Sunday, September 14, 2008

Behind the scenes: summer cleaning part two

Every summer at the sanctuary's lower (non-public) site, we do a massive cleaning of the facilities. In addition to cleaning the buildings themselves, our breeder birds get their yearly check-up and grooming session. Breeder birds are a special set at WBS. They are not acclimated to humans and we minimize our contact with them. Once a year, at the end of breeding season, they are caught, weighed, manicured, and sprayed for insects. This process is moderately stressful for the bird, but necessary for maintaining good health. A bird with overgrown talons or beak can suffer from a variety of problems, some of which are life-threatening, so we take care to maintain good grooming. Likewise, a bird's weight is recorded to be sure that she or he hasn't lost or gained substantially, another indicator of illness. While all of our birds are carefully monitored for additional indications of illness, this is our opportunity to get up close and tend to their needs.

In this video, you see Mariner, our sea eagle, getting his yearly makeover. In the beginning, you can see that we put a towel over his head. This helps to keep him calm and under control while his feet are examined. Check out that wingspan and the size of those feet! He's in great health.

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