Thursday, June 21, 2012

National Aviary - Week Three

This post is, well, a little past due I know. I was fortunate enough to be granted a mini vacation...So now that I am back on duty and taking care of my feathered family once again I shall fill you in on the past two weeks!

First things first, our animal programs trailer has been remodeled. There is new paint, carpet, furniture, and more chairs too! Now interns can actually sit and eat at a table...yes it is very exciting to me! We got to stay after work a few days and work on it with the other staff members. Pizza, good humor and some dirty paint covered clothes make a good time.

So I had an off experience the other day which I feel is necessary to share with all of the captive wildlife care and education folk either planning/or currently in an internship...The main point being people and signs. When a sign says that an animal may bite, it usually means, that it will bite you. One of our wattled currasows Joni seems to be a wonderful source of scary moments. She is a very large bird, and on a normal day doesn't mind being the main attraction for our guests. Joni will do things on her terms, so despite appearing completely comfortable around children grabbing at her and trying to chase her, she can have bad days too. Since we are mostly a free roaming facility for birds, the number one rule of the aviary is NEVER touch our birds.

I find myself becoming increasingly frustrated with the fact that no matter how many times I ask people to stop touching a bird, they still will do it. No matter how many warning signs you may put up, there will always be the one person who feels they are an exception. We all know how that ends up though...Well I caught a small child with his mother and her camera, hugging Joni. Little be said I was walking towards her, announcing they should stop what they were doing and let her be. Little child grabs hold of a tail feather and yanks it. Joni gave him the look of sheer retaliation, but I stepped between her and him in time, confronted the woman and asked her to please leave. Of course I got the blunt end of the stick, the woman was disgruntled and Joni was too. Like people, birds will exhibit a form of transferred aggression. For example someone is having a bad day, when their best friend approaches them upbeat and happy with a bright smile and chipper "How's it going?" Well grumpy old you snaps at them, thus leaving them in a bad mood too. Same applies here in this situation. Joni was stressed from being touched and having a delicate feather pulled. She knows better than to attack the public, so she takes it out on me, someone she can release the aggression towards. It hurts to get pecked by a currasow...Sometimes there is no way to make everyone happy.

I've been doing a lot of enrichment recently...Mostly for birds in my breeding center area, including the Rhinoceros hornbill, the golden conure and the magpie jay. During breaks I have been researching food preferences, natural behaviors, and more in order to perfect my most enriching ideas. To the right here, the Magpie Jay has gotten a hanging cardboard tube spinner. There are holes all over where he can pull tissues out to find superworms and his favorite nuts. He loves to pry at things, and to tug and pull so it provided him with a much needed change in the environment he is living in. Sometimes even the most simple of things can be enriching too. A handful of live crickets thrown into and exhibit can provide the birds with hours of stimulation apart from their daily experiences.

My routine changes to penguins and the eagles this week and I am very excited for a change up on my daily duties. Eventually I will be trained on every routine and able to switch regularly between them all when needed. The weather has been excruciatingly hot though, and that new routine includes a lot of outdoor chores which require wearing full jumpsuits and boots. Everything will feel weird after having the Marshland and grasslands routine hammered into my brain though. I love new challenges!

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