Monday, June 29, 2009

It's Hot, Hot, Hot!!

Now that the hot summer weather is here in full force, don't forget your feathered friends.  Late spring and summer means babies, babies, babies!

Your backyard birds need you just as much now as they do in the winter months.  Even though food is plentiful now in the form of insects, seeds, and nectar, your backyard birds will still come to the feeders for the seeds, nuts, and suet you've been feeding them during the cold weather--if you continue to provide them.  At this time of year they are feeding babies, and the feeders are a wonderful source of "fast" food for their demanding young ones.

Possibly the most important thing you can do for your feathered friends at this time of year is to provide them with a source of fresh water for drinking and bathing.  Birdbaths, plant saucers, or even a shallow bowl will work.  Please remember to change the water at least every other day to prevent mosquitos from hatching.  Lawn sprinklers are also a delight, both for the birds, and the humans that watch them.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Day At The Hospital - Part 5

The Real Deal!

Now that our intern has been coached, has practiced her technique, and practiced again, it's time to use what she's learned.  

Under the close supervision of her mentor she is ready to move a hawk from one enclosure to another!  

This raptor isn't quite as cooperative as our "stand-in bird", but because of her careful training our young intern is successful!  She's just had an experience that she'll never forget!

The World Bird Sanctuary's internship program is a one of a kind experience for students from around the world.  It provides hands-on experience that integrates with many college curriculums.  

For more information about our internship program go to our website by clicking on the link to our home page on the right hand side of this screen.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Weekend Programs Are Here Again!!

Where can you go for a weekend road trip in the St. Louis area that's close to home, entertaining, and free of charge??

...and the answer is -- the World Bird Sanctuary!!

Now that the weather is warm and the kids are out of school, the World Bird Sanctuary is resuming it's free weekend flight programs.  These short mini programs are an abbreviated version of the entertaining flight demonstrations presented at schools, fairs, civic events and other venues throughout the year by our Office of Wildlife Learning.  

The weekend programs serve two puposes.  They are necessary exercise and refresher courses for our birds, and they give our weekend visitors a peek at what we do all year long.

Programs are presented in our amphitheater at 11:30 am and 2:00 pm on Saturdays, and 1:30 pm on Sundays.  No reservations are necessary.  

Our site will close early (noon) on Sunday, June 28 due to special circumstances.  Normal hours will resume on Monday, June 29.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Day At The Hospital - Part 4

Practice, Practice, Practice!!

Now that our intern has received her "classroom instruction", it's time to practice the technique--but not on a real live bird just yet.  

Here you see her practicing the techniques demonstrated by our veteran staff member.  Our intern will practice these moves with our "training bird" until our staff member is certain she fully understands the necessary moves and can do them smoothly without hesitating.  

This is essential for the safety of both bird and human.

Check back for our next installment to see how our intern's training progresses.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Day At The Hospital - Part 3

The Explanation...

In our last hospital installment you saw our young intern being handed a hawk to hold for medical treatment.  However, being handed an already restrained raptor, and catching one up yourself, are two different things.  Let's take a peek at the training involved in teaching a new intern or volunteer how to catch up and handle a less than willing patient.

Here you see an experienced staff member explaining in detail each step of the process to our intern.  Our staff member goes over each and every move in minute detail, explaining why it is done that way and what reaction she might expect from the bird. 

Once our staff member is certain that the student understands the process, she enlists the aid
 of our long suffering demonstration hawk.  The
details she had previously explained are demonstrated again, using our life size stand-in.

Check back for our next installment to see our young intern's progress.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Vultures Wearing Jewelry....

Have you seen me???

At least one reader in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, has spotted one!

Back in March we did a post about a study being done by Hawk Mountain Sanctuary.  In collaboration with colleagues in Venezuela they have wing tagged more than 350 turkey vultures in Venezuala and are doing a migration study to see just how far these graceful birds have traveled.

OK--I know that if you've seen them on the ground "graceful" would'nt exactly be the word that describes them.  BUT--have you ever really watched them soar on the thermals on a nice warm summer day?  They are magnificent!!!  

So, the next time you see them soaring above you, close your mouth and look for the ones wearing  a light blue or red numbered tag on their wing.  The numbers should be visible either from above or below.  If you see one, contact with the following information:
* Date sighted and specific location
* Color and number of the tag
* On which wing was the tag--right or left?
* Circumstances of the sighting, including:
Was the bird alone or in a group?
Flying or perched?
Feeding or roosting?
Any other details you might find interesting

Even if you don't have ALL of the above information I'm sure any sightings would be of interest to them.  All reports will be recognized, and individuals reporting tagged birds will receive summary information about the study.

We would also be interested to know if any of our other readers have spotted one, so drop us a comment if you spot one.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Hawk Rescue


About three weeks ago our Director of Operations, Roger Holloway, received a call from a concerned citizen who had found some hawk babies in a nest that had been blown out of a tree in a violent storm.  After ascertaining that the babies appeared healthy and uninjured Roger advised them what to do.

See the amazing story at the following website:

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Day At The Hospital - Part 2...

Each year our Wildlife Hospital receives between 250 to 300 patients.  Some, like the little red tailed hawk in our last posting, are fortunate and have no serious injuries.  Others are not so lucky.  Those patients may spend weeks or even months in our care being treated for injuries, and if possible, being rehabilitated for release.  

All of this intensive treatment requires a large investment of our time, money, and man-hours.  The World Bird Sanctuary is fortunate to have a wonderful group of staff, volunteers, and interns who are dedicated to the care of these animals.  However, each and every volunteer and intern who wishes to work directly with the birds must receive a large investment of our staff's time to insure that they are taught the correct procedures for handling the animals in our care.  This is to ensure the safety of the animals and the humans who care for them.  

Following are some photos of such a training session.

One of our veteran staff members demonstrates the technique for removing a defensive hawk from it's enclosure while one of our new interns watches 

Once our intern has been coached in the techniques of safely restraining a protesting bird of prey, our staff member administers an antibiotic.

Mission Accomplished!!  Our intern has learned a valuable lesson in bird handling, and our patient has been given the medication needed to hasten his recovery.

And then, of course, there's the ever present paperwork!

Friday, June 12, 2009

A Day At The Hospital...

Our Wildlife Hospital is one of the less visible aspects of the World Bird Sanctuary to the casual visitor, so we thought we would give you a peek into some of it's day to day activities.

During the Spring and early summer months violent wind and thunderstorms routinely wreak havoc on the nests of our local birds.  Such was the case with this little red-tailed hawk found in Ladue.  His nest had been blown down in a storm and he was unable to be returned to the nest site.   

After being thoroughly checked out by our hospital staff, it was found that he is not yet fully feathered and ready to fledge, but appears to be otherwise healthy.  His wing feathers are about three-quarter pinned and, barring any setbacks, he should be ready to be released back into the wild in approximately a month.  He will be fostered in our Propagation Department until such time as he is ready to be released, since they have the expertise and are equipped to care for very young birds.

This youngster was one of the lucky ones.  Very often when young birds of this age are blown from the nest they sustain broken bones, internal injuries, or are snatched up by predators since they are vulnerable on the ground.  

We hope to see this youngster soaring free in the very near future.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Be sure to check out our Wildlife Hospital!

On your next visit to the World Bird Sanctuary be sure to stop at our Wildlife Hospital to check out an exciting new feature.  We now have a viewing window through which you can see some of our patients who are recuperating from various procedures.  They don't seem to mind the visitors as long as they are quiet.

In addition to the viewing window there is a bulletin board with a card posted for each patient, listing the species and reason they are here, as well as their progress.

Our hospital treats an average of 280 patients each year, and costs to rehab a bird for release into the wild can range from $200 to $1000.  In order to defray some of these expenses our hospital is offering an exciting new opportunity.  For a donation of $150.00 a generous donor will have the rare opportunity to release a recovered bird back into the wild.  

For more information about our "Return To The Wild" program call the Wildlife Hospital at 636-861-1392, or email 

Monday, June 8, 2009

Feeding The Birds

When you feed the birds, you feed ALL the birds!

I was startled the other day by a loud THUMP! against the wall of my house.  I immediately recognized it as the sound of a bird hitting (I thought) the kitchen window.  Some of the new crop of woodpecker babies are having trouble figuring out how to land on the nut feeder, and frequently thump into the window, although not hard enough to do any damage.  But this thump was LOUD!  

When I looked outside I saw this Cooper's Hawk feeding on a dove that he had apparently caught when it took off from our patio.  It must have been close enough that predator and prey hit the wall of the house.  Of course, I ran for the camera, and proceeded to photograph the hawk plucking the dove through my kitchen window.  I won't tell you how many photos I took.  Let's just say "Thank God for digital".  

I know there are some who would be distressed by this situation.  However, the hawk needs to eat just as does the dove, and this is Mother Nature's way of keeping the species strong.  

Friday, June 5, 2009

Another Oriole

Here's another Oriole for you birdwatchers out there!!

OK.  I have to admit it!  I've lived in Missouri all my life and have rarely seen an Oriole.  Now I've seen two (different species) in less than an hour!

Shortly after seeing the Orchard Oriole published earlier, this one also came to the feeder on our deck.  However, this bird was quite a bit more difficult to identify.  After consulting with several experts it was finally identified as a (probably) young Baltimore Oriole who hadn't yet molted into his species' typical orange color.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Remember A Loved One!

The World Bird Sanctuary is excited to announce the beginning of our new Buy A Brick fundraiser!!

The goal of this program is two-fold.  We would like to replace the rock strata in our amphitheater seating area and stairs with a more permanent brick surface.  The brick surface  would be more comfortable for audience seating, and less labor intensive to maintain.  The current loose rock strata is a constant maintenance problem.  Your purchase of one of our engraved bricks would allow us to fund this very expensive project, and at the same time it would provide our friends and supporters with a new and lasting way to recognize loved ones or commemorate special occasions.  

Engraved on your custom brick could be:

* Your family name
* Your children's names
* Your company or organization's name
* Commemoration of a special occasion
* A memoriam for a loved one
* An inspirational message for our organization

The possibilities are limitless.  For more information about this exciting new fundraiser, click on the Buy A Brick link in the right-hand sidebar.  When you get to our website wait for the rolling photo that says "Buy A Brick" and click on it.  It will take you to the page with all the details.

Any funds raised over and above the cost of paving the amphitheater would be used to cover the usual (and sometimes unusual) expenses of operating a facility such as ours, such as care and feeding of the birds, maintenance of our site facilities, rescue operations, etc.

Thanks for considering one of our bricks to honor someone special.  We hope to see your personalized brick in our amphitheater soon.

Monday, June 1, 2009

What Is That Thing?

What Is That Thing On Scoop's Bill?

If you've been to the World Bird Sanctuary lately and walked the trail just past the wildlife hospital you may have noticed that Scoop, one of our American White Pelicans, has a very strange looking growth on his bill.  And, No, there's nothing wrong with him.

This strange looking growth is called a horn and is part of some of the changes he undergoes in the Spring when his body tells him it's time to find a mate.  In addition to the horn, his coloration around the eyes becomes quite brilliant also.  I'm not sure that a growth on the nose would be much of a "come hither" quality in a human, but apparently to a female pelican it's irresistable.

Our other Pelican, Mudflap, (who it turns out is also a male) has a horn also; however his horn and coloration are not quite as pronounced as Scoop's.
If you'd like to see this springtime phenomenon you'll have to hurry, as it doesn't last very long.  Both Scoop and Mudflap are on display in their large enclosure every day--unless they happen to be out appearing at an educational program somewhere.