Fall clean up at the Big House

You've read about One Wing and Ol' Witch here before. They are a couple of our resident birds at Bird TLC that I like to write about. They both have been with us since the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill disaster in 1989. They are grandfather claused into our permit with USF&W. Under current regulations, they would not be able to be kept any wheres.

Mother nature and the eagles cause a lot of damage to the mews just through normal use. This mew was built 3 years ago by a Boy Scout to earn his Eagle Scout rank and he did an awesome job. Rain, snow, heavy winds and mewts do a lot of damage to the mew. During summer when there's not a lot of rain, it tries to turn into a dust bowl. Then we get rain and it tries to turn into a mud bowl. Then we get snow and it tries to turn into an ice rink. And the circle continues.

Eagle mewt is the best epoxy in the world. It sticks to everything and dries as hard a a rock. The best way to remove it is with Simple Green (full mix) and a pressure washer. During the winter time that's not practical unless you like a lot of ice sculptures. Notice the 4 ML clear visqueen. It's double layered. Both birds perch there a lot and nature takes it's course. The visqueen protects the plywood wall and it can be hosed off during the summer.

At the base is some pea gravel just donated by Anchorage Sand and Gravel. We have a new volunteer who works for them and we got him to beg for us. When the mewts are hosed off the visqueen, the pea gravel helps filter it into the ground. It's also a safe place to walk when it's rainy season and it looks nice.

Notice all the bright green on the perches and tree stumps? That's astro turf. Smooth surfaces are a no no to captive birds. This is especially true with eagles. They develop what's called bumble foot. It can become so severe that the birds can't stand and the blisters bleed. Astro turf keeps their feet clean and massaged, preventing bumble foot. The problem with astro turf is that it traps things in it. Things like food particles, down feathers, dirt, etc. So, they must be cleaned regularly and replaced when worn. It's the best thing out there for what we use it for.

Just out of the pictures, there's a large water trough. It is changed and cleaned regularly. It has a heater in the bottom so the water doesn't freeze during cold spells.

So, while neighbor Don was repairing the inside mew, I was cleaning and repairing the Big House, One Wing and Ol' Witches home. There's new visqueen, I placed gravel along one wall and behind the corner perch, raked up feathers and salmon skin, then cleaned and replaced some astro turf. More still needs to be done, but after 4 hours I was pooped. I grabbed a 5 gallon bucket and turned it upside down for a seat. Then I took a 10 minute break for some quality quiet time with the masters of the house. Weather permiting I'll get more done next Saturday.