Monday, March 30, 2009


COMING MAY 9, 2007!

The date is getting closer and we are still seeking donated items for our big event!

Donations for past events have ranged from a basket of makeup and beauty products, to jewelry, artwork, antiques, family photo sittings, all the way up to large ticket items such as antique cars and "Getaway Vacations"!  Here are a few photos of some of the items donated for our 2007 auction.

No item is too small or too large!

The theme for this year's event is "Old Time Country Fair", so we would dearly love to find someone generous enough to donate a quilt (throw size or larger) to follow through on this theme.  

Some items will be featured in our silent auctions, while some of the larger items will be featured in our live auction.  If you use your imagination and "think outside the box" most people will realize they have some item or service that they could donate.  To make a donation, contact Teri Schroer or Cathy Spahn at 636-225-4390, Ext. 0.

Our guests come from all walks of life, so if you are not already on our mailing 
list, and would like to receive an invitation to this special event, please call the above number.  In addition to the auction there will be food, entertainment, and guest celebrities!  COME JOIN US ON MAY 9 FOR AN EVENING OF FUN AND ENTERTAINMENT!

Even if you, yourself, have nothing to donate, please pass this website along to those on your email list.  They may have just the perfect item that they would like to donate somewhere, and would love to have the tax deduction.  All profits from this event go to feed, house and care for our birds.

The World Bird Sanctuary is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization, and all donations are tax deductible to the full extent of the law.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Condor Magnificence!

You've seen our young Dorothy, and the beautiful Laurel.  Now be prepared to be dazzled by a magnificent specimen of masculine Condor beauty!

Meet Gryph, Laurel's mate!  How could any girl resist that gorgeous caruncle or that endearing wattle?  

In the male, there is a wattle on the neck, and a large, dark red comb or caruncle on the crown of the head.  The males keep the comb all their life, which makes it easy to tell the sex of an Andean condor chick as soon as it hatches.  The large patches or bands of white on the wings do not appear until the completion of the bird's first moulting.

Unlike our Turkey Vultures and other vultures of the genus Cathartes, who find prey by smell, the Andean condor locates carrion by spotting it, or by following other scavengers such as corvids or other vultures to the carcass.  

INTERESTING CONDOR FACT:  In response to the capture of all wild individuals of the closely related California Condor, in 1988 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began a reintroduction experiment involving the release of captive Andean condors into the wild in California.  Only females were released, to eliminate the possibility of accidentally introducing a South American species into the United States.  The experiment was a success, and all the Andean condors were recaptured and re-released in South America before the reintroduction of the California condors took place.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Peek Into The Future!

Yesterday we promised to show you what Dorothy had to look forward to in a few years.

Here's a photo of Laurel, a female who was in our care for several years as part of the Andean Condor Species Survival Program (SSP).  Reintroduction programs, using captive-bred Andean Condors, which release birds hatched in North American zoos into the wild to bolster populations, have been introduced in Argentina, Venezuela, and Colombia.  The World Bird Sanctuary, in conjunction with the Cincinnati Zoo, was a part of that program.  

Contrary to the usual rule among birds of prey, the female is smaller than the male.  The Andean Condor's wingspan ranges from 274 to 310 cm (9 to 10 ft.)  It reaches up to 11 to 15 kg. (24 to 33 lbs.) for males and 7.5 to 11 kg (16 to 24 lbs.) for females.

The female lays one to two bluish-white eggs every second year.  If the chick or egg is lost or removed, another egg is laid to take it's place.  Researchers and breeders take advantage of this behavior to double the reproductive rate by taking the first egg away for hand-rearing, causing the parents to lay a second egg which they are usually allowed to raise.  

Check back tomorrow to see the male half of this handsome pair!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Heeere's More Dorothy!

Yesterday's post showed you how Dorothy looked at age two, a bit fuzzy to say the least.  Here's how she looks today (well--yesterday really)! 

As you can see, she has shed all those baby down feathers, and is now sporting her fine new juvenile plumage.  Even though she looks quite magnificent now, she will be GORGEOUS when she molts into her adult plumage at about 5 or 6 years of age!  Check back tomorrow for a preview of what our little princess has to look forward to.  (Just click on the photo to see more detail.)

Andean Condor factoid:  These magnificent birds reach sexual maturity at five or six years of age, and roost at elevations of 3,000 to 5,000 meters (10,000 to 16,000 ft.), generally on inaccessible rock ledges.  They may live for 50 years or more in the wild (as long as 70 years in captivity), and they mate for life.

Don't forget to check back tomorrow to see what a metamorphosis this young bird will undergo in the next 2-3 years!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Dorothy & Relatives

A while back we showed you some videos of our young Andean Condor, Dorothy.  So we thought we'd like to share with you some additional info on this fascinating raptor.

The Andean Condor is the largest bird of prey in the world.  It inhabits the rocky cliffs and canyons of mountainous areas of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Columbia, Ecuador and Peru, and plays an important role in the folklore and mythology of the South American Andean regions.

Due to habitat loss and secondary poisoning from carcasses killed by hunters and trappers, the Andean Condor is considered "near threatened" by the IUCN.  Because it is primarily a scavenger, when it feeds on carrion that has died from poisoning, it also becomes a victim.  

Because of the threatened status of this magnificent bird, many zoos and associated conservation organizations have banded together to include this bird in a captive breeding program, and, in fact, have released a number of captive bred Andean Condors back into their native habitats.

Here you see a photo of our own young Andean Condor, Dorothy, at age two, in her juvenile plumage.  As you can see, at this stage she still had some of her baby down, and was just beginning to sport the neck ruff which will be a beautiful white color when she attains adulthood.  

Check back later this week for more information about Dorothy and her relaltives! 

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Eurasian Tree Sparrow

As a youngster growing up in St. Louis, I took for granted the little brown bird hopping around on the Steak 'n Shake parking lot scrambling for the pieces of hamburger buns that I and my friends would toss to them.  We considered this little brown bird "just another sparrow".

However, I have since discovered that this little import is somewhat of a rarity.  They are found only in a very limited range here in the United States, primarily in  St. Louis and some surrounding areas. 

On April 25, 1870, twelve Eurasian Tree Sparrows were released in Lafayette Park in South St. Louis, along with a number of other European birds.  However, only the Eurasian Tree Sparrow was a successful transplant.  It is estimated that there is now a population of about 15,000 birds around St. Louis, Missouri, and neighboring parts of Illinois and southeastern Iowa.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

In Your Own Backyard!

Sometimes we get so caught up in spotting the exotic or unusual we lose sight of the fact that there are fascinating creatures in our own backyards.

This photo of a Northern Cardinal was taken through my kitchen window.  Usually Cardinals prefer to feed on the ground, but I had been busy the last two days and forgotten to check the feeder in my backyard.  This guy was apparently desperate enough to brave the nut feeder that hangs a mere foot away from my kitchen window.

Sometimes we forget that this is possibly the worst time of year for our feathered friends.  By March most of the seeds that grow wild have pretty much been depleted, the insects are all dead, or in hiding, new hatches haven't happened yet, and it's slim pickings for our wild bird friends.  They come to rely heavily on our backyard bird feeders at this time of year.  This Cardinal, one of my favorite birds, was my reminder to be faithful about checking the feeders.  

I love the fact that the Cardinal seems to be fully aware of his own beauty, and am fully convinced that it's no coincidence that one of his calls sounds like he's saying "pret-ty, pret-ty, pret-ty, pret-ty"!!  

Don't forget your feathered friends during this particularly dangerous time of year for them!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Thanks To All!!

Thanks to all of our wonderful supporters for 
making World Eagle Day 2009 a resounding 

The weather was gorgeous!!  And our long time supporters, and many new friends, turned out in record numbers for this popular annual event.  

Guests lined up in record numbers to have their photos taken with our majestic bald eagle, Patriot.  

The children joined in the festivities by building a life size eagle's nest, had their faces painted, and learned how to make Origami creatures to take home.

Guests watched live freeflight presentations featuring our stars, the birds, and were treated to a rare flight demonstration by one of our bald eagles.

We also saw an unprecedented number of camera enthusiasts who took advantage of this rare opportunity to get close-up photos of some of our magnificent raptors.  

Many of our guests stopped by the sponsorship booth to chat with one of our naturalists, look through our Adopt A Bird book, and meet our lovable little Eastern Screech Owl, Twig.

All in all, it appears that a good time was had by all.

If you missed this year's event, mark your calendars for the third Sunday in March for next year.  We'll be there to do it all over again with some of your old favorite activities, and a number of new features. 

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Join Us on Sunday, March 15th!!

Eagles Here, Eagles There, Eagles Everywhere!!!

It's Here!  The World Bird Sanctuary's annual harbinger of Spring -- WORLD EAGLE DAY!

Every year, on the third Sunday of March, The World Bird Sanctuary hosts what is unquestionably one of the most popular events in the St. Louis area.  World Eagle Day is an opportunity to get out of the house, into the outdoors, and get an up close look at some of the most majestic birds in the world. 
Start out the day by having your photo taken with one of our majestic bald eagles.  The photo will be ready for you to pick up on your way out.  (Nominal charge for this service.)

Eat a hot dog and other goodies purchased from our Peregrine Cafe, while strolling our grounds.  There will be a craft area and face painting for the kids.  Meet our naturalists who will share with you amazing facts about these magnificent birds.   

Join us in our amphitheater for freeflight demonstrations by our stars, the birds.  Browse our gift shop for merchandise featuring eagles, eagles, eagles.  See our hospital where injured birds are treated and readied for release back into the wild.  

Mark your calendar:
Sunday, March 15
10 am - 4 pm


Friday, March 13, 2009

Look Alike?

When you're hunting for dinner even the crazy photographer doesn't bother you!

This White Faced Heron, photographed on the beach at Kaikoura on the South Island of New Zealand, at first glance looks very much like our own Great Blue Heron.  In truth, though, they are not even related.  These smaller, dainty, look-alikes have been revealed by DNA testing to be more closely related to the egrets than to the herons--a somewhat confusing situation since the name implies that it is a heron.   

White Faced Herons can be found throughout most of Australasia.  They were self introduced to New Zealand in the late 1940s.  

This fellow was intently hunting along the sand dunes, looking for his favorite food of small aquatic creatures, such as insects, frogs and small reptiles, and didn't seem disturbed at all by the crazy photographer laying on her belly in the sand. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Turkey Vulture Migration Study

Here's your chance to be part of an important study being done on the movement of Turkey Vultures!  We recently received this message from a collegue at another Nature Center.

"Greetings!  As part of a study on the movement ecology of turkey vultures, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary and colleagues in Venezuela have been attaching wing tags to vultures wintering in western Venezuela.  Tags are either light blue or red and have a number on them, which can be seen either from above or below.  We need your help re-sighting these birds, so next time you see a turkey vulture please take some time and check for a wing tag.  For more information on how and what to report please see the following:

Good birding,

David Barber
Hawk Mountain Sanctuary
Kempton, PA"

There is a photo posted on the link of a bird wearing the tag so that you can see what it should look like.  So, the next time you see a soaring turkey vulture, stop what you're doing for a moment, and take a closer look.  That bird may be wearing some jewelry!

Monday, March 9, 2009

What A Mouthful!!

On a recent trip to Charleston, SC we went to the Magnolia Plantation and took their swamp tour.  We spotted this Great Blue Heron hunting at the edge of the reeds and were fortunate enough to watch him make a catch.  Now, we really thought this would be a case of his eyes being bigger than his stomach--but he was up to the task!

The primary food for this majestic shorebird is usually small fish, although they may also take shellfish, rodents, amphibians, reptiles and small birds.  

Great Blue Herons are the largest and 
most widespread heron in North America and can be seen on almost any lake, river or pond -- at least here in the midwest.  The one pictured here is the most 
commonly seen color.  However, there is a white morph found in southern coastal areas which is called the Great White Heron.  This color phase is often confused with the Great Egret.  The easiest way to tell the two apart is that the Great White Heron's legs are black, while the Great Egret has yellow legs.  There is also a third color morph which looks like a combination of the other two.  This intermediate bird is known as the Wurdemann's 
heron and has a white head and a grey body.

One of the greatest dangers to this beautiful bird is discarded monofilament fishing line. As they wade the shallows hunting for prey they often become entangled in the fishing line left behind when a fisherman's lure becomes snagged on a low hanging branch or rock.  Once entangled, the bird is unable to hunt and gradually starves to death.  So, if at all possible please recover your line and dispose of it where it poses no threat to wildlife.  

Saturday, March 7, 2009

World Eagle Day

Mark your calendars for Sunday, March 15th!!

Here in Missouri it could be cold and blustery, or it could be warm enough for summer gear.  Whatever the weather, our friends, supporters, and casual guests don't seem to care!  It's the day they come out to see eagles from around the world at the World Bird Sanctuary.  

This popular event features our country's symbol, the bald eagle, up close and personal, as well as the Golden Eagle, our other native species.  Visitors will also see other eagle species from around the world that most would never otherwise have the opportunity to view.

One very popular feature at this event is the opportunity for guests to have their photo taken with one of our magnificent bald eagles, as you can see from the photos.  
There will also be informative and entertaining presentations by our naturalists about the different eagles found in other parts of the world.  Entertainment might include, but not be limited to -- sing-alongs, story telling, face painting, plus many other activities not listed.  

So, take this opportunity to escape the winter doldrums.  Come visit with us on March 15.  Be prepared to stroll our grounds, meet our naturalists, and have your questions answered.

Don't forget your camera! As you can see from this photo, some of our guests REALLY come prepared!

Many of our guests on this day are Scout Troops fulfilling some of the requirements for their badges and having their photo taken with a real live American Bald Eagle!


Sunday, March 15
10 am - 4 pm
Admission is FREE!

Thursday, March 5, 2009


This is a special post for Mrs. Daniel's second grade class at St. Peters Elementary School, who are learning about animal camouflage, hibernation and migration.  

Here are two of the World Bird Sanctuary's resident owls, Ookpik and Tundra, our Snowy Owls.  However, since they usually live on the Arctic tundra they are only on display to the public during the cold months of the year here in Missouri.  In the summer they live in an air conditioned building elsewhere on our property.
This photo of Ookpik shows off his beautiful white plumage which, in the frozen arctic snow, would blend right in and make him nearly invisible.  Not only would this help make him invisible to predators, such as polar bears, but would also help to hide him from the lemmings (small rodents) which he hunts for his food.

In the photo of Tundra, our female Snowy 
Owl, you can see that she has more brown or tan areas in her feathers.  Since Snowy Owls nest on the ground, rather than in trees, this would help to camouflage her when she is sitting on her nest in May.  At that time of the year the snow may have melted in places, exposing the tundra for which she is named.  While she is sitting on her 5-14 eggs it would be the male's job to feed her.

Snowy Owls do not do what most people think of as migration--annual flights of extremely long distances triggered by day length or cold weather.  They are considered nomadic and travel according to the lemming population.  If the lemming population is very large, the owls might range within a fairly small area.  However, lemmings are subject to population "crashes".  In that instance the owls would travel a much greater distance in their search for food, at times appearing as far south as the northern U.S.

Here is a photo where I have placed Ookpik and Tundra's images in a snow scene.  Even though you can still see them, on a bright sunny day they would blend right in and be very difficult to see. Also, take a look at the gulls in the foreground and notice how well they blend into their surroundings.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Backyard Windscreen

It's not unusual for us to see this colorful member of the Woodpecker family, the Northern Flicker, feeding in our backyard.  In fact, last year we watched her raise a baby in our yard.

However, the other day I saw her exhibiting a behavior that I had never witnessed before.  She was hunkered down at the base of our large oak tree, on the lee side, so that the treetrunk acted as a windscreen.  It was a very cold and blustery day 
and she seemed quite comfortable sitting in a fold of the tree--at least until she got hungry and began looking for a meal. 

Are you wondering how we know it's a "she"?  As in humans, she doesn't have the nice dark "mustache" sported by the male.

In this last photo you can clearly see the beautiful dark "bib" worn by all members of her species.  Also, if I could have caught her in flight you would have seen the beautiful yellow underwing colors that have earned her the name of Yellow Shafted Flicker by which she is often identified.

Monday, March 2, 2009

They're Baaack!

Look!  Up in the sky!!  It's a bird!  It's a plane! It's.....a Turkey Vulture!!!

That's right folks...after a winter migration that sometimes takes them as far south as Tierra del Fuego and the Falkland Islands, our Turkey Vultures are back.  I think someone forgot to tell them that it's still winter here in Missouri, but if you look up and see a very large dark bird soaring overhead with wings outstretched in a shallow "V" position, it's a good bet that it's one of Skinner's relatives back from their winter vacation.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


Where can you go these days for an evening of entertainment that offers food, beverages, entertainment, the opportunity to meet and greet local celebrities, and the option to "shop til you drop" either by silent or live auction -- all wrapped up in one fun and entertaining event?

The answer to that question is the World Bird Sanctuary's Fete du Feather bi-annual fundraiser event!

This year's event will be held in the beautiful atrium of the Ameren UE building on Chouteau Avenue on May 9.  The theme for this year's event is "Old Time Country Fair".  Guests will be treated to food reminiscent of a real country fair, and will enjoy their cocktails while strolling amongst the booths and entertainment features set up for this one night.  Just a few of the featured events will be:  Chicken Races (back by popular demand from our last event), pie eating contests, quilt raffles, bake sales, and many other events.  

While enjoying the entertainment features, guests will have the opportunity
 to bid on the many bargains available via silent auction.  The culmination of the evening will be our live auction, along with a flight demonstration by our stars, the birds, and a feature entertainer to be announced at a later date.  (Check back to find out who this will be.)

Here are just a few photos from our last Fete du Feather event held in 2007.

The chicken races were by far one of the most popular events.  Here you see guests cheering on their favorites!

A Kissing Booth of a different kind!  Our Master of Ceremonies, David Craig, meets one of the kissing booth volunteers.

Guests have an opportunity to meet Anna, our Green Tree Python.

We are still requesting  donations of items for the auction portion of this event.  Popular items in the past have been trips, gift certificates for restaurants, theaters or sporting events, sports memorabilia, jewelry, etc.  However, this year we are seeking some of the more unusual items, and asking people to "think outside the box".  You may have just the item or service that would be the most sought after of the evening.  One of the items that we are actively seeking is quilts (at least throw size) for our quilt raffle.  

This fun event is open to guests of all ages, backgrounds, and occupations.  However, reservations are required.  

If you would like to be added to our mailing list to receive an invitation for this popular event, or have an item you would like to donate, you can email

The World Bird Sanctuary is a 501 (c) (3) organization, and donations for this event are tax deductible to the full extent of the law.