"Snowy Owl"

IMBD International Migratory Bird Day at the Alaska Zoo

Every year Bird TLC Education Volunteers do presentations at the Alaska Zoo for IMBD. The weather was gorgeous, but do take notice of the snow on the ground. Ghost the snowy owl was the only one not complaining about the snow.
Mary Bethe presented Denali the golden eagle and several other birds and presenters were there throughout the day.
We had a good crowd. They did have to bundle up a little though. Ghost didn't understand why.
 
Thanks to the Alaska Zoo for having us and thanks to Sharon Larson for the photographs.

Snowy Owl prepped for release


One of our flight center volunteers, Cynthia helped me catch our snowy owl who has been with us since October. It was brought back to the clinic to prep it for release. ERA Alaska is flying it to Barrow tomorrow and it will be released there. Barrow is the snowy owl capital of Alaska.
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Ghost & Gus at Friends of Creamer's Field


Last weekend, Ghost, Gus and I were invited to Fairbanks to help out Friends of Creamer's field by doing presentations. Since it's one of our favorite places to go, we had to be there. ADF&G did an awesome job talking about the owls of Interior Alaska and putting on an awesome program on Short-Eared Owls.

Gus being the senior owl came out first. Being a Great Horned Owl, his species is well known.

We did another presentation later in the afternoon. Ghost the Snowy Owl always attracts the kids and photographers.

Friends of Creamer's Field had lots of artifacts showing what is at their place. I know if I lived in Fairbanks, that's where I'd be a volunteer at.

Here's hoping we raised them a few dollars and got some folks interested in volunteering. Thanks to Friends of Creamer's Field for inviting us, ADF&G, and Jim & Nancy Dewitt for putting the 3 of us up for the weekend. Oh, also thanks to Nancy for taking the photo's. We had a great time!
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Meet the new boss

 
We have a new Executive Director and it is Heather Merewood.  Some of you may already have neet her, as she has been volunteering here for a little while. She has quite a bit of experience in the raptor world. She has worked at the Carolina Raptor Center and Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center, not to mention working with vultures in Nepal and animals in Costa Rica. Heather comes to us with excellent credentials and a warm, friendly way about her.

There's a Meet and Greet Potluck on Wednesday 9/14 at 6:30 at the Bird TLC office. Bring a dish and meet Heather and Guy Runco our new volunteer coordinator. We tell you more about him later.

Rehabilitated snowy owl released over Barrow tundra

A scrum of Barrow kids and a batch of tourists were on hand Tuesday to watch the city's mayor release a wayward snowy owl that had been nursed back to health at the Bird Treatment and Learning Center in Anchorage.

An Anchorage resident found the owl in Anchorage last fall. It was weak and hungry and far removed from the North Slope where snowy owls are fairly common, said Bob Harcharek, mayor.

About 20 kids were on hand, along with a dozen bus-bound tourists who applauded for the owl as it flew to freedom over the North Slope tundra, and hopefully, it's first wild meal in months.

"It took a couple minutes to exit the cage and realize there was freedom," said Harcharek, noting that the owl then flew to a tundra hill and appeared to be looking for lemmings, a favorite food of the bird.

Helping was Blair Marlowe, Bird TLC board member, who had flown north for the release. She said the animal was pretty weak and hungry when it was brought to the bird shelter last fall, according to Jake Neher, news director at KBRW.

"They're leaning toward the idea that it flew down to Anchorage looking for food, but they haven't ruled out the possibility it was removed from its habitat," Neher said.

Harcharek said he'd scouted for the past two weeks for the proper release site, and chose the stretch along Nunavak Road outside town because he hadn't seen owls there lately.

"We put him in an area where there's no competition," he said.

The owl was weak and tired when an Anchorage resident found it on the road near her house, Harcharek said. She knew there had to be a problem and brought it to Bird TLC - find it at www.birdtlc.net - Alaska's pre-eminent wild bird rehabilitation facility, Harcharek wrote in a media statement earlier in the week.

"On admission to Bird TLC, the snowy owl showed no signs of injury or trauma but had a very thin keel (an extension of the breastbone), which is indicative of starvation. So the volunteers who staff the facility began a very careful re-feeding program that allowed the snowy owl to gradually gain weight and strength," Harcharek wrote.

Here's more from the original press release:

"Once the snowy owl had his belly full, he started to show his true personality, a personality that indicated a distinct dislike for humans. Even those volunteers bringing plumped up dead rats into him for dinner found themselves facing hisses, flashing eyes and fluffed out wings. Most volunteers knew not to venture too far into his mew but to toss the rats from a distance.

The fact that the snowy owl so intensely dislikes human contact is a good sign for his rehabilitation and release back into the wild. It means he hasn't imprinted on people and so will not hang around where they are.

With the owl back to its full weight and able to fly and feed himself recently, Marlowe agreed to transport the snowy owl to Barrow where. It was particularly appropriate to release the bird in Barrow since the Inupiat name for the traditional village is Ukpeagvik, which means "place of the snowy owl.

Harcharek included a personal note: "It's always exciting to be able to participate in releasing a wild animal back to its natural habitat. Here in Barrow we are very lucky to be surrounded by such amazing wilderness that we can pretty much go out any road and let the snowy owl free and know he'll find the food and shelter he needs."

On a personal note, Blair Marlowe did this release trip at her own personal expense. Yea Blair!!!!!!

As the Snowy flies

Back in November, a couple brought in this snowy owl that wasn't doing well. It was very lethargic and obviously hadn't eaten in quite a while.
On Friday Britt and I took him to the flight center to see how it's coming along. It's eating well and all other signs are good. There is some concern about its eye sight, but we'll let it tell us how that's doing.
Right now, it's the only snow that's flying around here. It took off right out of the kennel.
 
A little more time is needed to know for sure how it's doing and if it'll be able to be released. Right now it needs to get its bearings, get it's flight strength back and remember how to hunt.
We'll keep you updated.
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Palmer Senior Home presentation

Erin, Ghost, Randy and Artemus did a presentation the day before Thanksgiving at the Palmer Senior Home to a very large audience.
The weather cleared up enough for the presenters and their birds to make it out to Palmer and back safely. The birds seemed excited about being out the day before a famous bird holiday.
Stories and questions filled the air.
 
A good time was had by all.
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It's snowy at TLC

Yesterday in Anchorage, a couple that was out hiking found a snowy owl that wasn't showing much of a defense as they neared it. They caught it and brought it into Bird TLC. During its intake exam, the snowy was found to be extremely thin and emaciated.
This snowy hadn't eaten in some time and it would take a little bit of time to get it back on a regular diet. First we have to ease into it by tube feeding it twice a day with a very nutritional liquid.

Here you have Sharon restraining the owl and holding onto its legs firmly while Cindy inserts the tube and injects its lunch. Once it starts getting a little stronger, it'll be introduced to some mice.
 
Because of its colorization and size, this is believed to be one of this years birds and probably a male. We'll keep you updated on it progress.
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