Friday, October 30, 2009

Thanksgiving is near - meet a Turkey Named Fred!

You may wonder what a Turkey Named Fred has to do with a wildlife hospital that treats birds of prey.

Fred is helping us to save eagles, hawks, owls, falcons, vultures and more! "Save the Future" is a CD featuring fun, entertaining environmentally-focused songs.  They were writtten, performed and produced by staff and volunteers at World Bird Sanctuary, who make up our in-house band, The Raptor Project.

All proceeds from the sale of the CD directly benefit the birds admitted to our wildlife hospital - helping to pay for their food and medical expenses, raising in excess of $3,000.

"Turkey Named Fred" is one of the most popular songs on the CD, and has spawned a cartoon, with a book in production to go along with this story.  You can listen to the song here - and if you like it, you can buy the CD here.  You can even visit Fred, our Royal Palm Turkey, at World Bird Sanctuary!

We would like to make "Turkey Named Fred" a new Thanksgiving tradition - and you can help by calling your local radio station to tell them about it.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The First One Is Done!!

Our brick campaign is on it's way!

It was tight scheduling, but with the help of some generous donors, and the fine cooperation of Richmond Landscape & Design, we were able to complete Step #1 of our Inscribed Brick Campaign just in time for Open House.

We are all so excited to see this project started, as the steps leading down into the amphitheater have been a constant maintenance problem for the staff--especially in the winter when it snows, and some of the original railroad ties have begun to deteriorate.  The other big plus will be that we are widening these stairs so that they can more easily accommodate two-way traffic. Up until now, someone has to step over to the side to allow oncoming traffic to pass.

If you would like to memorialize a loved one, celebrate a special occasion, remember a special pet, or give a lasting gift to that "impossible to buy for" person on your Christmas list, this is the perfect opportunity.  An inscribed brick in our amphitheater will be a lasting tribute that will never wear out, or go out of style.

For more information or to order your brick Click Here.  Help us Pave the Way.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Meet Anna!

Anna's Story

Anna is a female Green Tree Python (morelia viridus) who can be found residing in the World Bird Sanctuary's Nature Center when she is not traveling to schools and other venues to educate the public about the loss of habitat that has put her species on the "near threatened" list.

Anna came to us from a reptile farm in Florida in 2002.  She is easily the most popular snake in our Education Department, both for her serene beauty and her easy-going personality.  The children love her, and frequently request her for their Birdday Party.

Unlike the other reptiles in our Nature Center, when we use Anna in a program we do not usually uncoil her and display her full length.  Green Tree Pythons are arboreal snakes, which means they spend most of their life coiled high in a tree in the jungle.  Their beautiful green coloration is perfect camouflage as they patiently wait to pounce on an unsuspecting tree dwelling rodent or bird.  When you see her in the Nature Center she will almost always be coiled around the branch in her enclosure.  Therefore, we normally display her by removing the entire branch from her enclosure.  She is quite comfortable being carried around on her "special" branch while being admired by audience members.

Anna is just one of the animals at WBS that can be “adopted”. To adopt Anna, just click here, make a donation of $50.00, and specify in your payment notes “Adopt-A-Snake: Anna”.
Every donation helps to feed, house, and provide medical care for the animal of your choice! 

Adopt-A-Bird Parents receive:
*         A personal visit with the animal you adopt!!!!! Call ahead to schedule a time for your personal visit.
*         Certificate of Adoption
*         Color photo of the animal you've adopted
*         Sponsorship Card
*         One year's subscription to Mews News
*         Life History and Natural History of the animal
*         10% Discount off WBS merchandise
*         Invitation to Sponsors-only events like Camera Day
*         Discounts on WBS Special Events
  *       WBS Decal

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Avid Angler? Be Responsible!

When it comes to fishing, there are several of us at WBS that never seem to get our fill.  

There are many conversations about where we’ve been fishing, what did we catch, what baits, lures or rigs have been tried, and when we will be going fishing next.  Funny thing is that there are more women here who love to fish, than there are men, and the competition is pretty fierce for bragging rights!  It is also quite rewarding to see a prize catch make a meal or two for one of our eagles. 

There has been much conversation of late that has really fired me up, enough to get on my soapbox.  It seems as though each and every time any of us at WBS have gone out fishing, we have retrieved a great deal of what other anglers have left behind.  I am not just talking about fish, here (ha, ha).  But seriously, each of us have told stories about the numerous lures, sinkers, hooks, bobbers, and most importantly, a multitude of fishing line we have found.

To give you a recent example of people’s imprint and carelessness, particularly as it applies to fishing, we just had a Bald Eagle admitted to our Wildlife Rehabilitation Hospital that had become entangled in a trot line and was dangling from a tree.  This majestic creature, which depends primarily on fish for food, has sustained a wing injury and the jury is still out as to whether or not it will recover enough to be released back into the wild.   There is a reason that the conservation regulations require trotlines to be checked on a regular schedule.

A bald eagle found entangled and dangling in a trotline
We have also encountered pelicans and herons that have suffered similar injuries, again, due to irresponsible anglers who strip line from their reels and then leave it on the shoreline or in the water.  That is what infuriates me.  These injuries could have been prevented, had anglers picked up after themselves.  It is something some people never think twice about.  The solution to the fishing line problem is as simple as keeping a small bag in your pocket when fishing.  If you need to strip off line, put it in the bag and dispose of it properly at the end of your trip instead of leaving it on the shoreline or in the water.

A Great Blue Heron with fishing line wrapped around his beak.  This bird probably starved to death.
Yes, it is irritating that people leave behind their trash, polluting our streams and rivers, which the very creatures we are fishing for are dependent upon.  Allow me to take a moment to mention an even bigger picture here.  The food chain depends greatly on clean rivers and streams, from invertebrates to fish, mammals and birds of the air.  I am talking about a subject you will hear more and more about at WBS--watersheds.  The watershed affects the big picture, not only for wildlife, but for humankind as well.  Animals and humans alike require clean water for survival.  We have a choice whether or not to release or keep the fish we catch.  Is what we catch even fit for consumption?  Our wildlife is dependent on it, and doesn’t have the luxury of choice. 

I encourage you, whether you fish or not, to act if you see fishing line, equipment, or even trash near our streams and rivers.  Please pick it up and dispose of it properly.  You may be preventing the need for yet another wildlife rescue, be it a bird, mammal or sea creature.  The domino effect can spiral out of control.  Man is a direct contributor.  Man can take the necessary steps toward a positive change, which ultimately affects man in the end, after all.  And when I say “Man” – I’m not referring to a faceless person in the crowd – I mean you and me.

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

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Creance Kind of Day

A Creance line is used frequently by Bird of Prey Rehabilitors and Falconers. 

The Creance line usually consists of a bird being fitted with anklets and jesses, which in turn is attached to a predetermined length of string and weight. The weight slows or drags the bird in flight to allow it to control it's landing. This system allows the bird flight in order to determine if it is in top condition to be returned to the Wild.

Volunteer Bob Warbin preparing to work a Great Horned Owl on creance line

Volunteers Craig Lanham, Devon Lanham, Bob Warbin, and Intern Estephy Sabin were given the task to perform Creance Line work on two Great Horned Owls, and one Cooper's Hawk.  These Beautiful birds have all been patients of the WBS Hospital

The first Great Horned Owl flew beautifully, making its flights seem effortless. A really incredible thing to watch!

Our first Great Horned Owl ready for it's first creance flight

The Coopers Hawk did not fare as well. This bird has been treated for a wing injury and was not getting full extension on one wing, making it's flights difficult. It was determined after a few tries to return this little guy back to the Hospital for further evaluation.

Attaching a creance line to a Cooper's Hawk's jesses

The Next Great Horned Owl flew well. She had sustained a broken wing and spent many weeks in the Hospital recovering. After a few short flights she began panting heavily--a sign of being in a weakened physical state due to her long recovery.  It was great to see her getting full extension of the wing that had been broken.  She will need more conditioning before she can be released.  She is a big Owl and has an amazing set of feet and talons that any Bird of Prey would envy !

The impressive feet and talons of a Great Horned Owl

The day was fantastic.  The work was done with great passion and care.  It is the sincere hope and determination of everyone involved that these Ultimate Flyers can be returned from whence they came ....returned to the wild !

To find out how YOU can become a part of returning one of these beautiful creatures to the wild, click HERE to learn more about our “Return to the Wild" program.

To take part in a “Return to the Wild” email or call (636) 861-1392 or

Submitted by Craig Lanham, World Bird Sanctuary volunteer

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

For A Limited Time Only!

Don't delay--make your reservations now!  Only two more chances to meet the  Creatures of Halloween!

In addition to spooks and goblins, what makes Halloween so ghoulishly creepy?  Come to one of our Creatures of Halloween program to meet some of the creatures of the night.   Your little goblins will have a chance to meet some of these creatures--maybe even touch one if they're brave enough!

Thrill to the silent flight of our "Ghost Owl", meet a real live bat, and other creatures that slither and crawl! Learn about how these creatures benefit humans when they're not making your hair stand on end.

Only two more performances:
October 24 & 30
7:00 p.m.
$9.00 adult/$7.00 child (10% discount for WBS sponsors)

Location:  WBS Nature Center - for directions click HERE

Reservations required:  636-225-4390, Ext. 0

Sunday, October 18, 2009

An Encounter With A Roadrunner

WBS field studies staff frequently travel to the southwest to do consulting work.

 On a recent trip to Arizona, while sitting in a hotel lobby, I was entertained by a roadrunner looking for lizards outside the main entrance door. 

The roadrunner approached quickly with what looked like real purpose.  It approached a square pillar which had a two-inch crack at the base.  As the roadrunner neared the pillar it kind of lay down on the ground to look under the pillar for lizards.  He did not find any on the first pass, so stood up, ran around to the next side, and did the same thing.  He then proceeded to do this on each side of the pillar.

Failing to find any lizards, he cautiously walked in front of the doors, looking in as he passed.  I quickly snapped a photo with my camera.  The bird kept going as I tried to walk to the window to watch more.  However, I was spotted and it took off like the wind! 

I only wish that I had gotten the camera out sooner to photograph the antics of this cartoon-like character.

Article and photo submitted by Cathy Spahn, World Bird Sanctuary Field Studies Coordinator

Friday, October 16, 2009

This Weekend!

It's finally here!!  Our biggest event of the year!  Open House!!  This Weekend!!!

Have your face painted.

Hold a live bird of prey for your photo op.

Take a behind the scenes tour.

Meet Scoop and Mudflap, our pelicans.

Meet Fred the Turkey, the inspiration for one of our songs.

The final performance of the day will be our talented in-house group, The Raptor Project

Come join us and be prepared to be entertained!

This weekend, October 17 and 18
10 am to 4 pm

Admission is FREE!

Wear your walking shoes and dress for the weather.  For the safety of our guests and our animals, no pets please.

For directions Click Here  or for more information call 636-225-4390, Ext. 0

Monday, October 12, 2009

Eagle Scout Projects

Where would we be without the Boy Scouts?

While I was at the World Bird Sanctuary not long ago with my young niece and nephew, I noticed a great deal of unusual activity near the weathering area and Visitor Information Center (VIC).  Since I am always on the lookout for newsworthy articles, I decided to check it out.

What I found was a troop of Boy Scouts and their leader who were helping one of their members fulfill the requirements for his Eagle Scout award.  Scout Tim Smith of Troop 496 had chosen the World Bird Sanctuary as the recipient of his efforts to fulfill his Eagle Scout award requirements.  He had met with the person in charge of our Scout Projects to find out what projects we needed that were within his capabilities.

Tim decided to help improve working conditions for our naturalists who must clean, wash and disinfect our birds' bowls, carpets, night quarters, and anything else that our birds come in contact with every day.  The only source of water at the weathering area and the VIC is an outdoor faucet and hose.  Carpets were being cleaned and scrubbed on a wooden platform, but with no drainage system, the ground was always muddy.  These chores are a 365 day a year job.

Tim's project was to pour a concrete pad and install a drain so that our naturalists could wash and scrub utensils and carpets without standing in the mud.  The project also included a new scrub rack, and drying racks for the carpets.  Sounds simple, right?  Not so.  The purpose of Eagle Scout projects is not only to teach young men about community service, but also to teach organizational skills.  A scout project such as this one involves drawing up plans, making up a list of materials needed, acquiring the materials (whether through donations or purchase), rounding up people to help with the project, and finally, execution of the project.  Often the project spans several weeks of actual construction.

Our thanks go out to Tim and his helpers -- Troopmaster Jack Tejcek, fellow scouts, friends, and parents who assisted with this project.

The next time you are walking the trail at the World Bird Sanctuary, pay particular attention to the plaques on most of our structures--cages, pavilions, buildings, bat houses, bathing pools, etc.  Most of them were constructed by Boy Scouts working toward their Eagle award.  In return for their hard work and wonderful contribution to our organization, the World Bird Sanctuary brings a live eagle to the scout's Eagle Ceremony.

As well as the Eagle Scout projects, we have projects for Girl Scouts, and troops as well.  Our list is long.

For more information contact Roger Holloway, World Bird Sanctuary Facilities Director at 636-861-1392

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Confessions of a Lazy Gardener

I have plants--LOTS of them! 

Even though I enjoy working in my garden, I have to confess to a lazy streak when it comes to some aspects of gardening.  Therefore, I employ a full time 365 day a year crew of helpers.  Am I wealthy?  Not by a long shot. This crew works for peanuts--literally!

The fact of the matter is, I hate to spray--and haven't used an insecticide for at least thirty years.  How, may you ask, do I keep the insects from devouring the several hundred plants that inhabit my backyard?  Remember that 365 day a year grounds crew?  You guessed it--I feed the birds!  They do, literally, work for peanuts (and seeds), and they keep my yard essentially pest free year round.

This past year our area was inundated with Japanese Beetles (actually they've been a problem for the past four years).  At least that's what my friends and neighbors tell me.  They've spent hundreds of dollars on insecticides and "Bag A Bug" traps, and still have beetles, as well as other plant devouring insects.  They spray, and kill every insect in sight, only to have a new crop hatch out in a few days or weeks.  They all want to know what I do to keep the insects from devouring all my plants.  When I tell them I feed the birds and I never spray they look at me like I've lost my mind.

Have you ever watched a wren, sparrow, or other backyard bird for any length of time?  They're always busy searching in, under and around your vegetation for insects.  Watch one wren in action for about fifteen minutes.  How many bugs does she catch to feed her demanding brood of chicks?  Multiply that by fifty, sixty, or more birds, and that's a mind boggling number of insects removed from your yard in a fifteen minute period of time.  Now--multiply that by the number of hours of daylight each day, and the number of insects removed from your yard is astronomical!

Why don't I spray to "help" them out?  If I poison the insects, what happens to the birds that eat them?  They ingest the poison along with the insect.  Soon there are no birds in the yard, and the insects return in full force.  Remember, when you spray, you only kill the adult insects--not their eggs--which hatch out into another crop of insects.  It's a vicious circle.  In addition, spraying also kills the "good" insects which prey on many of the plant devouring bugs.

Me?  I'd rather spend a few dollars on nuts, seeds and suet, and sit on my patio, with a cool drink in hand watching the birds, than poisoning everything in sight--myself included.

So to have your own full time yard crew on hand for next spring's plants and flowers, start feeding the birds now.  I prefer a mixture of black oil sunflower seeds and safflower seed in my supposedly squirrel proof feeder.  This feeder attracts almost every variety of bird.  I've found that any seed mix that contains corn draws an inordinate number of starlings and grackles who keep the other birds at bay.  With a corn-free mixture you'll still get some of these species, but not such a disproportionate number.

I also avoid mixes that contain milo.  That's the little round seed that looks like a b-b.  About the only bird that seems to eat it are the doves.  It's primarily used as a filler, and most of it gets wasted.  You won't be discouraging the doves by not using milo, as the doves will eat the other seeds just as well.

By far my favorite is a nut feeder filled with what my co-op calls a "tree nut mix".  It's a mix of peanuts, cashews, brazil nuts and almonds, and looks good enough for human consumption.  If you can't find this mix, peanuts will do also.  The woodpeckers, chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, and a number of other birds love this stuff.  Normally cardinals like to eat on the ground, but they love this mix and will perch on the feeder just to get to it.

Finally, especially in winter and spring, there is the suet.  There are many varieties available for sale.  If you have squirrels it will be a constant battle to keep them from raiding the suet feeders.  The only real solution I have found to the squirrel problem is to purchase "Hot Pepper Suet".  The squirrels avoid it like the plague and the birds love it.  The only problem is that it is sometimes difficult to find.

By next spring your very own personal exterminators will be on the job and ready to go as soon as those pesky insects start to show up.  The most difficult part is resisting the urge to reach for the insecticide as soon as you see some bugs.

Article and photos submitted by Gay Schroer, World Bird Sanctuary volunteer

Thursday, October 8, 2009

We'll Quack You Up!

      Hi, I’m Wilbur, an Indian Runner Duck, but some of my trainer friends call me “fluffy top”. 

I live and hang out with two other ducks, Daisy and Petunia.  I am the main star of the “Lord of the Wings” show at the Stone Zoo outside of Boston.  There are a few other birds, but really, who comes to see owls, vultures, hawks, parrots and things like a stork or crow when, obviously, the ducks are the stars.  After all, we quack the audience up.

In the show, I take the lead, running down the ramp toward the awed spectators, and then I charge into the pool for a swim with my pals.  By this point, the crowd is rolling in the aisles. Then we jump out of the pool and head to our off stage dressing room where we chill out until the next performance.

In between shows we stay active with kinesthetics. We can travel anywhere. We are just like our distant cousins in Asia that work in the rice fields. Runner ducks in Asia will follow behind the farmer in the rice paddies eating the insects they stir up.  In exchange, the ducks help aerate the saturated soil with their feet. There aren’t any rice patties in Boston, but we follow our target flag around the theater, backstage, and even into and out of our crate.

We were gearing up for the duck flock agility course competition by zigzagging in and out of weave poles, climbing steps and going over or around new and more challenging obstacles. Unfortunately, the summer came to an end and we migrated back to St. Louis for the fall, where we did get to catch up on the exploits of our two duck friends that went to Little Rock, Arkansas, for the summer.

I have to waddle now.  The pool is calling my name!  Be sure to come see us perform at the World Bird Sanctuary’s Open House on October 17 & 18.  We’ll quack you up!

Article and photos submitted by Christina Lavallee, Naturalist for the World Bird Sanctuary.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

It's Almost Here!!

Don't forget to set aside October 17 & 18 for the World Bird Sanctuary Open House weekend.

This year's Open House will feature our new "Wings Over Watershed" programs.  Meet Scoop and Mudflap, our watershed mascots, as well as many of our other birds.  This year's festivities will concentrate on water conservation.  Meet representatives from the Missouri American Water Company who will answer questions on what we can all do to conserve water.

Take a tour of our lower site, where you can meet Dorothy our young Andean Condor, and see the large free flight mews where many of our breeding pairs are housed.

Walk to the end of the trail to the building called "The Roost", where members of our Field Studies team will be doing bird banding demonstrations and answering questions from those guests interested in this aspect of our organization.

Have your photo taken holding one of our raptors, browse our gift shop and other booths for souveniers, have lunch under one of our picnic pavilions, and just have a fun and entertaining day in general.

Wind up the day with a performance by our in-house musical group, The Raptor Project.

As always, admission is FREE.

Mark your calendar --
October 17 & 18
10 am to 4 pm

Wear your walking shoes and dress for the weather.  For the safety of our guests and our animals, no pets please.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Whooo’s coming to Branson?

I’m Luna an American Barn Owl, one of the stars of the "Wings Over Missouri" show at Silver Dollar City.

After a fun filled summer in Boston at the Stone Zoo, my fellow performers and I traveled back home to St. Louis for a brief stay. This allowed us to ‘catch’ up and ‘grab’ some dinner with our friends who had just returned from their summer shows in Little Rock, Arkansas and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Within days, we were on the road again to Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri.  They wanted local talent to star in the “Wings over Missouri” bird show.  Many native birds are represented, including hawks, owls, vultures, and eagles.

When we arrived in Branson, the finishing touches were being added to the weathering area.  This is the spot where we can watch other native wildlife--especially the humans.  The following day, we were introduced to the theater.  Boy is it huge!!  It will give us all a chance to spread our wings and show off what we do best--educating guests through our flights.  Our handlers have come from several shows too.  After being in smaller theaters, this new larger theater is exciting, and we look forward to filling it once the shows start on September 30th.

We want to make the most of the next month, so come see us at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri.  Shows run from September 30 until October 31. 

Article and photos submitted by Christina Lavallee, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist

Friday, October 2, 2009

Innovation in our Wildlife Hospital

I manage the Wildlife Hospital at World Bird Sanctuary.  I have big ideas with whatever I do, and I'm always trying to find a better way of doing things.  Sometimes these ideas fly.  Sometimes they crash.

The latest 'invention' is a better Cooper's Hawk cage for Cooper's Hawks that come into our Wildlife Hospital for treatment.  For whatever reason, Cooper's Hawks are very jumpy birds.  They hunt other birds, so they have to be fast.  This spills over to their behavior when they are in the Wildlife Hospital - they jump around the cage, and are difficult to catch up to administer medication or perform physical therapy.  Their movement in the cage can further damage a broken wing or injured leg.

Sanctuary Manager, Joe Hoffmann, and Volunteer, Sue Owens, handfeeding a Cooper's Hawk.
When a Cooper's Hawk breaks a wing or is injured in some other way, they may be in our clinic for 6-8 weeks.  Injuries barely slow them down!  When staff and volunteers scrap (remove old food from the cages), clean cages or place food in the cage, the hawks dart by and can be a challenge to catch in the maze of rooms inside the hospital.

Our staff and volunteers have been innovative over the years, trying to find a better holding stall for Cooper's Hawks, which will allow the rehabber access to the cage and the bird, without enabling an escape!  We think we've found a pretty good solution!  We've developed a cage which allows us to put just our (gloved) hand in the cage to place food and remove scraps, or to catch the hawk before the cage is opened.  Two arm holes in a front-raising door allow the rehabber to access the hawk in the cage.  Once the rehabber has control of the bird, a counterweight system opens the door fully so that the hawk can be removed from the cage without injury to the bird or the rehabber.

The cage has two openings that allow the rehabber to reach into the cage without it being fully opened.

Once the rehabber has control of the hawk, the cage can be fully opened to take it out of the cage.

Like any new idea, we have some kinks to work out, but look at our pictures and let us know what you think.

If you are, or know of, an aspiring engineer who can help us to resolve some of the unique challenges we face, we'd love to hear from you at 636-861-1392.  We can chat about what we need, and you can volunteer your problem-solving skills to help us continue to find better ways of improving how we do things! 

Submitted by Joe Hoffmann, Sanctuary Manager, World Bird Sanctuary