Wednesday, December 31, 2014

From “How do we do ALL this” to “Mission Accomplished” – We do even more!

On Monday you learned that 2014 was a successful year in achieving our mission for our wildlife hospital and environmental education department.  But that is not all we have achieved.  We could not have achieved success in all FOUR of our mission focus areas without you.  As always, we plan to maintain 37 years of conservation success through 2015 - but we need your financial support to help us do it.

Please DONATE TODAY to invest in our mission success in 2015.

Field Studies: Fledging Peregrines and Migrating Owls

World Bird Sanctuary’s Field Studies program experienced success for the fourth year in a row with the fledging of four peregrine falcon chicks hatched in a nest box supported by World Bird Sanctuary, Ameren Missouri and Missouri Department of Conservation.  If you were glued to the FalconCam like we were, you know the riveting and compelling hardships that the parents face to successfully raise their chicks to become self-sufficient wild adults.  It was quite a ride!
Wild Peregrine Falcon tends eggs
in the nest box.
Young chicks are fed by a parent.
Chicks are fully grown and about to
leave the nest box to embark on a
wild life without their parents.
Our all-volunteer Bird-Banding team also took part in the OWLNET Saw-Whet Owl monitoring program for the third successive year – making World Bird Sanctuary the southernmost banding point for Saw-whet Owls in the country.  This program contributes valuable information to a central database that tracks migration, population numbers and breeding habits of these birds.  This information will be used to develop and implement preservation strategies for Saw-whet owls around the country.
A wild Saw-whet owl isevaluated before being banded
and released by the Project OWLNET team.
To continue our work monitoring wild populations and developing successful conservation strategies to preserve species, we need your donation today

Barn Owls prowl Missouri in numbers again!
World Bird Sanctuary is proud of the part we played in getting Barn Owls off the endangered species list in Missouri.  Our propagation department has released over 800 barn owls during a 30 year period, and Barn Owls finally came off the state endangered species list in 2008.  We breed Barn Owl adults who raise chicks that we release to the wild to bolster wild populations.  These chicks are released in safe areas and monitored.  The big news in 2014 is that one of our released barn owl chicks from 2013 coupled with a wild barn owl and produced her own wild chicks, one year after release.  We call that a resounding success, and it validates the work we love to do!

Donate today and be part of the solution populating Missouri with threatened and endangered bird species through our propagation program.

We have over 37 years of success in achieving our mission through our four focus areas, and numerous accolades and awards for our achievements in wildlife conservation and education.

Watch this video to find out how your investment in our mission makes a difference every day!
The mission of World Bird Sanctuary is to preserve the earth's biological diversity and to secure the future of threatened bird species in their natural environments. We work to fulfill this mission through education, propagation, field studies and rehabilitation.

We know that our mission is important to you too – we invite you to donate today and be part of the solution to challenges facing our wild birds in the years to come.

The World Bird Sanctuary is a consistently successful and credible conservation organization, which makes investing in us one of the safest philanthropic decisions you can make.  You know that we will use your donation wisely.  World Bird Sanctuary meets all 20 charity standards set by the Better Business Bureau. 

Thank you.

Submitted by Catherine Redfern

Monday, December 29, 2014

From "How do we do this?" to "Mission Accomplished!" - YOU make it possible.

2014 has been a successful year in achieving our mission.  We at World Bird Sanctuary could not have done it without you.  We plan to maintain this momentum in 2015 - but we need your financial support to help us do it.

A busy year for our wildlife hospital!     
The almost 450 raptors admitted to World Bird Sanctuary's Kathryn G. Favre Wildlife Hospital this year were cared for without any state, federal or local government funding.  Each year the hospital and its patients rely entirely on donations from members of the public to treat and care for wild injured birds.  
Volunteer veterinarians Dr. Schaeffer (R) and Dr. Broyles (L) treat a
Red-tailed Hawk admitted to the wildlife hospital.
Among this year’s successes were a bald eagle whose foot got caught in a coyote trap, numerous barred owls and great-horned owls, orphaned red-tailed hawks, and one very lucky broad-winged hawk that was treated by our wildlife hospital and completed his migration to Florida via a plane ride!

To maintain this momentum we need your help.  Donate now to help our wildlife hospital help sick, injured and orphaned birds in 2015.

The Office of Wildlife Learning inspires action!
One of the best parts of being a naturalist presenting live bird programs at World Bird Sanctuary's environmental education department is facilitating what we call ‘the light bulb moment’ – that instant when we watch a child in our audience light up as they see a raptor fly for the first time.  
School children learn about Xena the Eurasian Eagle Owl
on a field trip to World Bird Sanctuary.
As that owl flies over that child’s head, you can see the appreciation and wonder at experiencing wildlife first hand.  For many children, and even adults, this moment is the one that sparks a life-long interest in the natural world, and preserving habitats and those that live in them.

Donate today to be part of ‘the light bulb moment’ and foster a desire to preserve wildlife and the habitats where they live in generations to come.

Our success is your success
We have over 37 years of success in achieving our mission through our four focus areas, and numerous accolades and awards for our achievements in wildlife conservation and education.

Watch our video to learn how your investment
in our mission makes a difference every day
The mission of World Bird Sanctuary is to preserve the earth's biological diversity and to secure the future of threatened bird species in their natural environments. We work to fulfill this mission through education, propagation, field studies and rehabilitation.

We know that our mission is important to you too – we invite you to donate today and be part of the solution to challenges facing our wild birds in the years to come.

The World Bird Sanctuary is a consistently successful and credible conservation organization, which makes investing in us one of the safest philanthropic decisions you can make.  You know that we will use your donation wisely.  World Bird Sanctuary meets all 20 charity standards set by the Better Business Bureau. 

Thank you.

Submitted by Catherine Redfern

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Owl Prowls are filling up quickly - have you booked your space?

We are halfway through Owl Prowl season!  This popular program, awarded the AAA’s Midwest Traveler's Travel Treasure for the Midwest, will be over at the end of February and are selling out quickly.

Wild Barred Owl.
Photo used with kind permission of Patrick Lanham Photography
Come over to the Dark Side and meet the amazing birds that exist by moonlight.  World Bird Sanctuary Owl Prowls offer an exciting opportunity to learn more about the fascinating lives of owls.

Join one of our Naturalists at our evening programs - a 30 minute presentation featuring live flying owls, followed by an easy night hike around our grounds as we try and find wild Barred Owls and Great-horned Owls who are busy setting up territories and finding mates for the winter owl breeding season!

Owl Prowls offer a unique opportunity to see owls in flight!
Photo with kind permission of Sandra's Shooting Gallery.
Owl Programs offered on selected evenings from January thru March 2015
We have a limited number of dates with some spaces for remaining Owl Prowls, so book today to avoid last minute disappointment. 

January 2015
Sunday, January 4th,
Friday, January 9th,
Saturday, January 10th,
Saturday, January 31st,  

February 2015
Friday, February 6th
Saturday, February 7th
Saturday, February 14th
Friday, February 20th
Saturday, February 28th

March 2015
Friday, March 6th
Saturday, March 14th

Meet beautiful owls like Tundra, the Snowy Owl, at a WBS Owl Prowl!
Photo with kind permission of Sandra's Shooting Gallery.
All Owl Prowls start at 7pm and are concluded by 9pm.
To book, call our Education Center at 636-225-4390 ext. 1.
$11 per adult; $9 per child under 12.
Friends of World Bird Sanctuary receive a 10% discount.
Groups of 10 or more pay $9 per person, regardless of age.

With only 30 people per Owl Prowl and selected dates available, call today to make your reservation!

Blog submitted by Catherine Redfern

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas 2014

From the staff, interns and volunteers

and especially the birds,

Volunteer Pat Sexton with Max the Tawny Eagle
Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday,

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for your support.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

What Do I Do?

Sometimes people come into contact with a bird that is injured or abandoned.  But what should you do if you find a bird that needs help?

The first step is to determine if the bird is actually in need of your help.  Young fledgling birds often leave the nest before they can fully fly, and the parents will care for them from the ground.  In many cases the fledglings have short stubby tail and wing feathers with some down feathers on the head, back and chest, and can often be seen hopping on the ground.  These birds are easily caught, but are not in need of help.  If you are unsure if a bird is injured or abandoned, you can call your local wildlife rehab and they can advise you on what to do.  The Wildlife Rehabber website has a listing of rehabs by state so that you can find one in your area.
A juvenile Barred Owl being treated for a broken wing in the WBS Wildlife Hospital

A sure sign of an injured bird is if you can see visible injuries or flies hovering around the animal. 

Sometimes birds run into windows and are stunned.  They can often recover and fly away with a bit of time in a safe place.  If they do not fly off after some time, they may have a more serious injury and need the care of a wildlife rehabber.

If you find a bird that you believe is injured or abandoned, carefully place it in a cardboard box with a lid, and keep the box in a cool (in summer) or warm (in winter) place. 
A Merlin being treated for a wing injury in the WBS Wildlife Hospital

If you find a bird of prey such as a hawk or falcon that needs help, you can place a towel or jacket over the animal to pick it up.  If you have at least leather work gloves, they are recommended, too.  After the bird is covered with the towel, you can grab the bird around the legs to protect yourself from the sharp talons and place it into the box.  Be sure your box is secure so that the bird cannot escape while in transport.

While the bird is in your care, do not try to feed it or give it water.  There are many different kinds of birds, each with its own special diet. 

The best thing you can do is transport the bird to your local wildlife rehabber as soon as possible.  Licensed wildlife rehabilitators are specially trained to care for these animals, and have all the necessary diets and medications to administer to the animal. 

Your bird will have the best chance of being returned to the wild under the care of a wildlife rehabilitator.

Submitted by Paige Davis, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Year 3: 365 Photo Project - November

November is a good time to look back and be thankful for what we have.  I chose to look at some old photos for inspiration for this blog.  I kept coming back to a small collection of photos I have of me with some of the many World Bird Sanctuary birds and animals I have worked with over the last 14 years. 

I realized while looking over these photos that I have been so lucky in some of the great experiences, amazing animals and wonderful people it has been my honor to know over the years.

The first photo I am going to share is from the summer of 2000.  That summer I worked at WBS’s Milwaukee County Zoo Bird of Prey show.  This is the group photo with staff and birds.  On the left is Assistant Supervisor Heather with Panda the African Pied Crow, then Sara Pitzer with Solstice the Harris’ Hawk, a zoo staff member (sorry I can’t remember her name) with Bogart the Eurasian Eagle Owl, Supervisor Jeff Kingscott with Fred the Hooded Vulture, and then me with Buchannon, the Golden Eagle.  The cool thing is that I still work with a few of these birds on a regular basis.

The next photo was taken in 2001 in Milwaukee again, but with Care For Critters, an outreach education program WBS presented in Milwaukee, and I supervised for about 4 years.  This photo is of Mischief the White-necked Raven, and I.  Mischief is a special raven to me because I raised him from a youngster.  That relationship I made with him when he was young still exists.  This look in this photo is one I still see with him on a regular basis.  Mischief will be a big part of my next blog.

This next photo was from 2001 as well.  This is Mali, a Fennec Fox, and me.  In 2001, I spent much of the summer raising young animals including two young fennec foxes.  This is one of my favorite photos of Mali and me.  When Mali was a baby she would go to work with us and then come home at night for lots of socializing.  This was such a great time.  Mali would run around and then come over and just want to snuggle like a kitten or puppy.  We used her in programs for a year then she and Egypt, the other Fennec Fox, moved on to the WBS Nature Center and then to another organization.

The last photo was taken about 5 years ago of me working with Scar one of our two Straw-colored Fruit Bats.  I fell in love with bats when I saw a lecture by Marlin Tuttle in Milwaukee about bats. When I learned about all of the connections between them and the environment, a passion was discovered.  Then in 2006 World Bird Sanctuary received two bats to use in education programs.  I started training them and have since used them in some programs.  This passion for bats led to creating the WBS special event called Baturday, which then became the Midwest Bat Fest.  Look for more information about this event that takes place in early April.

When you are around these animals all the time and work with so many different animals, there are times when you can start to take what you do for granted.  However, it is moments like this while looking at old photos that you remember all of the amazing things you have been so privileged to do over time.

Submitted by Cathy Spahn, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist

Friday, December 19, 2014

Really Weird Birds: Red-tailed Tropicbird

The Red-tailed Tropicbird is found throughout the Indian and Pacific Oceans.  It nests on tropical islands, including Hawaii, but is otherwise mainly seen far out at sea, rarely near the shore.  They are more pelagic (seen on the open ocean) than other tropicbirds.

There are three species of tropicbirds making up the sole members of the family Phaethontidae: Red-tailed, White-tailed and Red-billed Tropicbirds. They are very graceful and fluid in flight.

The Red-tailed Tropicbird is about 16 inches long and its tail is another 14-21 inches long.  Its entire tail is not that long however; it has a few very long red tail feather streamers. Like its other family member species, they have mostly white feathers with long pointed wings, short necks, and wedge-shaped tails. Their bills are dark red, and they have black eye patches with a stripe.

Red-tailed tropicbird in flight
 Tropicbirds are incredibly graceful and agile in flight; however, they are very awkward and clumsy walking on land.  They have extremely short legs and webbed feet, well adapted to paddling in the open sea, but not for walking on solid ground.  Click here to watch a video of them waddling as best they can!  They have to scoot around on their bellies for the most part.

Even though they are clumsy on land, they are excellent flyers.  They can remain at sea for indefinite amounts of time, soaring up on riding ocean wind currents and flying with rapid wing beats.  When hunting, they will spiral downwards and plunge into the ocean to catch fish in their serrated beak.

These birds perform complex aerial courtship displays.  They will fly backwards and in circles, meanwhile waving their tails back and forth.  They may also engage in courtship bicycling flight, where one bird hovers over the other and then they shift positions.

Females lay one egg on the ground in a shaded area and both parents take turns incubating the egg.  After the chick hatches, it looks like the cutest white ball of fluff you have ever seen!  It looks like it’s been overtaken by fluff and the only thing visible are their tiny black beaks and beady little eyes.  In about 3 months fledging occurs and they begin to leave the nest.

None of the three species of tropicbirds are endangered or threatened.  With so many other seabirds becoming threatened by pollution, sea fishing, and disturbance of their island breeding grounds, this is a welcome anomaly.

Submitted by Sara Oliver, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Avian Senses Part One - Vision

Eyesight in birds is the most developed of all their senses. 

Some species have the ability to capture an entire scene in one look as opposed to putting it together one section at a time as we humans must.  This is called wide-angle vision. 

Notice the placement of the eyes on the far side of the head on this Northern Mockingbird (photo: Gay Schroer)

The eyes of birds vary in shape and can be flat, round or tubular, unlike human eyes, which are uniformly round. The avian eyes fill the orbit completely and are in most cases placed on the sides of the head (usually seen in birds that can be a prey species).  Because of this, these birds see better to the side.  This is the reason that, upon observation, you see birds rapidly bob or turn their head from side to side when looking at an object.  Bobbing the head allows them to compensate by seeing objects from two different angles.  Depth perception should seemingly be limited due to this monocular vision, but since birds move so much faster than most of earth’s animals, they must have excellent depth perception to land smoothly on any perch, avoid obstacles, and catch the items they eat. 
The Eurasian Eagle Owls uses its forward facing eyes to zero in on prey (photo: Gay Schroer)

Not all birds see in a monocular fashion, though.  Some birds use monocular vision for near nearsightedness and forward binocular viewing for farsightedness.  The forward facing alignment of the eyes is common to most predators, especially the owls.

Conversely, humans have strictly binocular vision.  Because our eyes face forward, we are able to use them together to focus on objects. 

The sclerotic ring is made up of small bones that are called ossicles.  There are two banded muscles called Crampton's and Brucke's, that are attached to the ossicles and are used for focusing. The sclerotic ring is what forces the lens into positions that allow for very fast and precise visual acuity, whether the subject is near or far.  Birds have voluntary, or manual control over the rings, just as we can move our fingers and toes when we think about it.

Diagram of the avian eye (photo: wikipedia files)

 The Crampton's muscle adjusts the curvature of the lens and thus controls the way the light bends as it enters the eye. 
The Brucke's muscle controls the shape of the lens.  This process is similar to using a pair of binoculars.  Think of looking through the lens and the image being blurred.  As you turn the focusing mechanism, the image becomes either clearer or more blurred.

Cones and rods (named from their actual shapes) are types of photoreceptors, located on the retina at the back of the eye, that allow animals to see light and color. Rods are sensitive to light, but they only create coarse gray images.  Cones are sensitive to color and allow for detail.  The large number of cones in the avian eye enables birds to form very sharp images.

The next time you visit the World Bird Sanctuary be sure to pay special attention to the differences between the eyes of the birds that visit our feeders (prey birds) and the raptors (birds of prey…predators) in our exhibits.

More to come on the topic of avian vision next month.

Submitted by Leigh French, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist

Monday, December 15, 2014


World Bird Sanctuary is proud to present another poem by guest author Marge Biermann posing the question "How did the owl get his hoot?"
Wild Barred Owl (photo: Cathy Spahn)

I didn’t hear my friend, Owl, last night,
Guess he found another tree in which to light.

So many to choose from during his nocturnal cruise,
While other birds are snuggled in their nests having a snooze.

He “Hoots” to the moon and every small star.
His penetrating call is heard near and far….

A solitary voice in the silent night so dark,
I often wonder where he perched on Noah’s Ark.

On the railing, perhaps, overlooking waters deep,
While all the others settled in to find some sleep?

Did he gain his wisdom watching waves lap against the boat….
Is that when the “Hoot” was formed in his throat?

Was it a haunting lullaby Creator used to send his peace,
Assuring his creatures all would pass, the rains would cease?

Maybe Owl is wiser than most….so stoic and calm,
Because long, long ago his voice served as a balm.

To bring serenity and peace to Creator’s traveling ark,
Until it was time for all to disembark.

For a “Job well done” Creator gave Owl his “Hoot”,
Because with his body it just seemed to suit.

And for his patience displayed sitting on that Ark’s rail,
Creator gave him wisdom from his head to his tail!

Submitted by World Bird Sanctuary Guest Author Marge Biermann

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Crow is Afoot!

Following is a blog post submitted by World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist/Trainer, Leah Tyndall while she and the birds were performing in a Wild West show in Silver Dollar City in October.

As I sit here in Branson, I am both excited and sad.

I’m excited because for September and October 2014 I am part of an incredible Wild West show at Silver Dollar City, surrounded by amazingly talented people and working with an awesome Bald Eagle named Beauford.  WBS was hired to fly Beauford for this show.  I am sad however because I miss the other birds that I usually work with during this time, especially one little guy in particular; a three month old African Pied Crow named Sherlock.
Sherlock, fresh out of his shipping crate (photo: Leah Tyndall)

Sherlock came to us from a breeder in Arkansas and instead of going to World Bird Sanctuary headquarters in Valley Park, he came straight to me at WBS’s Milwaukee County Zoo bird show so that the bird show staff and I could get him used to life as a zoo show bird as soon as possible.

Sherlock’s trip from Arkansas to Wisconsin was not an easy one. The plane he was supposed to travel on needed mechanical repairs and he missed his connecting flight, so he had to take a later one.  After picking him up from the airport a little after nine pm, I took him to the zoo.  I peeked carefully into the crate to check on him and was met by an adorable blue eye followed immediately by a begging call--someone was hungry! I gave him some soaked dog food and tucked him in for the night, making sure to arrive early the next day.

Since Sherlock was hand raised he is very social and loves being around humans.  He stepped right to my hand and after a few tries, treats and some creative body blocking I was able to weigh him. 
Sherlock proved to be a very quick learner (photo: Leah Tyndall)

From that first day Sherlock (named because he figures things out so quickly) excelled at all training.  Stepping to the hand led to flying to the arm on command, perching on command, waiting on a perch (his least favorite behavior), sitting nicely on the scale (which became challenging in its own right since he always wants to sit on the scale, even before you put it down), object retrieval, object placing and of course, crating.

Crate training the little crow was tricky, not because he was afraid of the crate, but because he apparently wants to limbo. When I first started crate training, I had a perch in the crate to help him stay balanced and protect his tail.  In Sherlock’s mind I must have meant this perch to be a limbo pole, because every time I put food in the back of the crate, he went under the perch, which was only a few inches above the floor of the crate.  I had to remove the perch so that he could physically get all of the way into the crate to get his reward. 

Once the perch was gone he started running into the crate all the time, and that was when he made the grand discovery that the carpet on the crate floor could move if he pulled on it.  Being an insanely curious young crow he spent several sessions tugging on the carpet, until he realized tugging carpets did not get him treats, and even worse it meant no object retrieval, his favorite behavior.  He also enjoyed playing tug of war with my Kalem glove tassel and sticking his whole head in my glove when it was clipped to my belt.
Sherlock's first "selfie" (photo: Sherlock the Pied Crow)

Being such a clever and social bird, he discovered that leaping onto the trainer’s shoulder or head prevented the human from leaving and this quickly became his favorite game. We discovered socializing with him in a non-training situation and rewarding him for waiting while we exited curbed this behavior. It also led to hilarious moments such as Sherlock texting (“4”) and taking a selfie while I was trying to get his picture.

Sherlock is a clever, young, social crow able to learn at an incredible rate.  Crows, as a species, are extremely intelligent and staying one step ahead of them can be a real challenge for any trainer.

Even while I am typing this he is continuing his donation box training. Soon he will take dollar bills and place them into a donation box to help our animals and the World Bird Sanctuary’s conservation efforts.  Soon…but for now he believes his task is to twist them or shove them back into my hand.  However, I have no doubt that this extremely intelligent young crow will quickly learn the desired behavior.  Can’t wait to get back to WBS HQ to continue his training! 

Be sure to keep an eye out for Sherlock--coming soon to a bird show near you.  He will be the one accepting your donation dollars at the end of the show.

Submitted by Leah Tyndall, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist/Trainer

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Tawny Eagles

Tawny Eagles derive their name from the color of their feathers, a subtle rusty brown. 
Juvenile Tawny Eagle (photo: the wikipedia files)

They can be found in eastern and southern Africa but also in southern Asia.  They are scavengers, mostly eating things that are already dead.  However, they have been seen catching prey up to the size of large rabbits.  They also often steal food from other birds, such as storks and hornbills. 
Tawny Eagle feeding on roadkill (photo: the wikipedia files)

Tawny Eagles are smaller than most old-world vulture species, and eat the same food.  Often times the vultures will find carrion first.  Tawny Eagles will wait for the vultures to eat, and then drive them away by repeatedly flying and “barking” at them (their call does sound like a dog barking).  Once the vultures are scared, they will vomit to be light enough to fly away.  Tawny Eagles then use this opportunity to devour the vomit as a warm “fresh” meal. 

During the dry season in Africa they build very large flat nests for raising their young.  This nest will be used for many years.  They usually lay two eggs, which take a little over a month to hatch.  Usually only one of the chicks survives. 

In the wild, a Tawny Eagle will live for upwards of sixteen years.  In captivity we can usually about double their lifespan. 
Diablo - Watch for him in Milwaukee next summer (photo: Gay Schroer)

Max and Diablo, the two Tawny Eagles here at the World Bird Sanctuary, were raised in captivity for educational purposes.  You can usually find Max in the weathering area behind the visitors’ center if he is not traveling to one of out outreach programs in the area.  Diablo can be seen at the Milwaukee County Zoo during the summers flying in our Bird of Prey shows.

In the wild Tawny Eagles are a common sight, and are listed as a species of Least Concern on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List. At this time the species seems to be doing well and there are no specific conservation efforts for them.
Max is one of the most photogenic birds at WBS (photo: Gay Schroer)

The next time you visit the World Bird Sanctuary look for Max in the weathering area.  You may get lucky enough to see him playing with his tennis balls or hear him barking at someone or something he perceives to be a threat within his territorial boundaries. 

And don’t let the plain brown feathers fool you…Tawny Eagles are one of the most photogenic birds at WBS.  Be sure to bring your cameras. 

As with all our animals, Max and Diablo are available for adoption as part of our Adopt A Bird Program.

Submitted by Mike Cerutti, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist/Trainer