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.

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