Sunday, August 30, 2009

Give a Brick for That Special Occasion

Do you need to come up with an original gift for someone who's impossible to buy for?

Need a unique gift for a special occasion?  Need a gift for a landmark anniversary?  Do you need a birthday gift for someone who has everything?


Our Buy A Brick campaign is slowly gaining momentum, and we are hoping to be able to pave the first two landings of our amphitheater steps by this fall.  Your donation to the Buy a Brick campaign will help us to pave our amphitheater, and at the same time solve your gift giving problem.

To buy a brick--or to learn more about the campaign--Click Here, or call 636-225-4390, Ext. 0, and tell them you would like to Buy A Brick.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Alaska - Glacier Bay - Incredible!

On July 26th, 2009, my husband and I had the incredible opportunity to travel to Alaska for our 5th wedding anniversary. We booked a cruise through the World Bird Sanctuary, which meant that not only did we travel with friends and knowledgeable guides, but WBS also got a donation for each person who booked!

Once on the ship, we headed for the great (and huge) state of Alaska. It took a full day of cruising at almost top speed to get there, but the journey itself was fun as we explored the ship.

Our first stop was in Glacier Bay National Park. This park is 3.3 million acres and part of a 25 million acre World Heritage Site - one of the world’s largest protected natural areas!

We spent the entire day cruising through the bay, stopping at Johns Hopkins Glacier, Marjerie Glacier and Grand Pacific Glacier. All throughout the water, near the glaciers, were bits and pieces of the ice that had broken off and were slowly melting in the bay - these are called bergy bits. (Fun name!)

The views were incredible!! At Johns Hopkins Glacier, there was a river of meltwater pouring out of a huge hole in the middle of the glacier. The volume of water was enormous and to give it even better perspective, there was a kayaker right nearby! Wow! It really makes you realize just how big those glaciers are!

The next stop was the Marjerie Glacier, where our Captain stopped the ship for over an hour so that we could just watch the glacier. It was just as huge, and right next to it, at a right angle, was the Grand Pacific Glacier. To look at the two of them, you would never realize that the Grand Pacific was a glacier - it was completely covered with about ½ inch of ‘rock flour’, making it look just like regular land.

While we spent time just watching the glacier and admiring it, we had the chance to hear and see it settle, crack and calve for us! The pieces that broke off weren’t the huge ones that you see on TV, but still impressive enough! And the loud CRACK that the ice made as pieces broke or settled in the warming sun made all of us jump and look excitedly for the next piece to go.

As the Captain made his final turn to leave, he shut down the engines and I could hear the awesome silence of the Bay settle on us. Then I noticed something incredible – the snapping and popping of the bergy bits cracking and melting in the water. It sounded like a bowl of Rice Krispies!

Basically, Glacier Bay is full of incredible sights and sounds, not only the water and ice itself, but the landscape surrounding the bay and the glimpses of the wildlife we spotted. I will never forget it and hope to someday go back. And this magnificence is (if you will forgive a pun) just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the state of Alaska!

Submitted by Laura MacLeod, Education Coordinator, World Bird Sanctuary

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Everyday Birding

I work as a Naturalist at the World Bird Sanctuary, in Valley Park, Missouri.  Each day as I drive to work, I observe birds and bird behavior, and I try to guess what I'll see based on the season and the weather conditions.

Have you noticed that the Starlings are no longer traveling by themselves or in their single family units of 3 to 6 birds? European Starlings are chalkboard-eraser sized birds, and are generally blackish as adults and brownish as juvenile birds. They have short tails relative to Red-winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles.

Many Starlings have now joined other family groups, and the flocks are quite large--some as many as hundreds of birds. You may see them perched on wires, or in large groups foraging in the grass alongside the roadway. When the birds are startled, they take to the air. It looks like a big ball of birds, wheeling and turning in the sky, seeming never to touch, yet inches or less from one hundred other birds. How do they maintain their distance from each other. How do they not crash? I've never seen a Starling fall out of the flock after a crash...have you?

This Starling flocking behavior is common at the end of the summer. I suspect more eyes to find food and more bird eyes watching for potential predators contributes to this phenomenon. They are survival techniques. What do you think about when you see so many Starlings flying together?

Lately, as I travel on Highway 141 Southbound and cross the bridge over the Meramec River, I look to the right and check the roadside wires for birds. I often see Cliff Swallows. These birds are very small and look mostly brownish as I travel 30-40 miles per hour over the bridge. Some of the Swallows will give me a flash of orange on their cheek, throat or rump. Sometimes as many as twenty birds will sit in close proximity to one another on the wire - about 6 inches apart. They fly launch themselves off the wire to chase insects over the Meramec River. Cliff Swallows are known to build gourd-shaped mud nests under a few bridges in the St. Louis area.

Every day as I drive past I wonder if yesterday was the last day that I would see the swallows for the season. Migration beckons. Which day will they slip away to the south? My guess is many drivers never notice. The birds winter in South America from Brazil to Central Argentina.

I last saw them on August 17th, 2009. Will I see them again this season? Most Cliff Swallows leave the St. Louis area in September and the rest are gone by mid-October. Do you drive over a bridge on the way to work? Do you see Cliff Swallows on the wires over or next to the river? Let me know.

American Goldfinches are nicknamed the "Wild Canary" for their vibrant yellow color, and I have recently seen them feeding on the seeds of the Chicory flower. Earlier in the season they seem to favor the hot pink Thistle flowers. The Chicory is the beautiful bluish spindly flower that grows right next to the asphalt, on highways and outer roads. We travel the North outer road of Highway 44 to get to work at World Bird Sanctuary. The yellow Goldfinches have been feeding on the blue Chicory flowers at the road's edge, on the shoulder. The birds have been seen as close as two feet to the road and one foot off the ground. The yellow birds on the blue flowers is vibrant and eye-catching. The Chicory are beginning to fade now. Have you seen this feeding behavior on your way to work?

Tell me what you have seen on the way to work. If you need help learning how to identify birds, come join us at one of our Sunrise with Songbirds birding walks. Click here for more information.
Our next dates for Sunrise With Songbirds are: September 13, October 25, November 14, and December 13, 2009. Call 636-225-4390 to make a reservation.
Let's talk about the birds you see on the way to work.

Submitted by Mike Zeloski, Naturalist for the World Bird Sanctuary

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Babaloo Rocked!!

The bubbles were flowing...

Beanbags were flying...

...and buckets were banging... Babaloo worked his magic on the youngsters in the crowd (as well as the "over 20" set).

Last Thursday Babaloo played to a packed house and had the
amphitheater jumping!
The kids became part of the act, and young and old alike enjoyed the show.

The last performance in our Birds In Concert series will take place this Thursday, August 27. If you haven't made it to one of the performances yet, this is your chance. Thursday's featured performers will be the Tyson Valley Ramblers. Come out and join us for some traditional bluegrass stylings, as well as some innovative takes on country music.

Also performing will be our own Raptor Project group, as well as our stars, the birds--and other creatures from the World Bird Sanctuary.

We have amphitheater seating, and food is available for purchase. Guests are welcome to bring lawn chairs and blankets for picnic style seating on our hillside if desired.

For the safety of our guests and our animal performers, no pets please.

Date: Thursday, August 27
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Admission: FREE

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Last Chance!

Last chance to take advantage of our FREE Birds In Concert series for this year!!

Our final Birds In Concert performances will feature the toe tapping bluegrass melodies of The Tyson Valley Ramblers. Last year they not only entertained us with their lively brand of music, they involved the kids in the audience (big and small) in the act. I wonder what they have in store for us this year.

In addition to the feature entertainers for the evening, we will have performances by our own Raptor Project band, along with their backup singers, The Hot Wings.

Guests can also expect to be entertained by breathtaking flight demonstrations by our birds, as well as intermission entertainment by one of our Ravens, who knows how to take donations from the hands of audience members. Who knows what other surprises may be in store?

Mark your calendars for this evening of FREE entertainment.

Thursday, August 27
7:00 p.m.

For the safety of our guests and our birds, no pets please.

For more information click on our homepage link on the right side of the screen--or--call 636-225-4390, Ext. 0.

Friday, August 21, 2009

News from the Field: WBS Field & Habitat Management Studies

Young Eastern Bluebirds in a nestbox.

Our longest running field studies project with Ameren UE is our nestbox study. The nestbox study is looking at power cuts and the methods of control used on the vegetation and their impact on local bird populations.

Trina Whitener checks a Peterson nestbox.

We compare the different methods of control by studying the nestboxes that are placed on these lines to see how successful the nestboxes are for cavity nesting species, such as Eastern Bluebirds, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Chickadee, House Wren, Carolina Wren, and a specialty Great-crested Flycatcher in each area.

Carolina Wren eggs in a nestbox.

On each stanchion that we check that we have two Peterson nestboxes and two standard nestboxes. The different nestboxes are preferred by different species. These boxes are built by eagle scouts as part of their eagle scout projects.

The field studies staff includes Trina Whitner, Matt Sheele, and myself. Each time that we check the boxes we record in what box we find eggs, babies, babies banded, and then number that fledge.

Trina Whitener banding a young Eastern Bluebird.

This data helps us to determine just how successful the control methods are. In addition to checking the nestboxes we also perform point counts at select locations on each line. Two trained naturalists count all of the birds they see and/or hear in the area for ten minutes. This additional data helps us to determine how the control methods affect other nesting birds in the area.

Check back soon - we'll be posting our findings!

Submitted by Cathy Spahn, Field Studies Coordinator, World Bird Sanctuary.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Great-Horned Owl is admitted to our Wildlife Rehabilitation Hospital

This Great-Horned Owl is currently in our rehabilitation hospital. She was found on the roadside in Bellefontaine and admitted to the hospital on 11 July 2009.

She has a broken wing from a collision with a car - one of the most common types of injury for birds admitted to our rehabilitation hospital, which receives approximately 300 sick, injured or orphaned birds per year.

The owl's broken wing is now wrapped. A break like this usually takes four to six weeks to heal - as the bones calcify. His wing will be unwrapped on August 20th, and after assessment, she will begin physical therapy to regain strength.

If all goes well, she will be moved outside to a small free-flight mew (large wooden cage) where she will exercise on her own. The mew is small enough so that the owl doesn't injure her wing through over exertion. Once she has undergone sufficient physical therapy to build up her strength she will be moved to a larger free-flight mew.

The last step is the magnificent release. She will be banded with a federal band (an identifiable metal band which can be tracked if the owl is found again), and then released back into the wild.

World Bird Sanctuary presents a "Return to the Wild" program, where you can sponsor and participate in a release. Click here to find out more.

You can see this Great-Horned Owl, and other birds currently receiving treatment in our Wildlife Hospital, through the Wildlife Hospital Viewing Window.

Submitted by Liz Schuff, Naturalist.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Babaloo is Back!!

Our third Birds In Concert features Babaloo!

Bring your children, bring your grandchildren, bring your cameras, and be prepared to be entertained by the hilarious musical stylings and antics of Babaloo!  

One of the most popular children's entertainers in the area is coming to the World Bird Sanctuary on Thursday, August 20!  Babaloo not only entertains, he gets the audience involved in the act.  The children (of all ages) love him!

In addition to Babaloo, there will be performances by our own Raptor Project, and flight demonstrations by our birds.

Be sure to mark your calendars for this evening of pure entertainment.
Thursday, August 20
7:30 P.M.

For the safety of our other guests and our birds, no pets allowed.

As always, admission to Birds in Concert is FREE.  Food and beverages will be available for purchase if desired.

For more information, click on our homepage link on the right side of the screen--or--call 636-225-4390, Ext. 0.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Raptor Series - WBS Birds feature in photographic exhibition

I had the opportunity last week to witness some truly breathtaking photographs. Real works of art that literally made me stop in my tracks. Of course, the subject matter happens to be one close to my heart: Birds of Prey.

The expressions captured by renowned photographer, Rob Westrich, are incomparable to any other work I have witnessed. His use of lighting in combination with the black white palette make for fine artwork that must be seen first hand to be appreciated.

Rob Westrich of the Westrich Photographic Gallery photographed a selection of our birds from the World Bird Sanctuary over several months in his studio in Clayton. The entire second floor of his studio is dedicated to this collection, which he appropriately named "The Raptor Series." These are available in limited edition, and feature eagles, owls, hawks, falcons and more. Images are each signed and numbered, limited to 50 prints, and available in various sizes.

Westrich Photography held a grand opening on June 24, 2009, and donated part of the proceeds from that evening to WBS.

The Gallery is open to the public for viewing "The Raptor Series," Tuesdays through Fridays from 10:00am to 6:00pm, Saturday from 10:00am to 2:00pm, and by appointment.

You can contact the gallery at:

I encourage you to stop by for a dramatic look at raptors from a whole different perspective.

Submitted by: Billie Baumann, Outreach Coordinator, World Bird Sanctuary

Photo: "Tobin" - European Barn Owl, Rob Westrich, "The Raptor Series"

Saturday, August 8, 2009

2nd Birds In Concert - Javier Mendoza

Javier Mendoza entertains at WBS on Thursday, August 13!!

Come join us on Thursday, August 13 for our second performance in the Birds In Concert series. Our featured entertainer is the very popular Javier Mendoza who will have the amphitheater rocking with his combination of Flamenco and Funk. Javier has performed at Birds In Concert for the past several years, and always plays to a full theater. Thank you, Javier, for all you do for the birds.

In addition to Javier, there will be performances by the Raptor Project, incredible flight demonstrations by our stars, the birds, possibly an appearance by our DoDo bird, and who knows what else? Surprises are not uncommon at Birds in Concert.

There is ample seating in our amphitheater--or you are welcome to bring your lawn chairs and blankets for picnic style seating if you so
choose. Admission is FREE!! Food and beverages will be available for purchase.

For the safety of our guests and our birds, please no pets.

Mark your calendars: Thursday, August 13, 7:30 p.m.

For more information visit our website by clicking on the homepage link on the right side of your screen--or--call 636-225-4390, Ext. 0