Sunday, August 31, 2008

Just because...

this is the cutest video in the world, I had to post it. Here you see Cathy's African grey parrot, Simon, on vacation. Yes, he is on the beach digging in the sand. Every time I watch this video, I laugh until I cry. Simon is awesome!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Adopt a Bird Spotlight: Lenore (African White Naped Raven)

Lenore's Story

Species: African white naped raven
Hatched: April 2001

Lenore was hatched at the World Bird Sanctuary's breeding facility in Valley Park and carefully raised by our staff and trainers so that she would be comfortable around people. We had big plans for her future!

Because of all the loving attention she has received, coupled with the native intelligence possessed by her species Lenore has learned some very difficult and unusual behaviors. During our programs, she flies out into the audience to collect an aluminum can held by an audience member in order to demonstrate the importance of recycling. After all, if a raven can recycle, why can't humans?

Lenore also collects dollar bills from audience members and deposits them in a donation box at the end of each show. She is currently in training to demonstrate to audiences the meaning of the term "omnivore" by collecting plastic carrots, steaks, and bugs from audience members.

Lenore's trainers say that she is "the cutest raven ever." Like all ravens, she is extrememly curious. This sometimes gets her into trouble, as ravens like to destroy anything they can get in their beaks. She loves baths, grapes and apples but, like many children, is not too fond of squash, cucumbers, and zucchini.

To adopt Lenore, simply click our donation button, make a donation of $100, and specify in your payment notes: Adopt-a-bird: LENORE. Also include your name, phone number, and mailing address so that we can send you your adoption materials!

Every donation helps to feed, house, and provide medical care for the bird of your choice! Adopt-A-Bird Parents Receive:

  • *A personal visit with the bird you adopt!!!!! Call 636-861-3225 to set up a time for
  • your personal visit.
  • * Certificate of Adoption
  • * Color photo of the bird you've adopted
  • * Sponsorship Card
  • * One year's subscription to Mews News (our quarterly newsletter)
  • * Life History and Natural History of the bird
  • * 10% Discount off WBS merchandise
  • * Invitation to Sponsors-only events like Camera Day
  • * Discounts on WBS Special Events
  • * WBS Decal

Natural History

white naped raven
Corvus albicollis

Description: head and neck bronzy-brown so dark as to appear black, with a broad white collar at the base of the hing-nect; legs and bill are heavy; beak is black with a white tip; eyes are dark brown

Sex: males slightly larger than females


Length: 20 - 25 in.

Wingspan: 2-1/2 – 3 ft.

Weight: 1-1/2 – 2-1/2 lbs.

Habitat: cliffs and rocky escarpments, coastal hills, open country, including open mountain forest; found chiefly between 1000m and 3000m

Status: generally uncommon, or locally common; large numbers assemble at carcasses, which indicates a healthy population

Range: Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya, south to Cape Province

Behavior: breeding season September & October to December; usually found in pairs, which remain on established territories year round; solitary nester; nest composed of twigs and branches in an inaccessible tree, or more often on a cliff ledge; 1-6 light green eggs, streaked and spotted olive, brown and gray are laid; incubation 19-21 days

Diet: omnivore; carrion, small vertebrates, large insects, fruits and grains

Vocalization: high-pitched “kroorh-kroorh” or “kraak-kraak-kraak”; many other vocalizations as well, including a deep, throaty, raspy croak

√ The Raven figures prominently in folklore and legends; Native American folklore holds that the raven created the world and its creatures

Friday, August 29, 2008

Beak of the Week!

Victoria of Colorado, you are our weekly champion, having correctly identified the peregrine falcon. Congrats and keep up the good work out there at HawkQuest!

Continuing with another native (to the U.S.) species, this bird is more often heard than seen. I know one named Junior who is very grumpy.

These feet look soft, but like last week's peregrine talons, they are designed to catch and kill:

The hypnotic eyes command you to do their will:
Bring me food.

Good luck identifying this week's mystery bird! As always, I'll be back next Friday with the answer and a new beak.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Don't Be A Dodo!

Here's a short video courtesy of Cathy of last week's Birds In Concert, complete with a dancing dodo, our fabulous in-house band The Raptor Project, and a special guest appearance by a very hairy woman named Clydette. "Don't Be a Dodo" can be found on our cd, Save the Future. It is available at

Tonight at 7PM we will have our final Birds In Concert program of the year and who knows what will happen. Come out and join us!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Great Egrets

Written and photographed by Gay Schroer. Click on images to enlarge.

In mid-April of 2007 we were vacationing in the Charleston, SC area and decided to take the Magnolia Plantation Tour. The boat tour through their swamp was very interesting, but not nearly as fascinating at the self guided walk through the Audubon Swamp Garden which is adjacent to the plantation. We were lucky enough to be there during the height of the nesting and breeding season in the Egret and Heron rookery. There is a small fee to enter (about $7.00), but once you enter you can take as much time as you want. The trail is over a series of
boardwalks and bridges which take you into areas that would otherwise be inaccessible. The brochures tell you that it takes about an hour, but if you're anythiing like me, expect to spend way more time than that unless you want to whiz through. Here are photos of the Great Egrets breeding and nesting.

This was only one of the nest trees in the rookery. If you want to get recognizable photos you need at LEAST a 300 mm lens.

The following photos are all of this same pair who were actively
breeding and reminded me of a typical married couple setting up
housekeeping. Note the beautiful breeding plumage.

Photo of our pair breeding

After breeding he flies up to a branch and begins to preen his gorgeous plumage, while she gets down to the serious business of rearranging the nesting material.

Note the eggs already in the nest.

More rearranging and redecorating!

After a short squabble he takes off.

...and lands nearby. She has obviously sent him for more nesting materials.

He spends a great deal of time choosing just the right stick.

While she continues to rearrange the furniture.

...and preen. After all, the man of the house will be back soon and a girl has to look her best.

"Honey, I'm home!"

"Well, it's about time!"

"Look what I brought you!"

"I could use a little help here!"

"You're doing a fine job!"

"I think I need some help with this one!"

"A little more to the left, please!"

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Raptor Project

Last week's Birds In Concert featured our personal favorite band, The Raptor Project! The Raptor Project is WBS's in-house band and they recently released a cd called Save the Future. It is available at

This Thursday's entertainment is the Tyson Valley Ramblers, as well as The Raptor Project. As always, you'll meet some of our birds, hear some music, and have a great time. A storm drove us inside last week, but as you can see from the video, the show went on!

This week's show will be the last Birds In Concert event of the year, so don't miss it.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Timber is molting!

The last time you saw Timber, our screech owl, he had just had a nice bath. In this video Timber is molting, which means his old feathers are shed and replaced by new ones. The health of a bird's feathers is crucial to its survival and adult birds molt at least once a year. The process is gradual as the bird must keep some of its feathers in order to maintain body temperature.

As you can see, Timber still manages to hang on to his natural owl-dignity, even as the humans make fun of his hairdo.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

One more last look at spring babies...

This video shows our very last babies of the season, European barn owls, being socialized for education programs. The education birds you meet at the World Bird Sanctuary (and other education programs) are acclimated to humans from an early age. Here you have a behind the scenes look at socialization in action. It's a tough job, but someone has to do it!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

One last look at spring babies

These are the last pictures I took of our eurasian eagle owl chicks from this year's hatch. As you know, we had a lot of owl chicks this year including a number of American barn owls that we released. Our eagle owls have gone to zoos and raptor education programs around the country.

This guy was from the last clutch and I think he is fiendishly adorable. Is it me or does he appear to be plotting something?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Beak of the Week!

Woo hoo anonymous! Congratulations, you guessed last week's beak: the white-naped raven. Non-native species are tough ones, but once you meet this beak, you never forget it. Especially if it takes your money for donations or helps you recycle an aluminum can.

This week we are back to the U.S. with what might be a familiar sight. Like too many of our native species and species worldwide, this bird was on the brink of extinction in the U.S. before conservation efforts brought them back. Today they are considered a successful species and are found on every continent except Antarctica!

This is the foot of an expert hunter:

This eye can spot a meal up to a mile away:

I'll be back next Friday to unveil this bird's mystery identity. Good luck and happy guessing!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Birds In Concert tonight!

Just a reminder: there are two concerts remaining in this year's Birds In Concert series! Join us tonight at 7 PM for music and birds.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Our grey buzzard eagle...

I took some photos of Bud, our grey buzzard eagle, recently and thought he'd make a good subject for a blog post since he is celebrating his 50th birthday this year. That's right, 50! Bud was born in 1958 (for trivia lovers, that's the same year Elvis was inducted into the army and Wham-O gave us the hula hoop).

Bud came to the World Bird Sanctuary from the Jacksonville Zoological Gardens and has been a cherished member of our family ever since. He's still a handsome guy, don't you think?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

What do visitors see?

Thanks to Cathy's videos, you can get a preview of some of what our visitors see when they come to the World Bird Sanctuary. Last week you saw our kookaburra on the exhibit line. Today's video is the weathering yard, where many of our education birds chill out between programs. The birds on display at the weathering yard change as some birds go out to educate the humans, so each time you visit, you might see a different bird.

And who is that beautiful bird at the end of the video with the glossy black feathers and a whole bunch of toys? Hmm....

Yes, it's Mischief the white-naped raven!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Mischief the raven is a responsible bird

Mischief the white-naped raven is (after Niles) probably my favorite bird. I admire her intelligence, feisty attitude, and the way she lives up to her name. But Mischief's greatest skill, on display at many of our programs, is recycling. Here you see her at work at one of our free on-site weekend shows. She always wows the crowd!

First, Mischief is introduced to the audience and the relationship between ravens, crows, and jays is explained. Our naturalist also reveals that this particular corvid knows how to recycle.

Mischief demonstrates her recycling ability by taking an aluminum can from an audience member...

...and flying it to the nearest recycling bin, where she deposits it.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Tequila educates the humans...

Here is another bird from a recent weekend program, Tequila the harris hawk. At our weekend programs, visitors get the chance to see our birds in action and our birds get their necessary exercise. These short, informative shows occur every Saturday at 11:30 AM and 2PM and Sunday at 1:30. They are free, so come out and see us!

Tequila hones in on one of her trainers like a guided missile.

She flies directly over the heads of delighted audience members...

...straight to a training perch where she is rewarded with tasty rat bits. Yum!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Our free weekend shows

For the very first time, The World Bird Sanctuary is offering free weekend programs to the public at our outdoor amphitheater on Saturdays and Sundays. These are small informal mini programs for visiting guests, featuring two or three birds at the discretion of our Naturalists. The shows are scheduled for 11:30 and 2:00 on Saturdays, and 1:30 on Sundays. Any guests who happen to be on-site at those times are invited to walk down to the amphitheater to watch. These
sessions serve several purposes. They are educational and entertaining for our guests, as well as fulfilling the daily exercise and training needs of our star performers.

Here you see our fabulous hooded vulture, Fred, wowing the crowd with his mad flying skills. Look for more pics of our programs here on the blog, and come join us if you can!

After a brief introduction to the many interesting behaviors of the vulture family, Fred demonstrates his flying ability.

He does a great job of flying directly to his trainer...

...and is rewarded for his effort with a tasty snack. Thanks Fred!

Education is an important part of the World Bird Sanctuary's mission. We reach thousands of people every year. We visit classrooms, events, zoos, nature parks, and other venues all over North America as well as hosting our own events on site, like Birds In Concert, evening campfires, World Eagle Day, and a whole list of other programs. We even have birthday party programs! If you are interested in having us come to you, check out the different programs we offer at or make a donation to help us continue the good work!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Beak of the Week!

Welcome back to our weekly mystery bird competition! Hannibal is once again our reigning champion, having correctly identified the sandhill crane. Hannibal, no doubt about it, you have some skills! Congratulations.

This week's bird, though not native to the U.S., has a cousin here that may be familiar to you. If you have doubts about the full name, you can definitely find images of this bird on the blog! Give it a shot:

The beak of this bird is normally used for good at the sanctuary. Activities such as education, recycling and taking donations, for example.

Unlike raptors, and with apologies to Nancy Sinatra, these feet were made for walking (ok, hopping and landing...either way, not attacking).

These eyes contain a special intelligence. I'm not convinced it is ALWAYS used for good. I've had my hairclip stolen too many times to fall for the innocent act:

Good luck and I'll be back next Friday to reveal the mystery bird and unveil a new beak of the week!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Mudflap the pelican has his own song

Check out Mudflap hamming it up while our in-house band The Raptor Project plays his song. You can check out the band and our birds tonight at 7PM along with special guest performer Javier Mendoza!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

We have a Kookaburra!

If you haven't been to visit the sanctuary in a while, you'll be surprised to find a new resident, the kookaburra! She's so new I don't even know if she has a name yet (somebody give a shout out if she does). In this video, Cathy captures her morning vocalizing. She's pretty awesome!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

More Birds In Concert

Here are some images from last Thursday's concert. As you can see, the kids were dancing, the birds were flying and singer Babaloo entertained the crowd. Don't forget to join us every Thursday in August at 7PM to hear some music and meet some birds. Where else can your family have this much fun for free?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Stewart, more tortoise than we can handle!

Ok, I couldn't resist seeing another of Cathy's "Stewart" videos. He is adorable.

Also, he is BIG! Because of his size, Stewart has gone to a new home with adequate space and experience caring for large reptiles. Lucky for us, he will be joining our education programs from time to time, so you can still have the opportunity to meet him and learn about the African spur-thighed tortoise.

Here he is on a walkabout. I'm a fan.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Adopt a Bird Spotlight: Siesta (Mottled Owl)

Siesta's Story

Species: Mottled Owl
Hatched: 4/12/95

Siesta was hatched at the World Bird Sanctuary breeding facility in 1995. Her parents were Myrtle and Aztec. She had one sibling--Merlin. In 1999 Siesta went on breeding loan to another facility. After eight years on loan, she returned to WBS. Even though she is no longer used for breeding, she still gets "broody," and handlers give her a golf ball to "hatch" to satisfy her breeding instinct.

Siesta now resides in our Visitor Information Center building at the World Bird Sanctuary where she greets visitors with an excited little trilling call and a very solemn blink of her beautiful eyes. She is a very curious little owl and stares at visitors until they begin to wonder who is viewing whom!

Your adoption donation will help to defray the costs of housing, feeding and caring for this beautiful, curious little owl.

To adopt Siesta, simply click our donation button, make a donation of $75, and specify in your payment notes: Adopt-a-bird: SIESTA. Also include your name, phone number, and mailing address so that we can send you your adoption materials!

Every donation helps to feed, house, and provide medical care for the bird of your choice! Adopt-A-Bird Parents Receive:

  • *A personal visit with the bird you adopt!!!!! Call 636-861-3225 to set up a time for
  • your personal visit.
  • * Certificate of Adoption
  • * Color photo of the bird you've adopted
  • * Sponsorship Card
  • * One year's subscription to Mews News (our quarterly newsletter)
  • * Life History and Natural History of the bird
  • * 10% Discount off WBS merchandise
  • * Invitation to Sponsors-only events like Camera Day
  • * Discounts on WBS Special Events
  • * WBS Decal

Natural History

mottled owl
Strix virgata

Description vertical streaks on chest and throat; white markings on back; brown eyes

Sex: similar but females are larger; males have a lower pitched hoot

Age: juveniles look the same as the adults

Length: 13-15”

Wingspan: 2.2-2.4’

Weight: 0.4-0.7 lbs

Habitat: variable; dry thorn forests to humid evergreen jungles

Status: common along most of it’s range

Range: Central and South America; northern Mexico and south into Brazil and Argentina

Behavior: lays 1-2 eggs between February and May; nests in tree cavities, on the top of a broken off palm tree, or occasionally in vacant nests of other birds; hunts mostly from a perch; is an opportunistic feeder; strictly nocturnal

Diet: large insects and beetles, small mammals and birds, snakes, lizards, salamanders, frogs

Vocalization: a series of deep hoots; “bru bru”, “bu, bubu”, “cowooawoo” or “keeooweeyo”; also a whistled screech

Adopt A Bird spotlights are written and photographed by Gay Schroer.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Beak of the Week!

Last week's Beak of the Week was a tough one! Daniel, you guessed correctly. The mystery bird is an augur buzzard. These magnificent birds are native to the East African countries of Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and central Namibia. They are related to our red tailed hawks.

This week's bird IS native to the U.S. and the oldest confirmed fossil of this bird is 2.5 million years old! Can you guess this mystery bird's secret identity?

These feet might look familiar:

Try the eye:

I'll be back next Friday to reveal the correct answer. Until then, happy guessing!!!!