Monday, November 29, 2010

Family members help World Bird Sanctuary

Thank goodness for family!

My Mom has lent the World Bird Sanctuary her weed whacker for the past year.
 Staff member, Mike Zieloski, making good use of his mom's weed whacker
 The weed whacker has been used to trim the area around the Visitor's Center, bird weathering area and parking circle.  The good thing about this weed whacker is that it is not too powerful.  That's right, minimum power.  Less power to throw rocks with the rapidly spinning weed string.  Part of the area that I have to trim is near the WBS vans or the employee cars.  So it is nice that I do not have to worry about a rock going through a windshield.  Like the time I used the mower near the WBS Flagpole.  A rock shot out from under the mower and hit John Kinsey's windshield.  About $300 dollars, and an inconvienence to our volunteer, John.  I felt awful.  But John never complained.  John had his windshield replaced.  I paid.  I don't use the lawn mower anymore.
My Mom also donated the flag for the WBS flagpole.  The Sanctuary's flag was worn out.  My Mom had an extra flag and willingly donated it to WBS.  Jaimie Sansoucie, one of our new reliable volunteers replaced our old flag with the new one from my Mom.  We treated the old flag with respect.

Side note about Flags: How do you respectfully retire an old flag?  The first three places I called would not accept old flags.  But the Firehouse over on Olive Street Road does still accept flags.  The person at the Firehouse told me that there is a woman who respectfully salvages the useable stars from the flag.  She makes a nice display and then sends the individual stars to our troops serving overseas.  The stars have been very well received.  What other ways are there to respectfully retire an old flag in the St. Louis area?

My Dad was in the Navy and proudly flew a flag at our house for years and years.  What do I do with our next flag that wears out?  Let me know and perhaps I will be able to mention some ideas in a future blog.

These are just two ways a family member has assisted the World Bird Sanctuary without giving cash.  Many other WBS family members have contributed items to World Bird Sanctuary.  Stephenson Roofing donated the supplies and labor for our Picnic pavillion roof.  There is a man coming next week to fix our carpet.  Sometimes cash is tight but people are more than willing to donate services, or materials for which they no longer have a use. 

Can you think of some way you could help us out?  Is there a way you could help us out by offering your services or excess materials?   Do you have an idea?  We probably could use your help, but just don’t know what services or materials are available.  Call us at 636-225-4390 with your idea

Thanks for giving.  That is how we improve and how we are able to be fiscally responsible.  Right now we need a Cargo van to transport our birds to schools for programs.  If you think you can help us out in this area please give us a call.  All donations are tax deductible to the full extent of the law.

Submitted by Michael Zieloski, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist

Monday, November 22, 2010

Do you want to help teach others about the wonders of birds?

World Bird Sanctuary is now a Flying WILD City Partner
The World Bird Sanctuary is delighted to announce our first Flying WILD Facilitator Workshop in the St. Louis area.  

Flying WILD is a new program of the Council for Environmental Education (known to many as the national office of Project WILD).  Flying WILD introduces students to bird conservation through cross-curricular, standards-based classroom activities, school bird festivals and environmental stewardship projects.  While targeting middle school students, Flying WILD is easily adapted for other grades.

Who are Flying WILD facilitators?
Flying WILD facilitators are typically nonformal educators from local conservation and educational organizations such as nature centers, zoos, aquariums and museums.  

They are often volunteers and may also include scout leaders, youth group leaders, park departments and Audubon Chapter members.  Formal educators, particularly college professors who instruct pre-service teachers, as well as curriculum specialists and an occasional classroom teacher, will also acquire certifications as a facilitator.

The Role of Facilitators In the Flying WILD Network
Responsible for providing Flying WILD Educator Workshops, Flying WILD Facilitators are at the front line of Flying WILD implementation.  

Facilitators introduce formal and nonformal educators to the Flying WILD program through workshops based on the training model developed by the Council for Environmental Education.  This helps the professionals in attendance make their own observations and discoveries about Flying WILD as well as realize Flying WILD’s potential for various audiences.  Facilitators plan and carry out an agenda for each Flying WILD Educator’s workshop that enables educators to participate in Flying WILD activities and familiarize themselves with the many options for implementing the program.

What is a Flying WILD Educators Workshop?
Flying WILD Educator Workshops allow particiapants to gain experience in hand-on activities from the activity guide that teaches basic biology, identification and ecology, bird conservation and service learning activities.   By attending a Flying WILD workshop you receive the curriculum guide to take back to your school or organization.  Educator workshops are a minimum length of three hours but can be four or more and may be credited toward continuing professional education requirements for the state.

World Bird Sanctuary’s first Facilitator workshop will be held from 8:00am to 5:00pm on November 30th 2010 at the Powder Valley Nature Center.  The registration fee is $15.00.  This fee covers the cost of all teaching materials.  Each educator will leave with a copy of Flying WILD:  An Educator’s Guide to Celebrating Birds.  

For more information and to register please contact Teri Schroer, Director of Education, at or 636-225-4390 ext: 103.

If you are interested in becoming a Flying WILD Educator look for our Educator Workshop notices coming in 2011!  Or contact Teri Schroer to be placed on the notification list.  

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Learning to Appreciate Snakes

At the World Bird Sanctuary most people would not expect to find snakes.  However, we have many different snake species.
Dundee, a Green Tree Python
When I started with WBS back in 2000 I worked with a satellite program we called Care for Critters.  Care for Critters was sponsored by Roundy’s Pick ‘N Save and the Zoological Society of Milwaukee.  This was a mixed animal program that traveled around Wisconsin and parts of Northern Illinois. 

When I arrived in Milwaukee I found out I would be working with 3 large snakes.  The smallest was Aurora who was 5 ft long and 20-25 pounds, the largest was Kahn--both Burmese Pythons.  At that time Kahn was 30-40 pounds and about 9 ft. long.  Back then I was like many people--not very fond of snakes.  I was never like many people who are utterly terrified of them.  I was just not terribly fond of them.  However, I began working with them and soon found I did not mind handling the large snakes.

Every year, starting at the end of May, we would change themes for the show.  In 2001 our theme was Pets through the Ages.  That year we had two bull snakes and two corn snakes.  As I worked with the smaller snakes, especially the corn snakes, I found myself getting more comfortable with handling the reptiles.

I also started reading about snakes and reptiles to better educate myself about them.  As I spent more and more time learning about snakes and how they benefit mankind I developed a greater appreciation of these species.
Yoda, my Okeetee Corn Snake
This process, and working with the corn snakes, led me to now owning 2 corn snakes of my own.
It now takes two naturalists to handle Kahn for shows
Kahn, the Burmese Python mentioned earlier in this article, now weighs 51 pounds, is 13 feet long, and is still growing!  To see Kahn and many of the other reptiles that call the World Bird Sanctuary home you can visit our Nature Center 363 days of the year (we are closed on Christmas and Thanksgiving).

To learn more about these fascinating creatures consider booking a Creatures of Myth and Legend or other mixed species program for your next group function.

 For more information about the many different programs available for your group Click Here for our web page, and search under the “Programs” dropdown menu, or call 636-225-4390, Ext. 0.

Submitted by Cathy Spahn, World Bird Sanctuary Field Studies Coordinator

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Flip Update: On The Move

A few months ago I introduced you all to Flip, the Red-shouldered Hawk I had begun training.   He is a bird that came into our Rehabilitation facility as a juvenile in May 2009 with a wing injury which turned out to be permanent.  My training goal at that point was manning Flip, or getting him comfortable sitting on the glove, and introducing him to being in front of the public.

Since then, Flip has had some big changes and some milestones!  First of all, he looks super-different now.  Flip has since molted and his adult plumage has grown in.   This new plumage is affectionately referred to as his “big boy feathers.”  With his rust shoulder patches, rusty breast feathers and black and white striped tail, he looks just like the adult birds you would see in a field guide.

I have only heard him make the typical Red-shouldered Hawk call a couple of times, though.  He’s still pretty squeaky, especially when I’m around.  Flip has also started to do some education programs for us, both here at the Sanctuary and out in the world.  His first show was in our amphitheater in May for a group of 12 people.  He did very well in front of the group on the glove, and was very good about going in and out of his crate.

Throughout the summer, whenever I had a program that was close to the Sanctuary or was a shorter show, I made sure to get Flip out there.  He has now done a show all the way in Ste. Genevieve, MO, quite a car trip for a new guy.  Flip actually seems the most relaxed when he’s in the car travelling to and from the show.  I mean, I know I like sitting back and watching the scenery while someone drives me around, but I didn’t know if he would feel the same way!  Seriously though, being a good traveler is such an important part of the lives of our education animals, I’m so pleased with Flip’s immediate comfort in the vehicle.
Flip is just one of the awesome birds you can see when you come visit the Sanctuary.  When you’re walking through the different areas, you might see perches that are empty.  Those birds are travelling with the education department on that particular day, teaching young and old alike.  Because of Flip’s excellent progress, you may see his perch open more often then not over the summer.  But it means that soon people all over the country will be getting to enjoy this awesome little bird with the adorable squeak.  He’s a wonderful example of a bird you might see in your own backyard and that is an indispensible teaching tool!  

Submitted by Dana Lambert, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


When my husband and I were in Texas for vacation, we found a very interesting place just off the highway between San Antonio and Austin.  A few miles down the road we came across an interesting bit of history (and nature) called the Aquarena.
 One of the abandoned structures 
The Aquarena was a huge tourist attraction from the 1940’s through the mid 1990’s.  It was built on the San Marcos springs and Spring Lake.  These springs bubble up from under the ground to form the head of the San Marcos River.  The area started out with a beautiful hotel at the edge of Spring Lake in 1928, built by Arthur Rogers, a San Marcos resident.  A year later, in 1946, his son added onto the popular hotel by offering tours of the lake in a glass-bottom boat.  This brought in many more tourists and in 1951 an underwater submarine theater was added.  Visitors could go into this theater (it looked just like a submarine) and watch the mermaid girls and underwater clowns as they fed fish, swam through the water and even ate food and drank from soda bottles while underwater (a very difficult trick to learn, according to one of the girls who used to work there).

 The water shows became so popular that a new star joined the group in 1969 – “Ralph” the swimming pig.  Yes, a pig.  The park would train baby pigs to follow a milk bottle through the water as soon as they were old enough to learn and eventually they learned to love the water – diving enthusiastically into the lake when it was their turn!

The park was very popular and, from looking at the postcards and posters, a very fun place to visit.  They had a restaurant, a sky tower and even a sky ride across the lake.
One of the glass bottomed boats still in operation
But by the mid-1990’s the Aquarena just wasn’t as big an attraction anymore.  The underwater shows, sky rides and poor “Ralph” weren’t bringing in the crowds and the Aquarena was sold to the University of Texas.  UT stopped all the old shows and rides and started to put the area back to its natural state.  The underwater theater and rides were abandoned and ignored, but the glass-bottom boats are still in operation to allow visitors to see the springs bubbling up at the bottom of the clear lake.  Students now study the habitat, wildlife and history of the area as part of their curriculum and the Aquarena is still open to the public, but now it is for learning and wildlife appreciation, not profit and swimming pigs.

While we were there, we visited the small aquarium that UT has put together with native fish, reptiles and amphibians that you can find around the springs.  We wandered the grounds and admired the old rides and theater that are still there.  It felt a lot like a ghost town with the overgrown equipment and abandoned restaurant, but it was a lot of fun to try and imagine the ghost families walking around, riding the rides, seeing the shows and having a fun family vacation.
 A Great Blue Heron patiently waiting for "lunch" to swim past
One of the really nice areas is a boardwalk through the edge of the lakeshore.  It is a great way to see some of the wildlife there.  We saw turtles sunning themselves, fish moving through the crystal clear water, a Great Blue Heron fishing and, best of all, a Green Heron walking through grasses and catching a dragonfly for lunch! 
This Green Heron has just caught "lunch"
All in all, it’s a neat little piece of history that hasn’t been lost.  The Aquarena did its time as a family-oriented tourist attraction, and now it is back to nature, the students learning about it and those of us who appreciate it.

Submitted by Laura MacLeod, World Bird Sanctuary Education Coordinator

Sunday, November 14, 2010

How to Make an Insect Collection

Collecting insects and learning to identify them can be a fun and educational activity that anyone can do!  You can learn much more about them by collecting and handling them than by reading about them in books.  You may decide to catch and release the insects or you may want to make a collection of preserved specimens.  In either case, remember to treat each insect with respect and limit your catch.

*Photo 1: Insect collection*

Basic equipment needed is an insect net, a jar, tweezers, insect pins, a box with a Styrofoam bottom to pin the specimens, and labels to indicate where and when each was collected.  Insect field guides, which can be found in most book stores and libraries, can help to identify them, usually down to what family they are in.  There are over 1 million species of insects and identifying them down to species is a very big challenge.

No matter where you live or what you do, you will be able to find insects.  They live in just about every habitat on earth.  There are a few different ways to catch them.  Using an insect net to brush along grass, bushes, or in tree branches is the simplest way.  Also look under rocks and logs, replacing them as they were when you’re done.  You can spread a white sheet under a shrub and then shake the branches vigorously.  When disturbed, many insects will feign death and fall to the ground.  At night, a white sheet can also be hung by a porch light.  Many insects navigate by the moon and get confused by bright lights and fly towards them instead.  Many different kinds, especially moths, will land on the sheet. 

Tweezers can be used to pick up the insects from the sheet and placed in a jar.  Before killing them, it is important to identify what the insect is, since there are endangered insects in most parts of our country.  If the insect is endangered or protected, let it go immediately.  To kill an insect you can legally preserve, put alcohol or nail polish remover on a cotton ball and place it in the jar with the insects for about 20 minutes.  After you have finished collecting for the day, it is wise to go ahead and put them on insect pins.  Don't wait until the next day because the insects may become dry and brittle, and parts of the insect may break off when you try to pin them.  It is best to use special insect pins, No. 2 or No. 3 size, which can be bought online from websites like,, or Also special insect display cases can be found there as well.  However, a simple shoe box with a Styrofoam board on the bottom works well for amateur collectors.

Gently run the pin through the thorax (middle segment) of the insect a little to the right of the midline of the body.
*Photo 2: Top view of stink bug with correct location of pin circled in blue*

Leave about 1/4-inch of the pin visible above the insect allowing enough room to pick it up without touching the insect. This will also leave enough room on the pin under the insect to add labels.

*Photo 3: Side view of Japanese beetle with labels*

*Photo 4: Side view of grasshopper with labels*

Soft-bodied insects such as aphids, caterpillars and aquatic larvae can go into a vial filled with 70-75% alcohol.  The vial can be pinned in place on the Styrofoam board on the bottom of your box.  The label can be pinned next to it.

*Photo 4: Vial with dobsonfly larva*

The first label you can add under each insect is the location the insect was caught, the date caught and the name of the collector.  This can be typed in a very small font like Times New Roman size 6 or 7, printed on index cards or cardstock and cut out.  The second label to add is the family name of the insect that you determined using your field guide.  If you don’t want to go that far in identifying, you can determine which order the insect is in (recall from science class that there are 7 ranks in the organization of naming living things: Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, and Species).  There are only 32 orders of insects whereas there are around 600 different families to choose from!  Arrange the insects in your box in separate sections for the different orders you identified.  One label for each order can be made and put above each section.

*Photo 5: Notice black thread separating the different orders of insects*

If you are concerned about killing insects for your collection, remember this: insects often have short life spans and reproduce quickly, so collecting adult insects will have very little impact on the population as a whole.  Just don’t collect more insects than you need, and be sure to take time to label, arrange and store specimens correctly so there are good records for future generations to use. 

Submitted by Sara Oliver, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pelagic Birding in Illinois

The weekend of September 18 and 19 I joined The St. Louis Audubon Society’s annual trip to Carlyle Lake near Carlyle, IL, for a weekend of warblers and then pelagic birding out on the lake.

On Saturday the 18th the weather was beautiful. This day was dedicated to land birds.  We started the day off by meeting at the local McDonald’s at 7:30 am and then headed to the swimming beach to watch the gulls.
Ring-billed Gulls following the boat looking for a handout
Most people I know think that all gulls are the same, but there are actually 55 species in 6 genera.  On the beach we spotted the most common gull in the region, the Ring-billed Gull.  We also saw another semi-common gull the Herring Gull.  The best find on the beach with the flock of gulls was a Lesser Black-backed Gull.  The Lesser Black-backed Gull is common across Europe and is an uncommon species in North America, but we get annual visitors during the fall and winter months.  While looking around we also found Forster’s Terns, Mallards, and a Canada Goose Nest.
A Yellow Billed Cuckoo - often heard, but seldom seen
The group then headed to Eldon Hazlet State Park to spot birds that call the wood their habitat.  The weather that morning was perfect, but the birds were not moving in big numbers.  We spotted a nice variety, including: Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Wood Thrush, Tennessee and Nashville Warblers, a Northern Parula, Chestnut-sided, Bay-breasted, Black-throated Green, Black and White, Magnolia and Blackburnian Warblers, a Common Yellowthroat, an American Redstart and Philadelphia, Red-eyed, White-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireos.

Our next stop was on the other side of the lake.  This location had a nice lookout point that allowed us to survey the lake to see what we could find and what might be possible for Sunday.  After some careful looking I spotted a Jaeger that had been seen a day earlier.  It was a nice juvenile Parasitic Jaeger.  Jaegers prey upon other birds, especially their babies, but are not true birds of prey.  Jaegers have long, pointed and angled wings, They breed in the arctic regions and migrate to southern regions for the winter. In the fall Jaegers frequent the Great Lakes and are considered casual visitors inland.  We were looking over this area to try to find this bird and another specialty, the Sabine’s Gull, which a few of us confirmed was on the lake, but extremely far out, even with good telescopes.

Day two, Sunday, began at 7:00am meeting at the McDonald’s again, but instead of nice weather we had lots of rain and chilly weather.  Since the morning’s intended birding was delayed for a while, we headed for a shelter in Eldon Hazlet State Park where we could look out over the lake to see what we could find and also observe the swallow flock.  We were looking for a Cave Swallow that had been seen the day before. 

The Cave Swallow is special because it is normally found in Southern Texas and Florida.  Over the years more Cave Swallows have turned up in other parts of the country in the fall.  We looked for the bird, but with the lighting and the large number of other swallows we never located this particular swallow. 

We moved around to different locations during the morning hours trying to locate any birds we could find in the misting to heavy rain.  At our last stop before heading to the boats we did have a great find--a Merlin.  Merlin’s are a smaller falcon that nests in more northern climates and migrate through the region in fall and winter.

The weather finally cleared and we were off to Pelagic Birding.  Pelagic Birding is where you take a boat out onto a body of water like a large lake or ocean and search for bird species that live in open waters rather than along the shore.  The St. Louis Audubon Society rented 3 party boats for this purpose.  We then split into groups and headed out onto the lake to see what we could find. 

As we were riding along we tossed popcorn off the sides of the boats.  This brings the gulls in closer to the boats and allows for super views and great photography.  The first target species was the Parasitic Jaeger.  One of the boats located the Jaeger and the word was spread from there.  The boat I was on was the last to arrive, but we still had nice passes by the Jaeger.
A beautiful Sabine's Gull showing his beautiful markings
The next target species was the Sabine’s Gull.  The Sabine’s Gull is an arctic species that migrates to the Southern Hemisphere for the winter.  I believe this is one of the prettiest gulls.  As adults they have a dark gray head, yellow and black bill, and a striking black, gray and white wing pattern.  Juvenile birds lack the dark gray head, but have a soft gray brown crown and nape, black bill, and black tail band.  The juvenile’s wing pattern is not as striking as in an adult, but is still very beautiful.  We had seen the bird on Saturday off in the distance, and then on Sunday the call came out.  We went racing from our location over to see this bird.

While slowly moving into position we also spotted five Red-necked Phalaropes, but most of us were more interested in the gull.  This was not my first Sabine’s Gull, but it is always a pleasure to see because they are just so beautiful.  We watched the bird for several minutes. I was able to get some nice photos, both in-flight and sitting on the water.  Just being able to see this bird up close and to watch it in flight is always a joy. 

I am already looking forward to next year's trip!!!

Submitted by Cathy Spahn, World Bird Sanctuary Field Studies Coordinator

Monday, November 8, 2010

Roadkill Shiver

This is the name of one of our songs on the "Save the Future" CD (Click the link to hear a sample). 

It's also a feeling that you can avoid.
 Armadillos have become a more common roadkill sight in Missouri lately
During migration many birds and other animals are active in areas where you may not have seen them during the summer.  Creeks, riverways, small wooded areas and greenbelts connect the wildlife community just like highways connect our metro areas.  We need to be aware of these wildlife highways and that sometimes they cross our own asphalt highways.  During migration periods there is increased activity as birds move south in the Fall and north in the Spring. 

During the Fall and Spring migrations we see a large increase in the numbers of owls and migrating hawks (like Broadwinged Hawks) in our wildlife hospital.    They are worn out from flying long distances and are sometimes slow to get out of the way of our cars.  Some birds may also be eating fresh roadkill on the side of the road and may not be quick enough to get out of our way – they end up becoming roadkill themselves. 
 Liberty, the Bald Eagle, was a victim of a collision with a vehicle.

How many of you have met Liberty, one of our education Bald Eagles?  Liberty was hit by a car while eating a dead animal on the road.  He was rehabilitated and released back into the wild.  He did well for about a year, and then was hit by a car again while eating roadkill on the road.  His injuries from his second accident were such that he would not have survived on his own in the wild.  Most animals hit by cars are not as lucky as Liberty and do not survive a collision with a car or truck.

With this increased activity we ask that you exercise more caution than usual when driving on our roads.  I think that we can all remember to drive a little more slowly than usual and be more aware of what is going on around us.

We use humor in the "Roadkill Shiver" song to remind ourselves about the dangers facing animals out there and to remind us to use a little more caution and take a little more time to keep our birds safe.

You can buy the Raptor Project CD featuring "Roadkill Shiver" here

Submitted by Joe Hoffmann, World Bird Sanctuary Manager. 

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Eight Barn Owls Released

Last month, the World Bird Sanctuary released eight Barn Owls into the wild that had hatched in our propagation building.  
One of the young Barn Owls surveying his new home.
Seven of the owls hatched this Spring in two clutches, the eighth hatched a year before.  When the owls were very young, their parents, Athena and Wentworth, worked very hard to keep them warm and well fed.  We did not want the young Barn Owls to become accustomed to humans, so we avoided entering their mew as much as possible.  Instead, I had the privilege of observing the owls’ activities on the closed circuit camera that hung over their nest box, also known as “Owl TV”.
The Common Barn Owl, Tyto alba, lives on every continent in the world, except for Antarctica.  However, Barn Owls have become fairly rare in many parts of Missouri due to habitat destruction and poisoning.  Barn Owls forage for small rodents as they silently fly over open meadows, certain crops and the edges of woods.  They have the best sense of hearing in the animal kingdom, and they rely on this to locate prey.  Barn Owls tend to avoid heavily wooded areas because they sometimes become prey for the Great Horned Owls that often occupy those types of habitats.  Barn Owls make their nests in hollow trees, but they often use man made structures such as barns, grain silos and specially built nest boxes.

When the owls became old enough to survive on their own, Jeff Meshach, Assistant Director of the World Bird Sanctuary, and I loaded them into crates and drove them to Fredericktown, Missouri.  We arrived on the property of Jim and Jean Priday, whose property provides ideal Barn Owl habitat.  He had an old red barn, built in the early part of the last century, that we could use to help the owls transition into the wild.  We released the Barn Owls into the barn, but Jim sealed the windows with welded wire, so they could not leave quite yet.  Every morning, for five days, Jim put the mice we provided for him on the floor of the barn.  The Barn Owls learned that they could obtain food in the barn.  However, they did not think of the barn as a great place to stay because they always saw humans around.  After five days, Jeff removed the welded wire that sealed the windows of the barn.  One by one, the owls left the barn.  Jim continued to place food in the barn for several more days.  In case any of the owls had trouble finding their own food in the wild, they could come back to the barn and get a meal.

Hopefully, all eight Barn Owls have found success in their new habitats and will make a positive impact on the population of Barn Owls in Missouri.

Plans for building your own Barn Owl nest box can be found at the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Guide on Building a Nest Box.

Submitted by Leah Sainz, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist

Thursday, November 4, 2010

How long can a Chicken live?

This question...I ponder every day that I work at our Environmental Education Center.
Dumpling, our 15 year old Cochin chicken
We have a chicken named Dumpling. She is 15 years old and counting. To my knowledge, we (World Bird Sanctuary) have never had another chicken live that long. I tell guests how old she is and the response is unanimous surprise. Wow! The guest then says "I had no idea that a chicken could live that long." I cannot believe it myself.

Do any of you "Show" chickens? And do you have a chicken that is older? Send us a picture of your chicken and it’s life story.  I have tried to find the longevity of chickens on the web...but cannot find a chicken that is older than 7 years.

We have 2 kinds of chickens on display at World Bird Sanctuary.  You can come in and pet Dumpling or Daisy our Cochin Chickens.  The chickens are a favorite with kids of all ages.  Actually, almost everyone loves to pet the chickens.  Usually they say "I didn't know that chickens were that soft".  The white feathers on Dumpling and Daisy are very soft.
What has funny looking cheek adornments, no tail, and blue feet? Araucana chicken of course.
We also have Araucanas on display.  They are located down past the hospital beyond most of the Eagle exhibits.  The Arauacanas are here because they had been so intensely interbred with domestic chickens that they were in danger of being bred into extinction.  Our flock is a longterm program that is attempting to breed them back to the original species.   (This is a subject for another blog in the future).

Cochin chickens were originally raised in China.  Araucanas were originally raised in Chile.

Many of you raise chickens or have raised chickens.  Some of your parents or grandparents may have raised them.  Come in and see our chickens and tell us about yours.

Some one please tell me about chicken longevity...How long can a chicken live?

Submitted by Michael Zeloski, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Owl Prowls Are Here!

Looking for a fun and unusual outdoor activity before the weather turns nasty?  We have just what you're looking for -- Owl Prowls!
 Jake, one of the World Bird Sanctuary's Great Horned Owls
Beginning this week the World Bird Sanctuary will be introducing guests to those amazing birds that prowl at night.  

First you will gather in our Nature Center to meet some of our resident owls and learn some of the amazing adaptations that make them such efficient mousetraps.  Then you will learn to speak their language--sometimes called "the hoot".  To top off the evening one of our naturalists will lead you on an easy night hike through our grounds where you will be given the opportunity to try your hand at "hooting" to see if you can get a response from one of the wild owls that call the surrounding area home.

Owl Prowl Dates:
 *  November 5, 13, 19
*  December 4, 10, 18
*  January 21, 28
*  February 11, 19, 26

*  7-9 pm
*  $9 for adults, $7 per child under 12
*  Groups of 10 or more:  $7 per person regardless of age

Advance reservations required.
Call 636-225-4390, ext. 0 to make your Owl Prowl reservation today!

The outdoor portion of this program lasts approximately one hour.  Be sure to dress appropriately for the weather.