Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Owl Releases, Ducklings, Pine Siskins, Barn Swallow, and a Woodcock

Good afternoon everyone. It seems like every moment it gets busier here at REGI. The education department is doing programs just about every day and the rehabilitation team is seeing many new patients brought through the doors. Definitely no dull moments around here! We have a few new patients we'd like to introduce you to.

This baby American Woodcock was transported from another facility in Wisconsin to REGI for care. He was found sitting still alone on a path. The people who found him did not realize that woodcocks hold still to camouflage themselves when they sense danger. It is likely that his mother was just a few feet away, also holding still as to not be detected. Upon examination, this youngster has proved to be perfectly fine. Unfortunately, he was unintentionally kidnapped because the well-meaning people who found him didn't understand the natural behaviors of woodcocks. If you find a bird that you think may need help, please call REGI before catching the bird and we can help you determine the best way to help it. 

These Mallard ducklings are orphans from three separate families. They have come from various locations, each with a different tale to tell. One was found completely alone in the Wisconsin River. A very caring individual put on big waders and splashed into the river to rescue the little duckling. The three of them have become a very tight little family even though none of them are related.

This Barn Swallow is suffering from starvation. These amazing little birds spend summers here in North America and winters in South America. It is likely that he returned to Wisconsin after his long migration when we were seeing unseasonably warm days. These beautiful and graceful birds eat only insects and they do so while in flight. When you see swallows zooming through the air it is likely that they are catching little insects you may not even see. When our weather turned from warm to cool in April the numbers of insects declined. He was unable to find enough food for himself and he began to starve. Because these birds swallow food in flight, they are notoriously difficult to feed in captivity. This little man has us all very excited because he is responding very well and is eating with some encouragement. We aren't out of the woods yet, but we are pleased with his improvements!

We don't have photographs for these next patients, but they have important stories nonetheless. We admitted three Pine Siskins each with injuries from being bitten by cats. Sadly, these three birds have passed away from their severe bite wounds. We are constantly telling people how dangerous it is to let their pets run loose, yet we continue to see so many victims from cat and dog bites here at REGI. Dogs and cats are extremely dangerous for not only birds, but for many other wild animals. Please, keep your pets in the house or on a leash to spare the lives of birds as well as for the safety of your pets. 

REGI recently did a program for the First Universalist Unitarian Church in Wausau and they collected donations for us! When Samantha presented Marge with the check, Julie, the Western Red-tailed Hawk was so excited with the donations that she tried to take the check for herself! We explained to Julie that she would be paid in mice instead and she thought that was a fair trade. Thank you First Universalist Unitarian Church!

We also celebrated the release of a few of our owl patients! Three Great Horned Owls and a Barred Owl have recovered completely and are now back in the wild where they belong. Owls are nocturnal creatures so we release them at night. This makes getting decent photographs of owl releases a bit of a challenge. We managed to get a few photos for you to enjoy.

This lovely little female Barred Owl just passed her final examination and is about to spend the rest of her days back in the wild! (Photo by Don Gibson)

Marge gives the Barred Owl a few moments to gather her thoughts. It is at this point when the owl realizes she will soon be back home. (Photo by Don Gibson)

The dark spot in the middle of the photograph is one of the three Great Horned Owls that were released.  We wish them good luck in their "second" lives and we hope they never have to come back to REGI again! (Photo by Alberta Halfmann)

That's all for today. Enjoy the rest of your week!

Karissa Mohr
Wildlife Educator

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