Sunday, September 7, 2008

Behind the scenes: summer cleaning

Some time ago, a reader asked to see some video of our day to day life behind the scenes at WBS. Finding something exciting enough to film was a challenge, but when the annual summer cleaning came around, it seemed a perfect subject.

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.

This video begins with a shot of a breeder room which, as you can see, is huge! At the corner near the ceiling is the nesting platform. Each breeding pair has its own room. Next you see our propagation specialists Jen and Roger handling Arusha, an augur buzzard. Arusha is being weighed, having his talons and beak filed down and, finally, being sprayed for insects. Arusha was none too pleased with the process, but he was returned to his room no worse for wear and good to go for another year. I'm proud to say he is in excellent health!


Anonymous said...

I am not trying to nit-pick or sound mean because i have never visited the facility and i can only see what the videos show. And I have a lot of respect for what you all do.

With that being said: The first shots where the breeder birds are housed looks like a prison. There are no branches or trees or lots of windows. Why does it look like that? Do the breeder birds ever get to go to an outside area?

Thanks for the cool video on what goes on behind the scenes, the buzzard looks so cute all wrapped up in a towel!

World Bird Sanctuary said...

As a matter of fact, those are very good questions!

The branches, stumps, etc are moved out of the rooms for cleaning and replaced with new materials. The room itself is open-air, with large bars on one side. There is also an enormous skylight in the roof to allow plenty of the natural light the birds need to stay healthy.

In addition to the indoor breeding facilities we have large outdoor pens with ample room for flying.

I hope that helps and thanks for asking! I'm sure many of our readers wonder the same thing.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the clarification!! I knew there had to be more than met the eye :-)

I am always in awe at how much you guys do, and i cannot imagine you would treat your breeder birds any differently then you would the other ones!!