Thursday, April 30, 2009

What Is A Volunteer??

By definition, a volunteer is a person who willingly and without pay gives their own time, expertise and talents.

However, a great many people are hesitant to volunteer because they don't believe they are knowledgeable or talented enough.  Nothing could be farther from the truth!!  If it weren't for the volunteers who generously share their time, abilities and talents with us, organizations like the World Bird Sanctuary could not exist.  So, to those caring individuals who so generously share their time with us we would like to give a profound "Thank you!".  

To those of you who may have had the passing thought that "I'd like to do that, but don't have the education or knowledge" -or- "I'd like to get involved with that organization, but don't really want to handle the animals", don't hesitate any longer.  The World Bird Sanctuary welcomes any and all volunteers.  

Want to work with the animals and educate the public, but don't have the animal handling experience?  We have classes and will train you.

Don't particularly want to work with the public, but want to work directly with the care, training or breeding of the birds?  We have behind the scenes opportunities for you, along with the training needed.
Want to work with the care and rehabilitation of the many injured birds brought into our hospital each year?  We have just the position for you.

Do you like to educate the public and like being outdoors, but don't necessarily want to handle the birds?  A docent position may be just the spot for you.

Are you a bird watcher who has always thought bird banding would be really interesting?  You may want to join our banding team. Camaraderie and training are provided.

Are you a retired secretary or office worker who wants to do something worthwhile and keep up their office and computer skills?  Working in our office may be just the ticket for you.

Do you have construction skills of any kind?  We are always in need of plumbers, carpenters, electricians, etc.  

Are you a dedicated gardener, (or an apartment dwelling gardener who no longer has a patch of soil to till?).  We always have groundskeeping work to be done.

We even have a Junior Volunteer program.  Junior volunteers cannot handle birds until they are 16, but they can start learning about the animals they will be handling, and can assist with the daily chores in the education and animal management departments as young as age 13.  This position is educational for the youngsters  and teaches responsibility.

No matter what your skill or talent we can usually find a spot you.  

So--don't hesitate--don't be shy--Go to our web page and fill out one of our volunteer applications.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


This is the birding event we've been waiting for!

After a migration of thousands of miles (some individuals spend the winter as far south as Southern Panama), our favorite little Kamikazees, the Ruby Throated  Hummingbirds, are back in Missouri!!  

According to one of my favorite hummingbird blogs, they've probably been here for a while already, but  yesterday was the first time I actually saw one!  If you haven't already done it, put out your feeders.  They're here, and they're hungry after that long trip!  

Thursday, April 23, 2009



Dorothy is inviting all of our readers to "COME ON DOWN!!!" to our Fete du Feather dinner/auction on May 9th.

It's not too late to make your reservations for this entertaining evening.  The theme for this year's event is "Old Time Country Fair".  Dress code for the evening is your country fair attire.  The evening will feature down home cookin' and refreshments, a quilt raffle, chicken races, pie eating contest, silent and live auctions, watermelon seed spitting contests--well, you get the picture, fun country fair activities!

Some, but not all, of the items lined up for the silent and live auctions are:
° A framed and signed Albert Pujols print
° A Stan Musial autographed baseball
° A stay at a beautiful vacation home in Montana
° Release of a rehabilitated bird into the wild (the winner gets to do the release!)
° A BEAUTIFUL amber & silver jewelry set (Necklace, Earrings, Rings & Bracelet)
° A set of four handcrafted exotic wood duck calls with carrying pouches & extra reeds
° An antique rocking chair (this would look sooo cute in your home--or on your front porch!)
° A beautiful handcrafted cherrywood poker table
° A child's dollhouse
° Several beautiful silk floral arrangements
° Live hanging baskets (just in time for adding to your spring garden)
° Many beautiful pieces of artwork - prints, sculptures, etc.

The above is just a short list of the items up for auction.

Remember the date -- May 9th, 7 p.m.!

For more information or to make a reservation call 636-225-4390, Ext. 0

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Adopt A Bird - Trucker

Trucker's Story

Species:  Swainson's Hawk
Hatched:  Spring 2004

We estimate that Trucker is a probable male due to his size.  Usually the males are smaller than the females.  (It is often difficult to tell the sex of a raptor without doing an invasive procedure to be certain.)

The World Bird Sanctuary acquired Trucker from a rescue organization in Nebraska, where he had received extensive medical treatment.  Upon arrival at our Nature Center he was released into one of our large mews for observation, where it soon became obvious that he had become too accustomed to humans to be released into the wild.

It was decided that he would make an excellent education bird, so he was fostered by staff members for the next three months to accustom him to situations he would encounter during the programs presented by our Office of Wildlife Learning (O.W.L.)  Since April of 2005 Trucker has become a valued member of our Education Department, traveling to venues throughout the country with our Education Department staff.

Like all creatures, Trucker has his own individual little traits.  He has a rubber turtle friend that he loves to toss around and beat up, loves to fling food and make a mess, and does not like the color red.  

To adopt Trucker, simply click our DONATION button, make a donation of $100, and specify in your payment notes:  Adopt-a-Bird:  TRUCKER.  Also be sure to include your name, phone number, and mailing address so that we can send 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
° Invitations to Sponsors-only events like Camera Day
° Discounts on WBS Special Events
° WBS Decal

Natural History

swainson’s hawk
Buteo swainsonii

 Description:      Slender raptor, slightly smaller in size than a Red-tailed Hawk, with a slightly longer wingspan and slimmer wings than other soaring hawks; common color pattern is dark brown plumage with a brown chest and pale belly; in flight, holds wings in a shallow “V” and teeters in flight like a Turkey Vulture; in-flight diagnostics are pointed wings and two toned effect of pale wing linings and dark flight feathers; adults have a pale body with dark “bib” on chest and noticeable white throat patch; there are two color variations—a light morph and a dark morph

Sex:                 Sexually mature at 2 years; monogamous

Age:                high mortality from traffic collisions, shooting, electrocution

Length:            17-22”

Wingspan:       4-4.5’

Weight:            1.5-2.5 lbs

Habitat:            open grasslands, prairies, farmlands and deserts that have some trees for nesting

Status:             fairly common

Range:             summers and breeds in the plains of western North America, as far north as Alaska and as far south as Mexico; winter range is the pampas of Argentina, with a few wintering in Florida

Behavior:         nests are built of sticks and lined with greenery, usually placed low in a tree, bush or shrub; female lays 2-3 eggs, incubated 34-35 days; young fledge at about 6 weeks; known to congregate in large flocks during winter migration; will follow tractors or stay close to prairie fires in search of disturbed prey

Diet:                mainly large insects such as dragonflies, but will take rodents, reptiles, amphibians, bats and young or disabled birds during breeding season

Vocalization:   mostly silent; gives a shrill “kearrr” similar to a Red-tailed Hawk when alarmed or disturbed, or during an aggression display



Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Trucker's New Wardrobe!

Meet Trucker, our beautiful Swainson's Hawk!

When Trucker first arrived at the World Bird Sanctuary in 2004 he was sporting his juvenile plumage.  To be sure, it was quite beautiful, and like any teenager he would often strut his stuff by displaying his full wingspan.  However, these feathers would not be his permanent coloration.  

While waiting for his adult plumage to grow in, he traveled with the staff of our Office of Wildlife Learning to school programs, where he wowed the audiences with the beauty of his juvenile plumage.  

Even though his first feathers were quite handsome, his new adult plumage is something to behold!  When you visit the World Bird Sanctuary look for the bird with the gorgeous mahogany brown feathers.  If you're lucky, he may spread his wings and display for you.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Adopt A Bird Spotlight: Dorothy (Andean Condor)

Dorothy's Story

Species:  Andean Condor
Hatched:  2006

Dorothy was hatched at the World Bird Sanctuary's breeding facility, which is an area not normally open to the public.  Her parents, Gryph and Laurel, were on loan to us from the Cincinnati Zoo as part of the Andean Condor Species Survival Program.   It is normal procedure for an organization participating in a Species Survival Program (SSP) to place a number of individuals of the endangered species with other qualified organizations to guard against a catastrophe that could wipe out an entire gene pool.  

While they were in our care Gryph and Laurel produced eggs, and in 2004 & 2005 two of those babies were released back into the wild to soar the canyons of their native Columbia, along with babies from other participating zoos.  

At this point we believe that Dorothy will remain with us as an education bird.  She is still a baby, but has been responding well to target training techniques.  We are hoping that she will prove to be an ambassador for her species in educational programs that will spread the word about the threats to this magnificent species' survival.

To adopt Dorothy, simply click our donation button, make a donation of $150, and specify in your payment notes:  Adopt-a-Bird:  DOROTHY.  Also include your name, phone number, and mailing address so that we can send 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

andean condor
Vultur gryphus

Description:  largest of the vultures; black overall with gray on the wings; white downy ruff around the neck and a wattled head; male's head has a large, fleshy caruncle which is lacking in the female

Sex:  female slightly smaller than the male

Age:  50 years (approx.)

Length:  43-51" body length; stands 4' tall

Wingspan:  10-14 ft.

Weight:  20-30 lbs.

Habitat:  open grasslands and alpine areas in high mountain regions; will go to lowland deserts and coastlines to forage, but rarely visit forest areas

Status:  endangered; due to illegal shooting, habitat disturbance, secondary lead poisoning; current captive breeding and reintroduction programs appear to be successful; some of the released birds are reported to be breeding in the wild

Range:  entire length of the Andes Mountains, including the nearby Pacific coastline

Behavior:  the courtship display consists of the male drawing himself erect, fully extending his wings, and clicking his tongue while his reddish neck becomes bright yellow; they lay their single egg on bare ground in caves and on ledges among steep cliffs; mating occurs every other year during July; incubation is 54-58 days; fledging takes another 180 days; both parents care for young; young leave parents in second year; young birds become sexually mature at 6 or more years

Diet:  carrion, newborn animals, and seabird eggs when available

Vocalization:  generally silent; only vocalization is a low wheezing or grunting

» The Andean Condor is the only member of it's genus

» The downy white ruff around the neck can be used as a sort of hood to keep the bare head warm in cold mountain climates.  The bird simply tucks it's head and raises the neck hackles



Friday, April 10, 2009

Unexpected Guests!

Have you ever had guests drop in unannounced--50 at a time?  That's what happened to us this past week!

We had just filled the birdbath and were enjoying our morning coffee, when we heard a loud commotion on the patio.  When we looked out, there were not just one or two birds enjoying the fresh water--it looked like about ten or fifteen.  There wasn't an available inch in that bowl.  As soon as one would leave, another would fly in!!  A migrating flock of Cedar Waxwings had discovered our birdbath!

Of course, my first instinct was to run for the camera, but by the time I had retrieved it they were gone!  However, when we went outside we heard them twittering in the tops of our forty year old oak trees.  That meant another mad dash into the house to change lenses.  Even with my 500mm lens it was a stretch to get a photo.  
These migrants come through every so often toward the end of winter.  Usually they stay long enough to strip the hawthorn or the American Hollies in our yard of the berries, and then they move on.  In the photo I tried to take of the entire flock (see the little dots in the tops of the trees?) I counted at least 50 birds.  That doesn't account for the ones I had seen fly off before taking the shot.  

Did you know that bird-watching is America's second most popular hobby?  The World Bird Sanctuary offers guided bird-watching programs led by our experienced wildlife experts on selected dates throughout the year.  For more information about our bird-watching adventures click on our home page link on the right side of this page, or call 636-225-4390, Ext. 0 for more information or to make a reservation.  

Fees for this adventure are: $7 adults, $5 children under 12

Remaining Spring dates are 4/19, 5/2 & 5/24.  Call or check our website for Summer, Fall & Winter dates.

Birding adventures last approximately three hours.  Dress for the weather, binoculars recommended.