Saturday, August 13, 2011

The best way to end a summer

So as you all well know I have been done with my required hours but that doesn't mean I was fully done with my internship. I still went back for three more days to help out, and in turn got to do some pretty cool things. The first week of August I only went in on the 5th which was cleaning day. I actually spent almost the whole day at Mary-beths. We of course went and did all of the cage cleanings first, with me mostly cleaning out the Red-tailed hawks aviary. To fully clean that aviary it takes at least 45 minutes. Buteos tend to poop on everything... Then it was off to care for the rehab birds. We had a baby Screech owl in the basement that Patricia was caring for as well as a baby Broad winged hawk. Mary-beth showed us how to put on a tail guard. Tail guards are used with rehab birds in order to help protect their tail feathers from becoming damaged during their time in care. Then we went off into the shed to take care of the crazy Red-tailed hawk and Spirit. Spirit takes no time at all, but that Red-tailed... As Jeanne held the bird Mary-beth unbandaged its wing to see how it was healing. She then told me I was going to rebandage the wing. It was pretty cool doing my first bandage job on a live bird. Then after we bandaged the wing she had me change out the tail guard.

Once we were done we put the bird in a cardboard carrier in order to take it out to one of the aviaries. We were switching birds around for observation purposes. The juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk that had the swollen ankle was being put in the shed in a padded carrier until it's ankle healed up and the other bird was being put in the aviary. The other Red-tailed eventually got its bandages removed which is a good sign. Before we put the bird out in the aviary we had to go and take out all of the perches that way the bird couldn't damage it's wing from falling. Our last task was to go and rewrap Kisra's perches. She seems to like them and is often seen on them.

I then went in again on that Wednesday to work with the Fairfield Red-tailed. When I got there Jeanne had me put a leash on Spirit and take him outside while she cleaned his carrier. He was a very good bird for me and just sat there, bobbing his head. It's good to get him outside to get some fresh air and some stimulus. We then went to rewrap the perches in the Red-tailed hawk aviary, in which he had an extra bird in there. We ended up getting a rehab bird from someone that was keeping it in his apartment. For a Red-tailed hawk this bird looks kinda funky, and really shows some signs of being imprinted a bit. Whenever we go in there now we have to completely ignore it so that we're not encouraging its behavior. While in the fixing mode we went and fixed one of Chico's perches. One of them broke so we were just replacing it with a new one. Zip ties are greatly your friend.

After our fixing period Jeanne let me jess up Oscar the Great Horned Owl. Oscar is the easiest to jess up because he just sits there, the hard part is pulling him off the perch and helping him back up when he bates. He's an awesome bird, but likes to be a plan when to go to put him back on your glove. The minute his feet touch your glove he's pushing back off. We kept him out for quite a bit, give him a break from the baby in his aviary. I'm glad I got to handle him before I left. I finished my day with the Red-tailed. She's good about people being around, but acts a little nervous. I was able to walk up to her with the glove on and touch her without her flying off. I was also able to get her to put one foot up on the glove by gently pushing against her, but I couldn't get her to put her other foot up. Though even that is a good start.

Yesterday was my last day at Horizon Wings, and probably the best. We had a bit of light cleaning to do since most of the aviaries were done the day before. I worked on the Red-taileds aviary, doing both the raking and scrubbing. Brenda was back from being in California, so I got to see her one last time. After cleaning the few aviaries we needed too we worked on the rehab shed. We were waiting for a bird that we had to release later in the day so we had a lot of time to kill. Brenda went and worked with Spirit, and I went to work with the Red-tailed hawk. I had to stop earlier than I wanted to because she got up in the corner of her nest box, and I'm a little to short to be reaching for her up there. We hung out to pass time, enjoying the absolutely gorgeous day we were having. Me and Jeanne also took out some birds to handle. She brought out Athena and I got Emyrs. He looked so sleepy the whole time and I was surprised that he didn't doze off.

12:45 came around and Mary-beth and Patricia ran off to pick up our bird. We were releasing a Peregrine Falcon that had been up at Tufts for recovery. It came from Kensington and was seen in Southington. After we acquired the bird we drove up to our release site up at UCONN. When we were in the van Mary-beth informed me that after she wrote down the band number on the bird that she was going to pass him off to me so that I could release him. I was super surprised because I thought she would want to release this one. It was so awesome releasing this bird, who almost flew into Jeanne's head. It flew off over UCONN going southwest-ish and scattered a whole crowd of Starlings. I ended the day with my good buys and final trip to the Dairy barn for ice cream.

I'm going to miss working at Horizon Wings now that it's all said and done. I not only leaving some really awesome people that I met, I leaving a new family. I feel that doing my internship over the summer instead of all in a few weeks I was able to bond with everyone a lot more. They gave me many opportunities to learn new things and strengthen things I already knew. When I left they still had about 12 birds in rehab, most of which should be able to be released soon. Mary-beth and her team does an amazing service for the state of Connecticut and I hope they continue doing such a great job.

Well it's time for me to start packing up my things and getting ready for my journey back up to Maine. For those that have been following along, I hope have inspired you to take part in something like what I have been doing this summer.


*Some of the above pictures have been taken by Brenda Lyons and Jeanne Wadsworth*

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