Saturday, June 30, 2012

Eaglet's First Flight... in a Plane! Kestrel updates & Northern Harrier Video!

- High Speed Migration -

 REGI transporter? You 'betcha!

We are very lucky at REGI to have such a trustworthy batch of volunteer transporters! Our list stretches from the Milwaukee area to Minocqua, and we couldn't do it without every single one of them! This time of year, their phones are ringing off the hook with calls about injured birds and orphaned babies. It's not out of the ordinary for them to pick up several birds for us on their journey to REGI.

Our team meets Dave Piehler our transporter pilot!

This week, the interns learned that transport comes in all shapes and sizes. I'm not just talking about 2-door sports cars to the family friendly mini-van... I'm talking about the flying variety... with props and landing gear!!

Molly, Alyssa, Sarah, Aysegul, Dave P., Marge, Maddie, & Don with the new eagle patient

Dave P., Marge, and the patient

This isn't the first baby eagle of the season, although I'm sure he has had the fastest flight of the lot. Although he came to REGI a starving young eaglet, right now his future looks bright! You may have noticed a theme with this year's patient eaglets. Emaciation (an extremely critical starvation), can happen for many reasons in the wild. Sometimes it's a health condition. Sometimes the stronger babies push their way into getting more food from the parents. Sometimes weak individuals are discarded by their parents. This is what makes animal rehabilitation so difficult. They can't open their mouths to explain their symptoms... we are left to make educated guesses based on history and research.


Several of REGI's babies this summer are lucky enough to have foster parents. Species making the list are bald eagles, American kestrels, Eastern phoebes, American robins, crows, bluebirds, and many more.

 Bald Eagle foster dad & female eaglet
This male Bald Eagle is a foster parent to three young kiddos this summer. A huge part of being a foster parent is teaching the young ones what the different vocalizations mean. So far, it seems that the eaglets only know the food begging call!

American kestrels fostered by an education kestrel female

These American kestrels have graced our blog several times now, but this is the first time you've seen them outside! They are getting SO big! Our female education kestrel is making a great foster mom for 4 fledglings!

 Northern harrier baby admitted tonight

 Feeding the Northern Harrier
You can see the crop (located on his neck) get bigger and bigger as it fills with food!

This little guy came to us from the Marshfield area. Many people don't realize that not all hawks nest in trees! Northern Harriers (Marsh Hawks) nest in fields! Often times, the fields that provide the best cover for their nests are farmer's hay fields. This little guy's nest was run over by a baler. Unfortunately his siblings weren't as lucky as he is, but he's a fight

 Molly McKay, REGI's education director, and intern Alyssa Z. at the turkey vulture portion of the tour

Thanks so much to the Natural Resource Foundation for coming out today! It was hot, sunny, and information packed! This photo was taken during the turkey vulture portion of the tour. Many people find turkey vultures to be disgusting creatures because of what they eat (dead stuff)... but here at REGI we see vultures in a much different light!

This week we said happy birthday to intern Sarah! Look at those candles!

Enjoy they rest of your weekend... and keep your eyes peeled for injured wildlife over the 4th of July week. Fireworks are beautiful, but they have a tendency to create various issues in the world of wildlife!!

- Katie Rymer, Assistant Avian Rehabilitator

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Summer Patient Update

Hello everyone!  Everything is in full swing here at REGI with patients coming and going and lots of changes happening.  Some of you have been calling hoping to join us on tours but we have had to delay tours for a short time due to the weather and construction.  We are hoping to have everything up and running again starting next week.

A Willow Tree is cleaned up after high winds brought it down in a storm.
We had a round of severe storms sweep through the area last week and are still in the process of cleaning up.  Above you can see our beloved Weeping Willow that gave shelter to many visitors and provided food to many birds being cleaned up after falling in the storm.  This tree was a special place for a releasing many songbirds where they can slowly readjust to being back in the wild while eating from the plentiful feeders.  The Willow was one of many trees that came down around REGI and we are sad to see it go.

Construction workers frame the newest building on the REGI property.
One of the other causes of delay to our tours is a construction project.  Our original REGI building and enclosures, which we called the "Middle Mews", has been torn down and is in the process of being replaced with a new building.  The "Middle Mews" had been at REGI since it's inception in 1990 and were showing serious signs of age.   The new building will house more birds and provide more space for some of our larger raptors.  We will keep you updated at the building process comes along.

A female Ruby-throated Hummingbird perches atop her feeder.
This beautiful female Ruby-throated Hummingbird (above) came in suffering from what we suspect to be chemical poisoning.  Herbicide and pesticide use in yards affects wildlife and can be fatal, although many people don't realize the dangers.  Fortunately she seems to be recovering from the neurological effects of the chemicals and we anticipate her release in the near future.  You can often hear her humming in her enclosure as she exercises her wings.

Fluffy American Kestrel chicks are among REGI's many orphans this summer.
Do you recognize the two little American Kestrel chicks (above) from our blog two weeks ago?  They were still tiny balls of fluff but growing rapidly.

Female Kestrel fledgling intently watches the camera.
A young Kestrel already displays the beautiful blue of a male on his wings.
They have already reached their adult sizes and are now gaining their adult plumage although you can still tell they are juveniles by the downy fluff surrounding them, particularly on their heads (see above.)  When you last met them we were just beginning to see the markings that tell us if they are male or female and now it is quite clear.  The Kestrel in the top photo has reddish brown and black barring all across her wings brown streaking on her chest which tell us that she is a female, while the Kestrel on the bottom has blueish gray wings with a lighter smoother chest and black markings telling us that he is a male. 

Northern Flicker preparing for release.
This Northern Flicker (above) came in along with his siblings when their nesting tree came down earlier in the summer.  They were completely naked and the size of a thumb each.  He was recently released and can still be seen hanging around the REGI neighborhood.  You can see the yellow feather shafts on his wings which is indicative of an Eastern bird, Western flickers have red feather shafts on the wings.

A juvenile Bald Eagle joins his new foster father .
Our ever faithful foster Bald Eagle has his first baby of the year (above.)  The eaglet that you met in the last blog has graduated to the flight building and is ready for the care of a foster parent.  Our foster Eagle will care for the young eaglet and show him the ropes as he finished his recovery.  So far the chances for a future release are looking good.

Intern, Kerry McVey, holds a Bald Eaglet in preparation for a feeding.
This young Eagle (above) came in weak and starving at the incredibly low weight of four pounds.  Birds suffering from starvation need to be gradually weaned onto solid foods and must be tube fed for a long period of time.  While the road to recovery will be long for this bird we are feeling hopeful.  He has gained two pounds so far and is continuing to grow.

So, the clinic is packed and we are ever busy!  There are many summer programs coming up in the next weeks.  Keep your eyes on the REGI website events page to follow our events.

Molly McKay
Director of Education

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Foster Father's Day to REGI's Barred Owl

Happy Foster Father's Day!

These two barred owls have a special foster dad this summer. The owlet in the front is utilizing his nictitating membranes. These help keep the eye clean & moist.

It's not too often that a raptor can say that they have a full-time job, but here at REGI... nothing is out of the ordinary! These two baby barred owls (pictured above) were featured in an earlier blog eating some mice in the clinic. Since then, they have been placed with a foster dad.  

When he's not busy doing education programs for the public, this barred owl works a summer job as a foster dad (pictured below, in the middle). He cares for a handful of owlets every year, teaching them how to act like a raptor. With his help, baby barred owls that make their way into REGI don't become imprinted on humans. Imprinting occurs when humans have too much contact with younger birds. The babies view you as one of their own... their parent... their friend... their chef... their.... dare I say it... mate. Because of this, imprinted birds are non-releasable. They rely heavily on humans, and wouldn't be able to fend for themselves.

Today, we celebrate our education barred owl's many accomplishments! Happy Foster Father's Day!

 Two years ago at this same time, our education barred owl was hard at work!


 Patient Update
REGI's newest baby... a very hungry bald eagle

New patients are filling up the clinic everyday, and not all of them are lucky enough to get foster parents. One of this week's new patients is a young bald eagle. Although it's hard to believe, this bird hatched from an egg just this spring! Crazy! After only 10 weeks of being in the nest, young eagles are ready to make their first flights. Unfortunately, this one didn't have such a graceful first flight. Although the future looks bright for this young eagle, there is still a long road to a full recovery!

Raptors aren't the only birds that come through REGI's doors. The majority of our babies this time of year are songbirds and ducks.

These baby robins are enjoying their day outside!

A family of Eastern phoebes taking naps after feeding. 
Can you guess who's still hungry?

This baby turkey is only a day old. 
You can still see his egg tooth on the front of his beak. This tooth is used to help poke their way out of the egg.

Ruffed grouse chick nap-time!


 The crew eats a delicious meal!
We are always hard at work and lunch time is no exception! This past Thursday, a delicious meal was prepared for the staff, interns, and volunteers from Linda, a long-time REGI friend! We made quick work of the chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, and COOKIES!


  Happy Father's Day! We were hard at work all day feeding babies from sun-up to sun-down!
- Katie Rymer, Assistant avian rehabilitator
                      /.-"-.-"-.\   "Who
                      ||((o|o))||     cooks
                      )\__/V\__/(     for
                     / ~ -...- ~ \     you?"
                    |\` ~. ~ .~ `/|
                 () | `~ - ^ - ~` |   - Barred Owl
             () //  | ;  '  :  .  |
            ()\\/_() \ . : '  ; '/
           ___/ /_____'.   ; ' .'____
                 _   ^ `uu---uu`    /\
          _____________^ _________^_\/
                       \ \
                     ()/  ()

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Very Birdy Baby Shower & Meet the Interns

Greetings everyone! 
It's been a while since the last blog, and boy, have we had our hands full... of babies! Patients are pouring in left and right, we're quickly approaching our 200th patient of the year, and it's only the middle of June!

Patient Update

We are knee-deep into baby season here at REGI. The early warm weather stirred up some love bugs in the air, and nestlings and fledglings of numerous species have found their ways into REGI's clinic. Wood ducks, Eastern pheobes, robins, flickers, barred owls, great horned owls, and a bald eagle have already graced REGI's clinic... and we still have a lot of summer left.

(These American kestrel nestling siblings are some of REGI's newest patients)
These American kestrel nestlings are some of REGI's most recent patients. This brother and sister pair are rapidly growing nestlings. Just like a younger human child, these nestlings are too young to leave the nest, and are still being watched closely by their parents. Although they look white and fluffy now, make no mistake, someday they will be big, tough raptor parents!

(American kestrel fledgling who's first flight ended in a manure pile)
This American kestrel fledgling was born several days before the nestlings shown above. Ready for her first flying debut, she was in the process of leaving her nest for the first time and landed into a pile of manure. It wasn't the most graceful first flight, but her prognosis is great (only a little smelly), and is headed home soon!

Baby Bird Shower

This Saturday (6/16) is our Wild Birds Unlimited Baby Bird Shower in Wausau, WI. There is a playpen in the store set up for donations to our baby birds! REGI's very own education birds will be making a special appearance at 1:00pm! Wild Birds Unlimited's continuous support for REGI continues to inspire our staff and save our patients lives. Join us this weekend and receive a $15 Wild Birds Unlimited gift card with every $20 donation to REGI's baby birds! How neat is that! Below is our ever-changing wish list, add to that some used children's toys... our crows are always looking for new enrichment opportunities.

Meet the Interns

Our interns are well into their third week of a crash course in avian rehabilitation, ecology, biology, and education. Here at REGI, we welcome interns with open arms, and this year is no exception. This summer we are joined by 5 interns and a wildlife veterinarian from Turkey! Interns and volunteers are a HUGE help to REGI. Babies in the clinic are fed every 20 minutes from sun-up to sun-down, and this would be nearly impossible without the help of our great team of interns! Now's the chance for you to get to know our interns, I'm sure they will be gracing the blog several times within the next couple of months.

(Maddie is holding REGI's education harris's hawk, both are California girls!)

Hometown: Lafayette, CA
College: Humboldt State University, CA
Degree: Wildlife management and conservation, focusing in ornithology
Why a REGI internship? Eventually, I would like to be a wildlife rehabilitator focusing on avian species.
Favorite part of REGI so far? Watching the babies growing up before our eyes, and knowing that I have a huge impact on their livelihood 
What bird would you be? Why? Peregrine falcon, I think it'd be great to be considered the fastest animal on the planet, it'd be an honor!
Favorite childhood toy? The stilts! I was up on stilts by age 6, and was able to attend a circus school for a summer!

(Molly is holding REGI's education barn owl)

Hometown: Hortonville, WI
College: University of Wisconsin Stevens Point, WI
Degree: Wildlife ecology & biology, minor in captive wildlife management
Why a REGI internship? I'd love to someday be a wildlife rehabilitator, and this seemed like a great, hands-on place to get some experience!
Favorite part of REGI so far? Working up close with so many different species of birds.
What bird would you be? Why? Puffin, they just seem to live in some pretty awesome places!
What is your favorite childhood cartoon? Bugs Bunny, it's the best cartoon ever!

(Sarah is holding REGI's education dark-morph, rough-legged hawk)

Hometown: Shoreview, MN
College: University of Minnesota, MN
Degree: Fisheries and wildlife, pre-veterinary and wildlife emphasis
Why a REGI internship? I was looking to make a difference in my internship and REGI seemed like a wonderful place to do that.
Favorite part of REGI so far? Handling the education birds and being so close to the wild patients.
What bird would you be? Why? Barn owl, I'd love to be able to scare people into thinking I was a ghost! 
What would I find in your refrigerator right now? Leftover mac n' cheese and pretzels. Yum!

(Alyssa is holding one of REGI's education turkey vultures)

Hometown: Wauwatosa, WI
College: University of Wisconsin Stevens Point, WI
Degree: Wildlife research and management, captive wildlife management minor
Why a REGI internship? I have always wanted to work with animals, and I have heard great things about REGI from all of my college professors. It's also just awesome.
Favorite part of REGI so far? Watching the patients from admission to release. Each of their stories are so different and compelling. I've also enjoyed bonding with my fellow "intern shipmates".
What bird would you be? Why? Penguin, they are always dressed so classy.
What is your favorite color of clinic gloves? Bright purple!

(Kerry is holding one of REGI's great-horned owls)

Hometown: Antigo, WI
College: University of Wisconsin Green Bay, WI
Degree: Biology
Why a REGI internship? I'd like to keep my options open in the future, and I spent time as a volunteer last year!
Favorite part of REGI so far? Watching the baby birds grow everyday!
What bird would you be? Why? Goldfinch, they are just so beautiful, light up any bird feeder, and everyone could hear my song!
What is your favorite color? Yellow, it's the color of the sunshine (and goldfinches oddly enough!).

(Aysegul is holding one of REGI's education red-tailed hawks)

Hometown: Ankara, Turkey
College: Istanbul University, Turkey
Degree: Veterinary 
Why come oversees to REGI? Experience wildlife rehabilitation up close and personal with all of the birds, I hope to learn techniques to continue my wildlife veterinary positions in Turkey.
Favorite part of REGI so far? Treating all of the injured birds.
What bird would you be? Why? Kestrel, they are so cute, yet so wild.
What do you miss most about home? My boyfriend, I am only able to talk to him for a few minutes every day.

I hope to see you all in Wausau, WI this Saturday at 1:00pm to come meet our education birds! Bring some Kleenex, kids toys, or meaty Gerber baby food (no ham please)! The birds thank you!

Stay tuned to the blog for more updates, and enjoy the summer heat wave for us, we've been in frost advisories the past several nights.

Katie Rymer
Assistant Avian Rehabilitator