Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Good-By Old Friend

It is with a sad heart that we inform you that our beautiful Lizard Buzzard, Skyler, passed away suddenly on Saturday.

When we first saw Skyler he was being held in a very small cage made of chicken wire, and was eating a day old chick.  All his tail feathers and primaries were broken because the cage, which was sitting on the floor, was way too small for him.  Other than the broken feathers, he seemed to be in good shape, and didn't mind us standing over him as he ate his meal.  We received Skyler shortly after this in early 1988.  It was soon discovered that the company that was holding him in such deplorable conditions was also smuggling drugs into the U.S.

We have no way of knowing how old Skyler was at the time we received him.  However, we do know that he spent the next 22 years with the World Bird Sanctuary in much better circumstances than those in which we found him.

As with most raptors, both males and females have identical plumage, so we were not sure about the sex of this beautiful bird.  The only way to be certain would have been to do a surgical procedure to determine sex, and we are loathe to submit an animal to that kind of trauma unless it is medically necessary.  We have gone under the assumption that Skyler was a male.

Since Skyler was a tropical species and not adapted to our cold mid-west winters, he would always get the use of a heat lamp during the coldest days.  In his native Africa this species is suffering from human persecution and habitat destruction.  This made Skyler a perfect representative of his species, and he was a real trooper who traveled all over the country with our education team   Over the span of 22 years he took part in programs which educated millions of audience members about the problems faced by species such as his, whose habitat is being destroyed.

Skyler will be sorely missed by staff, volunteers and guests alike.


Chickadee said...

Rest in peace little Skyler. You were one of my favorite feathered friends.

Matthew said...

I'll pass the news along to the person we adopted Skyler for.
I'll miss him

Nikon66 said...

Skyler was truly a beautiful and rare bird. I spent many a time watching him and taking photos of him. I'm very sorry to hear of his passing. Thanks to the World Bird Sanctuary for saving him and giving him a home for so long.