Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Brazilian Free-tailed Bats

 Over Easter 2011 I traveled with my family to Southeastern Arizona for vacation and to visit my sister who lives in the small town of Morenci.

 On our drive to Morenci we stopped at Roper State Park outside of Safford, AZ.  After driving around the small lake we stopped at the picnic area to use the restrooms.  As I was going in I noticed droppings on the ground that did not look like bird droppings, but rather bat.
When I exited I immediately heard the familiar high pitched chattering of bats.  (We have two Straw-colored Fruit Bats at the Sanctuary, so I am familiar with their vocalizations.)  I began to look around and, sure enough, there on the wall was a bat.  I very carefully ran out, alerted my parents and then went to the car to get my camera.  I knew I had my “Bats of the Rocky Mountain West” field guide with me, but I needed to get some photos so I could I.D. this bat in case he flew off or crawled out of sight.  I took several photos.  We could hear more bats up in the crevices of this building, but could not see them.

Once back in the car I pulled out my field guide to work on identifying this very cool bat.  After searching the field guide and reading the field keys to bats of the Rocky Mountains I determined that it was a Free-tailed Bat Species. There are three species of Free-tailed Bats that exist in this region of Arizona, the Pocketed, Brazilian and Big Free-tailed Bats.  I am leaning towards this one being a Brazilian Free-tailed Bat.
Brazilian Free-tailed Bats are found throughout the southern US and parts of Mexico.  They inhabit a variety of habitats, from deserts to tropical forests.  They live in large colonies.  The largest known colony in the world contains about 20 million adults and is in Bracken Cave outside of San Antonio, Texas.  Their diet consists mainly of beetles and moths.  They have long, narrow wings that help them with high-speed flight, reaching speeds of 30 mph or more.

This was definitely a highlight of the trip for me, and I hope that in the future I will encounter more bats to add to my list.

Submitted by Cathy Spahn,  World Bird Sanctuary Field Studies Coordinator

Monday, June 27, 2011

Tales From The Nest - Part 8

4/22 – It’s raining this A.M., but it’s only drizzling, so I decided to check out the nest, as I know they will soon be leaving it.  When I arrived there was no visible activity, but Mamma was at her post on the large branch just above and to the right of the nest. 

As I watched, Mamma jumped down into the nest and began doing some housekeeping chores.  It was then that I realized that the two clumps of “pine cones” on Mamma’s branch were, in fact, the two babies!  

I have mixed emotions about their graduation to the status of “branchers”.  I am excited that they have passed this first big hurdle, but I know that now it will be more difficult, if not impossible, to get clear photos of our two babies. 

Between  the dense tree growth, the wind, and the fact that they are about 80 feet in the air, the problem of getting a clear shot has just grown exponentially.  By moving from my usual vantage point and doing my version of a circus contortionist I was able to get a photo with only a minimum of pine boughs screening our little graduates. 

I am loath to leave the cover of my van since I believe they are accustomed to vehicles and do not perceive them as a threat.  Hopefully they will start moving about more as they gain confidence in their ability to navigate the tree branches and will be more visible—at least for a couple of weeks.

Check back again soon for more "Tales From The Nest"

Submitted by Gay Schroer, World Bird Sanctuary Volunteer/Photographer

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Turtles and Livvy Jones

World Bird Sanctuary volunteers come to us in all ages, shapes, sizes, and with a multitude of backgrounds, talents, and interests.
"Junior" - an Ornate Box Turtle
Recently Livvy Jones, who is a college Senior at Washington University and one of the multi-talented volunteers at the World Bird Sanctuary, invited the World Bird Sanctuary staff to her College Senior Art Gallery Exhibit.  

I have seen firsthand Livvy's passion for conservation and the environment.  We do not currently have any turtles on display at the Nature Center, but I’ve noticed that Livvy seems to be exceptionally fond of handling Rustle, our Nine-banded Armadillo.  She would hold him, sometimes for a half hour at a time, to accustom him to being handled, and I would see her frequently observing our Russian Tortoise which is kept in one of our behind the scenes areas.  However, I had only recently learned of her fascination for Box Turtles.

 My coworker and friend, Sara Oliver, and I decided to attend the exhibit located at the Des Lee Gallery, 1627 Washington Ave#804, in downtown St.Louis, Missouri.  When we arrived Washington Avenue was alive with eateries, music and dog walkers.  It was so nice to see Downtown St. Louis hopping!
  "Winston" - a Three Toed Box Turtle
With Box Turtles on our minds we headed into the gallery to see Livvy's artwork.  She was one of six artists displaying their work.  Livvy’s focus was on the land loving Box Turtle--specifically the turtles she photographed in her home state of Oklahoma.  Livvy said she photographed most of the turtles on her farm in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma.  Livvy's Mom told me that as a child Livvy urged her to stop for every turtle she saw.  This sounded like a great way to see the differences of all the Box Turtles on her property.  Oklahoma has two species of Box Turtle...the Ornate Box Turtle and the Three-toed Box Turtle. 
"Claire" - a Three Toed Box Turtle
The gallery exhibits were well attended, I'm guessing that there were 200 people at any time in amongst the artwork.  Livvy had the first exhibit on the right as we entered.  It was well lit, with nice vibrant colors, and we were greeted by Livvy as some other guests strolled away.  Wearing a fabulous dress and looking very elegant, Livvy was the only part of her exhibit that wasn't looking like a turtle.  She introduced us to her parents who made the migration from Oklahoma to St. Louis at a very early hour. Livvy had 11 pieces total on exhibit--7 paintings, a jewelry box designed, painted, and shaped like a turtle, and 2 hand painted chairs with the Ornate Box Turtle color pattern.  One of my favorite pieces was the tablecloth designed like a Box Turtle’s shell.  I envy people with such talent.
A tablecloth intricately stitched to resemble a Box Turtle shell  
The gallery this day was vibrant, with the energy of the college aged crowd viewing the artwork and sampling the attractive food table replete with gotta have the grapes.  Livvy was a most gracious host as she greeted everyone.  She even made Chocolate Turtles for her guests to sample.  Sara and I arrived too late to sample the chocolate turtles, but understood due to the hungry college types abounding.  Livvys' Mom observed one college-age looking girl make three laps around the gallery, each time discreetly extracting a chocolate turtle as she went by. We all laughed...imagining this hungry chocolate lover circling the gallery.
I asked Livvy to describe her passion for the Turtles.  The first two times I asked I received no response. I guessed it was too personal or too big to sum up.  It is part of her soul.  I thought about myself and my love of wild birds. Yes it is all consuming and too big to put in a few words. How does one sum up their life's passion?  Later on I was able to get Livvy to give me an abbreviated summary.  She says she "likes to paint animals because she wants to have them or own them.  You can't own them" she "makes objects that are OWNABLE".  She then laughed and said "you’re not going to write that?"  I said "that is an interesting word (OWNABLE)."  She also referred me to her recent creation of her website:
Recently as the Meramec River flooded and reached its crest at 27 feet, the road under Highway 44 at Hwy 141 flooded.  It got me to wondering about Box Turtles? ...What do Box Turtles do when the waters rise?  Or do they even go that low in the flood plain?  They are mostly terrestrial.  Do they float to the top and swim away?

Livvy has a mindset for conservation.  She volunteers with us, she is considering becoming a veterinarian, and she may donate one of her pieces of art to the Turtle Survival Alliance

What an enjoyable evening spent with Sara, Livvy, her parents, and Livvy’s Turtle Art.  My favorite image was "Winston" the long orange throated turtle.  Sara's favorite was Claire, I believe.

Livvy's exhibit title was "Talking Rather Than Screaming."  It’s a real joy to see this young woman’s commitment to conservation through her artwork.

The next time you visit the World Bird Sanctuary Nature Center if you see a young lady walking around holding an Armadillo or a very large Russian Tortoise, chances are it’s volunteer Livvy Jones. 

Submitted by Michael Zeloski, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist

Thursday, June 23, 2011

2011: International Year of Forests

The Cicadas are here!

The other day when I was walking on the sanctuary property, I saw my first cicada exoskeleton of the year.  This year is special in particular for cicadas because an enormous brood is emerging from living underground for 13 years.  It’s the nation's largest brood of periodical cicadas.  Their range covers parts of 16 middle and eastern states, including most of Missouri and Illinois.  

When 13-year cicadas hatch from their eggs, they are but 1/10th of an inch long.  These “nymphs” crawl down to the earth, bury themselves 10 inches underground and attach to roots, growing as they extract nutrients.  When they emerge after thirteen years they shed their larval exoskeleton (see photo below) to turn into an adult, growing wings and building up strength to fly and find a mate.  During this period forest creatures will have a feast; but there are billions, many more than predators can eat. 

In order to attract a mate male cicadas will produce loud clicking noises by flexing drum-like membranes on their abdomens called tymbals.  Multiply that single noise by the swarms of males in a single neighborhood, and you hear a high-pitched buzzing sound that never seems to cease.  Males can spend up to six weeks trying to attract females.  The month of June will be a noisy one!
When I saw this cicada exoskeleton sitting on a leaf I thought to myself, “What effect will billions of these insects in the trees have on the forests?”  There are greater numbers of cicadas in areas with abundant trees, and it's estimated that as many as 1.5 million of them could emerge in a single acre.  Females tear gashes in small, woody branches of trees and shrubs and lay hundreds of eggs inside.  Very young trees with trunks less than an inch in diameter could suffer the most.  Young trees can be protected by covering with fine netting.  However, to have any chance of being effective, the net must completely cover the tree from the ground up.  Most trees, though, suffer no ill effects from any cicada species.

Tree growth decreases the year before the appearance of a brood because of the increased feeding on roots by nymphs.  Moles, which feed on nymphs, do well during the year before an emergence, but decrease the following year because of the reduced food source.  Wild turkey populations benefit from eating dead cicada adults on the ground, as do other ground feeding birds and mammals.  Uneaten carcasses decompose on the forest floor and create a rush of nutrients for the forest ecosystem. 

Cicadas aren’t dangerous to people or pets, they don’t bite or sting and humans should try to enjoy this unusual spectacle of nature!

Submitted by Sara Oliver, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Go Fish – Go Green!

The peak of fishing season is finally upon us.  

A nice stringer of bass and crappie

Stream fishing for Black Bass opened on May 28, 2011, and National Fishing and Boating Week was right around the corner – June 4 – 12, 2011.

Catfishing usually calls for a pretty heavy sinker

Fishing season for me means that virtually any free time I  have will be spent on the river or at my favorite fishing hole.  On any given fishing adventure I know that there are only three guarantees:  snags, snakes and finding a lot of other people’s trash that has been left behind.
A Northern Water Snake devouring a frog

The particular lake that I frequent has plenty of opportunities for snags – and for snakes.  There are trees everywhere above ground, and lots of downed logs and branches in the water that are difficult to see.  I know every time I go out, I will be going home with fewer sinkers than I started with due to numerous snags and line breakage.

Whenever I hit a snag or break a line I have to wonder how many other people have done the same thing on any given day.  It’s a good feeling knowing that the sinkers I lost are lead-free, and won’t pose a lead-poisoning threat to waterfowl or a bird of prey.  

Waterfowl sometimes accidentally ingest sinkers as they are sifting through grit.  Too many lead sinkers, and they can become poisoned.  Birds of prey will usually take the easiest kill and that often means they will dine on the sick or injured.  Ingesting poisoned waterfowl can lead to an eagle’s demise in a most horrifying way.

When shopping for sinkers look for the new environmentally friendly type

I’ve noticed this year that there are many more choices for environmentally friendly lead-free sinkers on the shelves.  I am thrilled to see improvements both at my local sporting goods store, and local discount store.  This is a welcome change from last year when I had to search high and low for lead-free gear.  

I know that most of us grew up using lead sinkers and it’s pretty much all we’ve ever known.  I have made the switch to tungsten, steel and tin alternatives, and the cost really isn’t much more.  The fish do not seem to notice the difference, and I can’t tell it either.

I want to do my part to keep lead out of the fish I eat, out of the watershed, and especially out of the beaks of the birds of prey and waterfowl that I so enjoy.  I hope that you will do the same.  

Take the family, get out there and catch the big one!  Pass along the love and respect of the great outdoors, our wildlife and nature.

Submitted by Billie Baumann, World Bird Sanctuary Outreach Coordinator 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Tales From the Nest - Part 7

4/21 – I Arrived this morning to find no activity in the nest and no sign of mom.  Have they left the nest?  They should be getting close. 

The books say that owls venture out onto nearby branches and fly-hop from branch to branch for a couple of weeks before they really fly, but I don’t see any of that kind of activity.  However, I’m not sure our owls have read the books.  If they have left the nest I’m sure they will be much more difficult to photograph. 

It’s been over an hour now and no sign of activity.  If they’ve left the nest and ended up on the ground they could have fallen prey to a predator.  Just as I am about to give up for the day I see the tip of a wing being stretched in the nest.  They’re still there! 

All of a sudden there is a flurry of activity from the babies.  There’s much fly-hopping up onto the side of the nest, and then back down.  Then there’s some hopping from one side of the nest to the other (this nest is at least four feet across).  Then there is much stretching and flapping of wings.  They are beginning to look more and more like the adults. 

I now know that it won’t be long before they venture out onto the branches of this big pine tree and become what is called “branchers”.  I still don’t see mom, but I am sure she is close by, keeping an eye on the nest.

Check back again soon for more "Tales From The Nest".

Submitted by Gay Schroer, World Bird Sanctuary Volunteer/Photographer

Friday, June 17, 2011

Amazing Flying Mammals

Over the last few months I have been doing a lot of research about bats to learn more facts for the World Bird Sanctuary programs, bat blogs and monthly displays in our Nature Center.

The more research I do the more amazing bat facts I find about these fascinating Flying Mammals.
 A Mexican Free-tailed Bat spotted on a recent trip
Bats belong to the order called “Chiroptera”, meaning  hand-wing.  The bat’s wing structure is simlar to the human hand.  The four long bones with the connective membrane are like our fingers.  The thumb is small and has a nail or claw on it.  This claw is very useful for crawling, grooming and holding onto food.

Bats eat a wide variety of food, including insects, fruit, nectar, fish frogs, rodents, lizards, birds and blood.  Recently a study was done to determine the economic value of bats in the United States.  The study estimated that bats save agriculture up to $53 billion a year.  Just think about it—one little brown bat can eat up to 1,000 mosquito sized insects an hour.  Most of the bats we have here in the United States are insect eating bats, so they are eating the insects that would destroy crops.  With bats eating the insects farmers need to use less insecticide on their crops, thereby saving them money.

Not only are insect eating bats beneficial, but so are the pollinators and fruit eating bats.  Bats pollinate and spread seed for a multitude of plants.  Of these, 134 species yield products that we use.  Some of the products we use that depend on bat pollinators include:  bananas, avocados, dates, figs, peaches, mangoes, durian, cloves, cashews, carob and balsa wood.  Rainforests also rely on bats to spread seeds.  Bats can account for up to 95 percent of the first new growth of rainforests.
 Batty--A Straw-colored Fruit Bat who resides in our Nature Center
In Africa the Great Baobab Tree of the East African savannah relies almost exclusively on Straw-colored Fruit Bats for pollination and seed dispersal.  This tree is often called the “African Tree of Life”, and without bats the Tree of Life could die out, jeopardizing an entire ecosystem.

Bat droppings, or Guano, was at one time a major natural resource in the United States, and is still mined commercially in many countries.  Guano in caves supports whole ecosystems of unique organisms, including bacteria useful in detoxifying wastes, improving detergents and manufacturing antibiotics.

Just recently, the number of known bat species has changed from 1,105 listed back in 2003, to 1,212 recognized species as of March 2011.  The more scientists learn about bats the more species they are discovering.
 Batty and Scar--just hanging out
When visiting the World Bird Sanctuary Nature Center be sure to take the time to visit our two Straw-colored Fruit Bats—Batty and Scar.

Submitted by Cathy Spahn, World Bird Sanctuary Field Studies Coordinator

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

One Dime at a Time

Get your Re-usable Shopping Bag at Whole Foods Town & Country tomorrow!

If you shop at Whole Foods Market Town & Country between noon and 3pm Saturday, June 18,  and you are one of the first 50 visitors to the World Bird Sanctuary information table, you will get a free re-usable shopping bag!

Then take your shopping bag inside and help World Bird Sanctuary when you bag up your groceries . . . here's how:
Nemo, the African Grey Parrot, chooses reusable shopping totes 
World Bird Sanctuary is the beneficiary of Whole Foods Market Town & Country's One Dime at a Time program for April, May and June 2011.  This means that every time you shop at Whole Foods Market Town & Country, and take in  your own shopping bag, you will be offered a 10¢ refund.  You can then choose to have this refund donated to World Bird Sanctuary.  It's a win-win!  The environment wins – no non-biodegradable plastic finding its way into our waterways; and World Bird Sanctuary wins – your donated refunds will help us continue the important work in our wildlife hospital and endangered species breeding center.
We'll even get you started!  When you shop at Whole Foods Market Town and Country between 12pm and 3pm on the following dates, you will get a free re-usable shopping bag from Whole Foods Market and World Bird Sanctuary (offer limited to first 50 visitors to the World Bird Sanctuary table on this day).

Saturday June 18th            12pm – 3pm

We wish to express our thanks to Whole Foods Market for supporting World Bird Sanctuary through their One Dime at a Time program, and through their ongoing efforts to encourage us all to shop in a more environmentally sustainable way.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Dog Hair In My Feeder

The obvious question here is “Why in the world is there dog hair in your bird feeder?”
The answer is that we have a Yellow Lab—possibly the sheddingest (I know that’s not really a legal word, but it certainly is the most descriptive) dog breed known to man.  I’ve had many dogs over the years, but never before have I had one that could generate enough hair in a day’s time to create a whole new dog! 

Each morning as I would take him out to the patio for his daily brushing and combing I would ponder what a shame it was that there was no good use for the bags full of dog hair our lovable pooch was creating for us each day.  Of course my husband, avid fisherman that he is, has offered to make fishing flies from the cast off hair, but I fear even he could not keep up with our four-legged hair factory. 

Last spring I suddenly noticed that the hair I had failed to pick up one morning when I was in a hurry, had suddenly disappeared by noon.  I didn’t think there had been any wind on that particular morning and couldn’t imagine what “dog hair fairy” had whisked it away.

I decided to run my own little experiment, so I left the next morning’s combings lying in plain sight on the patio, then went inside and waited by the window to see what would happen.  Sure enough, as soon as I had vacated the area I spotted some of our backyard birds helping themselves to the hair.  It was, after all, nesting season!

Now, I didn’t really want to leave piles of dog hair lying around on my patio every day since I couldn’t rely on the birds to immediately clean it up, so I began trying to think of ways to offer this nesting material to them in a less unsightly fashion.  As I was casting about for a suitable container my gaze landed on an empty cage-type suet feeder—the perfect solution. All I had to do was stuff the hair into the feeder each morning and let the birds do the rest!

By far the most frequent visitors to this feeder were the Eurasian Tree Sparrows, but there were also Chickadees, House Finches, and many others attracted to this free birdie version of Home Depot.
I now find that I don’t mind the shedding nearly so much—everyone wins!  The dog loves being brushed, the birds empty my hair feeder on a daily basis and I get to watch the birds pulling this hairy bonanza from the feeder until they look like little old men with hairy beards and mustaches happily flying off with their new-found nesting materials. 

Of course this hair disposal system will slow down and eventually stop as the birds finish nesting toward mid-summer, but for now it makes the daily task of brushing and combing a little more enjoyable, and I feel a little better because I’ve found another way to recycle.

Submitted by Gay Schroer, World Bird Sanctuary Volunteer/Photographer

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Tales From the Nest - Part 6

4/19 – Last night we had bad Thunderstorms with rain and winds gusting to 49 mph.  It’s still raining this morning and I will probably not get any photos, but I’ve decided to check out the nest anyway to make sure it hasn’t been blown away or sustained damage.

At first I see no activity from the nest and am fearful that the storm last night has caused havoc with our owl family.  Then  I spot Mamma who is sitting on her favorite branch above the nest, but is so well camouflaged that I could not see her with the naked eye.  
 Can you see Mamma?  This photo is greatly magnified.  With the naked eye she was all but invisible.
Something is different this morning.  While I am fiddling with my binoculars my peripheral vision catches an adult flying in from another tree and landing on Mom’s favorite perch.  

Had Mom flown off while my attention was elsewhere?  Was this dad and had this been a changing of the guard while I was otherwise occupied—or is this Mom encouraging the babies to venture out of the nest?  The adult sat there perched over the nest, for a while, then flew off into a neighboring tree. 

There is much wing flapping going on in the nest this morning, and I am not sure if they are trying out their wing coordination, or just attempting to dry off their feathers after last night’s drenching. 

Before leaving today I look for pellets under the tree, but find none.  Possibly they are getting caught on the dense tree growth between the ground and the nest.  I estimate the nest is 60-80 feet high.  So far I have only found one pellet.  
Owl pellets are the indigestible parts of an owl's mean--such as fur, bones, feathers, etc., which are coughed up similar to a hairball
Unfortunately for me the homeowners are excellent groundskeepers and are conscientious about keeping the Sweetgum balls picked up.

4/20 – Last night we again had rain, hail, and high winds with severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings all around the area – didn’t get to the nest until the afternoon – will it still be there after last night?  The babies appear to be none the worse for wear.  Mom is watching from a nearby tree.  I now believe she’s encouraging them to venture from the nest onto the branches of the pine tree.

Check back again soon for more Tales From the Nest

Submitted by Gay Schroer, World Bird Sanctuary Volunteer/Photographer

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Have You Seen Me?

Not too long ago, I started receiving phone calls at WBS inquiring about a “white hawk” people were seeing in the area.  

At first I thought they must have been mistaken, as there aren’t really any white hawks native to this area.  I explained that the World Bird Sanctuary has a South American species of White Hawk in our Nature Center, but assured them that it was not the same type of bird that they were seeing.  My curiosity was piqued, though, and I started doing a little research. 

Initially I spoke with our Field Studies Coordinator Cathy Spahn, who is one of our “go to” people when it comes to bird identification.  I explained the many calls I had been receiving, and asked about the possibility of a white hawk in the area.  She then led me to some information regarding leucism and albinism in birds that was very interesting.

Not long after that, I spotted what I thought to be a leucistic Red-Tailed Hawk in a tree that I pass every day on my way to WBS.  I was shocked, but as they say, seeing is believing.  I was thrilled that I had been lucky enough to see it for myself.  I began watching for this rare bird every day, and saw it several more times.  On a few occasions I tried to pull over and snap a picture, but this bird was very wary and spooked easily.  Other staff and volunteers had spotted the bird in the area, as well.  The last time that I saw this unusual bird I was finally able to capture several pictures.

Leucism in birds results from varying degrees of dilution of normal pigmentation.  It’s a genetic mutation that prevents melanin from being deposited normally on feathers.  That’s a fancy way of saying that the normal pattern and color of their plumage is very pale or washed out looking.  There are also birds with pied leucism, which have splotchy patches of white feathers on their bodies.  Neither of these are albino, which is when an animal is completely white and has red eyes.  These color variations can occur in several species of birds, including songbirds, and is a relatively common occurrence in domesticated Cockatiels—a species that has been extensively bred for color variations by humans.  Leucism is relatively unusual in most species of wild birds.

Jeff Meshach, Assistant Director of WBS, has extensive experience trapping wild raptors with both registered banders and falconers.  He saw the bird in question, too, and informed me this Red-tailed Hawk was actually a color variation of the Red-tailed Hawk called “Krider’s.”  Jeff went on to tell me he has seen even lighter colored Red-tails than the one we’ve seen that were the “Krider’s” variation and not leucistic.  Yes, the bird in question was much lighter in color on its breast, head and tail than a normal colored Red-tail for this area, but the light colors were consistent throughout the feathers.  A leucistic Red-tail, or any other bird for that matter, almost always has a bright, white feather mixed in with the normal colored feathers.  Particularly with Red-tails, as the bird ages, more and more white feathers can mix with the normal ones, and eventually most of the bird could be white.  Red-tailed Hawks, by the way, are the most variably colored of all the Buteos (genus of the Red-tail) in North America.

If you are near WBS, keep a sharp eye out, and you may be lucky enough to spot this wild wonder.  Let us know if you do.

Submitted by Billie Baumann, World Bird Sanctuary Outreach Coordinator

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Dumpling Retires from Education

 Dumpling, our 16-year old Bantam Cochin Chicken, was officially retired in May.  

Dumpling is a firm favorite with visitors to our Visitor's Information Center, and she had her own loyal band of followers who would come to WBS just to see her.

Dumpling has been diagnosed with arthritis and severe cataracts, and as much as our visitors enjoyed seeing her, it was no longer safe for her to be out in public.  As many of you know, she would wander freely around the Visitor's Information Center, greeting all the visitors that came through the door.  However, as age has caught up with her, she doesn't move as fast or see as well, and she has almost been stepped on a few times.

Dumpling has been a wonderful Education Ambassador for World Bird Sanctuary over the last sixteen years.  In many instances she has been the first bird that a young child has interacted with – she patiently allowed young and old alike to run their hands over her back to feel her soft feathers.

No doubt Dumpling will be missed by staff and visitors alike, but rest assured, she will be enjoying her retirement in a warm, safe enclosure in our behind-the-scenes areas, where she will be pampered and safe.

Submitted by Catherine Redfern, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist/Fundraiser