Wednesday, December 30, 2009

This I Believe

Following is an essay written by Junior Volunteer, Matt Levin, for his Honors English class.  Matt will be 16 this month.    He attends middle school in the Parkway district.  Matt started volunteering for the World Bird Sanctuary in 2008, and has become a valued member of our team.

Junior Volunteer, Matt Levin, holding Waylon, a Blue & Gold Macaw

"This I Believe"

          "I believe in the basic human need to belong.  This need to belong can  be as simple as needing friends so that you feel that you have a place in the world, or, for me, it could be as complex as continuing to volunteer at the World Bird Sanctuary.  For me, the need to belong is huge, since I don’t have much of a life outside of school, let alone a social life.
          "When I stopped to think about it, it seemed pretty obvious what I could do to fix that problem.  I could volunteer at the World Bird Sanctuary!  Not only has the World Bird Sanctuary given me a place in the world, but it also makes me feel like, to quote a Linkin Park song,” I’m somewhere I belong”.  Although I still don’t have much of a life outside of that, when I’m volunteering at the World Bird Sanctuary, I feel like I belong because all of the staff is really friendly and easy to get along with.  Also, it’s easy to see that, when I leave to go back home, that I’ve accomplished something, because I sign off for the things that I did on a chore sheet and then I can see just how helpful I was.
"Another reason why I feel like I belong at the World Bird Sanctuary is that whenever I get something done, whichever staff members are there always thank me and let me know that they recognize and appreciate the fact that I did something.  This is also a part of needing to belong--having work that you did, and could have worked hard on-- recognized in a way that you know it’s recognized.  Also, according to some of the staff members, when I started volunteering, there were only a few junior volunteers.  (A junior volunteer is someone who volunteers at the World Bird Sanctuary who is under the age of 17.  After 17, you’re just a volunteer.)  Now, however, there are a lot more than just me and around one other person.  I feel so strongly that I belong at the World Bird Sanctuary, that if I get the chance, I’m going to work there.

          "I believe in the basic need to belong and to have your work recognized in a way that you notice.  The World Bird Sanctuary helps me accomplish both of these things."

Submitted by Matt Levin, World Bird Sanctuary Junior Volunteer

Monday, December 28, 2009

Re-Using Cut Christmas Trees

If you've opted for a cut Christmas tree rather than a living tree that you can plant later, at least consider  alternatives to letting it end up at the local landfill.  For instance, here's some recycling information that bird watchers will appreciate.

You can put your cut Christmas trees out in the backyard after the holidays are over, to provide shelter for wild birds.  Recycling Christmas trees in this manner is just one of many ways that you can use plants to attract wild birds.  Draw even more wild birds by hanging suet on the Christmas trees, or pine cones smeared with peanut butter and rolled in birdseed.

For non-birdwatchers, another piece of recycling information pertaining to cut Christmas trees may be more useful.  Saw off the branches, then saw the trunk up into smaller parts.  Use this material as "flooring" with which to line the bottom of your compost bin.  With the superior aeration such flooring will provide, your compost will break down faster.

And lastly, if neither of the above appeals to you, many municipalities offer Christmas tree recycling dump sites.  In some municipalities, such as St. Peters, these discarded Christmas trees are ground up into bark mulch which is then available to residents to use as mulch in their yards.

Submitted by Jennifer Jones, World Bird Sanctuary Volunteer

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Re-Using Packing Peanuts

Use those peanuts for your plants
If you were lucky, you received gifts that were sufficiently "high-end" to be packed with packing peanuts.  Before you take those packing peanuts out with the trash, consider how useful they may be as filler in your container gardens.

Huh?, you ask.  That's right--packing peanuts are light and airy enough to offr great drainage at the bottom of a container garden, such as the raised beds I show you how to construct elsewhere.  Why pay money for a product such as perlite to accomplish the same result you can get for free?  You could use crushed stone at the bottom of your pots; however, not only will you have to pay for it, but it's weight will make the container much heavier to move around.

Thus, this is one example of recycling information tht will help you save money, as well as "saving the planet".

If you have a “black thumb” and don’t garden, those packing peanuts can be turned in to any nearby UPS store.  They will reuse them.  Hopefully the next recipient will also be environmentally conscious and reuse or recycle them again.

Submitted by Jennifer Jones, World Bird Sanctuary Volunteer

Friday, December 25, 2009







Thursday, December 24, 2009

It's Time to Open the Gifts!

Before opening all those gaily wrapped packages, here are a few hints to get you through the mountains of ribbon, stuffing, and wrapping.

·       Set a box aside to collect the reusable ribbons, bows, and other package decorations.
·       Most gifts boxes can be flattened and reused throughout the year for other items. Recycle boxes that can't be reused.
·       With all the excitement, people usually tear through the gift wrap, so set aside a large box or bag to collect the torn gift wrap. If there are large uncrumpled pieces of wrap, consider using those pieces for wrapping future gifts.

Submitted by Jennifer Jones, World Bird Sanctuary Volunteer

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Sad Time for the World Bird Sanctuary

“He always brought donuts,” Roger said, “even when he rode his motorcycle.” 

It’s weird the things you remember, the things that give you pause, when someone you care for is suddenly gone.  All of us here at WBS will be having those moments for a long time to come since the sudden passing of John Kinsey late December 12th.  He was only 44.  John was a loyal volunteer and an even more loyal friend.  He joined us in 2004 and worked on Sundays in the Education Training Center; this is where the donuts went.  He also helped out in the Propagation department and in Education programs.  He became an integral part of our squad of flying Bald Eagles and their trainers, known to us as “Team Bubba,” taking beautiful pictures at their events, as well as hauling crates and equipment without complaint.

This post could be incredibly long—it’s hard for me to be concise about all the ways John was awesome.  I started at WBS as an intern a few months after John arrived, so he has always been part of my life here, one of my closest friends.  There were a lot of things he loved—his photography, his music, his bike.  He loved the birds, and some of them even loved him back.  Niles, our Southern Ground Hornbill, tried to joyfully bound into the bleachers to see John (“Niles! NO!”) in the middle of a show a few years back.  Our poor speaker was horrified, as was John, but all was well in the end.  John hid better from Niles during shows in the future. 

He loved his friends and took such good care of all of us.  He loved just hanging out, especially at “Fire and Beer,” our periodic after-work bonfires.  He always stayed until the end to help me put the fire out, no matter how late or cold it was.  Most of all, the best thing we can learn from John that came up unanimously among all of us was this: if there is something in life you want to do or want to learn…do it…learn it.  Plan for it. Save for it.  Or do it randomly one unexpected day.  It sounds so simple, but it isn’t always.  John always did.  He was always pursuing something new with great vigor, and then would gleefully share it with us.

We have lost a very special person, friend, volunteer.  But thankfully we also have things around us that will remind us of him everyday forever—a freezing day at K.C. Renaissance Faire, Lewis flying at Busch Stadium, the sound of a motorcycle, a warm donut on a cold day.  I imagine him taking care of all the birds we have lost, and the ones we will inevitably lose in the future, as that is a sad part of our job.  Sometimes he’ll be laughing at us, for sure, but he will always be smiling.  We should all strive to be as kind as he was.  He will be greatly missed.

Submitted by Dana Lambert, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Environmentally Friendly Gifts

Are you "stuck" for a last minute gift?  Here are some environmentally friendly gift ideas that are not only good for the environment, but quick and easy for the giver.

1.  Give people gift certificates provided by a local nursery.  The recipients can then do their own shopping in spring.  This alternative is not only enviro-friendly, but will also reduce holiday stress for you!  If the recipients are not already committed to composting, this is a good opportunity for you to impart some recycling information yourself; inform them of the benefits of compost.

2.  Give people plants for a holiday gift.  A plant is a gift that will "keep on giving".  Even if it does die, it can be recycled--by composting it.  Think of composting as "recycling plants".  Furthermore, a plant doesn't come in a box, so there's no cardboard waste to dispose of.  And if you wish to take "saving the planet" to another level with your gift, make sure the plant comes in a fancy container--one too pretty to throw away!  There will also be less temptation to cover up fancy containers with tin foil, which is not biodegradable.

3.  Give them an inscribed brick such as those offered by the World Bird Sanctuary--or alternatively, by another organization of your choice.  These inscribed pavers not only help the organization, but are a gift that will last for generations.  Another bonus is that they are usually tax deductible.

Here are a few other ideas and suggestions on how to have a wonderful gift giving holiday season and still be earth friendly.

•  Not sure what to get someone?  How about a gift certificate?  That way you know the gift will be kept

•  Make gifts.  Everyone appreciates a home-cooked meal or baked goodies

•  Consider nonmaterial gifts.  Tickets to a sporting event, movie, play, or concert are a real treat!  Or make a charitable donation in someone's name

•  When you go shopping, bring your own reusable bag

•  Think durable!  Consider how long an item will last before you make a purchase.  Often, a cheaper item will wear out long before it's more durable equivalent

•  And, always remember to look for items made with recycled content

Submitted by Jennifer Jones, World Bird Sanctuary Volunteer

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Gift Wrapping

No Waste Gift Wrapping Ideas

With Christmas rapidly approaching, many of you are in the throes of furiously wrapping those gifts that you've purchased for friends and loved ones.  We thought this would be an appropriate time to publish some innovative gift wrapping ideas, submitted by volunteer Jennifer Jones, that are both attractive and environmentally friendly.  Between now and Christmas we will be publishing several more of Jennifer's environmental Christmas tips.

·       Wrap the gift in a drawstring bag and use an inexpensive luggage tag for the gift tag.
·       Decorate oversized gifts with just a bow that can be used again.
·       Put toy animals in a cowboy hat and wrap a cowboy scarf around it.
·       Use a jewelry box for some flea market 'jewels.'
·       Use a knit hat to wrap a small gift. Close the hat with a barrette or a decorative hat pin.
·       Games or toys for a child can go in a new backpack designed pillow case.
·       For a person who is handy, wrap a gift in a tool box.
·       Put blouses and other gifts in decorative hat boxes and tie with a hair ribbon.
·       For the sewing enthusiast, wrap a gift in a fabric remnant and tie it with a piece of lace or ribbon.
·       Any kitchen gift can be wrapped in a colorful dish towel. Kitchen utensils can pop out of an oven mitt.
·       Place home-baked cookies in a reusable tin box, a kitchen container, or a decorated oatmeal box.
·       Use a colorful tablecloth to wrap dishes or dining room gifts.
·       For a reader, wrap a book in a reusable canvas shopping sack.
·       Wrap tools for a gardener in the pocket of an apron, planter, or bucket.
·       Hang earrings, bracelets, or necklaces right on the Christmas tree, or put them inside or around an open ornament.
·       Search the flea market, garage sales, and thrift stores for interesting old boxes that can be used as decorative packages.
·       Search the attic for old family photos and mementos and give them to your favorite relative wrapped in grandma's old hat and a lace curtain.
·       Salvation Army and Goodwill thrift shops often have good prices on leftover holiday wrapping paper.
·       Purchase gift bags from your local dollar stores and reuse them each year.
·       Reuse last year’s Christmas cards by saving the front page, trimming the edges to roughly approximate the image, and use a hole punch in the upper corner to make a hole for a ribbon to tie the tag to your pacikage.  Voila!...a free recycled gift tag.
·       Used, but attractive, gift baskets are often offered at local thrift shops.
·       Christmas-theme fabric, with Velcro strips attached, can become reusable holiday wrap
If every American family wrapped just 3 presents in re-used materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.

    Submitted by Jennifer Jones, World Bird Sanctuary Volunteer

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wish List

Alright, so what do cat litter boxes, duct tape, plastic gloves, and batteries all have in common??  

They are all things we need to help our birds, in some way, shape or form.  Ok, now you’re thinking… what the heck?  Well, I’ll tell you.

Chrys, our Long Crested Eagle, after a refreshing bath in her own personal cat litter pan

Cat litter boxes – those brightly colored bins that cats put icky things into.  Well, here at WBS, we don’t quite see them that way.  We use them as water bowls for our birds.  We do require that when people donate them, they have to be brand new, of course.  The litter boxes are the perfect size for a hawk, owl or falcon to jump into and have a nice, healthy bath whenever they choose.  We wash the bowls on a regular basis and always make sure the water is clean and fresh.  They are especially appreciated when it rains – the birds seem to think that a bath and a shower at the same time is a great idea!!

Duct tape - that wonderful silver stuff that binds the universe together - is also extremely important for us when we travel with our birds.  You see, when we have to stay overnight somewhere with raptors, we need to bring their perches and all their support equipment.  When we set the perches up, we can’t just place them on the floor – many of our birds are strong enough that they could drag them around the room, getting into a lot of trouble.  So, we use duct tape to secure the perches to the floor.  This way our birds are safe all night long. 

Plastic gloves – we see them all the time on the medical dramas on TV.  We don’t use them for human medical treatments, of course, but they come in so handy for keeping clean when we work with the raptors’ food.  When we feed our birds rats, mice, quail and other food items, we always prepare the food first.  Since our birds eat dead animals, we gut the food.  This makes sure that the intestines and other internal organs that could go bad are removed.  Also, our birds are very well fed – they usually only eat the parts that are especially tasty.  Organs are not normally on that list.  Anything they don’t like, they fling off to the side.  That means more clean-up for us.  Yuck.  Plastic gloves keep our hands clean when we gut the food.  They are also great for cleaning up the scraps that the birds leave behind.

Staff member, Trina Whitener, using a battery operated portable sound system
Batteries – no our birds are not battery-operated!  We do educational programs all across the country with our birds.  Many places have sound systems that we can use, but some small organizations, schools, or scouting groups, can’t afford to have their own sound system.  We have a couple of different portable systems that we can take on the road, but they all require 9V or AAA batteries to keep them going.  If we can’t be heard, we can’t teach about these great animals!!

If you would like to donate any of these things, we would so greatly appreciate it!  We have a full wish list available – just e-mail, call or even send us a self addressed stamped envelope.

Submitted by Laura MacLeod, World Bird Sanctuary Education Coordinator

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Bald Eagle Season in the St.Louis area.

Eagle Season is upon us... 

....Bald Eagles, that is. It’s time to go to the river and see the eagles that are drifting down from the north.  Bald Eagles fly south along the Mississippi River to find open water and good fishing.  Just north of the St. Louis area are quite a few spots to enjoy these strong, bold and majestic creatures.  The Bald eagles often congregate below the Locks and Dams to gather fish that have been temporarily stunned.  Below that Dam, on the bank of the river, is a great place for you to position yourself to see some amazing flying behaviors.

Some places that have easy accessibility are near Alton, Grafton, and at Pere Marquette Lodge in Illinois.  On the Missouri side of the river you can go to Clarksville, Winfield – or -on the Missouri side of the river across from Alton at a place called the Riverlands Environmental Demonstration Area.  All have convenient parking. Bring your binoculars to enhance your view of the activity.

Today I am catching the "Eagle fever" because I have a couple of bird programs at a school in Canton, Missouri.  Canton is a Mississippi River town about 3 hours north of St. Louis.  I can't wait to get to the river to see some Eagles.

Contact World Bird Sanctuary for our upcoming Eagle events and the dates that we will be at each location.

Call us at 636-225-4390 between 8 am and 5 pm CST, or to contact us online Click Here.

Hope to see you at one of our Eagle Events by the river.

Submitted by Michael Zeloski, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Last two days to cast your vote for WBS - please vote now!

Friends of World Bird Sanctuary,

Tomorrow, December 11,  is the last day for you to cast your vote for World Bird Sanctuary in Round 1 of the Chase Community Giving Challenge!  Vote now by clicking on the link today - there are only a few hours of voting left!

If you are on Facebook, you can help World Bird Sanctuary to win much-needed funds from the Chase Giving program with just one click!

Chase Giving has established a Facebook Fan Page.

Chase Giving is giving away $5,000,000 to local charities through their Facebook fan page.  You can help us to win some of that money by voting for WBS to receive funds.

Please click on the link to become a Fan of Chase Giving, then enter World Bird Sanctuary and press go to cast your vote.  And then forward the link to all of your friends and ask them to vote too!  Remember, there is no cost to you to cast your vote, and it would help us tremendously!

The deadline is December 11th, so please vote now!

It couldn't be easier!

Thank you!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Quite a Pair

In five years of doing education programs with the World Bird Sanctuary, there are many things that members of the general public have in common.  One of those things is that people are crazy about eagles. 

However, when discussing eagles in a general sense, folks here in this country often assume you are talking about Bald Eagles, or at least that is the picture they have in their heads.  People tend to forget that there are over 60 species of eagles found throughout the world, many of which are quite different in both their looks and their habits from the Bald Eagle.  I have been lucky enough to work with several of these eagle species in my time here, and there is one species in particular that I love to introduce to people—the Tawny Eagle.
Tawny Eagles are one of the most widespread species of eagles.  They are found in parts of Europe, Asia, and most of Africa.  They are a tawny brown, as one might expect, and are often described by ornithologists and common bird watchers alike as “scruffy looking.”  Weights can range from 4 to 6 pounds and they have a wingspan of 5 to 5.5 feet.  Tawny Eagles are part of the “booted eagle” family, like the Golden Eagles in our country.  This refers to the thick feathering on their legs which extends all the way to their feet, protecting them from the bites and scratches of their prey. 
One of the most interesting things about Tawny Eagles is their wide variety of hunting strategies.  They will prey on creatures as small as insects and as large as flamingoes.  More often, though, they get their meals by scavenging or by stealing prey from other birds, known as “kleptoparasitism.”  These clever birds will go so far as to steal prey that has already been eaten!  How might one do that?  Well, Tawny Eagles have been blessed with a boisterous barking call, which, along with some spectacular erratic flying, can cause even the bravest vulture to defend itself by throwing up its tasty carcass meal.  Then it’s three cheers for a hot lunch!

Max was the first Tawny Eagle I met at the Sanctuary as an intern.  He was a larger bird than the others I had handled, and a little intimidating.  After spending some time with him, though, he quickly became one of my favorites because of his unique personality.  While birds of prey are not friendly in any way, they do all have their own quirks, likes, and dislikes.  Max is a particularly curious bird.  This trait makes him a great teacher for new bird handlers learning the lesson of "what is your space and what is your bird’s space!"  Anything in Max’s space is fair game to become a chew toy…hat brims, hood strings, hair, etc. 
Max has a sibling named Diablo, who I'd had little chance to work with until recently.  Diablo went with my co-workers and me to the Milwaukee County Zoo to do shows there this past summer.  It was Diablo’s rookie flying season.  As always with a rookie, there was a lot of excitement, some creative trouble-shooting, and some scary moments; but in the end, great success!  Diablo was a rock star flyer, impressing audiences with his speed and wing span alike.  While he certainly is “his own bird,” so to speak, I was so pleased that he also had many of the curious qualities I loved in Max.  What I found out was that I really just love Tawny Eagles in general!

Natural histories on these birds describe them as a generally quiet species, except in instances of aggression, courtship displays, and making vultures barf.  This is NOT the case with our Tawnies.  If you begin your visit to the World Bird Sanctuary at the Visitor’s Information Center, you may be greeted by the strange, persistent barking of Max in the Weathering Area, especially if one of the Naturalists he knows is in his sight.  This is often how folks are first captivated by him and immediately want to know more.  Diablo, who is currently on vacation from his long summer, resides at our Education Training Center which is not generally open to the public.  However, both Max and Diablo are up for adoption through our Adopt-A-Bird program.  For more information about this important program and the special visiting privileges that can be scheduled for you and your adopted feathered friend, please call 636-225-4390 ex. 0 or speak with a Naturalist during your visit.  Max the welcome wagon will be waiting for you!

Submitted by Dana Lambert, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Dirty Work in Rehab!

For those of us who work in the Wildlife Hospital on a daily or weekly basis, the bird poop, castings (undigestible materials that birds regurgitate - essentially a hairball with bones), blood and preparing whole food items (rats, rabbits, mice etc.) is just another usual day at work.

Young Great-horned owls make a mess overnight - castings and poop greet the rehabber first thing in the morning!

Then there are days that we deal with maggots in the wounds of a newly injured bird brought in to us - a common case during the summer months.  There are other parasites that multiply quickly on wild birds when the bird is injured and does not have the energy to care for itself - like flat flies, mites and the odd bloodsucking fluke.  None of these are hosted by humans, so they do not present a danger to us or infest our hospital, but they are still pretty gross and we do occassionallly get freaked out by them!

Sanctuary Manager, Joe Hoffmann, and Volunteer, Craig Lanham, handfeed a Red-Tailed Hawk small pieces of rat.

There are a host of other nasty jobs that are 'all in a day's work' for a wildlife rehabber, but that's another blog!  In any event, getting a bird through the trials of looking like it won't survive to the point where it is released back into the wild, healthy and fed-up, is a reward that makes this all worth while.

This is what makes it all worthwhile!  Release of a Red-tailed Hawk that recovered in our Wildlife Hospital.

If this hasn't sent you gagging, and you would like to enjoy the reward of seeing a bird return to it's natural habitat after caring for it in our wildlife hospital, you can volunteer in our Wildlife Hospital. Download a volunteer application form here.

If the works sounds too dirty, but you'd still like to help our wildlife hospital, you can sponsor the release of a bird rehabilitated in our wildlife hospital by clicking here, or buy our environmentally-focused children's music CD, "Save the Future" here - all proceeds go directly towards the feeding and care of birds in our Wildlife Hospital.

Submitted by Joe Hoffmann, Sanctuary Manager, World Bird Sanctuary.  

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Your Facebook Vote can help WBS get much needed funds!

Friends of World Bird Sanctuary,

If you are on Facebook, you can help World Bird Sanctuary to win much-needed funds from the Chase Giving program with just one click!

Chase Giving has established a Facebook Fan Page.

Chase Giving is giving away $5,000,000 to local charities through their Facebook fan page.  You can help us to win some of that money by voting for WBS to receive funds.

Please click on the link to become a Fan of Chase Giving, then enter World Bird Sanctuary and press go to cast your vote.  And then forward the link to all of your friends and ask them to vote too!

The deadline is December 11th, so please vote now!

It couldn't be easier!

Thank you!