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