Friday, May 20, 2011

Birds, birds, everywhere

With my first week at Horizon Wings complete, I was only able to put in 3 days of my internship. It's been raining so much here in CT that it's hard to get anything done. Monday it was down pouring so it lead to an interesting ride to work. When I arrived at Mary-Beth's house I was greeted by not only her and Jeanne but four dogs, around 7 cats, and Teddy. Teddy is a very vocal African Grey who loves to talk to people and have his own phone calls with himself. We got settled in and I was given to run down of what a typical day might be, what projects are going on, and some things I should expect.

After that we made a little trip outside and I was given a tour of the backyard where all of the aviaries are kept. We started at the rehab shed which only had one occupant at the time. There was a HUGE grey screech owl in there that we might be keeping as an education bird. Then they gave me a tour of the rest of their resident birds. They currently have a Bald eagle, Kestrel, two Screech owls, Broad winged hawk, Peregrine falcon, Red tailed hawk, Great horned owl, Barn owl, Barred owl, and a Raven. They also have a two Barred owls in rehab, a younger one and an adult, and a Red tailed hawk. Then there is Chappy, a Red tailed hawk we are training to give to Hope from Wind over wings. After the tour we took out the baby barred owl to get a weight on him and then they allowed me to put him back in the nest box. He was such a fluffy little booger. The last task of the day was to measure out carpeting for perches. While we were doing that they let me try and hold the Kestrel.

Thursday we traveled down to Tyl middle school to watch Hope from Wind over wings give one of her last presentations before the farewell tour. I would have to say she is an amazing speaker. She did an hour long presentation with a Screech owl, Peregrine falcon, Golden eagle, and Great horned owl. The way she was able to tell the story of each of the birds while incorporating in the facts about the species. The kids really seemed to like it and paid attention. Hope is moving up the Maine, so maybe just maybe we'll see her at Unity sometime.

Now yesterday was my super busy day. The first thing I got to do was hold the baby Crow that we might be keeping while Mary-Beth cleaned out his bedding. I then got to learn the feeding routines for most of the birds, including who gets what and when. They feed the hawks in the morning and the owls at night, that way it makes you doubt check everyone. After feeding we went to check on the rehab birds. Thursday night they picked up a Red tailed hawk that they think has a neurological issue, so that was our newest resident. They looked like they were doing alright. We cleaned out the Screech owls carrier and cleaned out the Red tails. Mary-beth and Jeanne also gave the bird a shot and some saline to keep it hydrated.

After that I shadowed Jeanne with their routine for cleaning out the aviaries. I then was off to clean out four of the aviaries on my own. This meant pulling out carpet from hide boxes, picking up left over food, scrubbing perches and anything that needed to be cleaned. I had an awakening of animal care when I found a mouse that one of the screech owls had stashed away. Needless to say it was full of maggots. I was a little grossed out at first but it was whatever. I also pulled all of the water dishes and scrubbed those down. After all of the cleaning was done Jeanne and I worked on transferring with Chappy, or just simply passing him off. He did really well for only being worked with for 3 weeks. He's still a little nervous when you go to move your free arm around, but he calms down pretty quickly. Jeanne then took Chappy for a ride to work on him being in the travel box.

While she did that I was allowed to go in with their new Bald eagle. Right now they are just trying to get him used to being talked to have having people get close to him. After a little bit Mary-beth switched with me and I went to go handle Dakota the other Red tailed hawk. I was a little nervous being the last Red tailed I worked with was nuts. Though she was very friendly and didn't grip hard at all. Jeanne then let me go and put her back in her aviary. I had never worked with the removable jesses, let alone having the birds on my right had rather than my left. Dakota bated once when I went to walk into the aviary, but I got her back on the glove and walked her inside. I was then able to take her leash and jesses off without her flying away. I felt really accomplished.

We ended the day with a trip to the UCONN dairy bar and some birding. We drove around and Mary-beth showed me where some raptor nest were and where Kestrel boxes are set up. We had a great time, also Mary-beth and Jeanne told me various stories of birds they went to go and get.

I think the main thing I relearned this week is it's important to stay calm with any bird of prey. At one point during cage cleaning Julian the Raven came after me, being I was the newbie around. Jeanne calmly talked me through the whole thing and told me to just let him peg the bottom of my shoe a few times. She then distracted him so I was able to walk away. I wasn't nervous and understood Julian is just a feisty little bird. But if I did freak out the situation probably could have been worse.


No comments: