Friday, May 30, 2014

Memorable Moments


Working at World Bird Sanctuary has given me so many memorable experiences!

    
I’ve had the chance to dress up at a renaissance fair.  Doing shows in a dress was interesting and fun.  I also got to visit many of the other booths at the fair, and each had a lot to teach and show just as our World Bird Sanctuary displays and presentations did.

I had the opportunity to go to Keokuk, Iowa for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Eagle Days.  Here we did shows in a movie theater and made the front page of the local magazine.  We also got to see dances the Native Americans did to show their respect for the Bald Eagle.  At the Eagle Days there was also a group from an insect zoo.  We learned about different spiders, scorpions, and other sorts of bugs and creepy crawlies.


My most recent trip was to Minnesota.  Here we did programs for Carpenter Nature Center.  Carpenter Nature Center has a lot of the same goals as WBS.  They are not as big as we are, so they asked us to come out and help spread the word.  Here I got to see how another nature center works.  I had the opportunity to go snowshoeing, see a wild Snowy Owl, and we got to eat in Wisconsin, so I can now say I have been to both states.  My favorite part of this trip was seeing the wild Snowy Owl.  Thanks to WBS I got to see an owl I would not have normally seen in Missouri.  When I went snowshoeing we were looking for other owls that had been seen in the area, such as Short- eared, Saw-whet and Long-eared Owls.

One thing that I’ve learned from all this is that everyone has something to teach and there is always something new to learn.  Though I went to these programs to teach the public about birds of prey and how they can help our environment, I came home having learned so much about so many other things. 

It makes me happy and excited that there are other people out there who work hard to teach others what they have learned.  If nobody stood up for what they believed then we would lose a lot of what we have in this world.

Submitted by Christina Rankin, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Really Weird Birds: The Bee Hummingbird


Hummingbirds are not considered rare in the United States, but whenever I see one I get very excited!  They are just the type of bird that is so amazing, strange, and tiny, you just have to stop whatever you were doing, freeze and watch the beautiful creature until it buzzes away.

The Bee Hummingbird, native to the dense forests and woodlands of Cuba, is the smallest bird in the world.  It is also the world’s smallest warm-blooded vertebrate.  They are only two inches long and weigh 1.6 to 1.9 grams, lighter than a penny!  All hummingbirds can beat their wings so fast that to the human eye it is just a blur.  The bee hummingbird can flap its wings an estimated 80 times per second when flying and 200 times per second when mating.

Males are slightly smaller than females and can be easily mistaken for a bee as it buzzes quickly by.  During breeding season, males have a fiery red head and throat with elongated lateral feathers growing from their neck.  The remainder of his upper body is iridescent blue and the underside is gray white.  Females have iridescent green upperparts and whitish undersides.
Bee Hummingbird (photo: Wikipedia)
Bee hummingbirds have the highest body temperature of all birds at 104°F.  At night, in order to save energy, their temperature drops to about 66°F.  They mainly consume nectar and insects.  They can eat enough small insects to equal half their total body mass and drink eight times their total body mass in water each day.

Females alone build a tiny cup-shaped nest about one inch in diameter, 3 to 5 meters above the ground.  She uses bits of lichen, cobwebs, bark and soft plant fibers.  She usually lays two pea-sized eggs, which she solely incubates.  Chicks hatch after around three weeks and they have a full set of feathers within two weeks.

Bee Hummingbirds are considered “near threatened” by the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species.  Populations have clearly declined, caused by loss of habitat due to crop and livestock farming and timber harvesting.

The next time you visit the World Bird Sanctuary take a short break or have your lunch on one of the benches near one of our bird feeder areas.  If you watch closely you are likely to see a Ruby Throated Hummingbird—the only hummingbird native to the St. Louis, Missouri area.

Submitted by Sara Oliver, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist



Monday, May 26, 2014

Chique, a Special Parrot

Chique is a Blue-fronted Amazon, and was given to World Bird Sanctuary by an owner that didn’t have the time for Chique anymore.  This species is also called the Turquoise-fronted Amazon.  

Blue-fronted Amazons are found in northern and eastern Bolivia, northern Argentina, Paraguay and eastern Brazil. They are one the best mimickers, next to the African Gray parrot.  They will live 40-80 years with proper care and diet.  They are the most common parrot kept in captivity.
A wild Blue-fronted Amazon in Brazil.  Photo: wikiepedia.org
Parrots need exercise, just like humans.  Providing them with chew toys and keeping them challenged by making them think about how to get to their food, instead of just putting their food in a bowl and giving it to them, is a good enrichment.  Creating fun puzzles for them to solve, and rewarding them for it, is great enrichment, too.   As long as you have the time to spend with them, they do make good pets.  Although they are great tempered, having a parrot is a lot of work.  They need lots of attention and care.  It’s a lot like having a child that never grows up, but you can also gain an unbreakable bond.  Parrots are very long lived, and may live longer than you, so you always want to have someone dependable to take care of your parrot in cases like that.
Blue-fronted Amazons are a common sight in Brazil, even in the cities in South America.  Photo: wikipedia.org
Blue-fronted Amazons are typically a very well mannered parrot.  Chique is very sweet, but is shy when it comes to new people.  She can say “How are you,” “What are you doing,” “Polly want a cracker,” and my favorite; ”What.”  Chique will say this when you are walking out of the room or when she can hear you, but you’re not paying attention to her.  She loves sunflower seeds and grapes as rewards. She is a quick learner and is very gentle.  She also has been trained to give kisses.
With almost any pet, you may think the animal will be awesome to have, but they take a lot of responsibility.  As you have read, it takes more than just feeding and watering to have any pet.  The next time you think you want a pet, do the proper research to make sure you are capable of meeting all their needs.
A pet Blue-fronted Amazon.  Photo: wikipedia.org
Submitted by Christina Rankin, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Special Delivery


Throughout my time at World Bird Sanctuary I have helped to transport many birds.  Every so often new birds arrive that are coming from someplace far away, so we receive them by plane.  If you think it is a hassle to pick up people from the airport, just wait until you are waiting for a bird to arrive!

Scarlett the Red-Shouldered Hawk (photo:  Gay Schroer)
I have picked up three different birds for World Bird Sanctuary during my time, and each one has been a different experience.  Scarlett, our Red-shouldered Hawk, was the first bird I was ever charged with getting from the airport, and I was very excited.  Of course since it was the first time that meant I had to first find the Air Cargo depot, which took me a lot of trial and error and some help from a (friendly) airport security guard.  Once I finally found my way to “Cargo City” it was a piece of cake.   I just gave them my confirmation number and they gave me my hawk.

Reese the Great Horned Owl (photo:  Leah Tyndall)
Simple and quick!  “Well, that was easy and totally repeatable,” I foolishly thought to myself.  Since things went swimmingly for my first go round (minus getting lost) I was eager to pick up the next bird (Reese, the Great Horned Owl) a month later.  As an added bonus I got to stretch my naturalist skills and tell everyone in the Air Cargo office all about Great Horned Owls.  He was a quiet little passenger on the ride back, except for the occasional hoot every time that I coughed.  Once again, I thought to myself that that was easy and if it needed to happen again, I was totally game!

Azizi, our young Abdim's Stork (photo:  Leah Tyndall)
Finally, on March 6 I had another chance!  We were getting a new, young Abdim’s Stork (native to Africa, but this one was hatched in Delaware) and he needed to be picked up from the airport.  His flight was supposed to get in at 6:30.   I would have to wait about an hour for him to go through security and then back to WBS.  I may have been so excited I jumped the gun and got there at 6:45, but I didn’t mind.  I figured I would just wait in the office and play on my phone…you can see where this is going, right? 

I sat down for a bit since I knew the stork wouldn’t be ready until later and watched people pick up their dogs.  At around 7 they asked for my confirmation number and told me that the plane had been delayed in taking off due to mechanical issues, so the bird arrival would be closer to nine.  An hour later I found out the stork was not due until 11!  The plane had taken off, returned to Dulles airport and was waiting to take off again!  At this point my phone decided it was a great time to flash low battery, so I pulled out my pocket logic puzzles, bought a soda and settled into my surprisingly comfortable chair.  The plane was delayed twice more. 

The office closed, although the wonderful people at United Cargo let me stay, and finally the plane arrived at midnight, and then I waited an hour for the stork to go through security.  Finally at 1:02 AM I glimpsed the little bundle of joy. 

We drove back in silence and bright and early in the morning I let him out of his crate.  As he chittered happily and flapped his wings to beg for food I realized all of the trouble was worth it.  He was precious, and so we named him Azizi, which means precious in Arabic.

Azizi, bravely checking out his new quarters (Photo:  Leah Tyndall)
Life with birds is never boring and not just training them. Each airport visit will always stick with me, whether it was the terror of being followed by Airport security, the quiet hoots from my back seat or the first time I laid eyes on a precious stork.  Despite my last trip, I’m psyched about the opportunity to pick up the next bird.

Submitted by Leah Tyndall, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist/Trainer



Thursday, May 22, 2014

Spring Cleaning and the WBS Wishlist


It’s that time of the year when spring cleaning begins.

You may be downsizing, throwing away extra non-necessities or you are stumped as to where to take your extra or unwanted items.  Before you throw away anything check out the World Bird Sanctuary’s wish list.
Just a few of the many items on our wishlist (photo: Alisha Cole)

WBS is always in need of many items varying from toilet paper, spray bottles, paper shredders, vehicles, lawn mowers and distilled water to name just a few.  Our wish list is long and you may be surprised to find an item on the list that you happen to have extra of or no need for anymore.  For a full listing please click here to visit the World Bird Sanctuary website wishlist. 

If you don’t have any items for donation but still wish to help out the World Bird Sanctuary’s wish list, you can shop on Amazon and visit the World Bird Sanctuary’s Amazon wish list.  Here you can purchase any item(s) off the wish list to help the World Bird Sanctuary. Here is a quick link to the WBS Amazon wish list 

Your donations help make a difference for bird species worldwide and we are truly grateful for any donation of items/purchases online. 

Submitted by Alisha Cole, World Bird Sanctuary Social Media Intern

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

North by Northeast


World Bird Sanctuary is 1,207 miles from Stone Zoo.  Every year we have to drive that far because we have our awesome bird show there during the summer.

WBS Director Jeff Meshach loading the truck for the long haul (photo: Mike Cerutti)

For the past 3 years I have driven this with Jeff Meshach, our director.  It is a long drive that takes us over twenty hours to complete.  This year it took us 22 hours and nine minutes, our fastest time yet.  We drive straight through, only stopping for food and gasoline.  We take turns driving to make sure that whoever is driving is awake and alert.

This sounds like a long and rough drive, but it’s actually a lot of fun.  It’s a time I get to talk to my boss about everything non-work related.  During the winter I try to keep small talk with Jeff to a minimum, just so we have more to talk about during that drive.  We get to discuss movies, sports, music and just about any little thing that crosses our minds.
We saw a Rough-legged Hawk like our beautiful Bella (above) (photo: Gay Schroer)

We also get to see a lot of different bird species during this trip.  We see countless birds, but I pay close attention to the raptors that we see.  There are always Red-tailed Hawks, Turkey Vultures and Bald Eagles.  However, this year we got to see a Rough-legged Hawk fly over the highway right in front of us!  At first glance we thought it was just another Red-tailed Hawk, but after seeing its dark bellyband we were sure it was a Rough-legged Hawk.  It was the first time I have ever seen one in the wild, so that was special for me.
In Indiana we spotted an American Kestrel like our own Detour (above) (photo: Gay Schroer)

I was keeping an eye out for American Kestrels all the way into Indiana before we actually saw one.  There were also a few Red-shouldered Hawks, which happen to be one of my favorite hawk species, and my favorite native to Missouri.
We also saw Red-shouldered Hawks like our own Flip (above) (photo: Gay Schroer)

My favorite state to drive through on this trip has to be PA.  It has smooth highways and fantastic views as you drive through the Appalachian Mountains.  As you come over the top of a mountain and see the beautiful view into a valley, it almost takes your breath away.  But as beautiful as it is, it can be terrifying.  This year a deer decided to meander onto the highway, and stopping a truck full of birds hauling a car on a trailer isn’t a simple task.

This year Jeff and I were both hoping to see a Black Bear while on the long haul, but no dice.  I’ve only ever seen a Black Bear once in the wild in my life, and they will always be my favorite animal in the world.
We pulled into Stone Zoo in the early morning hours (photo: Mike Cerutti)

Near the end of our journey we always have energy drinks to make sure we “hit our second wind”.  As we are coming East on I-90 we watch the sun rise over Boston in the distance, a pretty cool sight.  Finally, as we pull into the zoo, I feel a sense of accomplishment.  I also start to feel a little nervous, for while I’m happy to be back doing zoo shows, this will be my first year supervising one.  But that’s a story for another blog.

So, if you’re in the Boston area this summer be sure to take a day to see the Stone Zoo, and in particular the Birds of Prey Show presented by the World Bird Sanctuary.


Submitted by Mike Cerutti, World Bird Sanctuary Stone Zoo Show
 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Baby Season


With the passing of a long winter, spring has finally sprung.  We are now entering the season that most of us at WBS have nicknamed “The Baby Season.”

With birds of prey, which species will arrive when at WBS’s Rehabilitation department is pretty predictable.  First will be the native owl species, then around mid-May the native hawk, falcon, and eagle species will start showing up.  There are some simple yet very important steps to take if a baby bird of prey were to show up in your neck of the woods.

Baby Barred Owl (photo:  Adam Triska)

The World Bird Sanctuary is home to the Catherine G. Favre Wildlife Hospital, where we specialize in the rehabilitation of sick and injured birds of prey.  Around this time of year we experience a particularly high influx of birds to treat in the hospital.  Because of limited funds and manpower, we cannot go out on individual calls to bring back birds ourselves.  We must rely almost exclusively on the individuals who discover these birds.  We examine the birds to look for any ailments or injuries here in the Wildlife Hospital.  After the initial examination, we go on to determine what should be done in the best interest of each individual bird.

While instinct may lead you to want to pick up a cute, fluffy, lonely baby birdie, it may not be a smart idea.  The parents are usually in the area, and unlike smaller songbirds, bird of prey parents may be aggressive and quite dangerous.  I caution you to only intervene if the baby bird appears sick or injured.

Unlike the parents of these baby Bluebirds, bird of prey parents may attack would-be rescuers (photo: Adam Triska)

The most beneficial action to take if you were to stumble across this situation would be to call us here at the World Bird Sanctuary, while keeping your eyes on the bird.  One of our representatives at the Wildlife Hospital can walk you through what to do next.

If that isn’t possible, try to answer these three very important questions:
1. Are the parents nearby? 
2. Is it safe and necessary to remove the baby from its natural habitat?
3. Is the bird able to fly?

If the parents are in the area actively feeding and guarding the baby, it would be best not to disturb the family and to let nature take its course.  For the first several days after leaving the nest, baby birds aren’t usually very skilled at flying.  In this case we would instruct you to return the baby to a safe place near or at the location where it was found.  If the bird can stand well, put it on a low branch, top of a fence or the top of a shed, so it isn’t as vulnerable to ground predators.  Be careful if you have to leave the ground to place the baby.

If it is indeed necessary to rescue the baby bird, there are again precautions to consider.  The equipment needed to capture a baby bird includes:
°  A good pair of leather gloves (welding gloves or garden gloves)
°  A towel, sheet or jacket of some sort
°  A box with a closeable top for transportation that is large enough to hold the bird

Once you have contacted the World Bird Sanctuary and explained the situation, if the suggestion is to bring the bird to the Wildlife Hospital you need to gather your supplies and do the following:

°  Put the gloves on and slowly approach the bird with the sheet/towel/blanket/jacket spread between your hands.
°  Then simply drape the sheet over the baby and grab for the feet.
°  Once you have a good hold of the feet you can place the bird and the sheet into the box. Make sure that you always have someone else with you when handling a wild animal.
°  Once the box is sealed, as soon as possible make arrangements to get the bird to WBS or another Wildlife Hospital that accepts birds of prey.
 
In closing, I’d like to remind everyone that it is unlawful and morally incorrect to keep a baby bird as a pet. Birds of prey are protected under federal and state law, and require specific diets so they grow correctly.

Submitted by Adam Triska, World Bird Sanctuary ETC Supervisor

Friday, May 16, 2014

Fete du Feather Gala 2014


The 2014 Fete Du Feather Gala & Auction, Fly Me To The Moon, was an absolutely delightful evening filled with great people, beautiful animals and energizing entertainment. The night was a great success for World Bird Sanctuary as we exceeded our fundraising goal.
The photo op with Xena the Eurasian Owl was the first thing guests encountered as they entered (photo: Sandra Lowe)
Guests began arriving around 5:30 pm and were greeted at the entrance to the event by Xena, a Eurasian Eagle Owl.  Attendees lined up for the opportunity to not only meet Xena, but were tickled by the amazing opportunity to have a photo taken with her, courtesy of Sandra Lowe and her beautiful photography.  With the help of WBS staff, guests were able to hold Xena in their photos.
Guests had their photo taken holding Xena through the combined efforts of staff member Lisbeth Hodges and the photography of volunteer Sandra Lowe  (photo: Alisha Cole)

Guests then moved into the silent auction room where they were able to browse through auction items while mingling with and meeting staff, volunteers and animals from the World Bird Sanctuary.  Guests also mingled with the talented Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra impersonators who entertained us later in the evening.
During the silent auction guests mingled with entertainers and WBS animals and staff (photo: Alisha Cole)

Rene Knott, News Channel 5 KSDK Sports Reporter, emceed the event and kicked off the night with the Super Silent Auction.  Rene Knott was fantastic throughout the evening keeping everyone entertained and energized.  Rene has a remarkable enthusiasm for the mission of World Bird Sanctuary and we thank Rene Knott for emceeing such a fantastic, successful event.
WBS Executive Director Walter Crawford kicked off the Fund A Need dinner portion of the festivities (photo: Alisha Cole)
Next, guests moved into the beautifully decorated ballroom for dinner and honored speakers.  Founder and Executive Director of World Bird Sanctuary, Walter Crawford, welcomed everyone with jokes and many thanks for their support of WBS. 

Dr. Stacey Schaeffer, volunteer Veterinarian for 16 years, spoke of the vital importance for support and her love for WBS.  Other guest speakers included Scott Liebel from Ameren MO.  Scott is also Vice President of the WBS Board of Directors. Richard Mark, director of Ameren Illinois and Dr. Peter Raven, President Emeritus of the Missouri Botanical Garden, also made uplifting speeches for the event.
Staff member Cathy Spahn and Tundra the Snowy Owl (photo: Alisha Cole)

The highlight of the evening was the Fund-A-Need Auction. Barn Owl, Minerva flew over the seated guests wowing the crowd.  WBS staff came onto the stage one at a time with different WBS birds as emcee Rene Knott and auctioneer Rob Weiman introduced each staff member and bird while explaining the importance of donations and how the funds raised are used to support WBS.

The evening was a huge success and World Bird Sanctuary exceeded their fundraising goals.  Many thanks to all that supported this wonderful event for it would not be possible without your support.  Thank You.

Submitted by Alisha Cole, World Bird Sanctuary Social Media and Fundraising Intern

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Art in the Park


Art in The Park Day to benefit WBS Wildlife Hospital

On Sunday May 18, 2014, the World Bird Sanctuary is proud to host Art in the Park Day. 

Come join us for this unique wildlife art exhibition and sale.  Approximately 15-20 artists will be on site demonstrating their unique talents in the artistic styles of painting, sketching and drawing. Their works will also be on display and available for purchase. 

Just one of the many pieces of artwork available

What you need to know:

Date: Sunday, May 18th, 2013
Time: 10:00 am to  4:00 pm. 
Admission and Parking: FREE
Fine Art Silent Auction: 11:30-12:30 pm
Bird show: 1:00pm – 1:30pm in the amphitheater at the Nature Center.

All proceeds will benefit the care and treatment of birds admitted to the World Bird Sanctuary’s Kathryn G. Favre Wildlife Hospital.


Monday, May 12, 2014

What Type of Bird is That?


Hello and welcome back!  Have you ever seen a bird and wondered what type it was?

There are almost 10,000 bird species in the world!  In this blog I would like to introduce you to one particular bird we have at the World Bird Sanctuary.
Chrys, our beautiful Long-crested Eagle (Photo by Gay Schroer)  
Meet Chrys, our Long-crested Eagle (Lophaetus occipitalis)!  Unfortunately, he was captured in the wild and was going to be sold on the black market pet trade in the United States in 1987.  The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) rescued him.  When they found him, they found that his beautiful crest had been cut off to try to disguise him as a different bird.  Fortunately, they transferred him to the World Bird Sanctuary in December 1987, and he has been with us ever since.  Chrys is a shy bird, but loves to vocalize when he sees someone he recognizes.

These awesome eagles get their name from the long feathers atop their head.  They are native to Sub-Saharan areas in Africa.  They can be found from Senegal to Ethiopia and Namibia to northern South Africa.  Their main diet is made up of rodents, but they’ll also eat smaller birds, fish, lizards, and arthropods.  Believe it or not, they have also been seen eating figs and mulberries!  This is very unusual since they are birds of prey, which are mainly carnivores (meat eaters).

As with most birds of prey, the females are larger than the males.  The males range from 912g to 1300g (2 lbs to 2.8 lbs) and females range from 1300g to 1500g (2.8 lbs to 3.3 lbs).  Both sexes look the same except the females have longer crests.  They stand from 1.7 to 2 ft tall and have a wingspan from 3.7 to 4.2 ft long.  These eagles are very small in comparison to the Bald Eagle which has a wingspan of 6 to 8 ft. and weighs from 6 lbs to 14 lbs.   Below notice Chrys showing off his wingspan after a rainstorm.
Chrys after a rainstorm (Photo by Lisbeth Hodges)

Long-crested Eagles will build large stick nests in tall leafy green trees near edges of forests.  One to two brown/gray spotted eggs are laid and incubated by the female while the male hunts and stays nearby.  The chicks hatch after 42 days and will fledge (leave the nest) 53-58 days after that. For approximately fourteen days following the fledging, the chicks continue to be fed by the parents before leaving on their own. 

The lifespan for this species in the wild is unknown.  Chrys was an adult when he was rescued so he is at least 27 years old this year.  He looks pretty good to me!  Below you can see a picture of adorable Chrys resting on his perch in his stall.

Photo by Lisbeth Hodges

Chrys 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. 

Chrys can be seen at the Environmental Education Center at the World Bird Sanctuary, which is open daily from 8am-5pm.  Chrys is a very handsome bird.  You should stop on by and visit him! 

Submitted by Lisbeth Hodges, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Amazon Smile Helps World Bird Sanctuary


AmazonSmile: You Shop and Amazon will give to World Bird Sanctuary

If you love to shop on Amazon, things just got even more exciting. Now you can shop through AmazonSmile and a percentage of your purchase will help benefit the World Bird Sanctuary. 

It’s simple, here’s how it works. Next time you want to shop online go to smile.amazon.com.  If you already have an Amazon account, no problem, your account information is compatible with AmazonSmile as well as your account settings.

Next, select the World Bird Sanctuary as your preferred charitable organization. Start shopping! While not all products are eligible for donation, tens of millions are and there is a distinctive icon marking the products as eligible.

There is no cost to the customer, just shop and if you choose an eligible product the World Bird Sanctuary will benefit from a portion of the proceeds, which in turn will help to care for our animals at World Bird Sanctuary. 

Shopping never felt so good! 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Birdlore: The Roc

In my search for birds of myth and legend, I've been amazed by the number of stories concerning massive birds-of-prey in all parts of the world.

Starting my search with the Thunderbird and Piasa of North America, I've stumbled across many others, like the Phoenix in either Greek or Egyptian mythology, the Garuda of India, the Hungarian Turul, the Hokioi of Maori legend, and the Simurgh of Persia (to name just a few).

My legend of choice for this month is the Roc or Rukh, the mythological bird of Arabia.  In Arabic tradition, the roc flies over the earth and would only land on the mountain Qaf, the center of the world.

The Roc is a raptor (another name for bird of prey) of immense size and predominantly white in color.  With a supposed wingspan of 48 feet and feathers the size of palm leaves, the Roc could carry away adult elephants with ease.
A Roc carrying an elephant and a rhino in each talon (photo:  The Wikipedia Files)
The Roc gained much of its renown from accounts in the Arabic tales, The Thousand and One Nights, and Marco Polo's exaggerated travel journals.  In one of the Arabic tales, Sinbad the Sailor encounters the Roc's nest after being stranded on an island.  At first, he stood mesmerized by a large, smooth, and white object within the nest and proceeded to walk around it.  Sinbad counted 50 paces around the oblong object when a great dark shadow overtook him.  Discovering the shadow belonged to a bird known among sailors as the Roc, Sinbad realized the white object that puzzled him was in fact the Roc's egg.  The Roc settled upon the nest, unaware of Sinbad huddled next to its egg.  Noticing the trunk-sized feet before him, Sinbad devised a daring and dangerous plan to excape the island.  He tied himself to the Roc's feet with his turban, so he would be carried away from the island the next time the Roc left in search of food.

In other voyages of Sinbad the Sailor, he would observe an angry Roc dropping boulders from its talons on his ship after passengers shattered the Roc's egg and made a meal of the chick within.
Mommy's not going to be happy...(Photo:  The Wikipedia Files)
According to the 13th century world traveler, Marco Polo, the Roc lived on the island of Madagascar.  He describes the Roc as having a wingspan of 16 yards and feathers as long as 8 yards.  The Roc's egg measured out at 50 yards in circumference.  The Roc killed the elephants it hunted by dropping them to their deaths on the rocks of the earth.

Considering that Marco Polo's journeys were embellished in his travel log, it is likely that his account of the Roc was inspired from observing Madagascar's Elephant Bird, Aepyornis maximus.  Now extinct, the Elephant Bird lived on the island up until the 1600's.

While the World Bird Sanctuary does not have any birds as enormous as the Roc, we do have a juvenile Andean Condor named Dorothy whose size is quite impressive.  Be sure to take a walk down our paved trail to see her the next time you visit.

Submitted by Jessica Bunke, World Bird Sanctuary Trainer

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

GoFundMe: New Washer & Dryer Needed for Hospital


The World Bird Sanctuary is sorely in need of a heavy duty washer & dryer for the Wildlife Hospital.  It will cost $1,500.

Our old washer has died due to constant use and WBS staff members are having to drive off-site to keep up with the laundry.  The dryer also is on its last legs, barely hanging on by a string.
Baby Red-shouldered Hawk (photo: Catherine Redfern)

It’s now baby season and it is of vast importance to keep their areas clean in order to keep them healthy. Because these babies cannot yet stand, they spend a great deal of time lying down and need soft, clean towels and blankets to keep them warm.  Because this requires daily loads of laundry, a new heavy duty washer & dryer is a very important necessity for the WBS Wildlife Hospital.

Making a donation through GoFundMe is a safe and easy way to support World Bird Sanctuary.  GoFundMe guarantees a secure payment through encryption technology.  The site only allows Certified Charities like WBS to utilize its site.  GoFundMe has been recognized in Forbes, CNN, NPR, Time and many more.  Can you help us reach our goal?  Making a donation is not only safe, but quick and easy.
Baby Barred Owl with broken leg (photo: Catherine Redfern)

Please help us reach our goal to provide the World Bird Sanctuary Wildlife Hospital with a new washer & dryer for our new babies by clicking on the link!


Be sure to share the World Bird Sanctuary GoFundMe link with your friends and family. We appreciate your support!

Submitted by Alisha Cole, World Bird Sanctuary  Social Media and 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Photo Project - Year 3: Spring Things & Fun In The Snow


March has been a good month for taking photos of the birds I get to work with on a regular basis at the World Bird Sanctuary, as well as a start to the flower season outside. 

I think I will start with a little sign of spring.  March has been an up and down month for weather.  On one of the nice, warm, sunny days I was luckily off from work for my birthday, and I took a nice walk at the Missouri Botanical Gardens in St. Louis. 

Crocuses - the first sign of spring (photo:  Cathy Spahn)

One of the first signs of spring, flower-wise, is when you see crocuses coming up.  These small flowers can easily be missed, but if you know to look for them they are very pretty.  I just love the purple and yellow ones.  The sun that day just made them stand out.

The next series of photos were taken on a work trip to Hastings, MN at Carpenter Nature Center.  We presented shows there early in the month.  On this trip we took our Snowy Owl, Tundra, on her first travelling trip.  Since they had lots of snow and it was cold up there we took advantage of this, and placed her in the snow to see what she would do.

Is that a birdy smile--or what?  (photo:  Cathy Spahn)

First off I think if a bird could have smiled she would have been grinning from ear to ear.  She sat in the snow and made her happy/excited sounds (we trainers get to know the sounds our birds make and what they mean). 

This is one happy bird (photo: Cathy Spahn)
Then she started looking at the snow.  All of a sudden she stuck her face into the snow.  She came up with a face full of snow, and she even ate some!  Several times over the weekend we took her outside to sit in the snow.  Tundra had a ball!

She stuck her whole face in the snow (photo:  Cathy Spahn)

Sometimes when photographing the birds we do it to capture the beauty of the birds.  Other times it is to capture the action of what a bird may be doing, like a few of these photos of Tundra and the snow.  This experience with her was such an amazing and fun moment of watching a bird in a natural moment.

The bird version of the kid who just got into the cookie jar (photo:  Cathy Spahn)

The next time you visit the World Bird Sanctuary be sure to look for Tundra in the weathering area behind the Office of Wildlife  Learning  Nature Center.  This is where she spends most of her days—unless she’s traveling with our staff  to do an educational presentation.

Submitted by Cathy Spahn, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist