Sunday, April 28, 2013

Really Weird Birds: Part 14

Male Bowerbirds have fascinated scientists with their complex courting behavior. 

Male Bowerbirds are accomplished avian architects.  They are renowned for building an elaborate structure, called a bower, on the forest floor made from twigs, leaves, and moss.  In order to attract the females, a male Bowerbird will decorate the bower with colorful objects like flowers, leaves, and berries.  They will also adorn the bower with pebbles, dead insects, fruits, nuts, shells, rocks, even trash and deer dung! 

Bower of a Satin bowerbird, decorated with many blue objects.
 There are twenty species of Bowerbirds.  They range in size from 8.7 inches to 16 inches tall.  Ten species are native to New Guinea, eight native to Australia and two found in both.  Their range is mainly throughout the tropical areas of New Guinea and northern Australia; however a few species range into central, western and southeastern Australia.  There is a group in the Bowerbirds -- four catbirds of the genus Ailuroedus -- that do not build bowers and that are monogamous.

As for the rest, males will spend 9-10 months of the year regularly working on, improving, and rearranging their creations.  The bowers are not nests.  They are essentially seduction chambers designed to attract one or more females to mate.  A female will arrive to inspect the bower and the male will then strut his stuff and sing.  He may even carry around one of his colorful shiny decorations.  If she chooses him, they will mate and she will fly off to build her nest nearby, leaving the male to try and seduce more females.  Click here to see a video where Vogelkop Bowerbird males decorate their bowers to impress females.

Each species of Bowerbird builds its own shape of bower and prefers different decorations. 

Macgregor's Bowerbirds in New Guinea may spend weeks erecting, and years perfecting, a "maypole" bower up to seven feet high atop a ring of moss. 

Female Satin Bowerbird - what male could resist those blue eyes?

Satin bowerbirds “paint” the walls of their bowers with chewed berries, plants or charcoal.  Their favorite color decoration is blue.  They will collect blue feathers, berries, flowers, and trash like bottle caps and straws.  Maybe it’s in order to compliment the females pretty blue eyes!

Submitted by Sara Oliver, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist

Friday, April 26, 2013

When Is a Pig Not A Pig??

Recently, I got a new pet, a sweet little guinea pig, and I named her Bailey.

No one really knows why or how Guinea Pigs got their name because they are neither pigs nor do they originate from Guinea.  They are cavies and come from South America. Cavies are any of the various South American rodents of the caviidae family.  The name guinea pig dates back to the 17th century.   The first record of it (as ginny-pig) is in William Harvey’s medical textbook Anatomical exercitations, concerning the generation of living creatures, 1653.

There are many variations of coat and color - This is a smooth coated Himalayan variety

There are many different breeds of Guinea Pigs and a variety of color variations.  If you go and visit your local pet store, you can see many of these different variations for yourself.

Guinea Pigs that live in the wild will usually stay in herds that consist of one adult male, several females and their babies.  Herd animals like to stay together so that way they have a much better chance to see and avoid danger that is coming their way.  Guinea Pigs have no real self defense mechanisms, so herding is essential.  As in the wild, domestic Guinea Pigs enjoy having the company of their own kind.  Some form very close relationships, others may not, but most appear to be happy when they know that they’re not alone.

There are many types of bedding to use in cages, but some may be harmful to your pet. To help conserve bedding, you can use several layers of newspaper. It’s absorbent, helps with warmth, and also makes cage cleaning faster and easier.  Kiln-dried pine shavings and aspen shavings are some of the best bedding to use.  Never use cedar shavings or sawdust.  Using bedding like these that have very small particles are very bad for small animals due to the fact that they are easily inhaled.

The long flowing coat identifies this one as a Peruvian (sometimes called Silky) pig

To keep a guinea pig stimulated and happy while in their cage you should have a cage big enough to have hidey houses and tubes.  Don’t overcrowd the cage though, since they do need room to move freely.  The houses and tubes make them feel secure and comfortable. To prevent boredom change these things out regularly.

Guinea Pigs have very delicate bodies so you must be careful when handling them.  When picking up a guinea pig approach them from the front rather then from behind because they may become very frightened when they are suddenly lifted and don’t see it coming.  Place one hand under their belly just behind their front legs and use the other hand to support their hindquarters.  Definitely be careful not to squeeze them because their organs are very fragile.  It is a good idea to only hold your guinea pig for about ten minutes at a time.  They will naturally want to go to the bathroom and if you handle them too long, they will poop on you.

Reeces, a former WBS resident, was an Abyssinian variety

Before getting a guinea pig as a pet make sure you do your research about their diet.  There are many things that guinea pigs can have to eat.  One such food is timothy hay and another one is mixed grass hay.  Mixed grass hay should be available in unlimited amounts due to how good it is for your pig.  Alfalfa is higher in calories, lower in fiber, and is not quite as good for them, so it is not a preferred source of nutrition.  Most fruits and vegetables are fine for them as long as it is in moderation.  Kale is another form of nutrition for them, but it should only be fed once a week.  Apples are very nutritional and can be fed once a day in moderate quantities.  Guinea Pigs should get three servings of fruits and vegetables a day, but no more then one serving of any single vegetable.  One of the three servings should be a leafy green vegetable.

Another former WBS resident Guinea Pig - Inca

Guinea Pigs share a unique quality with humans; they must have vitamin C for their bodies.  Since they cannot normally produce vitamin C, it must be supplied in food or supplements.  Guinea Pigs that don’t get adequate amounts of vitamin C can develop a disease that in humans is called scurvy.  Vitamin C deficiencies in guinea pigs can be determined by loss of appetite, bleeding from gums, joint stiffness, weight loss and poor tooth development.  Feeding guinea pigs a diet that is high in vitamin C is very important.  Leafy greens such as: kale, spinach, cabbage, red and green peppers, asparagus, broccoli, peas, tomatoes, dandelion greens (no pesticides, fertilizers or herbicides), kiwi and oranges are all great sources of vitamin C.  Note however, that some of these such as kale, (which stated above can only be given once a week), cannot be given all the time, so you must remember the appropriate times to give them which type of vitamin C source.
There are many things to know about Guinea Pigs before getting one as a pet. The same goes with any animal that you think you might want as a pet. Always do your research before you take on the responsibilities and duties of pet ownership.
Submitted by Jamie Sansoucie, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist          

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Will That Warms My Heart

This month I would like to introduce you to Willard, the Red-tailed Hawk, and some of the fascinating facts about him and his species.
 Willard's plumage is the Eastern color variation-note the distinctive red tail that gives this species its name.
If you haven’t already met him at WBS’s Monsanto Environmental Education Center (also known as the visitor’s center), I strongly suggest you make a trip out to see Willard.  Willard is a Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis). 

Willard was orphaned when he was just a fluff ball of a baby, and since we did not have any Red-tailed Hawk breeding pairs at the time, we placed him with a pair of Harris’ Hawks so they could raise him.  We wanted to make sure Willard did not become imprinted on humans.  These hawks did a great job of raising him like he was one of their own. 

Willard was hatched in the wild in 1994, which makes him nineteen years old this year.  We know that because he has been with WBS since he was just a chick.  In the wild, Red-tailed Hawks live up to 21 years and up to 29 years in captivity.  The oldest reported Red-tailed Hawk in captivity was 28 years and 10 months old.

Willard hard at work greeting visitors in WBS's weathering area.
Red-tailed Hawks are native only to North America and are present year round in the continental United States and Mexico.  Their summer  breeding range is in some northern states, Canada and even in southern Alsaka.  Red-tails are the most commonly seen hawk in North America.  You won’t need to look very hard to spot these birds outside.  They are often seen soaring over open fields or perched atop electrical poles and trees along interstate highways and country roads. 

These large hawks range from 17 to 25 inches in length and weigh from 24 to 60 ounces (1.5 to 3.75 pounds).  Their wingspan ranges from 3.5 to 4.5 feet.  As with most birds of prey it’s the females that are larger than the males.  Males and females are not sexually dimorphic, meaning that their plumage (feather color) is the same for males and females. 

The Red-tailed Hawk has one of the most variable plumages of any raptor, depending on region.  Besides the eastern color variation like Willard, there are dark morphs and light morphs including, a Krider’s subspecies, Harlan’s subspecies, Rufous morph, and there are many reports of Albino and lucistic Red-tailed Hawks.  Krider’s hawks are more often found around the Great Plains in the United States and Harlan’s hawks are found in Canada and Alaska.  Below you can notice the difference in plumage.

Note the much lighter plumage on this Krider's sub-species

Red-tailed Hawks are a type of bird of prey, which puts them into the category of being a carnivore.  These hawks will eat mostly mammals, but will go after snakes, small birds, and carrion (dead animals).  A common name most people give these hawks is the “chicken hawk” because they are known to sometimes prey on chickens, but Red-tailed Hawks mostly go after small mammals.  If you have ever gone to a cinematic adventure (the movies!) and heard a bird of prey calling, it was most likely a Red-tailed Hawk call.  (To hear some of the  calls made by a Red-tailed Hawk click on the link and then scroll down on the page.)  Their call is the most common bird of prey call to be used even if the bird in the movie is not a Red-tailed Hawk!

Willard is available for adoption in our Adopt a Bird program.  To find out more information, call 636-861-3225.  All adoption donations are tax deductible. 

Unless he is traveling to an education program with our Naturalists, Willard can be seen year round in the weathering area behind the Monsanto Environmental Education Center at the World Bird Sanctuary.  The World Bird Sanctuary is open daily from 8am-5pm. 

Willard is a very handsome bird.  You should stop on by and visit him! 

Submitted by Lisbeth Hodges, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist

Monday, April 22, 2013

Which Came First?

It’s always been hard to decide the answer to the age-old question, “…which came first, the chicken or the egg?”  That question, however, is even harder to answer considering how long chickens have been around.

Here at WBS we worry about a different question involving the egg of a bird (or also a reptile) that can be a common conundrum with chickens.  Birds and other egg-laying animals can sometimes have a condition referred to as egg binding.  This is where a female of an egg-laying species has problems passing a formed egg out of its system.  This can cause many problems for the animal and sometimes, if not caught immediately, can cause death.
Egg binding can affect reptiles, as well as birds
Egg binding can be caused by many factors that vary from species to species.  The most common causes are calcium deficiencies (calcium helps the muscles contract that lay the egg), early breeding (if the female is too young and small), oversized or malformed eggs, an illness that weakens the female, stress, dehydration, and genetics (the pelvis may just be too small for egg laying).  With so many possible causes it is very important for owners/caretakers to watch for the symptoms of being egg bound and also to be very particular on the housing and food intake of egg laying animals.
Chickens are the animal most commonly associated with egg binding
Chickens are most commonly found with the egg binding problem, mostly because of the large number of eggs that they lay year round.  When a hen is egg-bound she will often become lethargic and ‘droopy’ compared to how she normally acts.  For example, a shy bird that normally runs away when a person enters its space will not be concerned with a person’s entrance when it is not feeling well.  Unfortunately that is a sign for a large range of illnesses, so other behaviors must be observed as well.  Some signs may be fluffed feathers, visiting the nest more often than normal, straining to lay the egg, tail pumping up and down, lack of eating or drinking, swollen abdomen and a red or swollen vent

Since being egg bound can be fatal within 48 hours, it is very important to take action with the animal in question as soon as possible.  It is best to consult your vet.

Even though we do not now, and may never, know which of the two came first, it is very well known that without either of them, we could not raise more chickens and other egg laying animals.

So whether or not it was the chicken or the egg, it is important that they both be made as healthy as possible.

Submitted by Teresa Aldrich, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist/Trainer

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Fete du Feather 2013--Are You Joining Us?

It's not too late to make your reservation!

World Bird Sanctuary is soaring to new heights and we invite you to be a part of the sanctuary continuing to reach audiences and deliver on our mission.  Join us for the 2013 Fete du Feather Gala & Auction!  

Fete du Feather is World Bird Sanctuary's premier fundraising event and your opportunity to support the sanctuary and hear directly from WBS leaders.

When:  May 4th, 2013 – 6pm-10pm
Where: Sheraton City Center, 400 S. 14th Street
What: Live Entertainment – Animal Interaction – Silent & Live Auctions
Dress: Cocktail Attire
Parking: Complimentary Valet Parking

Click here to register now!

Thanks to our sponsors!
Ameren Missouri
Novus International, Inc.
Edward Jones
PGAV Destinations
Thompson Coburn LLP
Missouri American Water
Frontenac Engineering
Winter Brothers Material Company
Brown, Smith Wallace, LLC
Bloomsdale Excavating
Husch Blackwell LLP

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Of Cats and Birds

As I was reading through my March/April issue of Audubon Magazine I came upon an article entitled “10 Things You Can Do For Birds”.  There were a number of good suggestions in this article, many of which I was already doing—however, suggestion number 9 struck a real chord.  It was about letting your pet cat run free outside.
Even though I do not have a cat of my own, I have had two loveable "grandcats"
I do not have a cat—not because I don’t like them (actually, I love cats), but somehow a cat seems to be one of the few domesticated animals that my family never adopted.  However, we do have a neighborhood cat that has adopted our yard as his own personal hunting ground.  I have never personally seen him take a bird, although I have often seen him stalking something in our flowerbeds.  Given the amount of time he spends in our yard I’m sure he has captured his share of mice and birds.  I do not fault him for this, since he is just following his natural instincts.  However, I do fault the irresponsible owners that let him run free.

 Here is a verbatim quote from the Audubon Magazine article which gives some amazing statistics:

“9.              Curb your Cats
            Keep your felines inside or in outdoor “kitty condos”.  America’s estimated 150 million outdoor cats kill serious numbers of birds—up to 3.7 billion a year, according to a new report from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Smithsonian’s Migratory Bird Center.  Tiny radio transmitters affixed to gray catbird nestlings in the Washington, D.C. suburbs by scientists from the Smithsonian Institution and Towson University showed that predators killed about 80 percent of those birds after they fledged (more than was sustainable) and that cats were responsible for nearly half of those deaths.  House cats in the so-called “kittycam” study by University of Georgia and National Geographic Society researchers carried tiny video cameras.  The footage shocked the cats’ owners, revealing 44 percent of their pets were cut-throats; those cats averaged one kill every 17 hours outdoors.”

Cats make wonderful and entertaining pets.  If you’ve ever played with your cat by tossing a kitty toy in front of it and twitching the toy to watch him pounce, you know that a cat’s natural instinct is to hunt.  When kitty is allowed to roam outside, its natural instincts kick in and it becomes a hunter, pouncing on and killing any small creature that moves—just like the kitty toy.

Not only is a free roaming kitty a danger to the neighborhood birds—the cat itself is then at risk.  A free roaming cat is in danger of being hit by a car, mauled by dogs, other cats, and other wild animals that may live in your area, such as coyotes, raccoons, etc.  Your beloved pet is also at risk of ingesting poisons that may have been put out for rodents, or by catching and eating rodents that have ingested the rodenticides.  Plus, other animals carry diseases that can be transmitted to your pet.  It can also pick up fleas and ticks that carry their own set of diseases that are transmissible to other animals, such as Lyme Disease and West Nile Virus.

So, if you love your cat, for its sake and for the sake of the neighborhood birds, please be a responsible cat owner and keep your cat inside.  

Submitted by Gay Schroer, World Bird Sanctuary Volunteer/Photographer

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

March 365 Photo Project

March was a slow month for photos since I spent a good part of the month traveling to outreach programs, and then on my days off bad weather limited my photo opportunities. However, I did manage to come up with a few photos worth sharing. 

Wild Barn Owl in the woods behind my apartment
The first photo was a complete surprise.  Every year for the last three years WBS has had a wild Barn Owl that visits our captive Barn Owls for a few days, and then goes on its way.  Over the years many staff members have seen it.  I have gone looking for this bird many times in the past and have had no luck--then there was this year!

As I was getting ready to leave for an out of town program I left my apartment with hands full, and suddenly saw a pair of big light brown wings fly away.  I dropped everything, grabbed the camera and binoculars out of my bag, and keeping my eyes on the bird further out in the woods, I spied a beautiful Barn Owl.  I quickly took a handful of photos, then called Catherine Redfern, WBS’s development coordinator, so that she could see a wild American Barn Owl.  Then I called Jeff Meshach, WBS’s director, and he had a chance to see the bird in time for it to fly further into the woods.  This Barn Owl was seen at least one other time by Catherine, so we know it stuck around for a few days and then most likely moved on.

The next two photos were taken up in Hastings Minnesota at Carpenter Nature Center during my short snowshoe hike.  The day was very sunny with mild temperatures and a good amount of snow, so great for snowshoeing.  I have tried this only twice, and both times was at Carpenter Nature Center.  I can tell you that if I lived up north I would totally take up snowshoeing.  It is so much fun. 
Snowshoeing is a great way to get winter photos
I took a few very pretty scenery shots.  The first shot is looking out over a field with twin oak trees--very pretty. 
See if you can spot the eagle nest in this photo
The next was a shot looking over the frozen river.  If you look closely you can see a dot in the photo that is a Bald Eagle nest, which brings me to the last photo that is a Bald Eagle sitting on the nest.
Bald Eagle on a nest

Submitted by Cathy Spahn , World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Don't Delay! Make Reservations Today!

Hey!  There's Nature in My Woods!  Time to go find it!

Have you booked your family onto World Bird Sanctuary's family-friendly guided nature hikes yet?

Join us for a leisurely 2-hour hike through our oak hickory forest to see what kind of nature is in our woods.

 Turtles are frequently seen on our nature hikes.
 An expert naturalist will lead you on your hike – where you may see birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals.  Learn about trees, rocks and who knows what else!

Each hike will be a new experience depending on the season and creatures we encounter.

Time: Hike starts at 9am.  Registration at 8.30am.
Dates: Every fourth Saturday of the month from until October.
April 27th
May 25th
June 22nd
July 27th
August 24th
September 28th
October 26th

Enjoy a walk through our oak hickory forest.

Cost: $9 for adults; $7 for children under 12.  Groups of 10 or more - $7 per person regardless of age.

Reservations Required: Call 636-225-4390 ext. 0 to make your reservation and find out what nature is in your woods!

Dress for the weather and don't forget your binoculars and cameras!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Return to the Wild

This month I wanted to take the time to tell everyone about a wonderful experience that the World Bird Sanctuary’s Wildlife Hospital provides to the public.

Sick and injured birds of prey that enter our wildlife hospital oftentimes need an area to be released into the wild, so we have designed a program to make this a unique experience for the general public to enjoy.  The program is called “Return to the Wild,” and it gives donors the opportunity to actually release a bird of prey back to the wild.

A rehabilitated Red-tailed Hawk ready to be released

The World Bird Sanctuary’s Wildlife Hospital specializes in the rehabilitation and reintroduction of birds of prey to the wild.  The actual reintroduction to the wild is where the public can be of great help to our organization and provide a memorable experience for those who witness and take part in the release.  From my perspective as an employee in the hospital, releasing a bird of prey that has been rehabilitated is quite possibly the best paycheck there is.

The way the program is set up is that prospective donors can call the World Bird Sanctuary’s Wildlife Hospital and explain that they would like to participate in the Return to the Wild program.  As long as the habitat is correct for the species, you are able to do the release at your house or another location as desired.  For those who have a particular species in mind, you may request it, but availability of a particular species will depend on which birds are currently ready to be released. 

A Cooper's Hawk being released back to the wild

On the day of the release a World Bird Sanctuary staff member will drive to the release location with the bird.  From there donors have the option to release the bird out of their own hands or by simply opening the travel crate to let the bird fly away at its own leisure.

This is a memorable way to celebrate a special occasion – birthday, anniversary, wedding, the passing of a loved one from this life into the next, Girl Scout Fly-up ceremonies, Boy Scout passages from one level to the next, or just for the thrill of being the one to return a magnificent creature back to the wild.

A Cooper's Hawk after release surveying his new environment

This is always a wonderful experience for all who participate, and I highly recommend this great program.  It’s an excellent opportunity to help out the wildlife that is all around us, and learn more about the fascinating creatures in our region.
For more information about our Return To The Wild Program Click Here (link), or call 636-225-4390 and ask for Catherine Redfern.

Submitted by Adam Triska, World Bird Sanctuary Field Studies Coordinator

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Lake of the Ozarks Nesting Platform

Maybe this will be the year the Bald Eagles will use the nesting platform at Lake Ozark’s Bagnell Dam.
The Osage River just below the Dam
The nest platform was designed and built by Eagle Scout candidates and their team of helpers.  World Bird Sanctuary worked in conjunction with Ameren Missouri to have the Eagle nest platforms installed just below the dam.  The Eagles congregate there to catch fish when the power company has the gate of the dam open and water is going through. Fish travel through, too. The Bald Eagles swoop in just below the Dam to grab the fish with their black talons.
We started across the dam at daybreak
We checked the nesting platform at daybreak on our way to my favorite breakfast place called Stewart's.  Stewart's is known for great food and big breakfasts at reasonable prices. The waitresses are always friendly and ask us which of our eagles we brought with us for this year’s Lake of the Ozarks Eagle Days event.

WBS volunteers Lynnette McCurdy and Mike Cerutti were with me.
We were surprised to see Vultures on the Eagle Nesting platform
We checked the Eagle nest platform after we drove over the dam, hoping to see eagles,
but to our surprise we saw Vultures!  Remember, this was daybreak and the Vultures looked lethargic, like they had been there all night.  Upon taking a closer look at the Vultures and counting the birds, we counted seven Vultures that had apparently slept on the Eagle Nest platform.  And on even closer examination of the birds, five were Turkey Vultures and two were Black Vultures.  I was very excited by the Black Vultures.  Even after all these years I still get excited by sightings of Black Vultures in Missouri!

Turkey Vultures are the main Vulture we see in the St. Louis Area.  Black Vultures are found farther south in Missouri and the Southeastern United States.

Anyway it was exciting to see birds using the nest platform, even if they were vultures just using the high platform as a place to spend the night and sleep.

Maybe this year the Bald Eagles will add sticks to the platform and use the nest. Could this be the year?  I hope so.

Submitted by Michael Zieloski, World Bird Sanctuary Director of Education

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Rain Bringer

As I write this blog post the unpredictable weather of March in St. Louis, Missouri, howls outside my window and delivers an unprecedented 12-inch snowfall to our area.

Marvelous March--it comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.  It is also the host of my favorite holiday, Saint Patrick’s Day!  So it seemed like an excellent idea to talk about lucky birds for this blog.

Unfortunately, historically there are not a lot of birds one would consider lucky.  To ornithologists and bird watchers there are once in a lifetime finds or sightings, but that doesn’t really have the universal appeal of the four-leafed clover or rabbit’s foot. 

An American Raven, aptly named Poe (photo by Gay Schroer)

On the other hand there are many birds that have long been considered bad omens.  Ravens and crows are often portrayed as portents of doom…largely due to one Mr. Edgar Allen Poe.  Owls are thought to predict, or even cause, death in some cultures and the Barn Owl’s frightening scream may have even birthed the myth of the Banshee.

There is one bird however that people are excited to see every year--the Stork!  Not the White Stork, which is often depicted delivering babies, but the Abdim’s or White-bellied Stork, which is thought to bring something that every living creature needs--water.  In Africa Abdim’s Storks are believed to be the heralds of the rainy season. This is because their migration coincides with the rainy season.  World Bird Sanctuary is home to one Abdim’s Stork, the mighty, ferocious, often squeaky Otis!

Meet Otis, an Abdim's Stork (photo by Leah Tyndall)

Of course Otis does not bring the rains with him wherever he goes…although every time he moves to a new city for WBS’s educational bird programs at zoos, there seems to be an occasion of freak weather.  He is not terribly big, only a few feet tall, but what he does not have in size he more than makes up for with noise and force.  To look at a White-bellied Stork you might think they look fairly harmless, but that beak of theirs can be used much like a sword to stab at the black hearts of their enemies and defend their kingdoms (only kidding…in the wild their beaks stab at small fish, small rodents and big insects).

Ever since I’ve known Otis there has been something noble and medieval about him.  On occasion we call him Sir Oh Tis, because he will defend his territory from we humans.  When I was an intern he was the bane of my existence because as soon as I entered his enclosure he would begin trying to fend me off with stabbing motions and lots of wheezing and flapping.  It took me a while to get comfortable around him and to learn how to navigate safely through his “kingdom,” lest I be struck by Abdim pox (the teeny, tiny bruises that formed from his beak). 

Otis assuming a regal stance at one of our zoo shows (photo by Teri Graves)

Eventually we worked out a truce and Otis and I are now good friends.; due largely, I am sure, to all the mealworms that I give him (his absolutely favorite treat).  In fact, in an amazing turnabout, he has started courting me--even offering me a robin fledgling that he found during one of my programs.  Unfortunately he offered me this gift in front of hundreds of people, a very National Geographic moment.  Those children learned that not only do Abdim’s Storks love insects and small mammals, but they will hunt down small birds, too.  And wow, are they unbelievably fast because of those long legs!

Up close you can see the beautiful coloring on an Abdim's Stork's face (photo by Gay Schroer)

There may not be too many lucky birds in the world, but it is all in how you look at it.  I find it incredibly lucky to have met and worked with Otis, since it is because of him I am able to safely and non-stressfully work with birds when they are being aggressive or defending their territory.  Otis may not bring rain (although that is still up for debate), but he does bring me a feeling of accomplishment…and the very occasional Robin!

Submitted by Leah Tyndall, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist/Trainer

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Pledge to Fledge 2013

Bird Identification for Beginners
 A pair of House Finches
Do you wonder what birds you're looking at on your feeder?  Do you want to know how to identify them using a field guide?  Then join St. Louis Audubon Society and World Bird Sanctuary as we take part in Global Birding Initiatives "Pledge to Fledge." 
 Male Downy Woodpecker
Learn how to use a field guide to identify birds!
·       St. Louis Audubon Society will host seminars throughout the day that will teach you which distinguishing characteristics to look for on a bird, and how to use that information to identify the bird in your field guide.
·       Then, World Bird Sanctuary naturalists will take you to one of three bird feeding stations at World Bird Sanctuary where you will be able to apply what you have learned, under the coaching of bird experts!
 A White-breasted Nuthatch
Important things you need to know

·       Date: Saturday, April 27th 
·       Time: 10am – 2pm
·       Admission and Parking is FREE
·       Binoculars and field guides will be available for you to use, or bring your own.

We hope to see you at WBS for a fun-filled day of learning all about birds!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Fete du Feather 2013

Join us for the 2013 Fete du Feather Gala & Auction

World Bird Sanctuary is soaring to new heights and we invite you to be a part of the sanctuary continuing to reach audiences and deliver on our mission.  Join us for the 2013 Fete du Feather Gala & Auction!

Fete du Feather is World Bird Sanctuary's premier fundraising event and your opportunity to support the sanctuary and hear directly from WBS leaders.

When:  May 4th, 2013 – 6pm-10pm
Where: Sheraton City Center, 400 S. 14th Street
What: Live Entertainment – Animal Interaction – Silent & Live Auctions
Dress: Cocktail Attire
Parking: Complimentary Valet Parking

Click here to register now!

Thanks to our sponsors!

Ameren Missouri
Novus International, Inc.
Edward Jones
PGAV Destinations
Thompson Coburn LLP
Missouri American Water
Frontenac Engineering
Winter Brothers Material Company
Brown, Smith Wallace, LLC
Bloomsdale Excavating
Husch Blackwell LLP