Monday, December 30, 2013

Eagle Days Are Here Again!

Join World Bird Sanctuary as they celebrate Bald Eagle season around the region!

At this time of year, the holidays are behind us, the weather has turned cold and nasty, and we’re all looking for something to do besides watch TV and hold down our recliners.

For those of us who live along the Mississippi flyway the colder temperatures herald the arrival of some of the most admired and magnificent creatures of them all.  No—not reindeer.  This is the season for eagle watching!

World Bird Sanctuary staff members and some of the eagles you may meet at our Eagle Days programs

The nearby rivers make for great eagle watching, particularly near Locks and Dams.  Bald Eagles migrate south along the Mississippi River, looking for good fishing in water that hasn’t frozen solid.

If you can bear braving the cold and wind along the river, chances are that you will see wild Bald Eagles in action, hunting their prey, perching in a tree, or soaring up above.  Eagle watching is an annual tradition for many of us, even those of us that are lucky enough to see and work with them every day.

If you want to see a live bald eagle up close and in person, you can visit the World Bird Sanctuary, or catch one of the displays or presentations below:

Alton Visitor’s Center
Alton, IL
January 4, 11, 18, and 25
from 10 am – 2 pm
Eagle Meet & Greet
Meet a live bald eagle and talk to a naturalist to learn about their habits, behaviors, and how they survived almost becoming extinct.

Lake of the Ozarks Eagle Days
Lake Ozark, MO
January 4 and 5
Hourly programs from 9-3 Saturday, from 10-2 Sunday
All About Eagles Programs, Traveling Talons Gift Shop
Did you know that Ben Franklin wanted the turkey as our national symbol instead of the Bald Eagle? Get an up close and personal view of a Bald Eagle and learn the reasons it was chosen instead of the turkey.

Audubon Center at Riverlands
West Alton, MO
January 5, 12, 19, 26, February 2, 9
10 am – 2 pm
Eagle Display
Ever meet a live bald eagle before?  Join us for this fascinating program.  Learn about their habits, behaviors, and how they survived almost becoming extinct.

Quad Cities Eagle Days
Rock Island, IL
January 10 - 12
Raptor Awareness programs with Eagle
Features birds of prey including falcons, hawks, owls and vultures. Not only will you see different species of raptors, but you'll also learn a vulture's secret weapon and how to identify a bird of prey in the wild. Sit back and enjoy an up close view as some of the birds soar right over your head!  At the end of the program, meet a live bald eagle!

Prairie Commons Branch Library
Hazelwood, MO
January 15
7:00 pm
All About Eagles Program
Join us for this fascinating look into the lives of Eagles.  Learn about their amazing eyesight.  Get a close-up view of our national symbol.

Missouri Department of Conservation
Chain of Rocks Bridge
January 18 – 19
Programs from 9 am – 3 pm
All About Eagles Programs
Get an up close and personal view of our national symbol, the Bald Eagle, and learn the reasons it was chosen as our national symbol instead of the turkey.   Learn how the Bald Eagle came back from the brink of extinction.  This may be your once-in-a-lifetime chance to get a good look at a Bald Eagle from only a few feet away.

Keokuk Eagle Days
Keokuk, IA
January 18 and 19
Saturday: programs from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Sunday: programs from 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
Raptor Awareness Program with eagle
Do you know what happens if a vulture is attacked by another predator?  Learn the answer to that question and many more at this program, which also features other birds of prey, including falcons, hawks, owls and vultures.  Learn how to identify a bird of prey in the wild. Sit back and enjoy an up close view as some of the birds soar right over your head!  At the end of the program, meet a live bald eagle!

Clarksville Eagle Days
Clarksville, MO
January 25 and 26
Saturday: programs from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Sunday: programs from 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
All About Eagles Program
Where else can you get an up close and personal view of a Bald Eagle and learn the reasons it was chosen for our national symbol instead of the turkey.  Did you know how to tell the approximate age of a young Bald Eagle just by looking at its feathers?  Learn the answer to these questions, and many more, at Clarksville Eagle Days.

Fort Bellefontaine Park
St. Louis, MO
January 25
12:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Four bird display featuring a bald eagle and other birds of prey.  Naturalists will be on hand to talk about the animals and answer your questions.

National Great Rivers Museum
East Alton, IL
February 15 – 17
Shows at 11:00 am, 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm each day
Masters of the Sky Programs and Eagle Display
Join us for this fascinating program that features birds of prey including falcons, hawks, owls and vultures. Learn about some of the secret weapons possessed by vultures to evade other predators.  In addition learn how to identify a bird of prey in the wild.  Sit back and enjoy an up close view as some of the birds soar right over your head!  At the end of the program, meet a live bald eagle!

Lewis and Clark Confluence Tower
Hartford, IL
February 15
1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Eagle Display
Have you ever seen a Bald Eagle from a few feet away?  Meet a live bald eagle and talk to a naturalist to learn about their habits, behaviors, and how they survived almost becoming extinct.

Submitted by Catherine Redfern, World Bird Sanctuary Development 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Saving The Brown Pelican

Recently, with the cold weather setting in, our four Brown Pelicans were moved to the building where I spend a great deal of my time working.   After many hours of caring for them I have found myself wanting to know more about this interesting species.
Brown Pelican - Jacksonville, FL
I stumbled on a few articles about the issues brown pelicans on the west coast of North America are dealing with and I wanted to share them with all of our readers.  To begin with, there are two distinct sub-species of Brown Pelicans—the California Brown Pelican and the Eastern Brown Pelican.  The birds that reside at the World Bird Sanctuary  are the Eastern Brown Pelican sub-species.
Gumbo & Cocoa, the two original Brown Pelicans that came to us during the Gulf Oil Spill
Both Brown Pelican populations have had a rough path during the last 50 years.  In the 70’s the Brown Pelican population was on the verge of being completely wiped out.  The pesticide DDT was largely to blame for the population crash.  DDT is a pesticide that is commonly linked with causing bird eggshells to become thin.  As in other avian species-- most notably the raptors who are at the top end of the food chain--the eggshells became so thin that they were oftentimes crushed by the parents incubating the eggs.  When the use of DDT was banned in the US the Brown Pelican population started to recover, and in 2009 they were removed from the endangered species list.

Now Brown Pelicans are facing another crisis--a scarcity of available food.  The Sardine population has dropped in recent years and has caused Brown Pelican numbers to slowly decline. In addition, Brown Pelican nesting populations are sensitive to human disturbance and major storms, so their populations remain in a delicate balance.
Brown Pelicans sunning on a boat dock - Apalachicola, FL
Unfortunately the study and research of Brown Pelicans has been almost eliminated with the recent government cutbacks, so there are many questions that are still unanswered at this point.  One recent study in 2013 by the Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex found that the Northwest population of Brown Pelicans was at a record low of only 7,000 birds--about half of the population average recorded in the past decade and the lowest since 1999.

If you would like to see the Brown Pelicans that reside at the World Bird Sanctuary, stop by when the weather finally warms up in the spring, when they will be moved back up to their exhibit enclosure past the Wildlife Hospital.  You will find it interesting to compare the two species of Pelicans that reside here—Brown Pelican vs. White Pelican.

These interesting seabirds are available for adoption through The World Bird Sanctuary’s Adopt A Bird program. 

Submitted by Adam Triska, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist/Trainer

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Bird That Stands Alone

A very unique bird of prey that I would like to introduce to you is the Osprey (Pandion haliaetus). 

Ospreys are so special that they are in a class all their own.  There are eight different classes of birds of prey; Eagles, Hawks, Falcons, Owls, Vultures, Condors, Kites, and Ospreys.
Bennett the Osprey
At World Bird Sanctuary we have a very special bird named Bennett--our only Osprey.  Bennett was found in a field in Wentzville, Missouri in the cold of February 2013.  It was a very rainy day as well and he was soaked to the skin when he was rescued. 

When Bennett was examined at our hospital it was discovered that he did not have any physical injuries.  He appeared to have arthritis in his joints.  He was very fortunate to have been found, as he most likely would have perished if not rescued. 

Bennett got his name from Bennett Springs Park and Hatchery in Lebanon, Missouri.  The conservationists there are lifetime adoptive parents.  Their fish hatchery donates their excess fish to WBS to help feed the birds.  And, since the Osprey’s main food is fish Bennett receives some of that fish as his meal.  Below is a picture of Bennett.

Ospreys are found on every continent of the earth except Antarctica.  These birds eat about 99% fish in their diet, so they are found mainly around waterways, such as rivers, lakes, and coasts.  In North America, they are found on the Gulf Coast of Florida, and the Gulf of California year round.  During breeding season their range extends to Alaska, Canada, and many parts of the continental U.S.  During the winter they migrate towards the California coast and Texas coast.  They will migrate as far south as Mexico, and even into South America.

The name Osprey actually means bird of prey (avis prede) in Latin.  Ospreys range from 3-4.5lbs (1400-2000g) in weight and stand at a height of 1.75-1.9 ft (21-23in) tall.  They have an astounding wingspan ranging from 5-6 feet long as well. 

Do you know what sets ospreys apart from other birds of prey?  Believe it or not, it’s their feet!  Ospreys have feet that are zygodactyl, which means that they have two toes pointing forward and two toes pointing backward.  However, one backwards toe can move forward if needed.  The only other birds of prey that have zygodactyls feet are owls.  Ospreys are the only diurnal (day active) birds to have these special feet.  All other birds of prey have anisodactyl feet.  This means they have three toes pointing forward and one pointing backward.  Below you can see the difference between an osprey’s foot and a peregrine falcon’s foot.

Photo of an Osprey foot
Photo of a Peregrine Falcon foot

Bennett is thought to be around 15-20 years old because of his behavior.  An Osprey’s  lifespan in the wild is usually around this same range.  In captivity however their age can be as much as 30-35 years old.  The oldest recorded wild osprey was 25 years and 2 months old.  Some different reasons why animals live longer in captivity include a steady diet, no predators, medical attention available, and housing available as well.  Since Bennett has arthritis, we sprinkle Arthriease on his fish every day. 

Bennett 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.  

Bennett can be seen on the exhibit line just past the World Bird Sanctuary Wildlife Hospital, mostly during warm months. 

The World Bird Sanctuary is open daily from 8am-5pm 363 days of the year. 

Bennett is a very interesting bird.  You should stop on by and visit him! 

Submitted by Lisbeth Hodges, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


From all of us at the World Bird Sanctuary – Staff, Volunteers, Interns, and most of all the animals who depend on us for their food, housing and medical attention….

….to all of you who so loyally support us during the rest of the year by following our blog or attending our special events and outreach programs….
A full house watching Scoop the White Pelican strut his stuff at Birds in Concert
A crowd of loyal supporters enthralled by the sight of Clark the Bald Eagle swooping right over their heads at Open House becoming friends of the Sanctuary, adopting a bird, buying a brick, or sponsoring a Return To The Wild....
A Return to the Wild sponsor releasing a rehabilitated Bald Eagle

Many have given the gift of an adopted bird to loved ones

....our sincerest thanks to each and every one of you.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Rookie Files: Vader Vulture

When I first started as an intern at World Bird Sanctuary in 2008 I imagined I would enjoy all of the birds that I was going to be working with.  What I never expected is that over time all the birds would grow on me, even the seemingly disgusting ones.  I am of course referring to nature’s recycler: the vulture.

Gator, a Black Vulture who was with us for many years.

It did not take me long to learn to love and appreciate the vulture.  I am especially intrigued by animals that have fascinating adaptations, and you do not get more unique than vultures--especially the New World vultures (those from North and South America).

More closely related to storks than other birds of prey, New World vultures do not have strong grasping feet and talons.  They have weak, chicken-like feet.  Since they cannot defend themselves with their feet, they projectile vomit at any predators that dare approach after they have gorged themselves.

The white film is a result of urohydrosis

They also cannot sweat, so not only will they pant to cool off (like other birds), but they will go to the bathroom down the backs of their own legs, and the evaporation cools them off by about ten to twelve degrees almost instantly.  This delightful adaptation is known as urohydrosis.  With crazy adaptations like these, how could I not become fascinated by vultures?  Luckily for me there are plenty of New World vultures at World Bird Sanctuary.

The first vulture I worked with was a turkey vulture.  After dealing with an enclosure holding six Turkey Vultures I determined humanity to be very lucky that they do not hunt live prey. 

Baton Rouge, our big beautiful King Vulture, was next, but I don’t think I ever really appreciated a vulture until I had to train one. 
Here you see Trina, one of our naturalists, flying a Black Vulture

Every vulture I had worked with up until last year was already trained; I just got to reap the benefits.  Vader, our 3-year-old Black Vulture, was not.  Well, that is not entirely true. He knew how to go into a crate (after a refresher course) and go to a perch, but he had never been in a WBS zoo show program before.  He proved to be a delightful challenge (and I do not mean that sarcastically).
Vader's natural curiosity makes him difficult to photograph

Vader, due to his young age, is incredibly curious (making it very difficult to photograph him!).  He is also easily startled and frightened.  Being a black vulture, he is also highly social, something we use to our advantage. 

If Vader were afraid of something, say a new toy or location, we could often get him over that fear simply by showing him that whatever was scaring him was not dangerous.  There is a gate on the stage at the Milwaukee County Zoo that leads into our backstage area.  Vader needed to pass through this gate in order to get onstage.  At first he was afraid to go through the narrow opening, even with tasty food on the other side!  We opened the other half of the gate so that his passageway would be wider, but still he hesitated.  Then one day I walked through it with him--success!  He followed at my side like a puppy, and after that he had no trouble with the gate, even when he had to pass through it alone.  Once through the gate he galloped across the stage to the sheer delight of the audience.  Nothing brings a smile to the audience’s faces quite like a Black Vulture galloping.

The “vulture see/vulture do” method does not always work, however.  Vader is still afraid of stumps, and despite my climbing up on top of the fence so he would hop up to me atop the fencepost, we could not get him over this fear.  He did seem very confused and upset that he could not reach me.  This is still a work in progress.
As he matures Vader will lose this ruff of black feathers

Luckily Vader is still young and so he is still learning.  He is very affectionate for a vulture, bobbing his head madly and “shnuring” (one of the sounds pertinent to a vulture) every time we come into the building. In fact his hissing/grunting, stalking walk, in combination with the hood of feathers on his neck, is what earned him the name Vader.  Over time he will lose the small black feathers on his head and his hood will recede, giving him a bald head so that it can stay nice and clean once he sticks it inside a carcass. 

With the right training and patience, eventually he will also become braver and may one day follow in the footsteps of our other great black vultures. He is off to an excellent start!

Submitted by Leah Tyndall, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist/Trainer

Friday, December 20, 2013

Lake of the Ozarks Eagle Days

 Lake of the Ozarks Eagle Days is coming Saturday January 4 and Sunday January 5, 2014.

Osage National Golf Course is where our live Eagles will be.  We will be doing presentations on the hour, from 9 am to 3 pm on Saturday January 4 and 10 am to 2 pm on Sunday January 5, 2014.

Come see three species of Eagles displayed inside the warmth of the Osage National Golf Course Meeting Room.  Osage National Golf Course has been the gathering site for the World Bird Sanctuary live Eagle Presentations for at least 4 years now.  There is warm food available next door in the Kitchen/Restaurant area and warm bathrooms.

Missouri Master Naturalists help with guest questions and crowd control.  The Missouri Master Naturalists also help with sales of Eagle and bird souvenirs.  The proceeds from the sales of eagle gift items help World Bird Sanctuary to be able to care for the birds and continue our mission.  We help people learn about Eagles worldwide and their awesome characteristics, and some of the real risks they are facing in various parts of the world. 

There will be spotting scopes set up below the Bagnell Dam for viewing wild Eagles as they hunt.  Missouri Master Naturalists will help you spot a wild Eagle, answer your questions, and share your joy at seeing wild Eagles trying to catch fish below the dam.

The Lake Area Chamber of Commerce has been one of the long time sponsors/organizers of this event.  World Bird Sanctuary staff is grateful for all of their efforts for so many years.

This is a great event for families who want to get out and enjoy nature and see our National Symbol the Bald Eagle up close.  You will have a great time at this event.  Bring your cameras for some excellent photos.

Also, one of World Bird Sanctuary’s White-Necked Ravens, Lenore, will be collecting money/donations this year.  You will be able to hand your paper currency to Lenore and the she will take it from you and stuff your donation into the donation box.  If you want to have fun over and over, bring lots of one dollar bills so you can enjoy this unique bird behavior over and over again.  This way each member of your Family will get a turn interacting with the Raven.

For a donation of a $5 bill or more, Lenore the Raven will then give you a World Bird Sanctuary Magnet as a thank you.  Yes, with her beak she places the magnet in your outstretched hand! 

So, for a great mid-winter outing join us January 4th and 5th at the Osage National Golf Course at Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri.  Hope to see you there.

Submitted by Michael Zieloski, World Bird Sanctuary Director of Education

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Really Weird Birds: The Secretary Bird

The secretary bird is native to sub-Saharan African grasslands and savannas, and is a quite unusual looking bird of prey. 

This bird is the only species in the family Sagittariidae.  It derives its name from its long head feathers, which stick out from the back of its head similar to the quill pens that secretaries once placed behind their ears.

Secretary Bird hunting for prey

Also male secretaries wore gray tailcoats and dark knee-length pants, looking very similar to the secretary bird’s physical features.  These birds also have the longest legs compared to any other bird of prey, making them up to four feet tall.  It has an eagle-like head and body, but with a much longer neck, and crane-like legs.

Secretary birds are excellent snake hunters, even capturing venomous snakes!  Unlike most birds of prey, these raptors are mostly terrestrial hunters, meaning they hunt their prey while on foot.  When a snake is found, the bird will hold out its wings and raise its feather crest.  Their flapping wing feathers serve as a distraction or target for a venomous snake, since a bite to a feather will not harm the secretary bird.  Often adult pairs will hunt together and stalk their prey through the grass.  In addition to snakes, they will also hunt small mammals, lizards, birds, and large insects.  When a prey item is spotted, it is killed by either being stomped on or with rapid foot grabs and releases.  Check out this video of a Secretary bird hunting, killing and eating a snake all in a little over a minute!

Secretary Birds on a nest in an Acacia Tree - Masai Mara, Kenya

Secretary birds are good fliers and nest and roost up high in acacia trees.  During courtship, they fly in wide circles and perform swoops and downward plunges, sometimes clasping talons in midair.  They form monogamous pairs and build large platform nests up to eight feet across.  One to three eggs are laid and incubated mostly by the female.  Food and water is regurgitated into the chicks’ mouths.  In comparison, many other birds of prey will just tear food into small pieces or even give small whole prey to their chicks.

Secretary birds are widespread throughout their range, however their population is declining--and gone entirely in some locations.  Main causes for their decline are loss of habitat due to overgrazing livestock, human development and farming, as well as collisions and poisoning.  This species is protected under the Africa Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.  This species is even on the coat of arms of the countries of Sudan and South Africa! 

The World Bird Sanctuary does its part by increasing awareness about the importance of habitat protection through our education programs.  Become a friend of the sanctuary to help us fulfill our mission!   

Submitted by Sara Oliver, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist

Monday, December 16, 2013

Holiday Shopping

Shop Green this holiday season with World Bird Sanctuary’s Gift-Giving Guide!
Just two more weeks to use your coupon!

Make them smile this holiday season with a unique heartwarming gift that makes a difference!   Your choice to fulfill your holiday gift list from World Bird Sanctuary's selection of gifts will provide you with unique, one-of-a-kind gifts that will have your friends and family feeling special.  It will also help the World Bird Sanctuary to continue to fulfill our mission through wildlife rehabilitation and environmental education.
YOU could be the one releasing a bird back into the wild!

Return to the Wild!  Buy a gift certificate for the release of a rehabilitated bird back into the wild.
Treating a wild bird of prey admitted to our wildlife hospital can cost up to $1,000.  This special gift certificate entitles the recipient to take part in the release of a rehabilitated bird back into the wild.  Invite family and friends to release a bird of prey at your home or nearby park.  The World Bird Sanctuary Wildlife Hospital is a cornerstone of the World Bird Sanctuary, and is entirely funded by donations from the public. Help us give our patients a second chance to fly. Buy a Return to the Wild! Gift Certificate today!

$150.00.  Click here to order your Return to the Wild! Gift Certificate, or email Catherine Redfern (link:, or call 636-225-4390 ext. 102.

The stairs are finished!  Next area to be paved with inscribed bricks--the amphitheater. 
Help us Pave the Way!   Buy-a-Brick and help us pave our amphitheater while leaving a lasting impression of your environmental values!
Your brick will be laid in our amphitheater.  Each year our environmental education programs teach thousands of people how to make small everyday changes that will have a lasting environmentally sustainable impact for years to come.  Your purchase of one of our engraved bricks will allow us to achieve this goal, while providing you with a new and lasting way to recognize loved ones or commemorate special occasions.

Options range from $125 - $425  Click here to order your Engraved Brick.

Adopt-a-Bird!  Make someone special the proud adoptive parent of one of over 200 animals at World Bird Sanctuary!
Xena the Eurasian Eagle Owl is just one of the animals available for adoption.
Your adoption fees help us to care for your animal for one year, as they live at the Sanctuary and travel around the country, teaching thousands of people about how to protect their friends in the wild and their habitats!  Your adoption packet includes a Certificate of Adoption, photographs and natural histories of your adopted animal and special visiting privileges.

Adoptions range from $25 - $150.  Click here to see our gallery of animals available for adoption. 

Give the Gift of Friendship!  A "Friend of World Bird Sanctuary" Gift Subscription is the gift that keeps giving all year!
Give the gift of friendship by giving your friends or family a gift subscription as a World Bird Sanctuary Friend.  WBS Friends receive invitations to "Friends only" events, and a membership card gives Friends a 10% discount on program fees at World Bird Sanctuary and on any item in our gift shop.

"Friends" subscriptions range from $35 - $100.  Click here to sign a friend or family member up for the "Friends" program.

Special gifts to Help our Wildlife Hospital!  All proceeds from the sale of these products go directly to treating and caring for animals in our wildlife hospital.
”Save the Future” CD
World Bird Sanctuary's in-house band, The Raptor Project, has released two CDs, Save the Future and All Along The Watershed.  They consist of original songs about birds, the environment and taking care of our planet.  These fun and entertaining children's CDs come with lyric sheets and education sheets embedded in the CD.

Save the Future CD or All Along The Watershed CD - $12 plus $3 shipping and handling for each CD.
Click here to order.

Valid from November 29th to December 24th, 2013, only – shop in our gift shop and get 10% off all purchases on gift shop items, Adopt a Bird packages and Friends Memberships.  Not valid on Return to the Wild.  Not valid on online purchases.

To print the coupon:
*   MAC users--click on the image, hold down the mouse and drag the image to your desktop.  Open the image and print as usual.
*  PC users--hover the mouse over the image, click "Open Image in a New Tab"--it will open a new tab with just the image.  Print as usual.  Or alternatively--print the whole blog page and bring it in.

Thank you for considering World Bird Sanctuary when you do your holiday gift shopping this year.  For even more 'green gifts' visit the World Bird Sanctuary gift shop, located in our Nature Center, where we have many seasonal items and apparel for sale.

Submitted by Catherine Redfern, Director of Development, World Bird Sanctuary.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Holiday Lights Recycling

Don’t throw away your holiday lights!

Just a reminder that it’s that time of year when we put up our holiday lights and decorate our trees.  But wait!  Don’t throw out those lights that aren’t working!  Recycle them!
This year, World Bird Sanctuary is partnering with St. Louis Green to ensure that less lights end up in landfills.

You can drop off your holiday lights at any convenient location – a full list is available on the St. Louis Green website.  World Bird Sanctuary is one such convenient location.

At World Bird Sanctuary we support small lifestyle changes that collectively make a big impact on preserving our environment.  Please drop off your non-working lights in the red recycling bin at the top of the stairs that lead to WBS’ nature center.  You can do your part for ensuring a more environmentally sustainable holiday season for St. Louis. 
Look for this red bin at the top of the amphitheater stairs
St. Louis Green will ensure that they are recycled properly!  The red collection bin will remain in place until 1/12/14.

Submitted by Catherine Redfern, World Bird Sanctuary Development Director

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Meet Barnaby

Meet Barnaby, a European barn owl.  He is less than a year old and was hatched at World Bird Sanctuary in the Spring of 2013.  
Barnaby loves to perch on the edge of his water bowl
Barnaby loves to perch and sleep on the edge of his water bowl rather than on his perch, and his favorite thing to play with is a pile of crunchy fall leaves.  Barnaby is training to become an ambassador for his species.  As part of his training he is introduced to new things, and does very well with strange places and new situations.  At this young age he has already begun participating in World Bird Sanctuary educational programs and is doing great.

Barnaby playing with a nice crunchy pile of leaves

European Barn owls are very similar to our common Barn owl.  The main difference between the two is that European Barn owls are smaller than the common barn owls.  Both types of owls do not hoot.  Their call is a screechy scream, along with chitters and hisses. 

As adults, male European and American Barn Owls have an all white belly and the females have a tannish belly.  Barnaby will be part of the World Bird Sanctuary’s Hawk Crest location.  Hawk Crest is a satellite sanctuary to World Bird Sanctuary, and will be located in Bloomsdale, Missouri.  We will be doing programs for schools--kindergarten through fifth grade.  Barnaby will be a spokesbird for his species, teaching kids why owls are so important to our environment.   

Barn owls eat more than 2000 mice a year along with keeping other rodent populations in check.   They are amazing hunters!  Their heart shaped face works similar to a satellite dish, but funnels sound and not radio waves back to their ears.  This allows them to locate and catch prey using just their hearing.

Sadly these amazing birds have a very short life span in the wild due to secondary poisoning and loss of habitat.  They get secondary poisoning when people use mouse poison to get rid of the mice in their house.  These poisons works very well, and most of the time you never have to deal with that mouse.  The problem with that is the poison doesn’t kill the mouse right away.  The mouse then wanders outside and because he is sick from the poison he looks like an easy meal for a Barn Owl.  All it takes is one poisoned mouse to kill one Barn Owl! 

One poisoned mouse could be a death warrant for this beautiful creature

Barn Owls love to nest in barns--which is where they get their name. Sadly, in today’s world many barns made of wood are being torn down.  Since there isn’t much we can do about that, we can do things like build barn owl nest boxes and place them in our back yards.  As part of his participation in the World Bird Sanctuary’s educational programs, Barnaby will teach kids more things they can do to help his species in the hope that the kids will go home and teach mom, dad, brother, and sister all the things that they learned from him. 

Hawk Crest is starting from scratch.  My husband Zach Rankin has helped with a lot of the construction work.  He built two rooms so that we can do programs on site as well.  He has also helped with small odds and ends jobs to make the place safe for the public.  It is a beautiful facility and we can’t wait to share it with everyone.

Submitted by Christina McAlpin, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

365 Photo Project - September

September was a fun and sometimes challenging month for photos. 

I began the month with a trip to the Missouri Botanical Gardens for the Japanese Festival.  Then I had two weekends at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival presenting programs for World Bird Sanctuary on the weekends.  Mixed in with all of the festivals I managed to do a little bird watching here and there.

The Missouri Botanical Gardens Japanese Festival is the largest festival of its kind in the United States.  I arrived about 9 am and left about 6pm, so needless to say I had a good time.  The weather was beautiful, so the photo opportunities were everywhere, including flowers, people, objects, and dragonflies.

Choosing photos from the Japanese Festival was a real challenge, but I finally narrowed it down to two.  The first is of some very pretty little parasols they had for sale.  These were sitting out on the lawn to advertise the designs they had available.  

The second photo from this day was of an orange dragonfly hovering over a pink lotus flower.  There were so many dragonflies and lotus flowers that it was hard to choose.

The next photo is from the Kansas City Renaissance Festival.  The World Bird Sanctuary  presents programs on weekends starting Labor Day week, and this year running through Columbus Day weekend.

Since we have limited time to do our presentations we usually have three people presenting these programs to make them move along.  That being the case, I would often use the backstage time while waiting to go on to attempt to take a photo or two through the crack in the divider between the audience and the backstage area. 
Intern Jess Hill and MacGyver the Harris' Hawk
Photographing a bird in full flight through a small crack can be very challenging.  I did however manage to get this photo of one of our interns Jess Hill releasing MacGyver, the Harris Hawk, for his flight up to the stage.   I love the intent stare in his eyes as he focuses on the speaker’s glove.  I also love how the one wing almost looks like you can see through it due to the movement of the wing.

The one thing I have learned with this project is that there are amazing photo opportunities all around you and you never know when they are going to appear. 

Submitted by Cathy Spahn, World Bird Sanctuary