Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Canada goose with a broken back.

Outdoor duck enclosure (with injured snapping turtle bitten goose)

Two mallard ducks that were released today, along with two wood ducks.

Dove enclosure connected to the duck enclosure.

House sparrow cage in the entryway of the duck/dove enclosures.

This is how we sift seed for birds that do not eat sunflower seeds...

Sifted so that sunflower seeds are not wasted.

Not sifted.

Begging house sparrow.

House sparrows can be overfed.  You have to watch their crop (buldge on side of neck) so that they do not get too much or too little food.

Some of the outside cages. From left to right: gulls, cooper's hawk, crows, great horned owls, swan, the second to last cage has three sections: blue jays/mourning doves, red bellied woodpeckers/robins, and a goshawk. The last cage is a turkey vulture.

Trooper's enclosure with the screech owl cages to the left.

Screech cages with the harris hawk being the closest enclosure.

Inside aviary with barn swallows.

Barn swallow

Back room with hawk cages.

11 mallard ducklings

One of our released mallard ducks.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Hello! AWC is still very busy and we are still admitting a few birds a day.  We have an adult great blue heron that supposedly flew into some wires or power lines (?), and appears to have some kind of head injury.  He will not eat on his own so we have to force feed him fish. We leave a tub of water in his indoor enclosure with a fish in it so that hopefully he will try to eat on his own and at the end of last week the fish was on the ground, so it looks like he may be starting to get interested in eating on his own.  He definitely does not like being held and having fish shoved into his mouth. Also, herons very commonly have leeches living in their mouths, so it is not so fun for us to try to pry his beak open and have to avoid them.

We also have several new young hawks, including a cooper's and a red shouldered.  The cooper's was doing well but the red shouldered was not looking very good at the end of last week even though he was eating well the rest of the week.

The aviary downstairs has three barn swallows in it, along with a phoebe that was moved in there from the outside enclosure with other phoebes, chickadees, and a hairy woodpecker.  There were two phoebes that still needed to be hand fed so we moved them in because the smaller one was being picked on by the adults, but unfortunately it passed away the next day. The living one is doing well with the barn swallows and will probably be moved back out eventually when it is eating more on its own.

A young mourning dove that we have had since it was a few days old is out with the other doves and blue jays and is getting used to not being hand fed.  Doves take food from their parent by sticking their beak up into the parents mouth to get their food so we replicated it by making a tube with a small hole at the opening and putting seed in it.  You have to put two fingers around the beak of the bird which stimulates it to open its mouth and then gently shake the tube while the bird is feeding.  The dove is eating on its own but still begs to the neighboring red bellied woodpeckers and to me when I go into its enclosure.

The rest of the week was general cleaning, changing the raptor water tubs, holding the hawks while they were being examined, holding the young goose while it had its leg bandage removed (the one that got bit by a snapping turtle), feeding the many baby birds, trying to get things done with no power in the house one day because of a severe thunder storm, sorting mealworms, trying to catch crickets that were ordered for some of the outside bird enclosures to give them some enrichment/food, scrubbing out the hawk cages in the back room for the cooper's hawk, cleaning out the enclosure outside that had an injured domestic duck in it, and various other things.

Most of my time at AWC is spent feeding or cleaning because all of the young birds in the house need to be fed at least every hour while some are every two hours.  The chimney swifts are fed every 20 minutes if they are very young or every hour depending on age.  We got in 3 more swifts last week from a man with an interesting story.  He was calling all over for 2 days trying to find a place to take care of them and most places said to just leave them because they will die (by the way, if you touch a young bird the parents will NOT reject it like some people say).  So he ended up finding out about AWC and brought them to us.  Many places do not take swifts because they are very different from other birds.  They are syringe fed, have to be in a dark place, and hang from the wall so we have a small fake chimney for them that they are in until they are ready to go into the swift aviary that we cleaned last week.  Anyway, the man was very upset about everyone telling him they were just going to die, because he was called in to the Twin Towers when the first one was hit and just got there when the second one was hit.  He said that he could not just watch something die when he had the chance to help them because of the traumatic experience he went through. He was one of the people that had to dig through everything to find people.  He was very nice, and we gave him a packet of information about swifts and told him about them and how they are becoming uncommon because they need a certain type of chimney to live in.  They build their nests in the chimney, and only older homes still have the chimneys that are not smooth inside so that the nests can be built against the rough stone or whatever the chimney is made of.  They also have to be released where there is a flock of other swifts, where they will be taught by the other birds to feed on insects rather than being hand fed.  It is a huge step for the birds to change from being syringe fed to then have to figure out how to eat on their own in the wild.

Kestrel falcon that is used in presentations because he cannot be released.

Harris hawk that was a falconry bird being flown in a city, where she was hit by a car and the owner did not want to pay for getting her injuries treated.  Harris hawks are not found on the east coast, and are only found in the western states.  They are actually very interesting birds and will work in teams to corner prey in the wild, unlike any other raptor that hunts alone.  She is very flighty and is being worked with to eventually become a bird that will go along to presentations.

Resident barred owls. I LOVE these guys.

Resident blue jay.

Several of the 10 ducklings that were released a few weeks ago. Yes, they are all still here at the pond in Giselle's backyard.  The other two mallards that we have will be released soon as well.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Hello everyone, unfortunately the grosbeak we had died a few days after my last post. The 10 ducklings that were released are still hanging around in the pond and the swan is still trying to regain reign over the pond that he thinks belongs totally to him.  The last batch of mealworms that were ordered were not very good.  Most of them died quickly so I had to clean most of the dead ones out of the 20,000 mealworms that were ordered. Oh yes that was lovely...Many of the birds are eating on their own so all we have to do now is put fresh food in with them a few times a day although, we are now getting chimney swifts which need to be fed every hour.  We also have robins and sparrows that are still being fed in the nursery room.
An ACO (animal control officer) brought us a young crow that had to be force fed and only had talons on one of his feet.  A flicker was released last week that was in with the blue jays and mourning doves.
Okay, that was just a general idea of what has been going on recently.  I unfortunately have not been to Avian Wildlife Rescue since Monday because I sprained my ankle pretty bad but I will be going back this Monday and resuming my normal schedule.

Last weekend we acquired two baby cooper's hawks and wow are they round fluffy little things.  All they really have are their wing feathers coming in and the rest of them is fluffy down feathers.  Thursday I dropped off some black berries, blueberries, and grapes for the birds that I got from a mammal rehab center that had extra.  The birds, especially the robins go through a lot of fruit daily and with about 200 birds at the center at the moment, fruit vanishes before we even realize we are out.  I really have no idea how Giselle does it.  Now that her husband is retired he is helping out more, but feeding birds every hour and then by that time you have to start over every day of the week from 8am to about 1am is crazy.  I have trouble keeping up with all the birds and who is who and who is where because birds are shifted and moved often.

The hairy woodpecker is also still hanging around but not seen as often.  We leave some soaked puppy show on the roof of the vulture cage so that wild birds can eat and learn to find food on their own.  So the hairy has been yelling at us when the bowl runs out.

Last week I had my own bird rescue adventure when my grandparents neighbor called me to say that their other neighbor had baby birds fall out of the nest and they did not know what to do.  So I drove over there and brought back 2 phoebes to AWC.  Phoebes nest twice in the summer, and this time of year is their second batch of babies.  Unfortunately, the majority of the time the second batch is usually infested with mites and these two were no exception.  One died soon after I brought it from being anemic, and the other died later on that day from the same reason.  We got the one eating a little bit but it was even too weak to swallow correctly.

Monday the 9th I helped out Giselle with a summer program at a church.  We brought along Trooper, a kestrel, a robin nestling, a sparrow, the one legged red bellied woodpecker, and the chimney swifts because they had to be fed several times while we were there.  I fed the robin, walked around with the sparrow and mealworms for the kids to look at, calmed the kestrel down when he kept getting twisted up on his perch, and just helped out organizing everything for the presentation.  It went well but the kids were very talkative so it made things kind of difficult.

Everything was slowing down with birds until the swifts started coming in.  Most of the robins are quite grown up and we have one young blue jay that is doing well.  Now the baby swifts are being admitted like crazy and they have to be fed with a syringe because of the way they shake their heads when feeding.  I have not fed them yet but soon they will have taken over the entire nursery (Giselle said that this time of year we start getting TONS of swifts).

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Last week Giselle and her family went down to south Jersey to do osprey banding so the volunteers were in charge of taking care of all the birds and the resident cats in the house for a week.  Everything was prepared before they left, such as making extra bird burger and moving birds to outside cages so that it would be easier to keep track of everyone.  Many more birds were admitted (many died unfortunately, most that came in were cat caught or just not looking good when they got to AWC).  Most of last week consisted of feeding and cleaning cages and not many extra tasks because once the birds were fed, it was usually time to start feeding again.
This week has been fixing things that got mixed up or misplaced during last week, moving birds to outside cages, and releases.  Yesterday the 10 ducklings were released (pictures to come because they are all still hanging out in the pond in Giselle's backyard. SUCH a good feeling because they looked so happy splashing around in that pond when they got released.) The sparrows that were in carriers were moved into a large netted enclosure in the doorway of the duck/dove outside cage.
Today Joey Bee stopped by this morning to film some footage for this website/show. He is a friend of Giselle's and goes around the world capturing nature in videos and pictures.  That took up a lot of the morning, so I fed all of the nursery birds and then helped out with some feeding birds for his show and filming the red tailed hawk release while keeping track when to feed the nursery birds again.  He films all summer and then starts editing and putting up his shows on his site in September.  He already has some previous videos from AWC at http://joeybeesoutdooradventure.com/Main%20Index/Backyard%20Birding/index_BackyardBirding_Raptors.html
which has Trooper in it and there are also videos on chimney swifts and robins.
After the crazy morning of filming, which I was not aware that I was actually going to be in it, I attempted to wash the rose breasted grosbeak that we have.  She is in terrible shape, and basically has no feet.  They are just the tendons sticking out the bottom of her legs, or at least that is what it looks like.  She cannot walk, so she just crawls around and gets feces all over her so she has to be gently scrubbed clean often.  Her box that she is in needs to be cleaned out constantly so that she does not get it caked all over her.  This picture is right before I cleaned her box so it is still dirty.
Also, this morning I noticed that the water in the goose's outdoor cage was bright red.  I assumed that it was medicated but it wasn't...it was blood.  So, before moving one of the geese that we used to have (one of the three that were together got attacked by a snapping turtle and has a broken leg) we had to re-bandage the adult goose's wing and bandage up the back because the goose was picking/preening at it and it was very bloody.  This poor goose also has lice, so odds are not looking good for him or the grosbeak that is fighting for survival.
I also had the lovely opportunity to cut up a defrosted mouse for the baby screech owls.  And honestly that kind of thing does not really bother me but OH MY GOSH THE SMELL was discussing.  It was worse than the regular smell of dead thing.  I don't know why, but it was pretty gross. The owls enjoyed it though.
Hope everyone has a good 4th of July.  I will be changing the raptor water dishes in the outdoor cages like I do every Wednesday, feeding the babies, and doing whatever it takes to keep any new arrivals alive and well.  So much changes each day so it is really hard to write all of it down.  We probably have about 200 birds at the moment and more are being brought in every day while others are always being moved around, put outside, or put together with other birds.  It really is an exhausting non profit job.