichomonas gallinae, a protozoan (single-celled) parasite. "Trich" (pronounced 'trick'), as it is referred to, is a parasite that typically infects pigeons, doves, turkeys, and chickens. It can infect raptors (hawks, eagles, owls, falcons, and the like) after consuming a bird infected with trich. This parasite divides and multiplies, usually in the back of the mouth and throat of the birds, causing cheesy-looking lesions. It can ulcerate these delicate tissues and spread to other organs. Without treatment, infected birds usually won't survive.

Trich can be spread between song birds through infected feed and water. Bird feeders must be sanitized frequently to prevent the spread of trich through your backyard birds. Infected birds may have a hard time swallowing and breathing or may be puffed up and generally look unwell.

Photo above: This snowy owl was found in the barnyard of a farm in Nekoosa, WI. She was weak and unable to fly.

Photo above: During her examination, the rehabilitators discovered the cause of her illness; trich. The brownish-yellow cheese-like "gunk" you see in the back of her throat are lesions; a classic symptom of the parasite Trichomonas gallinae. Another symptom which she exhibits is putrid odor.

Photo above: The lesions can make swallowing food very painful or even impossible. As a result, she is in very low weight. The rehabilitators carefully tube-feed her a liquid diet. So far, she has been handling her tube-feedings very well with no adverse reactions. In addition to tube-feeding, she is receiving treatments to kill the protozoan organism.

While the rehabilitators were doing her examintion, I took the opportunity to snap a few photos to give you all a look at some amazing Snowy Owl characteristics.

Photo above: In this photo you can get a look at her large, heavily-feathered feet. These dense feathers protect their feet from brisk arctic temperatures, and give the owls the appearance of wearing big fuzzy slippers. Normally snow-white, this owl's feathers are stained, probably while she was in the barnyard. You can also see her lovely coloration; white with brown bars. She is more heavily barred than a male, but more lightly barred than a juvenile.

Photo above: This photo may be a little confusing, but what you're looking at is a Snowy Owl ear! Part of a normal examination includes checking the ears for abnormalities, blood, parasites, etc. The ears of a Snowy Owl are enormous openings just below and to the side of their equally enormous eyes. The owl's eye in this photo is gently covered by Alberta's index finger. When looking into an owl's ear, you can actually see the back side of the owl's eye inside the skull! The pink wall that you see inside the ear is in fact the back of her eye.

Photo above: This Red-breasted Nuthatch was brought to us early this afternoon. The bird was found in Marathon Park in Wausau, WI. The kind woman who found him wasted no time getting him to us, and we are grateful for her quick action and kindness. When he looks around he has a slight head twitch which may be indicative of a head injury. He spends most of the time with his head firmly tucked under his wing, as shown. He is in great weight and looks physically healthy over all. We hope some quiet time will help his headache go away.

Everyone from the recent blogs are alive and well in the clinic. Eagle #008 is on a break from his lead chelation shots, and things are looking very good for him! We will test his blood lead level again soon. He may not need another round of treatments which has us all excited! Juliet got a mouse treat fresh out of the mouse trap this morning, so she is in good spirits.

We would also like to send a thank you to Golden Hawk Canoes out of Merrill, WI. They recently volunteered to replace our decrepit basement utility sink with an amazing new larger utility sink. They worked so quickly that we weren't able to get a photo of them in action! Before we knew it they were already done! They have more projects up their sleeves for us, and we appreciate their hard work. Thank you everyone from Golden Hawk Canoes!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Karissa Mohr
Wildlife Educator

Monday, February 13, 2012

Two More Bald Eagles and a Great Horned Owl

Hello everyone. It was a busy weekend and we have a few more patients to introduce you to.

Photo above: This Great Horned Owl was found along a road near Wabeno, WI. Judging by size, we believe she is female. She has a broken left wing which has been taped to allow it to heal. We have high hopes that she will recover!

Photo above: This lovely male Bald Eagle, #013, was found here in Antigo, WI. People had been watching him on their property for about a week and he was unable to fly. He has an injury in the "wrist" joint in his wing but appears to be in fair health overall. Joint injuries are very difficult to overcome. His chances of survival are good, but he will likely be unreleasable.

Photo above: This lovely juvenile Bald Eagle, #012, was found in a field in Birnamwood, WI unable to fly. Licensed rehabilitator, Alberta Halfmann, is about to begin her examination.

Photo above: She has an open wound which you can see along the edge of the wing in the photograph. She was taken for x-rays this morning.

Photo above: The fractures in her metacarpals are from an undetermined source. It could possibly be from a bullet but we are unable to find bullet fragments. She is currently on antibiotics to help fight her infection.

Photo above: While I was looking at the x-ray of eagle #012 I noticed something a little funny; she appears to have two backbones. Knowing that this is impossible I looked a little closer. I have labeled the x-ray so you can read it easier. You can see the eagle's cervical (neck) vertebrae and the trachea. We know it is the trachea because on x-rays air shows up as black. The "second backbone" I saw was actually the caudal (tail) vertebrae of a muskrat the eagle had recently eaten as a meal! Birds store their food in a special compartment called the crop until it is ready to be digested. The muskrat body has already moved into the lower portions of the digestive tract while the tail remained in the crop! Pretty cool!

The Barred Owl, Eagles #007 and #008, and Juliet are all still doing very well! Thank you for your thoughts.

That's all for now. I am off to the Wausau School Forest for an evening program with Director of Education, Molly McKay. We have programs for the next three evenings in Wausau and Stevens Point. It is nice to see so many education programs on our calendar!

Thanks everyone!

Karissa Mohr
Wildlife Educator

Friday, February 10, 2012

Barred Owl, A Special Volunteer, Visitors from UWSP, and Patient Updates

Things are still going well here at REGI. We have some new patients and a few visitors!

We admitted a Barred Owl that has been hit by a vehicle near Aniwa, WI. His left eye has been injured, but we won’t know the extent of the injury until he opens his eye. He also has a broken wing which has been taped to allow it to heal. The blood you see around his beak in the photo is from his internal injuries. Vehicle strikes produce multiple injuries, which each on their own would be a challenge to overcome. Combining them all at once can be more than some birds can handle. The good news is that he has been standing the past three mornings and appears to be alert. We are very hopeful for this handsome guy. He has a very calm and gentle demeanor and he would make a wonderful father. It is likely that he has a mate in the wild, but luckily Barred Owls have not begun laying eggs quite yet. It would be very difficult for a single parent to raise a nest-full of owlets on their own. We are trying to be optimistic and hope he can return to his mate soon. He will miss out on this breeding season, but he hopefully has many more breeding seasons in his future.

Photo above: This Barred Owl was admitted with a broken wing, internal injuries, and an injured eye due to a vehicle collision.

We had a wonderful donation of venison earlier this week. We are extremely thankful to receive donations such as this road-killed deer, but people may not realize the amount of work that goes into preparing a whole deer for feeding to multiple raptors. The work of a rehabilitator is not just about healing injured birds and releasing them. Most of the time is spent preparing food and cleaning up after hundreds of birds. Meat usually doesn’t arrive at REGI prepackaged and on a tray like it does at the grocery store. Whole animals arrive with fur and guts; most of which needs to be removed. It isn’t a glamorous job, but it is an incredibly important part of being a rehabilitator. We are thankful every single day for these donations and for the hard work of our rehabilitation team.

Photo above: Assistant Rehabilitator, Stacy Wild, and Licensed Rehabilitator, Alberta Halfmann, show off the results of their hard work; deer legs ready for feeding to Bald Eagles.

We want to shine a little spotlight on one of our very dedicated volunteers. Ted Bengtson, a retired dentist from the area, has been volunteering at REGI twice a week since the end of summer. He keeps REGI looking beautiful and keeps us safe by helping with snow and ice removal. Before the snow fell, he groomed the gravel paths leading to each enclosure. On days when there is no snow to shovel, he cleans the floors to perfection. These necessary tasks are sometimes challenging to complete ourselves when we have critical patients in the clinic, paperwork to do, and education programs to present. Thank you, Ted, for all of your help!

Photo above: Volunteer, Ted Bengtson, hard at work.

We had a small group visit us from UW-Stevens Point on Thursday. Two are veterinary students from Japan, Yusaku Watanabe and Tomoka Tsuji. We had a wonderful time getting to know them and showing them around REGI. I really enjoyed learning about the amazing birds of Japan. We share a number of the same species with Japan such as Peregrine Falcons, Long-eared Owls, Short-eared Owls, and Golden Eagles, just to name a few. It was fun watching Yusaku recognize many of the birds we have here in Wisconsin. We showed them proper handling techniques and they were both able to work with a bird on their glove for a short time. An experience they will probably not soon forget!

Photo above: Vet students, Yusaku Watanabe and Tomoka Tsuji, pose with a Harris's Hawk and a Barn Owl.

A bit of sad news... the lovely Spruce Grouse lost her battle with her dog bite injuries. It is a shame that she has to be an example of why it is to important for people to keep their pets under control. The dogs are not at fault, they are only doing what dogs do; people need to step up and take responsibility for their pets. Dogs and cats are not "natural" predators; they were brought here by people. People breed them in excess and let them run wild. For that reason, people are responsible when a pet kills or injures an animal. On top of that, many pets are lost every year to the road; don't let your pet become road-kill. For the sake of wild animals everywhere and for the safety of your own pet, please be a responsible pet owner and keep your pets under control.

I know many of you out there are keeping tabs on Eagles #007 and #008, and beautiful Red-tailed Hawk, Juliet. I am very pleased to tell you that all three are doing well! Thank you for all of your kind words and thoughts. It truly does help.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone! I hope you can dig out from under all of this beautiful fresh snow!

Karissa Mohr
Wildlife Educator

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Eagle Update, Spruce Grouse Admitted, Juliet

It has been a good few days.  All of our patients are doing well. The Eagles are alert and eating well. #008 is tolerating the CA EDTA but is unhappy about it. Being unhappy is OK as long as he gets better. I love to be their friend but it is not mandatory.   #007 is back on treatment and is eating well also.

#008 is alert and showing improvement.
 We have a new patient admitted about 9:30 Tuesday night. It is a Spruce Grouse.  They are a threatened species in Wisconsin. A bird of the far north, they are a little smaller than our more typical Ruffed Grouse.  Our new patient is a female. She has the brown coloration which is meant to camouflage.  Camouflage is important especially in gallinaceous birds like grouse that nest on the ground. It works well to hide the incubating female from predators especially when nesting and soon after chicks are hatched. The more colorful male wears a black and white pattern on his feathers. 

The female Spruce Grouse rests with evergreen bows which help to make her feel at home.

Our Spruce Grouse was caught by a dog.  Often it is domestic animals, dogs and cats, which catch and kill sensitive wild species.  It is not the animal's fault of course, but the owners that allow them to run free.  She has a serious injury to her abdomen. Her left leg is broken.  The person that found this bird saw her earlier in the week but didn't realize she was injured.  The infection, from the dog’s mouth, had a chance to take hold. We have her on antibiotics and fluids. We have great hopes she will make it.  

Juliet my red-tail is doing well today. It is the first time I feel optimistic about her recovery.

Lovely, Juliet.
I found her standing on her perch again today; a sign she is feeling better.
  Tomorrow we have a group of Japanese vet students visiting from UW-Stevens Point. We are looking forward to meeting them!

Have a wonderful day everyone,
Marge Gibson

Monday, February 6, 2012

Bald Eagle Updates, Sandhill Cranes Admitted, Education Birds

Drawing blood to recheck 007. He is a great patient.
 We did blood work on the Lead Poisoned Bald Eagles Saturday.  #007 is still at critical levels. While we are not surprised given the huge levels he had coming in, it is disappointing. The longer the lead is in the body the greater the chance for organ failure or neurological damage.  He is on round 3 of chelation now. 

On the other hand #008 lead levels have dropped more than we anticipated.  He is still anemic, but less than when he was admitted which indicates his internal bleeding has stopped.  He has a ways to go with the internal organ trauma and wing fracture, but gratefully the lead poisoning is resolving.  He is a spirited eagle and just wants to get home as soon as possible.  That is our plan for him as well, so we are on the same page. :)

#008 is anxious to get home again. His lead level
is coming down well.

Sunday Don and I drove to Plainfield, WI to rescue a Sandhill Crane that was behaving oddly.  It turns out the crane had been kept as a "pet".  He is very tame and either was released or escaped from the people that raised him.  His wings were clipped.  That indicates the humans in his life did not want him to leave the area. 

It is illegal to keep native migratory birds without special state and federal permits, but even more troubling this beautiful male crane is imprinted to humans. That means he does not know he is a crane and will never be able to be free in the wild.  We will look for placement in a zoo or nature park somewhere in the U.S.

We have had a problem in the Portage and Wood County areas for the past several years.  It seems someone is taking either very young babies or eggs and raising the chicks as pets. The folks involved are likely well meaning, but do not understand that imprinting is a permanent situation with these species.   From what we have been able to put together from past years, the cranes and geese are raised with large dogs as they are playful with dogs often to their demise. They are "released" after they are grown, but because they are human imprints they have no idea what to do.  They are not accepted by the wild cranes. They end up coming up to people and dogs and even coyotes, which never ends well for them. 

This beautiful male Sandhill Crane was raised in captivity and went to people for food.

If anyone reading this blog knows of someone in that area that is raising wild baby birds or waterfowl, please either let me know or urge them to stop.  From what we have put together, the person knows how to rear these species because they are well developed and have great plumage. 

We need good wildlife rehabilitators in the area. I am willing to help these folks seek state and federal permits so they can raise chicks legally and without imprinting them to people.  Please let me know.

We are over-wintering ten Sandhill Cranes at REGI.
The new guy is on the far left. His "brother" in in the foreground center.

Our thanks to Bob Fox and Mick and Dawn Richtmyre for calling when the crane appeared at their home and keeping him safe until we could arrive. 

After getting him back to REGI our new male crane was very friendly with another imprinted crane that came to us from the same area last fall.  They may in fact be brothers or at least were raised together.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Our education red-tailed hawk has West Nile Virus blindness.
She can no longer be in the wild,
but does a great job educating the public.

It was a beautiful day with temperatures in the 30's.  It is unlike weather we are used to in WI in February.  REGI staffer, Brennan Rausch took the opportunity to work with some of our education birds. I took photos so we can look back in normal years and prove that we were able to soak in some "rays" in the REGI yard during the winter of 2011-12.

Juliet is improving.

Many thanks to all of our REGI friends for your kind words on Juliet and her health. She is not completely well yet, but improving. She is still stunning at her age even when she is not feeling well. What a fine lady bird she is.

Have a wonderful day everyone,
Marge Gibson

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Electrocuted Bald Eagle, Lead Poisoned Bald Eagle Updates, Great-horned Owl Release, Sandhill Crane and More

The eyes of a Great-horned Owl are huge. While they appear globe-like, they are actually tubular.
Check out more about owl vision on a super resource, the Owl Pages .http://www.owlpages.com/articles.php?section=Owl+Physiology&title=Vision

Avian Rhabilitator, Alberta Halfmann and Tristan Pesavento with the male GHO Tristan rescued. As with all owl releases, this one took place near dark. 
 Releases are always an exciting time. On Wednesday evening REGI staffer Alberta Halfmann did the honors of taking a Great-horned Owl ( GHO) back to his original territory for release. This patient, a male Great-horned Owl, injured his wing after being tangled in a fence near Wausau East High School, Wausau, WI. 

This release was all the sweeter because 14 yr old Tristan Pesavento, the person that actually rescued this GHO, was on hand to give him his freedom once more.  Everyone was delighted with the release but no one was happier than the owl.  He flew out of sight immediately and was last seen making a bee line for his nest tree.  This is breeding season for Great-horned Owls in our area.  It is important to get him "home" as soon as possible.  No doubt he has important work to do. His mate may be on a nest. 
Super job Tristan! While we would not suggest someone Tristans age take on this kind of responsibility, the owl would not have lived long trapped in the fenceline. His quick thinking was important and we are so proud!

Home sweet home for the male GHO.

Owls are released near dark.  As nocturnal predators, they can attract attention of crows, hawks and other birds if released when it is daylight. 

Our patients are conditioned in large flight buildings. The ceiling is 28' high. They are not close to us.  It is vital that all birds when released are 100% when they leave REGI.  Each patient receives an exit physical the day of release.  With the bird "in hand" we can evaluate things that are not readily apparent as they exercise. In this way we are certain the bird is in perfect health and condition and can once again survive in the wild. We did 2 GHO physicals Wednesday, but only one was ready. The other continues to recover from a head injury and was put back in the flights with two other GHO patients.

This male GHO has a little longer to wait before he is released.
 Alberta Halfmann and Stacy Wild assit Marge with the exam.

We received a call about an adult Bald Eagle on the ground. She had been electrocuted and died before we arrived. We collected her body for USFWS.  Electrical shock injuries and wire hits are events we are required to report to USFWS as well as our State of WI DNR.  Illegal electrical set ups could be involved, or malfunctioning functioning units on a high tension line.  We see several electrocutions a year, however years ago there were many more. Studies by raptor biologists and Raptor Research Foundation helped tweek the electric pole designs over the past 30 years to prevent deaths of eagles and osprey.  Birds wingspans and perching habits are now taken into consideration before new poles are installed.  We hope they can find and repair this site before any more eagles are killed. The following link will explain the changes and the way birds with large wingspan are affected by pole design.

007 is on a hiatus from his CA EDTA injections.
Blood will be drawn today to check his blood lead levels.

Our Bald Eagle patients of the past week are doing well. The 007 is on a break from his Ca EDTA injections. After a four day break we will do more blood work to determine his current blood lead and a new course in treatment will be started.

#008 is a determined Bald Eagle. He is recovering from internal injuries. His treatment for lead poisoning has begun as well. He too, will have blood drawn today to determine the extent of organ damage due his injury.  He continues to have some bleeding in his respiratory system.  He was markedly anemic when admitted.  When an eagle has internal injuries, the liver or kidneys or both have trauma and therefore complicate the lead poisoning as the liver and kidneys are also affected with the toxin. Wildlife rehabilitation is a complicated

It will be good to get these male eagles home again.  They both have a long way to go, but positive thinking is helpful for all of us.

We have checked out several calls for eagles down but sadly have been unable to locate them. Eagles like all wild animals camouflage well. That brilliant white head and tail disappear easily in a snowy landscape. We have several calls on Sandhill Cranes. Don and I are make an attempt to capture one of most critical ones this afternoon.

I appreciate the many calls I have received concerning my red-tail Juliet. She is still with us. She has periods of better and then worse times.  She is having a hard day today.  I still have great hopes she will pull out of her illness this time. She is a strong and amazing bird...and has been a member of the REGI family for 23 years. We have come to think of her as invincible, I hope she proves us right. Thank you everyone for your thoughts and encouragement.

My computer had a virus. The chaos created has been great. Just about the time we thought it was resolved, it was not. It is still being restored. We forget how much we rely on that little box on our desks until it is not functioning well. Many thanks to Matt Zack of Zacks Computer in Antigo https://www.facebook.com/pages/Zacks-Computers/148916375151505?v=info for helping a frantic me.

Have a great day everyone,

Marge Gibson