Monday, June 27, 2011

Handling birds of all shapes and sizes

Maintenance is a big part of animal care, especially with Birds of prey. Monday ended up being our cleaning day due to Friday pouring buckets on us. That meant there was a little more to clean up than usual. We fed, raked, refilled water, and scrubbed perches. Scrubbing isn't all that bad as long as there is more than one person doing it. I then was given the task of weighing babies, which sounds easy. It was simple with the Barred owls and the Red-tailed hawk, but boy was the Screech owl difficult. When weighing the birds we just weigh the box their going in, then take the weight of the box with the bird and subtract the original number. Simple enough, except when the box over hangs the scale and the owl wants to sit on one side or the other. Needless to say I had problems. It kind of brings your spirits down when you can't even get a simple weight on a Screech owl of all things.

After all the maintenance things were done we went on to handle some birds. I got to take out Emyrs the Barred owl. He doesn't get out very much so it was nice to bring him out of his aviary away from the two terrors (the baby barred owls). For being a bird with one wing and slightly bad balance he did very good. It was exciting on Monday because we put Corbin out in one of the aviaries on his own and put the baby Red-tailed in the aviary with our own. Both went very well.

Wednesday was a rainy day, so not much was done outside. We cleaned out the baby Barred owls carrier that is currently in the basement. He is a nasty little bugger! We're thinking that we might have to amputate part of its wing because of how much damage there is to it. We also got to clean out little Spirits carrier. He's starting to get better, gaining 4 grams since the last time he was weighed. Now if only he would grow his feathers back so he can stop looking like a chicken. I also got to see how the anklets are supposed to be put on, even though the Red-tailed hawk took them off a few days later. After a quick break we started to work with Corbin a little since we had him in the basement. Instead of using anklets like all the other birds we are planning on using a harness with him. That means we have to train him in order to get on. Since he already knows the step up command for the most part we worked on reinforcing it more with clicker training. We would present our arm while saying step up, then click and treat him when he did the desired task. We were also working with touching his wings and stretching them out. I got to work with him for a few minutes while Jeanne and Mary-beth rewrapped the baby Barreds wing. Since the rain still had not stop by this time we went inside and Mary-beth had me watch a bird of prey anatomy video. It was very interesting but towards the end the audio kept cutting out.

Friday again was cleaning day. Patricia came up to work that day and another new volunteer showed up to get a tour and help. His name was Kyle and he came from UConn, having a little bit of prior experience with birds. Like usual we cleaned and watered the birds. When it came down to cleaning out Spirits carrier I got to hold him while Jeanne cleaned. I like holding him because he bobs his head the whole time. After cleaning I took out Chico and ran thru the information with Jeanne on what we say during presentations. I think I pretty much have it, being last summer I tend to do most of my presentations with the Zoos Broad-winged hawk. It's just learning his story is where I need to study.

While we were outside with the birds, we ended up getting a wildlife call. It was the first call we had gotten while I was still there. So we put up the birds and got on our way. The call was coming from the CT/MA line about a bird that had been close to the ground for a few days. When we got there we had to go find the bird which wasn't too hard since the people who called had kept an eye on it. When we found it it was about 8 ft up in a tree, just out of reach. Lucky for us the bird hopped on down and we were able to grab it from the ground. It checked out alright but seemed a bit dehydrated. So we looked around for the nest and found 3-4 in the same area, and then spotted another bird. We guessed it was a baby being that when it went to land it was very unsure of itself. Then the parent showed up with food in its mouth. At that point Jeanne decided it would be best to leave the bird in a branch of that tree so that the mom could come and feed it. The whole time we thought it was a Broad-winged because the parents we quiet, until they noticed we had its young. Then it started screaming at us and we knew it was a Red-sholdered hawk.

Saturday we had a program for the Relay for Life. We brought with us a Screech owl, Red-tailed hawk, Barred owl, and Peregrine Falcon. I got to jess up the Screech owl, Herc. It was interesting because the bird was so sleepy, meaning I could just jess him up from where he was standing. It was a tough program, because we were out in the open we no spot to really keep people away from the birds. We had kids throwing balls right next to the boxes, kids playing basketball in front of us, all of this making us nervous the whole time. Also they had the speakers turned up so loud that we had to constantly ask them to turn them down so that we could talk. But once it quieted down and they announced that we would be starting soon and people started to gather. Over all it went very well. When we got back from the programs we went and changed out one of the perches in the Red-tailed aviary. The perch that was in there was a bit too big and we wanted one that as skinnier.

Next week I start participating in the programs as far as actually speaking. I'm a bit nervous, but as long as I remember all of the information I should be fine.
Till next time,

Good times on the river

Hello again from the Upper Delaware! This past week has been filled with hiking, amphibians & reptiles, boat rides, and exceedingly high water.
My two fellow interns & I started the week off by hiking 8 miles on a local trail. Let's just say this hike involved tons of ticks all over our pants, lots of mud, 1 turkey, 2 snakes, and the cutest baby bunny I've ever seen.

Look closely!

On Weds. & Thurs. the interpretive unit went to Promised Land State Park again for more educational stuff. This time we learned about amphibians & reptiles and got to go out in the pouring rain to search for them. It was a good time though.

Because of the torrential rain that we had, any scheduled canoe rovers were stuck inside the office on Friday. The normal average water level for the Delaware is 3 feet, and once it goes over 6 feet employees aren't allowed to be on it. Since the water was at 8 feet, we stayed inside to work on our educational programs.
On Saturday I was stationed at the Mongaup kiosk, where the Mongaup river flows into the Delaware. There were tons of people kayaking down the Mongaup because they released water upstream that day. The picture below shows the crazily flowing Mongaup going into the muddy Delaware.

On Sunday I was stationed at the kiosk in Lackawaxen and basically just talked to people and worked on my educational program all day. Near the end of the day a few of the law enforcement rangers came by with the powerboat and took me for a ride up and down the river. It was a perfect end to my day!!

Until next time,

Friday, June 24, 2011

week 2 of State Capital intership

This week i again did more reading on water and agriculture issues. The main book I have been reading for the past month is Managing California's water from Conflict to Reconciliation. As well different weekly water and agriculture issues. Alot of them have to do with new laws going thought the house and senate. As well as in California they are working on implementing more ways to conserve water. The big issue right now is how and how will the measure the use of water, and who will pay for the cost. I have been reading news articles and code to try to follow this issue.

I also had a meeting with constituents to listen and talk to about State Park funding that is being cut this year in California. I was able to listen and hear how important these parks where to the people and see letters from others, as well as explain my members view on the funding being cut. I also read over there packet and of information and helped summarize it to give to the assembly man.

I have been working on updating our media contact data base for both the local contacts and state contacts. I have almost finished my part of the state contacts and already finished the local contacts.

Yesterday I was able to attend a legislative process workshop. It was really great i was able to see the steps the bill went though as we worked with our sample bill. We also got to see a lot of the forms used to do different parts of the bills. As well as the dead lines and process that are specific to California legislation. It was very interactive and we got ask lots of questions as well as get good advice from people who had been in the building for a while. the best advice to me was "talk dirty, but write clean".


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Cheetah Workup, 12 Hour Waterhole Count, and Cub Run

I’m in the third week of my internship here at CCF and work has not slowed down at all. We are currently in the middle of an international Conservation Biology course in which we have participants from all over the world including Brazil, Iran, Australia, England, Ethiopia, and Niger. These students work and come from many different areas and professions involving wildlife, but all have a passion for conservation. It is really cool and encouraging to see that people across the world care and are passionate about wildlife and its continued existence on Earth. They are typically busy all day with lectures and practicals, but we get plenty of time to talk and learn about what is going on in other parts of the world. I have met a lot of very interesting people.

Once a year every cheetah at CCF undergoes a medical workup or check up to ensure their health, to diagnose any problems and plan appropriate treatment, and to collect any needed data. These workups typically happen all at once in April but this year, three cheetah workups were postponed for the Conservation Biology course. Last week these 3 cheetahs were anesthetized and brought in for their workup like normal but this time there were students present to learn about how these workups are done. Although this was mainly for the international students, the student interns were involved as well in assisting Dr. Marker and our vet nurse, Rosie, in the workup. It was my first time doing something like that and it was really cool to be involved in that sort of work along side Dr. Marker. We all learned a good deal about how that sort of procedure takes place and the course students really seemed to enjoy it as well.

On Monday we did a cheetah run, but this time we ran the ambassador cubs. These guys are 10 1/2 months old and have a ton of energy so they run exceptionally well. We do it mainly for their health and to help them develop properly, but it is of course a great sight for visitors as well. We are trying to run these guys every three days, there is a picture of Kaijay (one of the cubs) running below.

On Monday we did a cheetah run, but this time we ran the ambassador cubs. These guys are 10 1/2 months old and have a ton of energy so they run exceptionally well. We do it mainly for their health and to help them develop properly, but it is of course a great sight for visitors as well. We are trying to run these guys every three days.

Yesterday I went on my first 12 hour waterhole count. We all were dropped off (four pairs) one of four man-made waterholes in Bellebeno camp at 6:00 in the morning. It was our task to observe the waterhole and to count all the animals that came in. Bellebeno is a fenced game camp we use for research, cheetah “soft” releases (the step before release into the wild), and as a food source for our cheetahs. We collect this data in order to understand how the populations within this area are doing so we can establish our own harvest limits and restrictions and to know how the ecosystem is doing as a whole. It was a great experience and was actually relaxing. Twelve hours in a hide is a long time but it went by rather fast and we got to see a bunch of wildlife, including a very large family group of giraffe, which is always great. There is a picture of that family group below.

So far things have been great and have been getting even better. Please feel free to ask questions or comment. I would be happy to answer any question that anyone may have. If you would like to see more pictures, visit my blog at Until next time…


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Dead Shad Smell Delicious

After being here a few weeks, I’ve finally gotten used to how things work around here; also the smell of dead fish. Okay, it’s not that bad…but when you do run into them it’s pretty gross. Countless numbers of American Shad spawn in the Delaware River and then die. Their eggs live on, but the adults can be seen floating dead in the water, washed up on shore, or floating helplessly around in circles refusing to “follow the light”.

On a happier note, I had the opportunity to take part in the Delaware River Sojourn on Sunday. It’s basically a week of canoeing, kayaking, camping and bonding on the entire Delaware River. Four other rangers and I paddled along with about 60 other people on the northern portion of the Delaware. It was nice to paddle up north because we don’t usually have the opportunity to do so. The Sojourn happens every year, so if you’re looking for a cheap vacation or getaway for next summer I definitely recommend it!

The usual kiosk and river patrols have been going on, along with more educational training every Wednesday at Promised Land State Park. I’ve decided to switch my educational program from nature at night to fishing. I’m going to design a program that will teach kids how to fish, along with basic fish identification skills.

Law Enforcement Ranger Ron and I

Until next time,


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Programs for the kiddies

Now that the farewell tours have slowed down our programs are starting to pick up. Needless to say it's never really a dull day at Horizon Wings. This week Jeanne has been gone on vacation so it has been Mary-beth, Brenda, and I at work. Monday started off the week very odd. I pulled into the drive way and things just seemed out of place. The van was in a different spot and there was a ton of random things near the basement door. As I got out of the car Mary-beth greeted me, informing me that she was unable to feed any of the birds yet because her basement had flooded. There was a good 2-3 inches of water on the ground because one of the pipes wasn't clamped on tightly enough when it was put in. Luckily none of the freezers with the mice and rats in them were ruined. That would have been a very hard blow to us. So I picked up the food bucket and went off while Mary-beth waited for Alan and plumber to show up. I went and fed the resident birds first. Before I fed the Red-Tails I worked a little bit with the one in training. Instead of training the birds on food both Horizon wings and Wind over wings works more on trust. Start off with getting the bird used to you being there and being touched with a feather, and eventually working your way up to having the bird on the glove. The one I'm working with is pretty good about being touched with the feather, but he's in the defensive posture the whole time. Not aggressively but still.

After feeding all the residents I went in and sat with Atka for a few minutes and talked to him. I took my keys off my belt loop and attached the aviary keys onto them and hung them up in the atrium so they didn't make any noise to startle him. Though when I was leaving I stupidly forgot to collect them and ended up locking them in the atrium. Thank goodness for extra keys. After I got my keys back I went and fed the new Kestrel. He's in pretty bad shape, and his wing was amputated was shorter than it should have. But he should make a good recovery and grow all of his missing feathers back. I went on to handle Chico and Athena a bit to keep myself occupied while Mary-beth was getting stuff situated. Before I left me and Brenda we asked to take up the carpet in Chappy's old aviary. We got as much as we could, though one carpet was screwed down underneath the perch. I was super glad that I had a Leatherman so I could use pliers to get out the staples.

Wednesday we had a program in town so we were in no rush to get ready. I worked with the Red-tailed for a few minutes before we left. The program was at a small montessori school of about 12 students. We brought the Broad-winged hawk, the Kestrel, Barn owl, and the Peregrine falcon. It went well, but an hour long program was way too long for a group of kids their age. That's one thing I remember from all of my schooling. The thing we were most amazed by was that Chico didn't projectile poop in the middle of the program.

Thursday I was up at about 4 am so I could get ready and make it out to Horizon wings wicked early. Mary-beth needed Brenda and I to get ready being she didn't know if she was going to be able to get out early. So before Brenda got there I went around and fed the birds we weren't taking out on the program. Then Brenda arrived and we got all of the birds together. It was a 2 hour drive out to Stamford across the state. The school we were going to was a green school that was absolutely beautiful. It was a huge group of kids that we were presenting too. Though it was kind of nice because they gave the kids the chance to leave if they were done sitting there . That way they weren't making a whole bunch of noise from being bored. The majority of them stayed. We even had a little girl draw two small pictures of some hawks to give to us as a thank you gesture. She was super smart and knew a bunch of the Raptors scientific names. When we got back we clipped Silos talons, in which I got to restrain her. Then I got the joy of taking off her jesses, which was interesting. She was very calm and patience with me. Our last task was to clean out Spirits carrier, in which I got to hold Spirit. He did a bunch of little head bobs, and boy was he feisty!

I'm glad I'm getting that chance to train some birds this summer. It's more or less learning to read the birds behavior, which is a very important trait for anyone working with animals. It's also learning how fast or slow you can work with an animal to gain its trust.


Friday, June 17, 2011

First official post from state capital internship

This is the first week that I am getting credit for the state capital internship in California. The internship so far is great. I have got to watch how the legislation work on the floor, and talk about bills when voting. I also am getting to see how the budget is processed and how it has to go through a lot of drafts and both sides have to work with each other to get it to work. I mostly do research on water and agricultural issues. A lot of reading, but it is great because I am reading and getting exposed to many issues I would not have gotten other wise. One other thing i really enjoy doing so far is talking to constituents and hearing how they feel about different things.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Pet Orphans Adoptions and Medical Training

Finally got some stats on how many dogs and cats have found homes! Within the 2 months I've worked with Pet Orphans 16 new dogs came in and 1o dogs have gone home. Including Hopper, Cher, Sammy and Hardy. Hopper came into Pet Orphans with a shattered foreleg. He got a cast put on (which hurt a lot when you got hit by it) and was adopted even though he had the cast. Cher was an adorable papillon mix who came in pregnant and had puppies in the facility. Two of her four puppirs have already found homes. Sammy was a puppy who came into the rescue with Parvo. Parvo is a horrible virus that can be fatal to puppies and dogs. It attacks the digestive system and makes them very sick and not want to eat. He started on the

road to recovery and began looking really healthy. One of the reasons Parvo is so fatal is that the animal gets quarantined and can't get interected with. Pet Orphans has their quarantine and health procedures down to a tee! We were able to play with Sammy get his energy back up and he was adopted the day after he was let out of quarantine free of Parvo! Hardy was a pitbull mix that was given up by a family that moved to an ARMY base. The ARMY has a strict policy on the types od dogs one is allowed to own while living on the base. Pitbulls are not allowed to live there due to their "bad nature". But Hardy came to the rescue and was adopted out to a loving woman with a Pitbull mix of her own.

Pet Orphans also tends to cats. While there 10 new cats have come in and 7 cats have gone home. They include Smokey, Spot and Raja. Smokey was a russian blue that came there when I was volunteering before I started going to Unity. He finally went home! Not only did he go home but he went home with another cat from Pet Orphans. Spot was a black & white escape artist. He loved to try and get out of the cat house. Sweet cat too. Very much a people person. Raja was the most beautiful burmese. Very regal and majestic. He was out into quarantine for asymptomatic tritrichomonas foetus (a bacteria that causes diarrhea in cats). After treatment he was put up for adoption and swept out of there before the papers were done.

Recently we were dealing with a case of K9 distemper and a few cases of ringworm. Molly, the distemper dog sadly has passed away from the virus. The kittens with ringworm are doing well and are on their 4th or 5th week of treatment. They will hopefully be out with the general population of cats soon.

Farewell Wind over Wings

This is a bit belated because things have been a bit crazy this summer, but this is my post for week 4 of my internship. When I came in on Wednesday I started off with the usual bird feeding, and then refilled water bowls. Every so often through the week we empty out the water bowls and refill them. Then my next task was to clean out the mice and rat tanks. Mary-beth used to breed her own feeders for when times got tough, so she has a few of those tanks still up and running. It didn't take that long, and I got to have fun catching a bunch of fuzzy mice and putting them in a tank so I could change the bedding. Then I had to go out to Silo the Barn Owls aviary and take off her anklets. All of the birds have anklets that stay on all the time except for Silo because her ankles are sensitive to them. This task required me to first catch Silo and put her in a spot where she would stay still. So back and forth I followed her until I caught her. I realized if I distracted her with one glove above her head I could grab her with the other. Once I did catch her she made a screaming noise that sounded like I was murdering her! But after I got her into her box she was a polite little owl.

Athena was my next accomplishment. I was able to go in and jess her on my own, which she acted much better than what Jeanne was expecting. She didn't scream at me, or make me rump her onto her swing. The last task at Horizon wings was to weight the baby owls. They are some tough little boogers to catch, especially since they are flighted. When everyone was weighed and put back in their aviaries I followed Jeanne to sort out her freezer full of mice and rats. It took us I think 2 hours to go thru the whole freezer. We couldn't believe that some of the bags only had one mouse in them, and we're talking garbage bags.

Thursday and Friday were the last two farewell tours for Wind over wings, the first one being in East Hampton and the last in Old Saybrook. The East Hampton program was a bit of a bust due to some freak weather we had that day. One of the volunteers from Wing over wings couldn't make it, so I got to hold Sassafras the Eastern Screech Owl. The stage was small and everything was divided up that it made the finally go weird. Though the Old Saybrook program went flawlessly. The location was switch last minute due to power outage, but that didn't affect the attendance. The audience was a lot more responsive to where you could hear the "oooo"s and "ahhhh"s from backstage. And during the finally the audience applauded the whole time. I was glad that Hopes last program in CT went well, and I hope Chappy is doing well with his new Red-Tailed friends at Hopes.

The programs taught me that not everything goes perfectly or according to plan. After the East Hampton program confusion Hope had everyone run thru the program twice before the final show. Practice did make perfect in this situation.

This week’s post will be up soon, so till then,

Monday, June 13, 2011

Warming up on the river

With temperatures in the 90’s, it’s definitely beginning to feel like summer around here. For the past 2 weeks we’ve been working at the kiosks, doing canoe patrols, and just getting to know the park. I think I like doing canoe roving the best because we get to be on the river all day. Everyday there are usually 2 or 3 groups of 2 people who are on the river in solo canoes. We basically just canoe down the river, talking to people along the way and making sure they have life jackets, fishing licenses, etc. I like river roving because it’s a good way to practice my canoe skills, and it’s also nice to talk to people on the river rather than at a kiosk all day.

This past Wednesday our whole interpretive unit went to a workshop at Promised Land State Park, which was about an hour away. We learned about different wildlife programs for kids and how to create lesson plans that would keep their interest while teaching them. We also had a speaker, Lindsay Barrett George, who creates children’s books that mostly revolve around nature and wildlife. At the end we all had the chance to choose one of her books and have it signed, which was cool.

We also received tons of material on wildlife programs which included lots of neat ideas. Being in the interpretive unit at the park, we need to create and present educational programs. I’m currently in the process of trying to design a program which focuses on nature at night (stars, night sounds, animals). Right now I only have a general idea of what I want to do, which would be a night hike around the area with some educational stuff thrown in.

Other than that, nothing too interesting has been happening…yet. Since we don’t have cable, internet, or cell phone service at the house my housemates and I have been playing lots of Wii and watching lots of Glee. I’m having a blast though and I’m excited for the rest of summer!
Until I snag some internet somewhere again,

Off to a great start!

So I have been here at the CCF for about a week and a half now and so much has happened! Since I have arrived, I have had the opportunity to do so much and have experienced so many things. After orientation on my first day here I jumped right into things and immediately began work. I started off with more broad assignments until we decided where I fit in here at CCF. So far I have been involved with cheetah husbandry, guardian dog and goat care, general maintenance work (landscaping, and automotive work), some computer work (still in this process, and will be for a while), and one of my favorite jobs… cheetah runs.

Here at the CCF we have just over 50 resident cheetahs. When assigned with cheetah husbandry, we start off by preparing the meat for the cats and any meds that the cats may need (right now we only have two cheetahs who need meds). Our local Namibian farmhands take care of cutting the meat into proper portions but we have to count the pieces and make sure there is enough and that they are suitable. Overall on average it takes about 1 donkey (which are bought from local farmers) per day to feed all the animals under our care. However, we do often times have other sorts of meat come in that we most definitely utilize. Last week we had giraffe (which lasted for a few days) and I think I saw an oryx in the meat room as well. CCF is composed of multiple farms and on each of those farms there are multiple “camps” or enclosures in which all the cheetahs are spread throughout (as I mentioned in the earlier post). So once we have all the food prepared and ready to go, we load it up in a vehicle and typically start out our day at either the Eland camp, which is right next to the main center, or the Bellebeno camp which is about at 30 minute drive from the main center. During the drive to Bellebeno, we typically get great views of a lot of wildlife because we pass a couple of waterholes. We never leave CCF property and all the cheetahs we currently have are located in the closest farms to CCF so you can imagine the size of CCF’s property. The cats at Bellebeno are currently the furthest captive cats from the main center and they are candidates for release into the wild, which is very exciting. It typically takes the husbandry team 9-12 and 2-3 to feed all of the cats outside of the main center. At the main center we have 8 cheetahs (4 males, 4 females) that are fed where visitors and guests can observe, which provides great opportunities for education and interpretation. I really enjoy feeding, but it is only one part of the work that goes on here at CCF.

Here at CCF, one of the most important and effective conservation programs we have in operation is the Livestock Guarding Dog program. We have 8 dogs here at the CCF main center which we use for breeding so that the pups can be donated to the local farmers. For more information on how this program works, click here. Along with the dogs, we have a large herd of goats and sheep, which we primarily have for training purposes. Basically, to prevent farmers from killing cheetahs and other predators (which is one of the cheetah’s greatest threats) CCF donates Anatolian Shepherds to the farmers. These dogs are actually guarding dogs rather than shepherd dogs and very effectively protect the herd from any predator. Along with the dogs we have a large herd of goats and sheep, which we primarily have for training purposes. However, CCF has recently been making goat cheese from goat milk harvested from our goats.

As I am sure you know, the cheetah is the world’s fastest land animal. Everything about the cheetah’s physiology is designed for speed and therefore it is important for the cat’s health to get regular exercise. At CCF we exercise our cats by running them with a lure machine, similar to the ones used for greyhound racing. I have recently began helping with the cheetah runs and it is a job that I enjoy very much. We typically do the runs in the morning a couple of times a week, but we have done runs for the OK Cubs (ambassador cheetahs in training) in the evening.

For more pictures, see my blog here at

Please feel free to comment and ask questions. Until next time...

- Eli

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Week 4 is no bore! Plus a little more

Holy nuggets it's the 4th week already!

The week started off by welcoming 4 new volunteers! Three are working on the primate project and are currently at Fireburn reserve hanging out with the released howlers, the last is my newest helper who will take over looking after Twiggy after I've finished here. I spent the first few days showing Jess around and introducing her to Twiggy. We then took the shifts together to get her accustomed to the day to day routine of things. With Jess, myself, and the occasional help of Shawn it has become a lot easier to let Twiggy out in the lagoon for larger amounts of time; allowing for her to graze longer and eat more sea grass! Good stuff all around.

Wildtracks has acquired three new animals this week! 1 owl, 1 kitten, and 1 new howler monkey. Shawn has taken the owl under his wing (punny!) Paul and Zoe are assessing the howler and myself and Ashley are taking responsibility for the kitten. I've named the kitten Puma because it's awesome. It was found by a family on their front porch; having a language barrier we were unable to explain that the mother will probably come back for it; it being two weeks old it relies on us to syringe feed it 10 cc's of formula every 3 hours (makes for long nights and busy days!).

This week also consisted of Twiggy's check up! A team of scientists came over from Florida and took blood samples, measured her weight, fat levels, as well as length and girth. It was really cool to watch! I stood by with a bucket of water to keep Twiggy hydrated as they explained what they were doing. I was also there to help restrain her tail, the most dangerous part of the manatee; she was trying very hard to flip us away and it took quite a bit of muscle power, and to help roll her over (quite stressful)! To do all of these things we had to catch Twigatron, put her in a sling, and lift her out of the water! It. was. awesome.

I also took part in one of the most important days of the month.....POOL SCRUB DAY! Can you say par-tay? Okay, it really wasn't that exciting, but I felt like a beast removing all of the delicious fungus from the pool walls and floor. It is important to keep the pools clean and filled at all times in case a stranding occurs, this way Wildtracks will be ready for the animal and can begin to make the manatee comfortable.


I never got around to publishing this so I'm going to add my final 4 days into this blog.

All 4 days ran reletively smoothly. The three volunteers came back from Fireburn to relax and do some data analysis, so it was nice to have a good amount of people in the main house. Twiggy has been enjoying her 8 hour days and we decreased her formula/water ratio from 200:400 to 100:400 and she's taken to it just fine. Puma is growing stronger and becoming more active; when I'm not out with Twiggy I'll be letting the kitten run free for a few hours and feed it its 10cc's of formula. During the week it peed on its own without any stimulation, which was new and great news.

It was sad to say goodbye to such a wonderful group of people and an amazing experience; I felt as if I was leaving home instead of going back to it. The journey went well; we had to chase down my plane in a pick up truck, but it ended up seeing me and turning around so it's all good :) I got to enjoy my last few hours on the beach of San Pedro and soak up my last bit of sun before coming back to Chicago (where it's cold and cloudy! what is this non-sense?!) and have had that one Madonna song stuck in my head ever since (last night I dreamt of San Pedrooooo!!). Anywho, I hope you all enjoy the rest of your internships; I can't wait to read all about them.

Good day!



I started working at the Berkshire national fish hatchery about a week and a half ago. over this time I have done daily routine maintenance around the hatchery which includes feeding fish two times a day, mowing the lawn, scrubbing tanks, power washing tanks, making new informational posters, giving tours. stocking trout into lakes and rivers. All and all I am enjoying my time working at this hatchery.

Busy busy busy

*Fore note before I start. I would like to thank Jeanne and Mary-beth for some of the pictures I have been using in prior and future blogs.*

This week was a busy week with me working Wednesday thru Sunday. Wednesday was a laid back day. I came in and helped feed the birds like usual and handled Chico for a little bit. I was able to jess him up and unjess him with no problem at all. Brenda had Dakota out too, just a bit of bird handling to pass the time. Then we took Chappy out to Bolton for a health check at the vet. We needed to get this check done in order to complete the paper work that will accompany his transfer from CT to ME with Hope from Wind over Wings. We got to go in thru the back door and see everything that was going on. All of the surgery prep work, and of the animals in holding. Oh my it was busy...Me, Jeanne, and Brenda kind of tucked ourselves into a corner near the X-ray room and people were going back and forth, carrying dogs, going in and out of rooms. Everyone was very interested in what we had in the box. After about 45 minutes or so we finally got to see the vet and get the check done. Chappy was pretty good for being in his box the whole time except for when he went and nipped Jeanne on the arm. But hey, it was a stressful situation and he hasn't been inside too too much.

Thursday ended up being cleaning day since we wouldn't be there on friday. Everything pretty much went as usual...except for Julian. He proved to me how smart Corvids are that day. Usually when we clean aviaries we let him out to run around the property. Lately he has been peeking around the Eagles aviary, looking under the walk in. Well today he decided that he had enough information and jumped climbed up the short side of the Eagle aviary. It took a bit of bribing, but he finally came down. He didn't exactly want to go back in his aviary either, he wanted to play with us the whole time. Silly Corvid...Our last task was to clean out the rehab cage and weight the owlletts. It's amazing how big those guys get in such a short time.

Friday we drove down to Clinton to help Hope sort out her house for the tag sale she's having before she moves. It was fun because while we were there Hope told us stories about Blanca (sp?) and all the experiences he's had with different groups. I can't wait to see him this week! The last thing we did that day was Hope gave Jeanne a chance to hold Skywalker, her Golden eagle. I was so happy for Jeanne, and I don't think the smile on her face could have gotten any bigger.

Saturday was the big day, the first of the farewell tours. It went amazingly well even though not that many people showed up. It didn't help that Stratford had some sort of festival going on so it was super packed. I got to meet all of Hopes volunteers and see how they did things. The program went so smoothly and was a nice way to end years of service to the state of CT. Me and Brenda ran the booth at the end where we were passing out information. We had a few people stop by.

Though out of everything this week I was reminded that you always need to stay on your toe when it comes to animal care. If we didn't notice Julian was MIA who knows what the Eagle would have done to him or how stressed he would have become. Its all about assessing the situation and acting in a swift but calm manner.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Hello again from the Upper Delaware River! This past week has been much more exciting than my first week here. The week started out with basic first aid training on Tuesday, followed by CPR training on Wednesday. We also received fire extinguisher training and driver training so that we can drive the National Park Service vehicles. The most exciting and best part of our training (in my opinion) was saved for last: canoe training! On Thursday we learned about safety and basic canoe skills, and then we hit the water for some hands-on experience. We paired up in the canoes and went over skills such as paddling, putting your life jackets on in the water, getting back into your canoe if you fall out, rescuing other people from your canoe, and ferrying across the river. We also went “swimming” down Skinner’s Falls (a set of class II rapids). We floated down in only our life jackets, while the other seasonal rangers practiced their throw-bag skills to “save” us.

On Friday we hit the river again for an 18 mile trip from Skinner’s Falls to Lackawaxen, only this time we were solo. We all made it through Skinner’s Falls, then continued downstream while enjoying the many Bald Eagles we saw along the way. Let’s just say that by the end of the day my legs looked like a freshly cooked Maine lobster, and next time I won’t forget the sunscreen.

Saturday was our first day on the job in uniform. My housemate Becky and I were paired up to shadow a seasonal ranger, Adam, for the day. We worked at Ten Mile River which is one of the accesses along the river that we will be stationed at during the summer. The accesses are places where people can put in and take out canoes, boats, kayaks and rafts. There are informational kiosks at most of the accesses, where we simply provide information to people, answer questions, and give safety talks. We watched Adam give safety talks, gave a few of our own, then hiked up a trail along the river, picking up trash and doing maintenance on the way.

The 3 of us were together again on Sunday, only this time stationed at the Skinner’s Falls access. We hung around the kiosk in the morning, talking to people and giving safety checks. After lunch we took a short walk over to the area where people swim and hang out on a stretch of massive rocks along the water. The area was packed with people blasting music, sprawling on rocks, swimming, drinking, and just having a good old time. Becky and I walked around and picked up trash while Adam talked to people, advising them of poison ivy and promoting safety. Skinner’s was crazy, and definitely seemed to be one of the more popular places on the river.

Well, that’s all for this week. I need to go lather my legs in aloe now!!
Until next time,