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!