Thursday, December 10, 2015

Those Fascinating Vultures


Most people are not big fans of vultures.  They were never really a number one favorite of mine either—at least not until I  started working with and learning about them at the World Bird Sanctuary.

Vultures come off as pretty gross birds.  They eat dead things, they projectile vomit as a self-defense mechanism, and New World vultures urinate on their legs to keep cool.  So, why are vultures such awesome birds?

Osiris the Egyptian Vulture is an Old World Vulture (photo: Gay Schroer)
For starters, vultures are super-important to our environment.  Without them, we would have an awful lot of dead things (carrion) lying around.  Rotting animals are breeding grounds for bacteria and disease.  Vultures help keep animal carcasses cleaned up, and thus help stop the spread of most diseases—positives in both a visual way (no one enjoys seeing dead animals all over the place) and health aspects of human life.

If animal carcasses harbor so much bacteria and disease, how can vultures eat them without getting sick?  Well, vultures have super strong stomach acids that can kill the bacteria, making them a dead end for disease.  Their strong stomach acid also helps them out quite a bit with that projectile vomit they use for defense against predators.  Their stomach acid is so strong that it can even strip the paint off of a car!  It’s a good thing they have it, though, because it helps us out with diseases and bacteria.

Vader the Black Vulture is a New World Vulture native to the southern United States (photo: Gay Schroer)
Vultures also have some of the neatest personalities.  Each vulture I have worked with so far has been completely different from the others.  Goober, the Black Vulture, gets very excited for his food and he even skips and makes barking noises!  Desi, the Hooded Vulture, seems rambunctious and is very gung ho about flying in shows.  Mortimer, the Turkey Vulture, is a dominant bird that seems to know exactly what he wants while Kinsey, another Turkey Vulture, seems a little bit shy around crowds.  Each vulture is very unique, even amongst the same species.  They each have their own personalities, and I feel privileged to get to work with them.
Desi, the Hooded Vulture, is an Old World vulture (photo: Gay Schroer)
There are also big differences between New World and Old World vultures.  New World vultures, such as the Andean Condor, Turkey Vulture, and Black Vulture urinate on their legs to keep cool when it is hot outside.  Old World vultures, like the Hooded Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, and Bearded Vulture don’t do this behavior.  It may seem gross, but it also acts as a natural anti-bacterial by killing germs on their legs and feet.
Skinner, a New World Turkey Vulture, displays his beautiful feather pattern (photo: Gay Schroer)
Several New World vulture species live in groups with social hierarchies, whereas Old World vultures typically live solitary lives.  Old World vultures also have a strong grip in their feet, whereas New World vultures do not.  If you look at a Turkey Vulture’s feet, they look fairly similar to those of a stork or crane.  New World vultures are actually more closely related to cranes or herons than they are to Old World vultures.  They are superficially similar due to convergent evolution, which in this case means both kinds of vultures evolved to feed on dead animals.  They aren’t closely related, but they evolved similar traits because they had to adapt to similar environments and feeding habits.

Vultures are super interesting and they have become some of my favorite birds.  I am so glad that I have the opportunity to work with them each day and learn more about their unique traits.

The next time you visit the World Bird Sanctuary be sure to take a really close look at our resident vultures.  You, too, may find that they are truly fascinating birds.

Any of the vultures mentioned in this article can be adopted via our Adopt A Bird program.

Submitted by Kelsey McCord, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist




Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Dr. Doug's Menagerie


On September  14, 2015 long time World Bird Sanctuary Consulting Veterinarian, Dr. Doug Pernikoff, donated two Tarantulas, for our exhibits and for our traveling educational programs.  

Dr. Doug has been helping examine, medicate and provide some surgeries for our birds since the 1980’s.  Dr. Doug has a veterinary practice: Clarkson Wilson Veterinary Clinic. 32 Clarkson Wilson Center, Chesterfield, MO 63017. 636-530-1808.  If you have concerns about your Tarantula, Dr. Doug is the man to call.  

A Mexican Red Kneed Tarantula from Dr. Doug's collection (photo: Dawn Griffard)

Dr. Doug primarily treats dogs and cats but also has many clients who bring in exotic animals.  Dr. Doug has an extreme affinity for Tarantulas.  He also has a large collection of Tarantulas at his home.  I was able to see his collection on September 14, 2015.  He has 12 species and has bred 3 of the species in the past year.  He showed me one of the exhibits of newly hatched Tarantulas--around 1,000 tiny babies.  Wow!

Dr. Doug donated a Chilean Rose Haired Tarantula and a Mexican Red Kneed Tarantula to WBS.  Both Tarantulas are ground species, and use superficial burrows.  Dr. Doug also donated the materials for their exhibits and the enclosures themselves--very generous.

A Chilean Rose-haired Tarantula from Dr. Doug's collection (photo: Dawn Griffard)

I asked Dr. Doug what he liked about Tarantulas?  He said that they are high-end predators, carnivorous, and similar to Birds of Prey in the way they respond to their environment.  He also likes how social they are.

Breeding is interactive and intimate.  There is lots of display, they perform a mating dance to each other with much visual display and strumming.  Tarantulas are not true spiders.  Also they can throw their butt hairs at an intruder or attacker.


Dr. Doug and one of his French bulldogs taken by Michael Zeloski

Dr. Doug’s place was “busy” with creatures as you might expect a Veterinarian’s house to be.  When I arrived a stream of French Bulldogs pulsed out of the garage to lick me and wag their tails and butts vigorously.  The most eager one jumped up into my lap while I was still seated in my car.

The three French Bull dogs, a breed with huge heads and small bodies, are named Pearl, Bruno, and George.  They look like the head caricatures that Dr. Doug has a passion for making out of clay.  Dr. Doug has many life sized head caricatures of his friends and other interesting looking people displayed in most of the rooms of his house on the downstairs level.

Dr. Doug also has a very large Aldabra tortoise named Dewey that lives out back of his house.

Thank you to Dr. Doug for granting permission to do a blog about him and his house and his animals.

Submitted by Michael Zieloski, World Bird Sanctuary Director of Education





Sunday, December 6, 2015

History of The Land


In the beginning is usually how it starts. 

I won’t go that far back, but I would like to share a small amount of the local lore concerning the land on which the World Bird Sanctuary sits today. 

Some stories were passed on to me by people whose grandparents lived in the area; other information came from research; and, as with all historical research, some could just be out and out fabrications.

The World Bird Sanctuary exhibit line as it looks today—this ridge may have been host to Native American hunters at one time (photo: Gay Schroer)

The hills around the World Bird Sanctuary were said to have been a summer hunting ground for the builders of the Cahokia mounds.  The chert and other stones found here were important materials for the tools and weapons the early Native American cultures needed.  The Osage tribes inhabited the area in later years and were relocated to reservations in Oklahoma. 

Missouri also had a history of European settlers living alongside and fighting for native rights.  Both Lewis and Clark worked throughout their lives to find equitable solutions for any disputes in the territory.  Many of the hills in the area were filled with homesteaders. 

A former WBS employee’s grandparents had a cabin across Interstate 44 from our property.  I spoke to a gentleman when he was in his 90s and he told me numerous stories of his grandfather seeing bison along the river and of the lone elk which he would later help capture within the county park bearing its name. 

The forest was a haven for southern sympathizers or confederate guerrillas during the civil war.  Directly across the Meramec River from our property there is said to be a cave or tunnel, which was used to hide slaves escaping captivity.  Later, this same tunnel was said to have been used to sneak illegal alcohol into nearby taverns.

Shortly after the civil war these hills were almost entirely bare due to lumbering for the railroad and the country’s expansion.  One family owned most of the land and leased small plots for homes or vacation retreats. 

During prohibition Al Capone and his enforcer Frank Nitte were known to supply and be honored guests at the local speakeasies.  Pretty boy Floyd, a depression era bank robber and member of a super gang, which listed among its members Baby Face Nelson and John Dillinger, was known to have stayed in local flophouses.  One home nearby still exists and has a register which he signed. 

An old map showing the site of the World Bird Sanctuary and surrounding areas (photo: Joe Hoffmann) 

The summer homes were very popular and the town of Morschels was known for great weekend parties call “The Chicken Fry’s”.  Some nearby land was used as a military base during World War 2 and the Korean War. 

The highlighted area shows the approximate location of WBS today 

In the seventies the state of Missouri approached the landowners and obtained the property to be a future park.  Much of the land was developed into Castlewood State Park. 

On the south side of the river the town remnants remained, slowly decaying until the World Bird Sanctuary moved onto the land.  We would like you to come visit our center and enjoy this history.  Signs can be found on the World Bird Sanctuary trails throughout our site detailing some of the fascinating history of our site.

Submitted by Joe Hoffmann, Rehabilitation Hospital Manager

Friday, December 4, 2015

Our Newest Naturalist


My name is Tess Rogers, and I am the newest naturalist here at World Bird Sanctuary!  I started at the beginning of this month, and am having a great time learning all about our wonderful birds.

I am originally from St.Louis, where I’ve lived for most of my life.  As a native St. Louisan I will provide the obligatory high school information--Maplewood Richmond-Heights.  For all of you not from St. Louis, it’s a well known fact that the first question asked when two St. Louis natives meet for the first time is….”what high school did you go to?”

For college I decided to get away from home, broaden my horizons, and apparently never be warm again as I went north to attend the University of Minnesota.  I had a fantastic four years there, during which I went even further away from home to do a semester abroad in Australia.

Myself and an irate Tufted Titmouse, one of the first birds I banded with WBS this summer!
 Upon Graduating this spring I returned home to St. Louis where, through a research fellowship, I started to get involved with the World Bird Sanctuary by working with the fantastic bird banding team. When I was told they might have a job opening coming up in the fall, I jumped at the opportunity to apply.  And here I am!

Thus far I absolutely love my job. There has been quite the learning curve working with raptors, as the most dangerous birds I had handled previously were cardinals.  That being said, getting to meet all the birds and starting to learn their individual personalities has been one of the most enjoyable parts of my days here.  My other favorite part, by far, is getting to tell people all about each bird when they come to visit, especially the kids. When I was little I adored animals, and when kids (and even some adults) come in to the Nature Center full of excitement and a list of facts about their favorite kinds of animals, I immediately feel a kinship with them since I WAS them.  Getting to teach them even more is by far one of the most rewarding experiences I have had while at work.  I know from personal experience I may very well be helping inspire the next batch of conservationists or even naturalists.

The kestrels and I have made fast friends. Though they may just be using me for my access to food if I’m being honest
 So if you see a naturalist down at the Nature Center or at the Visitors Center arguing with a bird about why they should not bite the glove, or seems to be taking longer than usual to tie their leashes to a perch, that just might be me.  I’m still getting the one-handed dexterity thing down.

The next time you visit the World Bird Sanctuary feel free to say hello, and level any questions you may have at me!

Submitted by Tess Rogers, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Armadillos in Missouri


Many people who live in the Saint Louis area have lately noticed an increase in armadillo sightings. 
Rustle, the World Bird Sanctuary's nine-banded armadillo (photo: Cathy Spahn)

In the past we would only spot armadillos if we were heading to the southern part of Missouri.  However, they are finding their way up here, and there have even been some sightings as far north as the Missouri/Iowa border.  This is mainly because of climate change.  The warmer winters have made the northern section of Missouri more adaptable for them to migrate north.  So, it will not be uncommon to see these guys more and more as the years go on.

Since armadillos are becoming more common in the Saint Louis area, we should learn about them and why it is important to have them around.  Armadillos are mammals. They have a thin layer of hair covering their entire body. Their “shell,” which is actually bony plates with softer skin in between, protects their head.  They generally weigh between 11 to 14 pounds.  They have a long sticky tongue to help them catch their food.  Due to the fact that they have poor eyesight, they rely on their ears and nose to detect food and predators.  Mating season in this area occurs from July to August.  The female always produces maternal quadruplets.

Armadillos are most active from dusk until dawn.  During the winter months, you will only encounter one during the warmest time of the day.  They construct their home by building burrows, using their long sharp claws.  They use soil and grass to construct the habitats within their burrows.  They are even known to steal habitats created by other armadillos or tortoises.  Their self defense mechanism consists of them jumping straight up into the air; this is why they are often struck by automobiles.  They jump instead of run.

So, why do we need these guys as a part of our ecosystem?  They eat the insects and their larvae that “bug” us so often.  That is enough for me to appreciate these creatures being in existence.  If you happen to see one of these guys while you are at the park or on a walk, enjoy watching them, but do not make physical contact with them.  They are capable of contracting leprosy and transferring it to humans.  Not to worry about Rustle, though.  He’s been checked by our vet and is disease free.

If you want to see and learn more about armadillos, come and visit our resident armadillo, Rustle. He lives in the World Bird Sanctuary Nature Center, and is always a favorite with our guests.  You can also go to our website and adopt Rustle for $150.00.  This will help feed Rustle and pay for his medical care for one year.

Submitted by Erica O’Donnell, World Bird Sanctuary Front Office Coordinator



Monday, November 30, 2015

Whoo Is That Owl?


It’s that time of year again.  The owls are very active finding mates, defending territories, and preparing their nests for babies. 

It’s a great time to see and hear owls right in your own backyard!  But sometimes it can be a little bit tricky figuring out just Whoo you are observing.  This especially happens when you only hear an owl calling without ever seeing one.
Coal, one of WBS's resident Great Horned Owls (photo: Paige Davis)

In Missouri, as well as in many other areas in the United States, the most common owls that you will encounter are Great-Horned Owl and Barred Owl.  Since it is more common to hear an owl than to see one, it is a great idea to familiarize yourself with their calls. 

The Great-Horned Owl has that stereotypical hoot you hear in a spooky movie.  It is said to sound like they are saying, “Hoot-a-hoot, hoo-hoo, who's awake? Me too!”   To hear what they sound like Click Here.
Jersey, WBS's resident Barred Owl (photo: Paige Davis)

The Barred Owl makes a variety of calls.  They can sometimes even sound like monkeys making all sorts of racket in the forest.  Their classic call is said to sound like, “Who cooks for you, who cooks for you all?”  By familiarizing yourself with these owl calls, you can identify an owl species without ever seeing it.  To hear what a Barred Owl sounds like Click Here.

Both the Great-Horned Owl and the Barred Owl are larger sized owls.  The Great-Horned Owl stands about 22 inches tall and has a 4.5 foot wingspan with females being larger than males.  They are mottled gray-brown, with a white patch on the throat, and ear-like tufts atop their head that resemble horns.  Their eyes are large and yellow. 

The Barred Owl stands about 20 inches tall and has a 4 foot wingspan with females being larger than males.  They are gray and white overall, with dark bars of feathers going down their chest. The wings and tail are barred brown and white.  Their eyes are very dark brown, which can look completely black from afar.  The Barred Owl does not have ear tufts like the Great-Horned Owl does, and instead has a rounded head.

Although these are the two most common owls you may encounter, there are many  other owl species that live here in North America.  Just a few of the other native species include the Eastern Screech Owl, Barn Owl, Long-Eared Owl, Northern Saw-Whet Owl, Short-Eared Owl, and Snowy Owl.

If you would like the opportunity to meet many owl species up close and personal, come to one of World Bird Sanctuary’s Owl Prowls!  The Prowls Feature live flying owls and an easy night hike to try to call in resident wild owls.  It is a great program for any owl lover.

Owl Prowls take place on select dates from November-March starting at 7 pm.
To learn more about the World Bird Sanctuary Owl Prowls CLICK HERE.

Make your reservation today by calling 636-225-4390 x 101

Submitted by Paige Davis, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Owl Prowls Are Filling Fast


Fall has arrived at World Bird Sanctuary, which means the start of Owl Prowl season.  Owl Prowls run from November through March on select Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
One of many European Barn Owls at the World Bird Sanctuary (photo: Cathy Spahn)

What is an Owl Prowl you ask?  The Owl Prowls start at 7 pm in our Nature Center with about a 1 hour program all about some of the owls of the world.  Some of them will even fly right over your head.  After that we take you for a short walk on our property to try to call in a wild owl.  Also during November and early December we will take you to our bird-banding field station to learn about a study we are doing on Saw-whet Owls.

Do you love owls?  Owls Prowls are a great way to learn more about these fascinating creatures of the night.  We also have a small gift shop where you can find lots of Owl merchandise for kids of all ages.
Xena, a member of the world's largest owl species (photo: Gay Schroer)

Do you know what the largest species of Owl is in the world?  Even better, you’ll have that bird fly right over the tops of your heads.  If you’ve guessed the Eurasian Eagle Owl, you’re right.
Minerva the Common Barn Owl demonstrates some of her head-turning ability (photo: Gay Schroer)

Learn which owl is known as the ghost owl and has the best hearing of any bird in the world. 

Ever wonder just how far an owl can turn its head or what makes them fly silently?

Have a scout group that you are looking to do something different with?  Have them join an Owl Prowl.  It’s not only fun, but it’s educational.

Are you an adult that would love to join us, but would prefer an “adults only” night out?  We have special “adults only” nights for the “kid at heart”.  Have a small group that just wants to do something different?  Come out and join us for a fun evening with owls. 

Call now to make your reservations.  Reservations are required.
Cost - $15 per adult; $10 per child under 12.

  Friends of World Bird Sanctuary receive a 10% discount.

Groups of ten or more: $10 per person, regardless of age.

To make your reservation call 636-225-4390, Ext. 101

Submitted by Cathy Spahn, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist

Thursday, November 26, 2015

We Are Thankful...


What We at WBS Are Thankful For….

Thanksgiving is the time of year when we all step back from our busy schedules and reflect on the things for which we are thankful.

Here at WBS we have many blessings…

*            The dedicated staff, interns and volunteers who work so tirelessly to rehabilitate the more than 300 injured birds that pass through our hospital doors each year

*            The Education Department staff who work long hours and give up their weekends and even some holidays to carry the message of environmental responsibility to schools and organizations across the country

*            The Propagation Department staff--the often unsung heroes and heroines of our organization--who remain “behind the scenes” caring for and training our large roster of non-releasable birds

*            The “Tuesday Crew” – a group of retired tradesmen who show up every Tuesday, rain or shine, to lend us their construction trade skills, and literally “keep us together”

*            The many volunteers without which we could not exist.  These dedicated individuals come from every walk of life and span every age group—all for the love of the birds

*            The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts who choose the World Bird Sanctuary as their Eagle Scout or Girl Scout Gold project.  Most of our outdoor structures would not exist without them

*            The many wonderful corporate sponsors who support us financially and in so many other ways. 

*            The individuals who call us from out of the blue offering to donate anything from raptor food or birdseed to automobiles or tractors

*            Our wonderful visitors who purchase merchandise from our gift shop because they know that the profits help to feed house and care for the birds, or the drive through visitor who stops to drop a few dollars in our donation box as they enter our site.

*            All the diehard supporters who show up at WBS special events in spite of weather conditions ranging from rain and cold to hundred degree temperatures

FOR ALL THIS WE ARE THANKFUL!

To all of you out there—HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Turkey Named Fred


With Thanksgiving almost upon us, we thought we would share the story of Fred the Turkey, our popular cartoon mascot, with our readers. 

The cartoon was created by one of our talented volunteers to accompany a song created and performed by our in-house band, The Raptor Project.  This is just one of the many songs on the two Raptor Project CDs that can be purchased in our gift shop.

When you visit the World Bird Sanctuary, be sure to take a stroll down our exhibit line and visit with Fred and his harem. 


To see Fred’s cartoon Click Here.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Birdlore: The Fleet-footed Quail of North America


Among the popular game bird species, quail are characteristic for their ability to hide exceedingly well in clumps of grass and brush from predators and human hunters.

In North America, 5 species of quail (not including the Northern Bobwhite) are native to the west and southwest of the United States and parts of Mexico.  These 5 species of quail are the Montezuma Quail, the California Quail, the Mountain Quail, the Scaled Quail, and lastly, the Gambel’s Quail.  They gather together in small groups called coveys.


The Montezuma Quail lives mostly in Mexico and parts of Arizona and New Mexico (photo: wikipedia)
When faced with the presence of a predator, the quail will hunker close to the ground and become very still.  Their plumage blends them in seamlessly with their grassy and brush-filled habitat so well that you could almost step on them without realizing it.  By the time a predator would close in on the quail’s precise location, the quail would burst from their hiding spot with a short and explosive flight through the field to safety.

Quail play a fairly minor role in Native American cultures.  However, the Pima tribe from Arizona tell one amusing tale of how a family of quail managed to outwit their predator, a coyote.

In a time long ago, Coyote slept so deeply that when a covey of quail came upon him, they cut off pieces of fleshy meat from his body without Coyote awaking up. 

Later after the quail had moved on, set up camp, and took to cooking the meat, Coyote walked up the trail to their encampment.

 “Where did you get that fresh meat? Give me some.”  He demanded.

Without protest, the quail gave it all to him.  After he had left and gone a ways down the trail, the quail called out to him, “Coyote, you were eating your own flesh.”

“What did you say?”  He questioned.

“Nothing, we heard something calling from behind the mountain.”

Coyote moved further down the trail, when the quail called again, “Coyote, you ate your own meat.”

“What did you say?” Coyote repeated.

“Nothing, we only heard somebody pounding his grinding stone.”  They replied.

Coyote left the quail, going further down the trail.  He then felt the places where the quail had cut him and understood what the quail had been saying.  He turned around and gave chase to the quail saying he would eat them.  The quail flew through the air with Coyote running beneath.  Finally, the quail could no longer fly because of exhaustion, but Coyote kept up the pursuit.  He was too angry.

When the quail came to a hole in the ground the cleverest of the quail picked up a piece of prickly cactus.  Pushing the cactus first into the hole, the rest followed in after it.  Coyote caught up to them and began digging up the hole to reach them.  He grabbed the  first quail and asked, “Was it you who told me I ate my own flesh?”

“No, I did not,” said the quail.

So Coyote released him and the quail flew away.  He then grabbed quail, one at a time, and asked the same question.  Each quail said “No,” and Coyote would release them to fly away until the last quail was gone.  When he finally came to the piece of cactus, Coyote mistook it for another quail as it was covered in feathers.  He asked the same question, but the cactus branch did not reply.

“I know it was you, because you do not answer”, he said at last.

So Coyote bit down hard onto the prickly cactus branch, and it killed him.

Submitted by Jessica Bunke, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist/Trainer



Thursday, November 19, 2015

Hibernation


Hibernation, its not just for bears.

The definition of hibernation is “…to be in a dormant or torpid state during a cold period, typically winter”.  When most people think of hibernation, animals like snakes, bats, and bears come to mind.  But would you be shocked to find out that there is a bird that hibernates too?!  I know I certainly was! 

Common Poorwill watercolor (photo: wikipedia)

The Hopi Indians have known about this for a long time, calling a certain bird species Holchko, or “sleeping one”.  We call this bird the Common Poorwill (Phalaenoptilus nuttallii).  Living in the dry hills of the western United States and Mexico, you can find this medium-sized bird nesting on the ground or making short vertical flights into the night air to grab insects.  As the smallest bird in the Nightjar family, it needs to be well camouflaged.  With dark browns, greys, and black, it has no problems hiding.

The Common Poorwill has an almost owl-like look to it, with short rounded wings and a round tail.  It does, however, have a large head with a tiny beak.  During periods of cold weather and scarce food sources, this bird needs to conserve energy.  So they will go into a state of torpor, or hibernation, for days and even up to a few weeks!  During this time they can slow down their metabolic rate, slowing down their breathing, heartbeat, and lowering their body temperature.  Once the weather warms up and all the insects start to come out for food, so does the common poorwill, eager to eat. 

These incredibly adaptive birds will lay 2 pinkish white eggs on the ground and do not build a nest.  However, if the area gets disturbed, they will move the eggs to a safer location.  The young start flying at around 20 days old, and before that they have been observed moving around by somersaulting across the ground.

There are no current extra protections for these birds because they are so plentiful from Washington to North Dakota all the way into Mexico.

Submitted by Mike Cerutti, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist/Trainer

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Whooo''s Who?


With the advent of Fall leaf color, Thanksgiving pumpkins, and cold crisp weather, love is in the air here in Missouri—at least it is if you’re an owl!

If you happen to be outdoors in the evening or late at night you may hear an owl calling.  At this time of the year our feathered creatures of the night are busy claiming a territory, and soon will be advertising for a mate. 

In our last blog we posed a little owl quiz with links to some audio bites of owl calls to test your knowledge.  Here are the answers to our quiz, as well as a few facts about each of those fascinating creatures.

Each of the photos is of a resident of the World Bird Sanctuary and represents his or her species.

Owl photo collage: Gay Schroer
Photo #1 is Timber the Eastern Screech Owl (Megascops asio)
Photo #2 is Jake the Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus)
Photo #3 is Goblin the Common Barn Owl (Tyto alba)
Photo #4 is Xena the Eurasian Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo)
Photo #5 is Olaf the Saw-whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus)
Photo #6 is Buzz the Tawny Owl (Strix aluco)
Photo #7 is Jersey the Barred Owl  (Strix varia)
Photo #8 is Mia the Spectacled Owl  (Pulsatrix perspicillata)

Now for the answers to our quiz:
Jersey the Barred Owl (photo: Gay Schroer)
A.            This owl’s call seems to be concerned about your dinner.  Photo #7 – Jersey the Barred Owl.  This bird’s call is said to sound like “Who, who, who cooks for-you” “Who, who, who cooks for-you-all”.  Barred owls are one of the most common owls in the Eastern U.S.  This bird is often locally referred to as a “hoot” owl.
Goblin a Common Barn Owl (photo: Gay Schroer)
B.            No wimpy hooting for this bird—it communicates with a high-pitched hissing scream.  This would be #3.  Pictured is Goblin the Common Barn Owl.  Did you know that Barn Owls are found on every continent except Antarctica?  Barn Owls have been on the endangered list here in Missouri due to habitat loss.  For a number of years WBS has been at the forefront of an effort to release captive bred Barn Owls back into the wild to bolster declining populations.
Timber, an Eastern Screech Owl (photo: Gay Schroer)
C.            Don’t let this bird’s sweet trilling call fool you—it’s a fierce little predator.  This would be #1.  Pictured here is Timber the Eastern Screech Owl. Eastern Screech Owls are generally seen in two color phases—red and grey, although there are occasionally intermediate brown shades of these two colors.  Their call is a mellow muted trill—no hooting for this bird.
Olaf, a Saw-whet Owl (photo: Gay Schroer)
D.            This owl’s call is a monotonous “hoop-hoop-hoop”, but its volume belies its diminutive size!  #5 - The Northern Saw-whet Owl has a surprisingly loud call for such a small bird.  Pictured is Olaf, a World Bird Sanctuary resident bird. When prey is plentiful, a Saw-whet Owl will kill as many as 6 mice in rapid succession, without consuming any of them. The excess food is cached in safe places and, in winter, is thawed out later by "brooding" the frozen carcass. When food is plentiful, it is common for only the head of each prey item to be eaten.
Jake, a resident Great Horned Owl (photo: Gay Schroer)
E.            The male of this species calls with a low-pitched monotone “ho ho-ho hoo hoo”, and is answered with a higher pitched “girly” version of the same call.  This would be #2, the Great-horned Owl.  Pictured is Jake, a WBS resident owl.  A Great Horned Owl is powerful enough to take prey two to three times heavier than itself.  Longevity is up to 13 years in the wild and as much as 29 to 38 years in captivity.
Mia, our beautiful Spectacled Owl (photo: Gay Schroer)
F.            This owl’s vocalization sounds like a knocking or tapping, “Pup-pup-pup-pup-o” issued in a rising crescendo.  (Hint – This owl is not native to the U.S., but you may have heard it if you’ve been to the World Bird Sanctuary’s weathering area lately.)  #8 is Mia the Spectacled Owl, and she can usually be found in the weathering area behind the WBS’s Nature Center building.  This owl hales from Mexico, Central and South America, most frequently found in dense tropical rain forests.  Once fledged, at about 5-6 weeks, the chicks depend on the parents for up to a year.
Buzz, a Tawny Owl (photo: Gay Schroer)
G.            This owl was the inspiration for the owl in the Winnie the Pooh tales and is the most common owl in Europe—especially in England.  #6 – The Eurasian Tawny Owl will usually nest in tree holes or nest boxes in trees, and pair bonds last for life.  Even though these owls are small they will defend their nest aggressively, even attacking humans on occasion if they perceive them as a threat to the nest.
Xena, everyone's favorite Eurasian Eagle Owl (photo: Gay Schroer)
H.            This owl issues a long, booming “oo-hooh”, and may even bark and growl if it feels threatened.  This would be #4 – the Eurasian Eagle Owl.  Pictured is Xena, one of our most popular resident birds.  This largest owl species eats mainly voles and rats, but has been known to take prey as large as a Roe Deer fawn.  They nest on cliff ledges, crevices between rocks, and cave entrances, although they are not above using abandoned nests of large birds. 

To meet some of these fascinating creatures, join us for an OWL PROWL  For information on WBS Owl Prowls Click Here or call 636-225-4390, Ext. 101.

Submitted by Gay Schroer, World Bird Sanctuary Volunteer