Friday, September 26, 2008

A busy life leaves not much time for other things

Yes I know, its been a while since I last updated. I am coming off a nine day straight work 'week' and with sleeping in a horribly uncomfortable bed every night I am very exhausted.

Much has happened in the last couple weeks. We did release the coyotes, and luckily there were all eight of them alive! It was kind of sad though because they had to be flooded out of their den hole. The pictures I have of the release are of some very soggy sad looking coyotes.

We've also released some otters, a one legged gull (don't worry he'll be fine), a kingfisher, and a broadwing hawk. I believe sometime soon we'll be soft releasing a great horned owl. A soft release as apposed to a hard release (which is catching them, moving them to a site and opening the door and saying 'be free and good luck!') is when you let the animal get acclimated with this new surroundings while providing it a place to come back to that is familiar and has food if they choose to eat it. Our soft releases amount to opening the door to the enclosure here at the center and letting them leave of their own accord. We leave food for them for a few days afterward but they rarely eat it. This type of release I have only seen done for birds here.

We have had two eagles in for a few weeks now that probably have west nile virus. This virus is spread through mosquitoes and in humans really only amounts to a flu and is easily treatable. However, in birds it really wrecks with their brains. Many times the bird will be fine physically, but mentally it just isn't there. Its wings droop, they don't fly well, and as in the case of these eagles we have, they don't eat. What this means is that we have to catch them several times a day and tube feed them. This is one thing I have found I am not very good at and honestly not very comfortable with.

When catching an eagle you have to go into the enclosure, get it cornered some how and throw a blanket over its head. Most of the time with birds they calm down when their heads are covered and they can't see, though this isn't always the case. Once they are covered, you pin their wings to their body with your forearms and grab their legs, close to their foot with your thumb and index finger and lift them up. When the tubing occurs they are held close to your body while someone else sticks their hand in its mouth to pry the beak open and runs a tube down its throat and into its stomach. The birds usually don't like this very much. And with a very powerful beak just inches from your body, it can be a little unnerving.

Tubing is also difficult. Not only is the fact that you have to put your ungloved hand in its mouth, but the act of running the tube down its throat can be very stressful to both parties. The difficult thing is that you have to get passed the bird's crop and into the stomach. This is much easier said than done. Because the crop and the opening for the stomach aren't perfectly aligned, you have to twist the tube around and around until you find the opening. Some birds are easier to tube than others, but I seem to have a problem with most all of them.

Last night we got an injured raven in. His wing was broken and he was pretty thin. So I got to tube him. Now I though eagles had a lot of strength in their beak, but that is nothing compared to the raven. This bird clamped down on my thumb and wouldn't let go. Luckily this was on the nail part and only bruised it for a little while, but the force of it all was really impressive. I am just glad this was a lower 48 raven because they are much much smaller than the Alaskan ravens. Sadly though, I suspect that he will be put down today because of his injuries. Some things just can't be fixed.

I hope to have more pictures for you soon, once I can find my motivation to resize pictures. Until then, I hope everyone is doing well!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Cancelation of Coyotes

We were supposed to release 8 coyotes today, but this was canceled due to a torrential down pour. The first time a release at the center had been canceled due to rain according to the head rehabber.

There was some concern with our coyotes though. The 8 pups had dug a hole and disappeared into it several weeks ago. The food continued to go missing and we would occasionally hear them howl at night so all was thought well. Two days ago, however, they stopped eating and a scrap of what looked like coyote fur was found in the enclosure.

Yesterday we dug up their tunnel, worried that they might have gotten trapped in there and possibly died. How ironic would it have been if they whole lot died two days before their release? The tunnel they dug turned out to be a good 25 feet long, extending outside their fenced enclosure. If only they would have had the wherewithal to dig up they would have been free coyotes of their own accord. Luckily we found live coyotes in the ground.

That day three were caught (after flooding their tunnel) and moved to a different enclosure. Today four coyotes were found in the original enclosure running around, a little peeved their tunnel was all wet. But, later that day the disappeared back into their hole. The release was canceled anyway due to rain so, depending on the weather they will be released tomorrow.

Sadly, we still don't know if the eighth coyote survived or not. At least we know we have seven live plump coyotes to release back into the wild.

Tomorrow I'm planning on going to a concert in the late afternoon. I hope this won't conflict with the coyote release. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Slowing down

Things are starting to slow down here a bit. We've gotten in a couple new eagles, and a few other small animals. On Saturday we released our seven fawns. I have a few pictures HERE of the release. It was quite an experience being involved in the tranquilization process and then waking them back up at the release site. Aside from all the inevitable death, this experience, seeing those that have been nursed back to health released into the wild is what makes it all worth while.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


I've been having troubles uploading pictures on this blog lately. Until I can find a better connection, I have pictures on facebook you can look at HERE .

I hope you like them!

A day off is never quite off

I had a day off today and then I'll be going into a six day stretch. I had plans to check out some trails around the area but that didn't quite pan out. Instead I slept in till 9:30am and then was invited to go to the Farmer's Market with the head Rehabber to do some personal shopping while he picked up the fruit donation for the center. There were plans to release five merlins later that afternoon.

I waited around a couple hours for the release to happen, helping unload the fruit from the truck and emptying trash. Apparently I can't help myself from doing stuff that needs to be done, even on my day off. Also, a bald eagle came in and I got to tube feed it. I finally had a successful tube feeding attempt, granted it was one of the easiest birds to tube. I also got to take pictures as the merlins were being caught, which was fun. It was a little nerve wracking at times too.

The process of catching a healthy merlin consists of several people wearing heavy leather gloves stretching their arms high over their head, causing the birds to fly around wildly. Eventually the bird will become exhausted and hopefully land in a spot you can sneak up on it. Or as I saw with our experienced rehabber, you can catch them in mid flight. Several times I was afraid I was going to get taloned in the head as they swooped down low in attempt to escape their would-be captors.

We released the birds not far from the center, by a lake. Releases take such a short time, but it is rewarding in its own right. To know that all the time and effort you put into such an animal was worth while and it will survive in its intended habitat.

After the release was over, it started to rain. It has been in the upper 70's to high 80's ever since I got here and the rain has just made everything a humid, sticky, mess. I idea of a nice hike were kind of dashed. I opted to do laundry instead. If the forcast holds, it looks like my next day off will be sunny...six days from now. I'll keep my fingers crossed.