Thursday, October 30, 2014

Winged Messages

Have you ever found yourself having a conversation with your bird friends while watching them go about their business?  Following is another poem by talented guest author Marge Biermann, imagining a conversation one might have with their bird friends.

I talked with my bird friend just the other day.
Oh, it’s not that difficult….we have a way.
He answers my questions with a flip of his wing.
Or now and then he will maybe even sing.

There is always a language between man and beast.
Don’t search for words….they matter the least.
Birds and I manage quite well to commune.
With an owl we always talk in the light of the moon.

I now understand that with a twist of his head,
He’s saying, “I’m sorry, but explain what you just said”.
It’s rather like taking a walk with a friend.
Often it helps your troubled life to mend.

I watch the birds tend their babies with such care.
This parental act of love they’re willing to share.
I always leave them a favorite kind of meal,
Something that has definite “Bird Appeal”.

Then I say “Thank You” with my grateful “Goodbye”,
As I watch my winged friends soar into the sky.
Oh, what a great way to finish my day,
To hear what my bird friends have to say.

Our Creator sends us messages from every direction.
I happen to think birds are his best selection.

So, on your next visit to the World Bird Sanctuary, if you find yourself having a conversation with the birds who visit our feeders, or one of our many exhibit birds, don’t worry—no one will think anything of it.  It’s probably something we have all done at one time or the other.  At WBS it’s not at all unusual to find people talking to the birds….and each person has their own interpretation of the answer they receive in return.

Submitted by Marge Biermann, World Bird Sanctuary Guest Author

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

365 Photo Project-September 2014

As things with my work and personal life get busier it becomes more of a challenge to take photos, but I still find ways to get them in. 

The 9/11 flags display on Art Hill in St. Louis, MO (photo: Cathy Spahn)
The first two photos are from the September 11 Art Hill celebration.  Art Hill is the lawn to the north of the St. Louis Art Museum in Forest Park.  Every year flags are placed on Art Hill in remembrance of September 11. 
The overcast sky added to the solemnity of the occasion (photo: Cathy Spahn)
This year there were 684 flags, one for every 10 military personnel who have lost their lives since the September 11, 2001 attacks.  It was a very solemn sight; the flags were beautiful yet you could feel the reason they were there.  The overcast that day added to the overall feeling of the day and even made the color of the flags stand out.
WBS Staff member Paige Davis releases McGyver the Harris' Hawk (photo: Cathy Spahn)
My next two photos were taken at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival, where WBS presents a birds of prey program.  I did not have many opportunities to take photos during the program, but I tried.  The set up for the show is such that you need 3 trainers to make sure the show goes smoothly, and sneaking in some photos is challenging.  In order to take a photo I had to stand behind a wall barrier onstage and point a camera through the crack in the barrier.  This makes the angle of view very narrow. 
WBS Staff member JoHanna Burton releasing McGyver the Harris' Hawk (photo: Cathy Spahn
Even with this limitation I managed to get a few nice photos of World Bird Sanctuary staff members JoHanna Burton and Paige Davis with MacGyver the Harris Hawk.

In many ways I think the photos in this month’s blog speak for themselves.  There are moments of peace, joy, and excitement all captured in a few photos.

Submitted by Cathy Spahn, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Steller’s Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus pelagicus)

Being a Steller’s Sea Eagle (emphasis on Sea Eagle) these large birds of prey love to gorge on fresh fish and water birds.  On average, they are the heaviest eagles in the world.  Weighing in at anywhere between 11-20 pounds they give the Harpy Eagle and the Philippine Eagle some intense competition in the realm of size.
An adult Steller's Sea Eagle  (photo: The wikipedia files_Markus-Riesenseeadler)
These massive birds have the second largest wingspan of any eagle, which ranges from 6.4 to 8.2 feet.  Females have an average weight of anywhere between 15-20 pounds; males are significantly smaller weighing in around 11-13 pounds on average.  In addition, they have a very large skull and bill; their skull and culmen (upper ridge of a bird’s beak) measuring the largest among eagles.
The Steller's Sea Eagle has a massive beak (photo: The wikipedia files_Greg Hume)
This Eagle has dark plumage covering the majority of its body and high contrasting white on parts of its upper-wing coverts, under-wing coverts, thighs, and under-tail coverts.  Many adults have an extremely bold pied (meaning black and white) coloration.  This raptor has a distinct tail that is relatively longer than those of the White-tailed Sea Eagle and is structured in a wedge-like shape (center tail feathers longer than outer ones).  Like many eagle species they have yellow colored eyes, bills, and feet.  Nestlings have significantly lighter plumage, which is mostly white though it does not take long for their juvenile brownish-grey plumage to start appearing.
Another view of that massive beak (photo: The wikipedia files)
Steller’s Sea Eagles are known to make a deep barking cry, ra-ra-ra-raurau, when they find themselves in an aggressive interaction.  White-Tailed Sea Eagles have a similar call although the Steller’s call is much deeper.
Steller's Sea Eagle with fish (photo: The wikipedia files)
It has been observed that Steller’s Sea Eagles may favor pink salmon and chum salmon, which are sometimes supplemented by grayling and three-spined stickleback (both northern river fish species).  This species of eagle prefers to hunt almost exclusively in shallow water where they hunt active spawning rivers in August and September. In winter, once spawning season has died down, their main diet becomes leftover dead salmon and carrion as they start to move inland.  To see a video of Steller’s Sea Eagles in action Click Here

Steller’s Sea Eagles are classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  Their total population is estimated at 5,000 and is continuing to decrease.  In areas such as Japan they are regarded as a “National Treasure” and are legally protected.  The factors that threaten their survival include habitat alteration, industrial pollution, and over-fishing.

To see close relatives of this magnificent sea eagle come out and visit the World Bird Sanctuary and stroll down the path just beyond the hospital to many of our Bald Eagles and our beautiful White-tailed Sea Eagle, Cousteau.  The World Bird Sanctuary is open 363 days of the year (barring inclement weather closings).  For directions and hours Click Here.    

Submitted by Callie Plakovic, World Bird Sanctuary Outreach Coordinator

Friday, October 24, 2014

Anna’s New Home

We at the World Bird Sanctuary are very excited about the new home for Anna our beautiful Green Tree Python.

As many of you know Anna has resided in a rather small enclosure for many years. This seemed to work out well for Anna, since Green Tree Pythons spend the greatest part of their lives curled around a tree branch in their native rain forests and don’t move around much.  In fact, the only time they come to the ground is when they need to move to a different tree to hunt.  Since Anna is given “room service” by our staff, even this minimal movement is not necessary and snakes, like most wild animals, are all about conserving energy.  
Anna's amazing new home (photo: Gay Schroer)
However, WBS employees Katrina Whitener and Jeff Meshach felt that Anna deserved a more natural looking and larger environment. Joe Dolezal, member of WBS’s volunteer group of craftsmen (affectionately know at WBS as the Tuesday Crew) took it upon himself to make the idea happen.  He proceeded to design a new home with a more upscale look for Anna.  Many of the Tuesday Crew helped with various phases, but Joe spent a lot of extra time and his own money to add some incredible features. 
Tuesday Crew member Joe Dolezal puts finishing touches on Anna's new enclosure (photo: Melissa Moore)
The project took on a life of its own, and the end result is a luxuriant new home for Anna that imitates her species’ native rainforest.  It includes humidity and temperature controls that are all important to this species well being, as well as branches and ledges for her to navigate at will.  Anna even has a small pool for bathing if she is so inclined. 
Executive Director Walter Crawford, the Tuesday Crew, and Naturalist Paige Davis (photo: Melissa Moore)
Ask any of our staff who is the most popular reptile at WBS and they will answer “Anna” without a moment’s hesitation.  Children frequently request her for their Birdday parties, and she is a rock star at many of the programs and special events in which she appears. 
Anna seems quite content in her new home (photo: Gay Schroer)
For her part Anna seems to have made herself right at home in her new palace.

Submitted by World Bird Sanctuary Volunteer/Photographer Gay Schroer

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Birds in My Backyard

When most people think of the birds in their backyard, they think of the Northern Cardinal or the Mourning Dove.
A Northern Cardinal at a backyard bird feeder (photo: Gay Schroer)

When I think of the birds that I see in or near my backyard I think of the Barred Owl and the Red-tailed Hawk that frequent the big oak tree in the neighbor’s yard.  Songbirds are the first birds that come to mind for most individuals, but I oftentimes think of the predatory species found in and around my neck of the woods.  The Saint Louis area is well populated with various species of birds of prey.  To the surprise of many, they live in our very own neighborhoods.

Many bird of prey species found in Saint Louis are not here by mistake.  Rather, they are part of a successful population coexisting with their human neighbors.  We can find about 14 species of predatory birds in Saint Louis.  Some of the most common species are the Barred Owl, Great Horned Owl, Eastern Screech Owl, Cooper’s Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Red- shouldered Hawk and the American Kestrel.
A juvenile Cooper's Hawk perched on a neighboring fence (photo: Gay Schroer)

Other species are only found in particular areas during certain times of year.  Summertime sightings may include Mississippi Kites, Peregrine Falcons, and Broad-Winged Hawks.  Winter weather brings in Sharp-Shinned Hawks, Northern Saw-whet Owls, and Bald Eagles.

A juvenile Red-tailed Hawk devouring a starling it has just caught in my backyard (photo: Gay Schroer)
Predatory birds have found Saint Louis to be a nice place to call home.  The Peregrine Falcons nesting atop the AT&T building downtown, the Great-Horned Owls that live in Forest Park, and all the other birds mentioned fill a niche that cannot be occupied by any other organism.  For that, we should take the time to appreciate their beauty and roles in our ecosystem. People often view predatory animals as “bad” or “scary,” but they play a very important part in keeping prey species populations in check.
A fledgling Red-tailed Hawk rehabilitated and released by WBS (photo: Adam Triska)

To see some of the birds of prey that may inhabit your neighborhood visit the World Bird Sanctuary and become familiar with these local denizens.  Your visit to WBS may help you to identify that strange large bird that just whizzed past your window.

Submitted by Adam Triska, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist/Trainer

Monday, October 20, 2014

Vultures Rock

In my lifetime I have been fortunate enough to have presented bird shows in many parts of the country, and to a large variety of audiences.

Presenting a program at an elementary school (photo: Chad Tussing)

I’ve talked to children and adults, and everything in between.  As you might imagine, I have fielded a lot of questions on tons of different topics.  My favorite question that I have only been asked a handful of times is, “If you could be a bird, what kind of bird would you be?”  One of my favorite things about that question is that I get to reply, “a Turkey Vulture,” without pausing.
People are usually shocked when I tell them I would want to be this bird (photo: Melissa Moore)

The response that I receive is usually surprise at least, and sometimes shock:  “Why on earth would you WANT to be a Vulture?”  My reply: “Have you seen the way they fly?”

Have you seen the way they fly?  (photo: Gay Schroer)

Vultures are masters of the air. Turkey Vultures can soar for hours without ever having to flap their wings. They use their large wing area to catch the warm air rising from the ground, called thermals, and ride it in a circular pattern higher and higher. When they gain enough height, they can simply soar out of the thermal and glide along, gradually losing altitude until they find another thermal. In this manner Turkey Vultures can cover hundreds of miles using very little energy. They hold their wings in a “dihedral,” with wing tips being higher than the vulture’s back, so the wings form a V-shape, to take greatest advantage of the lift.

They hold their wings in a dihedral (v-shape) (photo: Gay Schroer)

The best places to find these warm uplifts of air known as thermals are over fields. As the sun heats the ground, the lowest air begins to heat up and then rises in columns. Humans in gliders can take advantage of these uplifts in the same way that Vultures do.

The primary feathers fan out, almost like fingers (photo: Gay Schroer)

When you watch Turkey Vultures in flight, you can see the rather precarious agreement they have with the laws of physics. Their bodies tip slightly from side to side as they adjust to moving air currents and soar, sometimes just above the speed of stalling. The primary feathers at the tips of a Turkey Vulture’s wings fan out almost like fingers, and, if you watch closely, you can see the tiny adjustments they make with these and their tail feathers as they fly.

Who wouldn’t want to fly like that?

As you walk our path you may see wild Turkey Vultures visiting their resident cousins (photo: Gay Schroer)

To get a really good look at these “Masters of the Sky” come out and visit the World Bird Sanctuary on any day except Thanksgiving and Christmas.  As you walk down the trail past the Wildlife Hospital you will see the exhibit that houses our resident Turkey Vultures.  They will sometimes keep pace with visitors, accompanying them along the fence line inside their enclosure as the visitors walk down the trail.  You may even be lucky enough to see the many wild Turkey Vultures that sometimes visit their resident cousins in hopes of getting a free meal.

Submitted by Melissa H. Moore, World Bird Sanctuary Special Event & Volunteer Coordinator

Thursday, October 16, 2014


 Fall is in the air and people's thoughts are turning to fall activities—street festivals, apple picking, trips to the pumpkin farm and, of course, everybody’s favorite two-day free event….the World Bird Sanctuary Open House!

Open House is this coming Saturday and Sunday, October 18 and 19, from 10 am to 4 pm. 
One of WBS's free flying Bald Eagles soars just inches overhead (photo: Gay Schroer)

Activities at this year’s Open House will include programs featuring a majestic flying Bald Eagle, as well as a number of other birds who are seasoned performers in the World Bird Sanctuary’s repertoire of educational programs.  Prepare to be amazed as these ambassadors of the sky fly just above your head. 
WBS Eagle mascot,our Dancing DoDo and kids rock out to the music of the Raptor Project (photo: Gay Schroer)

In addition to the free flight exhibitions there will be entertainment by the Sanctuary’s in-house band, the Raptor Project, which will entertain audiences with old favorites, as well as new songs that have been added to their repertoire this year.
A young guest proudly displays what she made at the craft table (photo: Gay Schroer)

Other activities will include presentations by the Butterfly house, face painting, a craft station and other activities for the kids.  There will also be tours of the hospital, the behind the scenes breeding barn and the behavioral training center, which are usually not open to the public.
A guest gets a really close look at an Augur Buzzard at the photo op (photo: Gay Schroer)

For a small fee guests will have the opportunity to have their photo taken posing next to one of our raptors.  Featured birds this year will be Tundra, a beautiful Snowy Owl, and Max the Tawny Eagle.  Since these two birds are new to the photo op area their time may be limited, so you may want to make the photo op your first stop.  In addition to our two newcomers, we have several old pros on standby for photos.

Also with us for the first time this year will be the cool Eagle Harley motorcycle, presented by owner Tom “The Kong” Compton.  Those of you who are bike riders will want to be sure to check out this beauty.

Our naturalists are always happy to answer questions (photo: Gay Schroer)

The main paths in our upper triangle area are paved and handicapped accessible, and restrooms are located conveniently nearby.  Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes, as you will want to explore all the attractions and activities that will be spread out throughout our site.

For those more adventurous souls we have several hiking trails that wind through our oak/hickory forest.  These paths are natural and unpaved.

There are photo opportunities at every turn (photo: Sandra Lowe)

Bring a picnic lunch or take advantage of our concession truck.  Be sure to bring your cameras, as there will be photo opportunities at every turn.  

So, mark your calendars! ….Save the date

Saturday, October 18
Sunday, October 19
10 am – 4 pm

Admission and parking are free!

For directions to our site Click Here.

As always….for the safety of our animals—and our other guests--no pets please.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Greater Yellow-headed Vulture

The Greater Yellow-headed Vulture (Cathartes melambrotus) was thought to be the same species as the Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture (Cathartes burrovianus) until 1964, when the two species were distinguished from one another. 
A Greater Yellow-headed Vulture in flight (photo: the wikipedia files)
As you may guess, the Greater Yellow-headed Vulture has a yellow head.  Like many other New World Vultures (vultures from North and South America), its feathers are mostly black except for the underparts of the wings, which are only slightly lighter.  They live in the lowland forests of the Amazon River Basin.  Therefore, they have earned the nickname of the "Forest Vulture". 
The range of the Greater Yellow-headed Vulture (from the wikipedia files)
Like the Turkey Vulture, the Greater Yellow-headed Vulture has a very keen sense of smell.  It can easily find the carcass of a dead opossum, sloth, or primate.  It is a good thing that they eat these carcasses too.  Decomposing tissue is very susceptible to disease, and these vultures have acids in their stomachs that are powerful enough to kill any disease.  So while they eat, they are also helping rid their habitat of disease.  However, they can't just eat any old flesh laying out in the forest.  Their beak isn’t very powerful so they actually have to wait for the King Vulture, a large beautiful vulture found in the same area, to come and rip open the animal carcass with their beak.  But once the King Vulture has had its fill, the other vultures can feast. 
New World Vultures actually do not have a syrinx, which means it is incapable of singing songs that we often associate with birds.  Because of this, the Greater Yellow-headed Vulture can only make small hisses and grunts. 
Interestingly enough, no nesting site has ever been found for these beautiful birds.  Ornithologists think that they probably are monogamous and use caves or nooks in cliffs to lay their eggs.  These vultures are very abundant in their habitat, but are threatened by advancing deforestation in South America.
 One thing we can all do to help these wonderful animals is to recycle.  Recycling helps reduce deforestation, not just with paper, but with aluminum too.  That’s because most of the raw aluminum, which we use to turn into soda cans, comes from mines in the rainforests of South America.
World Bird Sanctuary does not have a Yellow-headed Vulture, but we do have several other new world vultures on display—notably the Turkey Vulture and an Andean Condor named Dorothy.  We also have a Black Vulture and a King Vulture who are often featured in our zoo shows and sometimes our special events programs.  Be sure to look for these unique birds the next time you visit the World Bird Sanctuary. 
Submitted by Mike Cerutti, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist/Trainer

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Birdlore: The Charming Hummingbird

 In mythology across the world, traditional folklore and stories share a common theme of creatures such as dragons, mighty eagle-like birds, ravens, big cats, or man-like apes.  However, one creature may be found unique to Native American mythology.

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Arcilochus colubris) is a common sight at feeders in Missouri during summer months (photo: the Wikipedia files)
The spectacular Hummingbird is native to habitats only in the Western Hemisphere.  Among Native American tribes, these charming birds have inspired a rich cache of myths with their beautiful colors and even the tenacity they display when protecting their territory.
Hummingbirds will guard what they consider "their territory" with unbelievable ferocity (photo: Gay Schroer)
The Aztecs honor the hummingbird as part of their warrior culture.  The aggressive behavior hummingbirds display in fighting other hummingbirds or larger birds of prey in their territory is similar to the fearlessness of Aztec warriors.  The hummingbird’s nimble and swift flight ability is also reminiscent of an Aztec warrior’s agility in battle.  The Aztecs also believe that warriors fallen in battle rise to the sky and orbit the sun for four years, before transforming into a hummingbird.

Referred to as the Colibri (hummingbird) in the Caribbean, the smallest Colibri, Guani, is known to the mountain people of the Taino Indians as the most noble of the valiant Colibri (also known as the Bee Hummingbird, the smallest of all birds).

The Hummingbird is often associated with stories relating to the sun or light, bringing the rain, or gifting tobacco to the people. 

According to Mojave legend, the early people lived in a world of darkness.  The little hummingbird was sent to search for light.  Finding a twisting path to the bright upper world, the hummingbird showed the people the way to where they live today.  A Mayan myth mentions that the hummingbird is actually the sun in disguise trying to court the moon, who is disguised as a beautiful woman.

The tribes of the Hopi and Zuni will often decorate water jars with the images of hummingbirds, because it was believed the hummingbirds would intervene for the humans and convince the gods to send rain to the lands below.  A Hopi story tells of a time during a famine; a boy and girl were left at home alone while their parents went out in search of food.  The young boy made a toy hummingbird, which his sister threw into the air and it came to life.  The hummingbird flew to the center of the earth, pleading with the got of fertility to return the rains to the land.  The rains came back over the land, plants grew once more, and the children's parents returned home.

One Cherokee legend tells of a medicine man transforming into a hummingbird to recover lost tobacco seeds.  To the Pueblo people, the hummingbird is called the tobacco bird.  The hummingbird meets with Caterpillar, guardian of the tobacco plant, to receive smoke from him.  The hummingbird delivers the smoke to the shaman, so they may purify the earth.  The Arawaks, an extinct tribe of the Caribbean, also believed it was the hummingbird who brought tobacco to humans, calling him the Doctor Bird.

There are many more amazing stories and myths regarding these dimunitive, but charming birds.  So, the next time you're visiting the World Bird Sanctuary and see hummingbirds buzzing to and from the feeders, remember even the smallest of creatures can inspire the largest of legends in the human imagination.

Submitted by Jessica Bunke, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist/Trainer

Friday, October 10, 2014

I would like a Dreamsicle, No wait, a Creamsicle please.

When I first started working at World Bird Sanctuary I was not very knowledgeable about snakes and was not very interested in them either. 

Over the years I became more acquainted with the different types of education snakes in our Office of Wildlife Learning Nature Center.  We have a Green-tree Python, Albino Burmese Python, Colombian Boa Constrictor, two Bull Snakes, a Royal Python, and a Creamsicle Corn Snake, Pantherophis guttatus, which I must admit is my favorite.  She is so friendly and beautiful!  I know you’ll fall in love with her too after you read this blog about her and her species.  Her name is Maize and I think she is just a wonderful animal!

Corn Snakes are found in the eastern and southeastern areas of the United States; they are carnivores, which means they eat other animals. Their diet in the wild varies, depending on age and surroundings.  Young Corn Snakes feed on lizards and tree frogs, but adult Corn Snakes will eat bats, birds, mice and rats.  In captivity, they are fed rats or mice, depending on their size.  Maize is given frozen then thawed mice, and she loves to eat!  She snatches the first one very quickly from the food tongs and swallows it whole.  With the others, she generally takes her time but will eat all the mice we offer her.  We normally give her 5-6 mice depending on their size, and we feed Maize once every two weeks.  She is currently 4 feet long.  Corn Snakes can reach up to 6 feet in length and up to 300-400 grams (approximately 10.5 – 15 oz.) and are usually orange to brownish-yellow, with large, black-edged red blotches in the middle of their back.  They have kernel shaped markings that look like Indian corn, or maize, on their belly, and that’s how they came by their name.

Nesting sites include rotting stumps, or piles of decaying vegetation. The clutch (group of eggs) size ranges from 10-30 oblong white eggs.  The eggs are laid during May through July and then hatch during July through September. The hatchlings are only 10-16 inches long.  The parents do not care for them at all.  The female simply lays the eggs and leaves.  Lifespan in captivity is 23-25 years and 4-5 years in the wild.  Maize is 3 years old this year.  She was hatched in 2011 by a Missouri snake breeder.  Maize came to WBS to be an education animal.  She travels and appears in many World Bird Sanctuary educational programs, including Reptales, Birdday parties, Amazing Animal Encounters, and many more!

Corn Snakes come in numerous natural color morphs, such as Normal (wildtype), Miami Phase, Okeetee, Candycane, Reverse Okeetee, Fluorescent orange, Sunglow, Bloodred, Crimson, Anerythristic, Charcoal, Caramel, Lavender, Cinder, Kastanie, Hypomelanistic, Ultra, Ultramel, Dilute, Sunkissed, Lava, and Stargazing.  There are also different pattern morphs, such as Motley, Stripe, Diffusion, Sunkissed, Aztec, Zigzag, and Banded.  All these natural color morphs make corn snakes camouflaged in their environment, for they are preyed upon by many mammals and birds of prey.  There are also compound morphs, which are produced by captive breeders by placing certain natural color morphs together.  There are tens of thousands of compound morphs, but I'm only going to list a few of the most popular ones.  These include Snow, Blizzard, Ghost, Phantom, Pewter, Butter, Amber, Plasma, Opal, Granite, and Fire. 

And finally there are hybrids, meaning captive breeders cross corn snakes with other snakes in the Pantherophis, Lampropeltis, or Pituophis family.  These corn snakes can produce color and pattern variations called Jungle, Tri color Jungle Corns, Turbo Corn, Brook Korn, and finally, a Creamsicle Corn snake, which is what our Maize is. 

So, as you can see from above, there are many different types out there.  Creamsicle Corn Snakes are a hybrid that is the result of breeding an Emory’s Rat snake with an albino Corn Snake.  I recommend looking online to see the other color morphs that are out there.  Below is a picture of Maize and some other ones:

Maize is available for adoption in our Adopt a “Bird” (in this case “Snake”) program.  To find out more information, call 636-861-3225.  All adoption donations are tax deductible.  This season she can be seen at the Nature Center at the World Bird Sanctuary which is open daily from 8am-5pm. 

Maize is a very beautiful snake.  You can even pet her!  Just ask one of the Naturalists. 

Submitted by Lisbeth Hodges, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Bird Talk

Here is another whimsical poem about a conversation with birds by World Bird Sanctuary guest author Marge Biermann.

Juvenile Cooper's Hawk (photo: Gay Schroer)
Bird Talk

The sky is your highway, no traffic problem there.
No toll roads or bridges to request a fare.
Anyway, it’s kind of difficult for you to carry change.
I guess even using a credit card would seem strange!

Refueling simply means you find a worm or, maybe, a mouse.
And you usually live in a nest or, sometimes a house.
There’s no need to worry about a leaky roof,
You’ve solved the problem of weather proof.

Most of your brothers live in high rises, strong and tall,
Sheltered by leaves like a great granny shawl.
Your voices are heard in a variety of tones.
No monthly fees….you never need phones.

But life isn’t always as simple as that,
You’re always on watch for a hungry cat.
And accidents happen….then what to do?
You’ll need a friend to take care of you.

You need gentle hands to mend a broken wing,
So you can feel better and continue to sing.
I believe the World Bird Sanctuary is the place to go,
And then maybe you could help them with a show.

They educate people about how you live,
How we can help and the assistance we can give.
Living together, all of us….man and beast,
To keep the balance, none should be counted as least!

Submitted by Marge Biermann, World Bird Sanctuary Guest Author

Monday, October 6, 2014

Year Three; 365 Photo Project- August 2014

This August I had some vacation time with the family and I spent it in Northern Wisconsin at the family cottage. 

Most of the trip was rather quiet since the weather was cloudy and cool.  The temperatures were a nice change from the heat of St. Louis.  Even with the weather the way it was I still managed to get a few very nice photos that I would like to share here. 

My most favorite photo was from a trip to Whitefish Lake in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  It is a very nice hike through the woods to the lake.  Birds were rather quiet except for a Barred Owl my Dad called in.  We took lots of photos on the walk, mainly of mushrooms and toads.  Once at the lake I wandered around a little.  I happened to look over and suddenly found this adorable Chipmunk sitting in a cavity of a tree base.  At one point it was almost like he was posing for the photo, so of course I took a few photos of this adorable little guy.

The next two photos I want to share go together; I took these the last morning at the cottage.  It was a very brisk 39 degrees out, so the lake was all foggy.  I walked down to the lower deck and started to take photos of the lake when over towards my cousin’s dock I heard a commotion in the water.  I looked and saw a Bald Eagle fly up from the water and land on the dock with a good size fish.  It sat for a few moments then walked down the dock with the fish clasped in its foot.
I took a ton of photos of the eagle and of course of the beautiful fog.  If you look closely at the photo with the fog on the lake you will see a dot on the dock and that is the eagle.  Of course I have also included a closer photo of the eagle on the dock.

The last photo I would like to include is one that brings up the feeling of complete relaxation.  One day we actually had very nice weather and the temperature actually made it to 84 degrees.  That evening the sunset over the lake was just gorgeous.  I took several shots then backed up and took the sunset with our chairs and tables in the photos and I just get this overall feel of relaxing peace.
I hope everyone enjoys these photos.  It was hard to pick just a few.  I took so many photos that it was hard to choose, but these were a few of my favorites.

Submitted by Cathy Spahn, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist