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,

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