Tuesday, February 28, 2012


It’s that time of year again…the trees are budding out, jonquils are popping up in the garden, and we’re ready for World Bird Sanctuary’s harbinger of Spring—World Eagle Day!

It’s just around the corner, so mark your calendars for Sunday, March 18.

We’ll be greeting guests from 10 am to 4 pm with the opportunity to see eagles from around the world.  Did you know that there are more than sixty eagle species around the world—only two of which are native to the United States? 

Come visit with us on March 18 to see and learn about our two natives--the American Bald Eagle and the Golden Eagle--as well as a number of the other Eagle species from around the world who call the World Bird Sanctuary home. 

Come prepared to learn and be entertained—all for free.

DATE:                        SUNDAY, MARCH 18
TIME:                        10 AM to 4 PM

For directions CLICK HERE

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Backyard Birds - The Downy Woodpecker

This year one of my projects for the blog will be to feature a Backyard Bird Species.  Our first featured bird is one that may be familiar to many readers--the Downy Woodpecker, Picoides pubescens. 
Male Downy Woodpeckers have a distinct red patch on the back of their head
The Downy Woodpecker is the smallest and most widespread woodpecker in the United States.  Downy Woodpeckers are about 6 inches tall and have a distinctive white strip down their back.  The male has a small red patch on the back of his head.  This feature is  lacking in the female.  They feed on insects, mostly beetles and ants, but also take some seeds and berries.  Downy Woodpeckers nest in a cavity excavated by both male and female, usually in a dead limb or dead tree.
In the spring and summer months Down Woodpeckers have been known to frequent Hummingbird feeders
When attracting Downy Woodpeckers to your feeder one of the prime requisites is to have trees either in your yard or nearby.  They will come to hopper feeders, food on the ground, platform feeders, tube feeders and of course suet feeders.  Downy Woodpeckers prefer black oil sunflower seeds, peanuts and suet.  I like using all three and my suet is a peanut based suet, which they love.

There are 23 breeding species of woodpeckers in North America.  Woodpeckers are found worldwide, with the largest concentration in Central and South America.  Woodpeckers belong to the order Piciformes, which also includes toucans, barbets, jacamars, puffbirds, and honeyguides.
Downy Woodpeckers are regular visitors to nut feeders
Most woodpeckers are black and white with red on their heads (the red usually lacking or decreased in females).  They prefer areas with large trees to which they are well adapted.  Woodpeckers have stiff tails that help them to brace themselves against tree trunks as they pound, taking some of the strain off their short, strong legs, and sharp claws.  Woodpeckers use their chisel-like bills to chip through bark and heartwood, on both live and dead trees, to get to grubs, worms and other invertebrates within the wood.  Most woodpeckers have long, pointed tongues, with bristles, barbs, or sticky fluid that helps them to grab hold of their prey.
In the Spring you may be lucky enough to sight a baby Downy Woodpecker such as this one
If Woodpeckers do not visit your feeders because your area lacks the large trees that they prefer, come visit the bird watching areas at the World Bird Sanctuary.  Be sure to bring your binoculars and cameras.

Submitted by Cathy Spahn, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist

Friday, February 24, 2012

Come Cruise With Us

On September 9, 2012, Walter Crawford, Executive Director of the World Bird Sanctuary, will lead a group of travelers on an exploration cruise of Alaska’s inside passage aboard Holland America’s beautiful cruise ship, the MS Oosterdam  
  The beautiful Holland America MS Oosterdam
This 7-day round trip cruise departs from Seattle on 9/9 and returns 9/16.  The itinerary  includes a full day of glacier watching in beautiful Tracy Arm fjord where passengers can expect to see and hear the phenomenon of Sawyer Glacier calving icebergs into the sea right before their eyes.  Other ports on this itinerary are Ketchikan, Juneau, Sitka, and beautiful Victoria, British Columbia. 
Hear the thunderous crack as a new iceberg is formed  
A cruise ship is the best and most affordable way to see some of the beautiful and amazing ports on this itinerary.  The incredibly beautiful and rugged Alaskan landscape renders these ports inaccessible by road.  The main means of travel by local residents is via floatplane or ferry. 

In 2009 my husband and I accompanied a World Bird Sanctuary group on an Alaska cruise with a similar itinerary and I would like to share with you some of our experiences.  First off, let me begin by saying that I am not normally a cruise person.  We had been on a Caribbean cruise with a different cruise line a number of years ago, and had sworn “Never again”.  So I had some initial misgivings about signing up for this cruise. 

However, after comparing the costs and conveniences of the cruise versus the costs and hassles of booking flights to each location with their attendant flight changes and layovers, costs of meals and accommodations, plus time lost waiting in airport security lines each day, the cruise was the logical hands-down winner.  The only flights we had to book were from St. Louis to Seattle and return.  All meals were included once we boarded the ship, plus we didn’t have the hassle of maneuvering luggage through various airports at each port or waiting in security lines with their accompanying hassles.  Once we were settled in our stateroom aboard ship (all included in the price of the cruse) our lodgings were conveniently waiting for us at the end of each day and our time was our own to enjoy the ship and each port without hauling luggage or worrying about check-ins every day.
Shipmates Dan & Laura MacLeod with one of our fun loving waiters  
What we were not prepared for was the congeniality and helpfulness of the fun loving Holland America crew—a far cry from our first cruise with that other cruise line. 
This watermelon sculpture on the buffet seemed appropriate for our group  
Meals were beautifully presented, whether we chose to dine in the main dining room, at the onboard buffet, in the intimate upscale dining room, or at one of the many small dining areas such as the pizza bar.  Dinner could be anywhere from a formal full dress affair to a casual meal, dependent upon your choice of dining style.  (We are not the formal full dress type, so this was one of our favorite features—it also meant less luggage to deal with.)
 My husband and I with four other members of our group in the beautiful main dining room 
Each night featured a different show in the ship’s theater.  For those who are so inclined there is also on-board shopping in several gift shop areas, casinos, saunas and massage parlors, beautiful indoor and outdoor swimming pools, and many other amenities too numerous to mention.  At the end of each evening we returned to our cabin to be greeted by a clever towel sculpture created by our friendly cabin steward.
 We could hardly wait to return to our cabins each evening to see what creature would be waiting to greet us!
So, if you’re ready for a spectacular vacation without all the hassles, consider joining Walter Crawford and the World Bird Sanctuary group for “World Bird Sanctuary Alaska Cruise 2012”.

Details – Alaska  Explorer Cruise 2012
•            Escorted by Walt Crawford, Executive Director, World Bird Sanctuary
•            Aboard Holland America MS Oosterdam
•            Roundtrip itinerary – Seattle, Ketchikan, Juneau, Sitka, Tracy Arm/Sawyer Glacier, Victoria, BC, and return to Seattle
•            Prices start at only $1,168 (inside cabin); $1488 (ocean view); $1,888 (verandah)

Price Includes:
•            7-day cruise accommodations
•            Onboard meals & entertainment
•            Special lectures by Walter Crawford
•            Visit to the Raptor Center in Sitka
•            Private cocktail party onboard
•            $25.00 per person Shipboard Credit
•            All taxes and government fees
*            Also included is a $50 donation to World Bird Sanctuary

Contact Cathy Robinson at ext. 114 (314) 439-5700 or (800) 527-1059

Check back in the next few weeks for an overview of what to expect at each port and photos from our trip.

Submitted by Gay Schroer, World Bird Sanctuary Volunteer/Photographer

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Shake The Fear Out

I must admit, the first time I ever spoke a show I was frightened beyond belief. 
  Flying the birds helps to quell stagefright_Marz, the Red-tailed Hawk is an old pro
Anyone who has ever performed before an audience knows that that first performance can be terrifying.  I have always had a terrible fear of public speaking.  In fact, I was so scared that before going out onto stage I have to violently shake my arms to “shake the fear out”. 

As Leah Tyndall discussed in her blog post recently, we all have our pre-show rituals that help to calm our nerves.  My arm shaking routine looks very silly and is slightly embarrassing, but when I walk out onto the stage all the fear flies away.  I was so scared for my first show, that for some unexplainable reason I even told the audience.  Thankfully, my audience for that show was terrific and very understanding.  I will always be grateful to them for it. 

I am also very grateful to the rest of the Stone Zoo Bird Show staff for all the support and encouragement they gave me, and frankly, for putting up with me while getting over my fear.  If it wasn't for the two Leahs on our Stone Zoo bird show staff, I would probably still be scared out of my mind when speaking in public. 

Even though I was frightened to be speaking in front of such a large audience, when the first bird comes out it all goes away.  Seeing the look on everyone’s face as the first bird flies over their heads makes me smile and reminds me why I do this.  And as adrenaline starts to rush through my veins, I can’t help but love being out there.  So I guess it’s fair to say that I have a love/hate relationship with public speaking. 
 Even birds get stagefright - just ask Sam, our Augur Buzzard
Sam, our Augur Buzzard, was also afraid of flying in front of a lot of people at first.  Watching Sam get over his fear of flying for a lot of people also helped me get over my fear.  I often thought to myself, “If this bird can be okay with it, I should be, too.”  Eventually Sam became one of our best fliers at the Stone Zoo Show, which always made me push myself harder to really want to be out there speaking for him. 

After the season at Stone Zoo ended and I was back at the sanctuary doing educational programs I had to take the next step for speaking shows--no backstage area where I could do my arm-shaking routine. 

My first encounter doing a WBS show without a backstage was in Kansas City at the Renaissance Faire.  We had a backstage, but we started the show with the speaker in the audience and a blind release of Stetson, a Harris’ Hawk.  This was a little hard for me because I couldn’t “shake the fear out” right before the show.  It did make it a little easier having Stetson there, for he is my favorite bird at the sanctuary.  We both instantly bonded while doing training sessions before the zoo show season started.  So while having him there helped me, I was still frightened before the show and at the start of the show. 

Luckily I had a great crew with me in KC—WBS staff member Trina Whitener and WBS volunteer Linda Tossing.  They were both very supportive of my public speaking jitters, so I want to send a great big thank you to them for all their encouragement. 

My last step in getting over my public speaking fear was recently at Lake of the Ozarks with WBS staff member Mike Zeloski.  There we didn't have any time at all between shows, kind of like a lightning round.  It was fast paced, and I loved it.  We had no backstage at all and no prep time, so there was no chance of “shaking the fear out” before the show.  After my first show I was too preoccupied with getting the next show started on time to really be scared at all. I love doing shows with Mike Z--he has so much knowledge and confidence when he speaks—and I think it transferred over to me a little.

After those three steps, I think and hope it is safe to say that I won’t be needing to “shake the fear out” anymore. 

So thank you to all the people and birds who helped me get over my fear of public speaking.

Submitted by Mike Cerutti, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist/Trainer

Monday, February 20, 2012

Why Is Bird Conservation Important?

Part of our mission at the World Bird Sanctuary is to secure the future of threatened bird species in their natural environments. 
These Barn Owl babies were part of World Bird Sanctuary's Barn Owl release program 
Currently, the sanctuary is breeding and releasing barn owls, a rare resident in Missouri.  It is a “species of conservation concern in Missouri,” according to the Missouri Department of Conservation.  Here we’ll take a look at why bird conservation is critical in our world.

Bird conservation is important in maintaining the diversity of the planet.  Birds are one of the most numerous creatures on the planet and they all have evolved amazing physical and behavioral adaptations.  We, too, must learn to adapt our own behaviors to live in our world, rather than forcing it into an artificial and unsustainable one.
 The above is just a small example of the amazing diversity among birds of the world
Wild birds are a vital part of the ecosystem and provide many key services.  They help control rodent populations.  For example barn owls can eat 2,000 mice in one year. 

Birds also help control insect populations.  They are advanced, extremely efficient, highly motivated, insect pest controllers.  For all of the strategies insects have evolved to evade predation, they still encounter many species of birds that are highly adapted, perfect insect-eaters.  Birds can shift their foraging locations and foraging behavior in response to an insect outbreak.  For example, when a large amount of insects are located in the canopy of trees, many ground or shrub-dwelling birds may go up into the canopy to forage.  Similarly, during an eruption of flighted insects, birds that usually eat by plucking caterpillars off leaves may instead fly after the insects and capture them in mid-air.  Birds not only help lower the current insect pest populations but they also help minimize future outbreaks.  The amount of money this saves us is beyond our imagination. 

Birds also help greatly with seed dispersal, and increase forest growth and conservation.  Additionallty, they are an important part of ecosystems in that they can function as food for other predators.  By studying all of the interactions birds have with the ecosystem, we can better understand how these relationships can affect humans.

Birds can teach us appreciation of natural diversity.  All birds have unique behaviors and personalities and the more we watch and observe them, the more we’ll grow to appreciate all of nature. 
 This Burrowing Owl has adapted to a treeless environment by using Prairie Dog mounds as a hunting perch
Awareness about bird conservation can promote awareness of other environmental issues.  For example, a species may be declining due to polluted water.  That awareness can lead to action taken to fight water contamination, which will in turn help other species of wildlife as well.  Putting out non-secondary rodent poison to get rid of rodents will help stop secondary poisoning of barn owls and other predators.

Birds can educate us on numerous things.  By observing birds in flight, aeronautical engineers have designed more efficient airplanes.  Climatologists who study birds’ migration patterns can gather insight on seasonal climate changes by noting behavioral changes in their subjects.  Psychologists use birds’ courtship rituals and community interactions to better understand complex group dynamics.  We must continue to conserve birds if we want to continue learning from them. 

Birds are important in maintaining the Earth’s biological diversity, providing services to the ecosystem, teaching us appreciation of nature, raising awareness of environmental issues and educating us in many facets of life. 

Bird conservation will always continue to be a vital part of the World Bird Sanctuary’s mission.  It can be yours, too!  Some easy ways you can help save birds include: keeping your cat indoors, build a brush pile for shelter, put out bird feeders, bird baths and bird houses, pick up litter and properly dispose of oil.   

Submitted by Sara Oliver, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist

Saturday, February 18, 2012

White Pelican Migration

A short time ago, I had the opportunity to participate in the rescue of an injured White Pelican. 

The Pelican had become stranded on a small pond near the Portage de Sioux power plant.  It had broken its wing, and so could not fly to warmer waters if the small pond froze, although it had survived for a brief time on the fish living in the pond.  We successfully rescued the bird, but the event caused me to reflect on the amazing lives that Pelicans lead and the annual migration patterns that eventually brought this individual to its fate.
Rescuing an injured White Pelican earlier this year
American White Pelicans (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) begin their lives near the shallow, glacial lakes found in the Upper Midwest Plains and Southern Canada.  Pelicans nest in large breeding colonies to help protect each other from predators.

When early Fall arrives, the Pelicans leave the northern breeding grounds and travel towards the Gulf Coast of the Southern United States.  Their routes take many of them along the Mississippi River and over the St. Louis region.  White Pelicans, along with many other migrating bird species, take advantage of the unfrozen water found near the large hydroelectric dams in our area. 
The Riverlands in Alton, IL is a great place to see migrating White Pelicans
A great place to spot White Pelicans this time of year is in the Riverlands Area in Alton.  The pond where we rescued the white pelican is located near a floodplain commonly used by migrating pelicans.  That individual likely became injured when its flock stopped to rest and feed.  When the rest of the flock moved on, this bird became stranded.
The pelicans spend the winter along the warmer waters of the Pacific and Gulf coasts.  They tend to avoid the open ocean, preferring instead inland lakes and estuaries. 

I always feel amazed when I consider the incredible journeys that birds regularly make to survive.  Traveling across a substantial section of the globe twice a year as a lifestyle is extremely perilous, as the injured pelican demonstrated. 

I felt privileged to participate in a small way in one of the most amazing rhythms of life on earth.

 Submitted by Leah Sainz, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist/Trainer

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Barred Owls Don't Listen....

2011 was one of the Kathryn G. Favre Wildlife Hospital's busiest years. 
A baby Barred Owl being treated in our Wildlife Hospital for a broken leg 
We received 379 birds and one snapping turtle.  101 Barred Owls must be a new record – but I'm still checking our books!

Most of these birds are collision victims – many people say, "The owl hit my car."  I often wonder…if a human was struck by a car, would we say, "That person hit my car?"  It has always seemed strange when I hear that, but I am so pleased that these people take the time and effort to catch these birds and bring them to our hospital rather than abandoning them on the side of the road.
A Barred Owl in one of our flight mews being conditioned to fly again 
Collisions are accidents and people should not feel at fault.  What we all can do is slow down a little when we are in dense wooded areas and near rivers – the perfect habitat for these birds.  These are areas where animals get very active around dawn and dusk.
 A Barred Owl ready for release
I will also continue to tell the owls to stop hitting our cars….but don't count on them paying any attention to me when I release them!

Submitted by Joe Hoffmann.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Great Backyard Bird Count

Do you feed birds?  Do you bird watch?  Are you a beginner or an advanced birder? 

If so, I have the event for you.  The Great Backyard Bird Count is Feb 17-20, 2012.  It’s free, fun and easy.

If you have 15 minutes on just one of these days you can participate, or if you are going on a big bird trip you can participate. All you have to do is keep track of the greatest number of each species of bird you see during your 15 minutes or your bird trip.  Then click here  and record your findings.  This data will help scientists to get a picture of what is going on with bird populations.

Submitted by Cathy Spahn, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist www.birdsource.org/gbbc/

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Rookie Files: Stage Fright

Zoo show programs are exciting and wonderful to perform.

Zoo Shows combine education and showmanship into a form that people can appreciate and enjoy.  Zoo shows, though, do require you to perform on a stage in front of hundreds of people, and this can sometimes lead to stage fright.
Getting ready to go on-stage
All of us who participate in zoo show education programs have had stage fright, and usually it’s worst at the beginnings of our careers.  For some stage fright is brought on by crowds numbering close to a thousand and being alone on stage for the first time in months.  For others stage fright can be induced by as few as three people.  Sometimes it is more comforting to give a show to a large group, since this causes faces and background chatter to blend into the crowd. 

Regardless of the cause, we all have pre-show rituals to help deal with it.  I center myself right before I go onstage and obsessively check the battery pack of my microphone to make sure it is on and I am not going to run out of battery power.  Other speakers will shake out or stretch out their nervous energy before the show starts.  Some will sit quietly and meditate on their script.  There are also occasions of pre-show group singing and warm-up cheers.

However we manage to calm our nerves and jitters, once we do we are prepared for every situation--ad-libbing while a bird sits in a tree, dealing with an overenthusiastic volunteer we’ve called out of the audience, speaking in front of a group that is standing room only, and on one memorable occasion performing a ten minute monologue while trying to get a bird to return to the theater.
Detour plotting a detour
Humans are not the only ones who get stage fright during zoo show programs.  Birds--especially rookies--are sometimes overwhelmed by the sheer number of people in the audience. This usually results in the bird not doing its behavior at all or deciding to seek safety in a nearby tree. This is more common with the smaller birds, ones that are considered prey in the wild.

Detour, our American kestrel would often detour from his flight path if it took him too close to the audience. Instead he would perch on the roof and observe until he deemed it safe enough to come back down. As the smallest falcon species found in North America, I can understand his trepidation. 

Sam, our young Augur Buzzard was thrown for quite the loop the first time he popped up onto his entrance perch and found the formerly empty theater full of people--or, in his opinion, full of frightening, unfamiliar creatures. He immediately sought the safety of a tree and we went back to square one.  You see, when practicing for the first real show, our theater is almost always empty of people, so those birds that have never flown over people in theater bleachers can get stage fright the first time they experience people in the bleachers.
Sam needed to be re-started to condition him to a large audience
Just like with beginning speakers, we re-started Sam out small with audiences of 15-20 and worked our way back up to audiences in the hundreds. We also reworked his flight pattern, since from his point of view he was flying into potential danger. It also helped to walk him around the theater for several shows, allowing him time to get used to the audience and realize that they were not going to harm him.  After about a month of this Sam was flying, care free, over hundreds of people.

Stage fright is a problem that everyone has dealt with at one point or another. It can manifest through nervous energy, upset stomach or inability to speak. The key is to break it down, start out small, and work your way through the problem. Once you do you’ll find that there is nothing you cannot accomplish and no situation that you cannot handle. Birds have to be helped through this process in getting used to large groups of humans, but we do have a big advantage over them. We never think the audience is about to eat us!

Submitted by Leah Tyndall, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist/Trainer

Friday, February 10, 2012

My Ah-Hah! Moment

I’m very fortunate to have a job that I enjoy doing.  Every morning, I wake up excited to come to work.

I get to work with amazing animals, learn from the rest of the knowledgeable staff at the World Bird Sanctuary and share my passion for birds with the visitors who come to the Sanctuary.  However, I wasn’t always a “bird nerd.”  In fact, I’ve come a long way from where I thought I would be five years ago…
Emily (in blue) puts her theater experience to good use while performing with the Raptor Project
Back in high school, I was an avid performer.  The Drama Club was my home base, and I never missed an opportunity to audition for a school play.  I carried this love of theatre with me to college, where I was convinced that I was going to major in theater and continue on to Broadway.  I stuck with the major for about a year…   but somewhere along the line, I became unconvinced that theater was the path for me.  Though theater was very enjoyable to me, I was unwilling to leave St. Louis to pursue a career in New York or L.A.  There was also the chance that I might not be discovered… and remain a starving artist for a good while.  Because of this unappealing prospect, I began to look elsewhere for something that would stir my passions.
Always keep the binoculars handy
Even back when I was a drama kid, I had always enjoyed watching the birds come hang out at the feeder in the back yard.  I observed legions of cardinals, titmice, chickadees and juncos every winter.  When my mom would tell me to go fill the bird feeder, I would happily slip on the closest boots and coat and trudge through the snow to the feeder, filling it with delicious black oil sunflower seeds to keep our visitors happy.  The summer after my freshman year of college I paid closer attention than ever to the birds that came to the feeder…now observing the summer residents of goldfinches, house finches, and Eurasian tree sparrows.  Maybe in this hobby I could find something exciting… but it was the appearance of a completely new and extraordinary bird that cemented my passions.
My Ah-Ha! bird--a Pileated Woodpecker
I was in the backyard with my mom, planting flowers around the perimeter of our patio.  She and I had been talking for days about what I could major in, now that I was no longer sure about theatre.  As we were talking, we heard a strange call coming from the front of the house.  It was a kind of laughing call--raucous and loud.  We stopped to listen, following the sound from the front of the house to the side yard… and then, an enormous bird flap-bounded into view.  It flowed gracefully up through the yard and perched on the side of a redbud tree trunk some hundred yards away from us.  Its matte black back and white facial stripes were clearly visible, as was its massive beak.  But the most striking part of this bird was the flame-red crest crowning its head.  I was beside myself.  I had read about these birds before, of course.  They were legendary in my family, not one of us having had more than a glimpse before, and now, here it was clinging so quietly to the side of the tree, as though saying, “You wanted to see me?  Well, here I am!”  My mom and I watched in awe for a solid five minutes until the bird flew away, presumably to inspire another birdwatcher.
Emily finds her theater training helps with presenting education programs to large audiences
Seeing that Pileated Woodpecker was my “Ah-Hah!” moment.  Before that point, I was unsure of myself--unsure as to where my life was going to go.  After that moment, and that bird, the pieces all started to fall into place.  I changed my major from theater to biology.  I started reading up on all of the ornithological literature I could find.  I birded like crazy during my family vacation to Michigan that year… and I visited a place called World Bird Sanctuary, to inquire about an internship… and the rest, as they say, is history.

Submitted by Emily Hall, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist/Trainer

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Farewell Can Be Hard

Farewell can be hard.  But I try to remember our birds with joy and celebrate their lives.

World Bird Sanctuary was founded in 1977 with a smattering of volunteers and a haphazard band of beautiful birds.  As we reach over 37 years educating people around the country, we inevitably have to say goodbye to the stalwart animal ambassadors who have been at WBS longer than most staff and volunteers.

Birds in the wild seldom have the luxury of dying of old age.  Instead, they are preyed upon; killed while defending their territories; succumb to weather extremes, disease or starvation.  At World Bird Sanctuary every single one of our birds' needs are taken care of, and we are able to extend their lives by up to three times what their normal life span would have been in the wild.  Sadly, we have to deal with the process of saying goodbye to our feathered friends now and then.

I shouldn’t be surprised by the fact that I am so often overwhelmed by the feelings I have when one of our birds passes.  I remember the first time I met them, and the things I learned from them – the experiences I shared while working with each of them.

Tobin, who we called 'our little butterfly' for his beautiful silent flight, was the first bird that I ever had the pleasure of having fly to my glove.  His sweet little face, gentle nature and consistently good performance made him a favorite among everyone.

Dewey the Bateleur Eagle took my breath away the very first time I saw her.  I grew up in a game reserve in Botswana in Africa, with a pair of Bateleur Eagles nesting in my backyard.  I had seen them close up and learned of the reverence with which African people admired them by listening to the folklore as a child.  I met Dewey when she was 22 years old.  When I got to handle her on the glove I felt privileged and overwhelmed at being in such close proximity to an African icon. 

I'm not a parrot person.  I dealt with them when needed at work, but I am not passionate about them at all…except for Rodney.  He was a little Red-lored Amazon that stole my heart.  He was always friendly and let me handle him and scratch his head without any of the idiosyncrasies that come with handling the other parrots.  If I was having a bad day I'd go and get him out of his cage and bring him up to my desk to “help” me work.  Playing with him was an instant pick-me-up.  He was with WBS for 26 years, and was given to WBS by a family from Milwaukee that couldn’t care for him anymore.  The day he died was a sad day, but I remembered him for his constant cheerfulness and sweet voice every time I walked past him in our nature center.

Every time we publish an obituary for one our birds we are touched by the response we get from our supporters.  No one can get past the fact that there will be some sadness, but I invite you to join me in celebrating the contribution our wonderful birds have made to our commitment to saving wild birds and their habitats.  If you were lucky enough to meet them in person, celebrate the personal interactions – for each one has their own distinct character and personality that has brought me joy on many occasions. 

Submitted by Catherine Redfern, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist/Fundraiser

Monday, February 6, 2012

365 Photo Project

Over the last few years I have seen many people do a 365 day Photo Project where they post and take photos every day of the year.  In 2012, I have challenged myself to do just this. 

Photography has always been something I enjoy.  I received my first camera, a Kodak Disc camera, when I was about 7 or 8 years old.  Needless to say I was addicted.  As I have gotten older and camera technology has changed and moved to digital, so have I, and I continue to take photos.  I love photographing nature and other fun things I come across.  I usually get a lot of positive comments about my photos. 

One thing I have learned over the last few years is to always have a camera at the ready.  I have one really good Cannon Rebel EOS and then I always carry my Nikon Coolpix camera or an older Casio Exilim as a backup.  I have learned you never know when something is going to happen and then you say to yourself, “I wish I had a camera”.  I still miss photo opportunities, because unless you have a camera attached to your eyes at all times you can never get every photo, but I can get more by always having a camera in my purse. 

Over the last few years I have seen many other people do these 365 projects, and everyone does them a little differently.  So I decided that I would attempt to complete this kind of project.  In my blog this year I will post just one or two of my favorite photos each month and discuss why it is my favorite.
Bald Eagle at Sunrise            
The first photo for my blog is from January 7, 2012.  The morning of the 7th I was checking our exhibit line early in the morning, a WBS procedural task to always make sure our birds are safe.  While driving down the exhibit line I kept seeing this one juvenile Bald Eagle with a white belly.  I took several photos while driving down the line.  On my way back up the line as the sun was coming up I saw this beautiful view of the eagle with the sunrise.
Grape juice! ....Yummm!
My second photo is from January 15, 2012.  For enrichment I gave the Straw-colored Fruit Bats in our Nature Center some grape juice.  They got very excited and were climbing into the juice bowl!  I quickly grabbed the camera and took some photos.  This is one of those photos.  Batty is the one looking right at the camera while Scar is trying to get Batty to move over.

I hope everyone enjoys the photos.  I love taking them, challenging myself and sharing them with others.

Submitted by Cathy Spahn, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Tell Me That You Love Me

Look at the unique Valentine's Gifts we have for you!
Give a Valentine's Gift with meaning.

Then spoil me by supporting our mission with a unique one of a kind Valentine's Day gift from World Bird Sanctuary!

Celebrate Valentine's Day with a unique gift from World Bird Sanctuary.  A gift that is special and unique.  A gift that is an investment in the important work that World Bird Sanctuary does every day to save birds and their habitats.

Engraved Brick
A brick engraved with a special message to your Valentine will support our Education Department's efforts to teach our community how small changes in our every day decisions can have lasting impact on our environment.

Starting at $125 - you can order your engraved brick here

Return to the Wild

With a Return to the Wild Gift Certificate you and your Valentine can celebrate the release of bird's return to the wild.  You can release a bird, one that was treated in our hospital back into the wild for it's second chance.  Your Return to the Wild certificate supports the important work of our Raptor Hospital.

Return to the Wild $150 - you can order your certificate here

Adopt a Bird

If you're a couple that loves birds, make your Valentine an adoptive parent of any of the animals that call World Bird Sanctuary home.  You will get an adoption certificate, pictures of your adopted animal and special visiting privileges with your adopted animal.  Your adoption helps to care for your adopted animal for one year.

Starting at $50 - you can choose your Adopt a Bird here


Your Valentine's purchase contributes to the success we've had in achieving our mission for over 35 years

Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Great Pelican Surround

At the onset I was reminded of a friend in Wyoming’s observation about the ease of herding buffalo.  He’d said, “It’s easy.  You can herd ‘em anywhere they want to go!”  

That comes close enough to describing our mission of capturing an ailing White Pelican from the waters between the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers one cold, humid and windy January morning.
To the casual observer this Pelican looks like just another boulder amongst the rip-rap
Even in our prime that for one 80 year old man was realized many moons ago; and from that octogenarian down to the 25-year old lass who finally made the eventual capture with one deft swoop of her net.  Between those two were perhaps ten others of various descriptions and skills, including the person who guided us to the lake where our quarry seemed not overly concerned by our intrusion into his part of the world.  Yet a team we were--and for not having rehearsed such a deployment as a unit, we embarked upon the mission with surprising efficiency, including its successful conclusion.

You could almost smell the fact that it would not be an easy capture.  The bird was about 100 yards off as we exited our vehicles to survey the situation.  And while 100 yards might have been his normal comfort zone to be kept between himself and humans, this particular group of humans did rouse his survival instincts as he eyed us suspiciously.

Perched in the white stone rip-rap of the shore, he seemed to grow uncomfortable when one of us walked out of his line of sight to execute our “Plan A”, which would have been a simple net capture after having sprung from ambush.

As humans we sometimes mistakenly attempt to evaluate the why of a wild creature’s behavior based upon human logic.  Like….did the bird know the human was executing an ambush maneuver?  My personal opinion is that the bird felt no need to analyze; it simply didn’t like what it saw--one human less in a gang of 12 that already had made him less than comfortable--and took action.  That action was to take to the water, which set in motion what had been our original “Plan A”--launch the boats and catch the critter.

Launch all boats!  That white speck to the left is the bird staying just out of reach!
Launch all boats!  Easier said than done.  Those familiar with a 16’ “double ender” canoe drill can appreciate the hazards of the launch site--a gentle slope from shore to deeper navigable water.  This meant getting knee deep wet to gain the necessary depth, or making the mistake of trying to stay dry in the process and thereby getting even wetter than up to the knees when the canoe overturns.   And overturn one of our boats did—dumping two of our stalwart rescuers into the drink.  Thankfully I was just taking pictures, but the sight, sound and expressions made me shiver nonetheless.

Thankfully the mettle of our crew rose to the top and before a thought was given to warmth or keeping dry ~ the chase was on.  Picture if you will, two canoes, one rowboat and seven people afloat in pursuit of one lone White Pelican that swam with ease, speed and purpose as he eluded our capture squad.  All this complete with laughter as the bird, in seeming disdain for our effort, took a moment to attempt to scoop up a fish with its remarkable beak while not missing a stroke with its magnificent paddle feet. 
Naturalist/Trainer Leah Sainz and Director Jeff Meshach extract the bird from the net.
Finally we were successful in executing the capture as our boat crews were successful in driving the bird toward shore, while positioning our young lady in the front of one of the canoes with the net to make the catch.

Safely securing the bird, we took a few pictures, loaded the boats and headed back home to the WBS hospital to see what could be done for our new charge.

While maybe not the norm, still just another day in the life of a wildlife rehabber.

Submitted by Pat Payne, World Bird Sanctuary Volunteer