Friday, December 26, 2008

We call it practice for a reason!

Cayenne and Linus, our green winged Macaws, are always spot on when they perform in shows, thanks to Susan our patient and talented training specialist.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Chicken A La King (Vulture)

First, have your humans remove the feathers. Next, take the chicken from the bowl and roll it in your shavings. Get a good coating on there for extra crunchy goodness. Now stand on the chicken with both feet. Proceed to eat.

Many thanks to Baton Rouge, our resident gourmet, for sharing his grandma’s recipe!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Beak of the Week!

Jane, you were right again! Last week's very interesting beak was a loggerhead shrike! We have one named Vlad in our visitor center, so drop by and meet him if you can.

This week's beak is HUGE! Not only is the beak big, but the attached bird has a more than 10 foot wingspan:

Here you see the "turkey toes" typical of its kind:

These amazing eyes can spot dinner from thousands (yes thousands!) of feet in the air:

Good luck guessers! I'll see you next week.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Adopt a Bird Spotlight: Millennium (Peregrine Falcon)

Millennium's Story

Species: Peregrine Falcon
Hatched: Spring 2008

Millennium came to us from a falconer who breeds and trains birds for those individuals who pursue the ancient sport of falconry. He noticed that Millennium seemed to have difficulty locating her food, and once she left her perch she did not return to it as a bird normally would. After careful observation, he came to the conclusion that she is so vision impaired as to be nearly blind. Since she would be useless as a falconry bird, he searched for an organization that could use her as an education bird. As it happened, we were in need of a peregrine falcon for our education department. One of our staff members drove to Iowa to pick her up.

Millennium is a striking bird. She is quite large, which is why we refer to her as "she." Females are usually larger than males. She has a beautiful dark brown coloring. We know that she will lose the brown coloration as she matures, however, some birds are darker than others, so she may prove to be one of the darker gray individuals of her species.  Only time will tell. For the present, she is easy to distinguish from the other peregrines in the weathering area. As far as her eyesight is concerned, she seems to do quite well, even though we believe she only sees shadows and movement.

To adopt Millennium, simply click our donation button, make a donation of $100 and specify in your payment notes: Adopt-a-bird: MILLENNIUM. 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

peregrine falcon
Falco peregrinus

Description: large falcon; short tail; pointed wing tips; slate-gray above; black helmet on head; whitish neck; buff beneath; lightly barred breast; wing tips almost reach tail tip when perched; regional variations exist (very dark in the northwest to pale in the north

Sex: females have more brown than males

Age: juveniles are a dark buff color with heavy streaking underneath

Length: 16-20”

Wingspan: 3-3.7’

Weight: 1.6 lbs.

Habitat: open country, cliffs, cities

Status: once found across all of North America until pesticides such as DDT eliminated eastern populations, almost to extinction; pesticide banning and captive-breeding programs have helped with their recovery; seen year-round in the US, but uncommon to rare in the winter

Behavior: don’t build nests; lay 2-4 reddish, darker flecked eggs in cliff hollows; bare rocky outcrops, bridges or tall building ledges; 28 day incubation period by both parents; chicks leave the nest at 5-6 weeks; hunts by flying very fast and making dramatic swoops to catch prey in midair

Diet: small birds, large insects, small mammals

Vocalization: rapid “kek kek kek kek”, repeated “we chew” at nest

√ World Bird Sanctuary’s reintroduction program put over 300 peregrines back into Missouri’s wild

√ Peregrines are the fastest animals on earth and have been clocked diving at 287 mph

√ Three subspecies exist: pacific (Peale’s), tundra and the interior west

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

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Whoo's Who - #2

Were you successful in identifying the species of owl in last week's "Whooo's Who?"  How about the calls that each species issues?  If you weren't able to identify them, it's not too late.  Just check below in last week's posts for the answers.

Have you figured out what all that hooting, hissing, screeching and trilling is all about?  
It's the equivalent of dating--and here are the results!  See if you can identify to which species our babies belong. 

 I'll start you out with a hint.  The first photo in our lineup is a basketful of Barn Owls.  (More on these guys later.) The rest are for you to have fun with!  Don't be shy--jump in there and give us your guesses!  Look for the answers next week.

For more interesting and fascinating facts about owls, join us for one of our Owl Prowl programs being presented now through the end of February.  Registration is required, so don't wait too long to reserve a spot in one of these popular events.  It's a nighttime adventure the whole family will enjoy.  


Owl Prowls last approximately 1-1/2 hour and begin at 7:00 p.m.  Remember to dress for the weather as part of the program is held outside on our trails while we try to "hoot up" our local owls.

Cost is $9.00 for adults and $7.00 for children.  
For reservations call:  636-225-4390

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A guy walks into a bar with a kookaburra on his head...

Foster the kookaburra is one of my favorite birds to hang with. He’s good looking, has nice eyes, and always laughs at my jokes. I crack him up.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Wintering with the storks

Like many of our birds, Otis the Abdim Stork spends the coldest months of winter inside, enjoying climate control and free fish delivered to his room.

Here you see Otis being a stork. He has beautiful colors, doesn't he?

The Abdim is sometimes referred to as the white-bellied stork. It is the smallest of the stork family and is native to parts of Africa.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Beak of the Week!

Victoria from Colorado you've guessed another beak! Last week's bird was a red-tailed hawk. Great guessing!

Now here's an altogether different beak, belonging to the order Passeriformes. But this is no ordinary song bird. This is a predatory song bird. The owner of this beak impales its food on thorns or barbed wire fences:

But these feet look so dainty and innocent!

I wonder who can guess the identity of this terrifyingly cute little carnivore. Good luck!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Whooo's Who? - Answers

Did we stump you on the owl calls?  No one jumped in and got their feet wet on this one!  

Of course, it may be that most of us don't often hear owl vocalizations unless we are really listening for them--usually after dark or in the wee hours.

Owl #1 is our own Great Horned Owl, Junior.  The description of his vocalization would be:

E.  A low pitched monotone "ho-ho-ho-hoo-hoo"

Owl #2 is our ever popular Eastern Screech Owl, Twig.  The description of his call is:

C. A high pitched trilling call

Owl #3 is our very vocal Barred Owl, Shakespeare.  His call description seems like an odd question:

A.  Which owl is concerned about your dinner? - this owl's call is often described as sounding like "who-who-who cooks for you?"

Owl #4 is the Common Barn Owl.  Pictured is our precocious young Goblin.  Since the barn owl doesn't "hoot", it's calls have been described as:

B.  A series of high pitched hissing screams

Owl #5 is the Saw-whet Owl.  Pictured is one of our newest residents, our shy little Aspen.  The Saw-whet Owl's call is described as:

D.  A monotonous "hoop-hoop-hoop"

Owl #6 is the Eurasian Eagle Owl.  Here you see our majestic Bogart.  His call is described as:

H.  A long, booming "oo-hooh".  This species occasionally issues barking, growling calls if it feels threatened.

#7 in our Owl Parade is the Spectacled Owl.  Pictured is our beautiful, but solemn looking Latte.  This owl's call is described as:

F.  A knocking or tapping "Pup-pup-pup-pup-o" issued in a rising crescendo.  The female issues a hawklike "ker-WHEER"

#8 is the Tawny Owl.  Pictured is our own little Tigger.  The Tawny Owl's call is described as:

G.  The female calls "to-whit", and the male answers "to-woo"

So, to recap, the answers to our quiz are:  1E, 2C, 3A, 4B, 5D, 6H, 7F, and 8G

Check back later in the week for more Owl IQ quizzes about these fascinating creatures.

To join one of our Owl Prowls call 636-225-4390, Ext. 0 to make your reservations.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Beak of the Week!

Last week's mystery beak was a total stumper: the seriema!

This week's beak is a bit more familiar to those of us living in North America. You may have seen one enjoying a lunch of squirrel or, occasionally, a nice fat pigeon.

Perhaps you've noticed these feet perched in a tree in your yard?

Who is this brown-eyed handsome man?

I'll be back with the answer next week!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Whooo's Who?

Since this is the time of year when owls are most active, we thought you might like to test your "Owl I.Q."

A. Which owl's call shows concern about your dinner?

B. Which owl communicates with a high pitched hissing scream?

C. Which owl vocalizes with a high pitched trilling call?

D. Which owl's call is a monotonous "hoop, hoop, hoop"?

E. Which owl calls with a low pitched monotonous "ho-ho-ho-hoo-hoo", and is answered with a higher pitched "girly" version of the same call?

F. Which owl's vocalization sounds like a knocking or tapping "Pup-pup-pup-pup-o" issued in a rising crescendo; and which female owl of the same species has a hawklike "ker-WHEER" call?  (Hint:  This one is not a native species.)

G. Which female owl's call sounds like "to-whit", to be answered by the male's "to-woo"?  (Hint:  This one is not a native species)

H. Which owl issues a long, booming "oo-hooh", and may bark and growl if it feels threatened?  (Hint:  This one is non-native also)

Find out the answers to these and dozens of other fascinating facts about our planet's amazing birds of the night by attending one of our Owl Prowls.  Prowls begin in our Nature Center building where you will meet some of these amazing creatures, and be given a short course on "hooting".  Prowls then proceed onto our outdoor trails, where we will try our hand at hooting to see if we can get some of our local owls to answer.

Don't delay--Owl Prowls are filling up fast, but there are still some openings.  To make reservations call 636-225-4390, Ext. 0.

December - 12/13, 12/19, 12/20 & 12/27
January - 1/2, 1/9, 1/10, 1/23 & 1/30
February - 2/6, 2/7, 2/13, 2/20, 2/21, 2/27 & 2/28

Adults - $9.00
Children - $7.00

Sessions start at 7 p.m. and last approximately 1-1/2 hour.

Be sure to dress for the weather and wear comfortable walking shoes or boots as our paths are not paved.

Try your hand at identifying the numbered owl photos, and then matching the photos to their call descriptions.  

For the answers check back for the next installment of "Whooo's Who".