A beak and pedi

The talons and beak of wild birds in captivity grow and they aren't naturally trimmed as well as in the wild. In the wild they would chew more on bones and such things more than they have the opportunity to do in captivity. Ghost the Snowy Owl's diet is mainly mice and he eats them whole. I vary his diet from time to time with rabbit, chicks, rats and pheasant. He also chews on the astro turf that I have on his perches. But his beak still grows and needs a little help being trimmed or coped.

Ghost has never needed his beak coped before. His talons get trimmed several times a year though. He maintains his beak pretty good. A few weeks ago, I asked Cindy to check out his beak while we were at a presentation. She said he was borderline needing it coped. So I made an appointment for it to be done today. It's not something you can do by yourself and I know of no one in Bird TLC who has more experience performing them or is there anyone I trust more with Ghost than Cindy.

For something that's not natural to him, having a Dremmel run around his beak, he handled himself well. The whole procedure with talon trimming and all took less than five minutes. Ghost is still molting even though it's getting below freezing at night. When he was let up and got back on fist, feathers went everywhere.

So now he has a healthy shaped beak and trimmed talons. I gave him a frozen mouse as a treat. Maybe I should have offered one to Cindy since she did all the work. Well, thanks anyway Cindy!

Volunteer Orientation

We have a Volunteer Orientation about once every October. It's aimed mainly at volunteers who are interested in presenting the Bird TLC Education Birds. A lot of people see us out in the public presenting these birds, but they don't realize what all is involved. So they get to spend about 6 hours getting a thorough orientation tell them all the good and bad things involved.

Each of our Ed Birds are required by U.S.F.&W.to be shown at 12 presentations per year. Bird TLC requires every Education Presenter to present 12 times a year. Each bird could have several presenters, but most have just one. Last year Ghost and I did 60 presentations together. It would be nice to have another presenter checked off on him to help carry the load.

Each presenter in training is mentored by another presenter that has been checked off on that species and has some good presenting experience and bird handling under their belt. I was mentored by Cindy and after 2 years of presenting Ghost, she still gives me some good pointers.

Depending on the person and the bird, it usually takes 3 to 6 months before they are ready to be checked off as a presenter. Large raptors like eagles could take longer. Bird TLC requires eagle presenters in training to take and pass the Alaska Falconry Exam.

Expenses will include buying your own glove, transportation expenses, and leashes. Some presenters help the presenter / caretaker pay for food for the bird, but that is up to the individuals.

Dedication is the key. It all looks like fun and it is, but first the person must be trained with bird handling and the background of the species being presented.

Good luck everyone and I hope to see you presenting soon!

Photo Credit: Dick Williams / Bird TLC

Good things happen

Thanks to our new friends at Rusty's Towing and Recovery, an eyesore was removed from the Bird TLC property over looking Potter Marsh.

Over a month ago someone or someones deposited this relic over the bluff making it extremely hard to retrieve. Also, with the end of summer, the ground was real muddy, so a recovery vehicle couldn't get back into where it needed to.

I called Rusty about 2 weeks ago. He asked for me to call back when the ground had hardened. It finally had and he sent a wrecker out in between other jobs. What's humorous is that Dave the wrecker driver had just dropped an injured yellow warbler off at the clinic this morning. Before that he had never heard of us.

You could tell that Dave had done this type of job before. He had the experience, the personality and the truck. TLC volunteer Greg took the cable down the bluff and attached it to the car. Within 15 minutes it was at the top and ready to go to the junk yard.

Thanks to some misguided citizens we aquired this car. Thanks to a generous local businessman in our community and his professional employee we had this fine Detroit specimen removed. Thier phone number will be the only one I give out when someone needs their service.

Rusty and Dave, Thanks a bunch!!!!

New blog

I had nothing else to do, so I started another blog. I call it Around Anchorage. My stories and lots of pictures will be what adventures Ruth and I go on around our home town and some from around the state. I still have some fine tuning to do but it's up and running at Around Anchorage.

This in no way will effect this blog. I'll still be doing Bird TLC related stories here as always. Check it out and let me know wha you think.

#1 is Done

Alex Katzenson from BSA Troop 230 was able to raise the funds to purchase the materials and build Bird TLC a much needed new mew #1. With his crew that he assembled he started and completed construction in 5 days.

Alex had several challenges to work with.

One is at Bird TLC we have a requirement that the mew must be assembled so it could be un-assembled in sections in a short period of time. If there is another major oil spill, Bird TLC must evacuate the premises within 48 hours. He also must build to USF&W requirements.

Two was he must raise all funds himself. Bird TLC has no money in the budget for new mew construction. All wood must be treated wood.

Three was that the north and east wall must be solid walls.

Four was that the door must face the center of the mew yard.

Five was the roof must be slanted for snow run off.

I must say he did a heck of a job. The first bird to use it won't know how lucky it is to have a brand new mew to recuperate in.

Good job Alex!

Say Goodbye to #1

Mew #1 that is. Wednesday I go into the clinic to tear down # 1 to make room for a new mew. Most of our mews are built by Boy Scouts working on their Eagle Rank. That's what is going to happen here and we'll have more on that story in the near future.

Mew # 1 was old when I came to Bird TLC about 5 years ago. It has received the needed repairs over the past few years but it is just plain old and out dated. The roof has weakened and last winter we wouldn't keep an eagle in it because of the snow load weight. So we used it to keep our over stock of salmon. During the winter you can keep your frozen food outside. It just needs to be protected from Ravens, dogs, bears, etc.

Over the years it has held a lot of large birds from hawks to mainly eagles. Some of the more famous ones (Bird TLC famous that is) like Beauty and most recently Petra while her mew got repaired.

# 1 has served us well but it's time to update with a more less dungeon looking mew. One with a strong roof and no rotted wood. We'll keep you updated on the new mew as it gets built.

Do birds visit other birds in the hospital?

I mean do they stop by to see how they are doing or for other reasons. Corvids are the smartest bird species. Ask Amy over at WildBird on the Fly. I can never get their picture doing this, but I've seen them land on the Ravens mew roof and look over the edge at the Raven patient inside. I've seen the Raven patient take food from it's dish and share it with the Ravens outside. I mean, hasn't someone you visited in the hospital before offered you their Jello?

They will make their calls to one another through the mesh. I don't know if the one on the outside feels sorry for the one on the inside or what. They'll peck at the mesh, but they can't hurt that.

The Magpie's visit all the mews. I guess you can say they make the rounds. They are brave little suckers too. They will go in the Eagles mews to steal salmon. They know that the Bald Eagles won't bother them. They'll find a slat that's wide enough or a hole in the roof and they come and go as they please. Bird TLC unintentionally feeds most birds in our neighborhood. You'll never hear of a starving bird found right outside of Bird TLC.

Out at the flight center we had a Golden Eagle that we thought wasn't eating. We brought it back to the clinic to check it out. It's weight was fine and it ate at the clinic so we took it back. We discovered that it preferred the Magpie's that got in the flight center but couldn't get out fast enough.

Do you think I should talk to Cindy on Monday about setting up visiting hours?

Spread a little gravel

In June we had several dump truck loads of gravel donated and delivered. Unfortunately we didn't have anything big enough to spread it around as needed. It was a lot of gravel and if you remotely suggested shovelsto anyone, you got this killer stare as an answer.

In Alaska, summer is the construction season. There is some during winter, but the bulk of it is done during the short summer months. Our friends at Airport Equipment Rentals were willing to loan us a skidsteer as long as one was available and not scheduled to go out on a rental. Winter is comming and we probably had about 3 or 4 weeks before that gravel would start to freeze and become a permanate fixture until next summer. Another problem was where the gravel was. It was right smack dab in the middle of the mew yard. So if it snowed, there was going to be no plowing.

Finally, Airport Equipment had a skidsteer available today. Today being Wednesday (I don't work on Wednesdays) was perfect. They needed it back tomorrow morning, so it needed to be completed today. Cindy and I went to lunch and when we came back I went at it non-stop until she was done. Ruth jumped in when she got off work and did the shovel and rake jobs around the edges.

Doesn't it look great. Things should be a little nicer now. Level ground, water can run off now. Thanks once again Airport Equipment. You saved mine and other volunteers back.

Click on picture below to see more.....
Mew yard gravel

2 X 2

Northern Goshawks and Great Gray Owls are fairly common in Alaska. We don't get a lot of them in the clinic. But right now we have 2 of each and all were hit by a car.

We've gotten in the habit of when we see road kill close to the road, we stop and throw it farther from the road. Why you ask. Because all raptors are opportunist, they will eat from the carcase of road kill. If that road kill is too close to the road and a car comes along, the bird doesn't have time to escape from the vehicle path. Then it's next meal is from Bird TLC.

You'll get some strange looks sometimes, but you'll get back in your car with a smile on your face.