Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The King is here, long live the King

According to an old legend, a king eider is simply a common eider whose age and experience have earned it the right to wear a “crown”.

Well this elder was sent to us from USF&W in Barrow, Alaska. Barrow is located 618 miles north of Anchorage. Check out the link to Barrow, it's a very interesting place with lots of history and local culture. It's the fartest northern city in the U.S.

The King was found on the side of the road and wouldn't fly off when approached. He has some minor damage to his bill and was a little dehydrated. We speculate that he flew into something. He will more than likely spend the next few weeks with Bird TLC being pampered like a King.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

This wasn't covered in the handling & restraint class

OK, Ruthie and I went in last night to give some meds to a couple birds that need their meds twice a day. It all started out innocent enough. Little did we know how that was going to change. I went to BE 05-35's mew to pick him up to take him to the exam table. He needed a shot of baytril and a pill. Eagles aren't fun giving a pill to.

Ruthie has more experience than I do in the clinic. She has worked there as a volunteer once a week for a few years. I in turn, don't do just the clinic. I am a jack of all trades and master of none. However, I want more experience handling the eagles. Cassie (my daughter) and I took the handling and restraint class a couple of weeks ago. I am not scared of these powerful and possibly harmful birds, but I do have a deep respect for them. I know improper handling can cause harm to them or the handler. Safety is always an issue when you are having an awake and alert eagle in your hands.

Ruthie asked me if I was sure I wanted to get this eagle from his mew. She said he was real feisty. I told her no, I want the experience. The one thing I've learned from aggressive eagles is that once they are tired, they like to lay down. When they lay down they have their legs underneath them. This makes their legs hard to find because you have them covered up with a thick blanket using the Cover Completely Technique. But you need to have a hold of their legs by their feet to pick them up. You definitely don't want to be taloned by an eagle.

Things went OK at first. He fought me catching him at first but I was patient and then of course, he laid down. I got lucky and was able to feel down and found his legs in no time at all. I picked him up all wrapped up in a blanket and took him to the exam room. I placed him on the exam table and then we got situated for Ruthie to give him his pill. The eagle is on his back on the table, I'm holding his legs/feet. My arms are on both sides of him and I'm at his tail. The blanket is over his head and also wrapped, covering his wings. Ruthie puts on a leather glove, lifts the blanket enough to uncover his beak and she gets the pill in. Easy enough, right? Nope.

We should have known something was up because everything was going too easy. While Ruthie was looking for the proper place to give him a shot of baytril, his head and left wing came out from under the blanket. I know at that time my eyes and 35's were as big as tennis balls. I don't know if Ruthie's were, I never took my eyes off of the eagle. If this wasn't bad enough, he started to flap his wings which made the right wing come out from under the blanket. I'm still holding on to his legs for dear life.

In a split decision I decided not to let him go when he started to go for my hands. I slide him off the exam table and stepped out into the middle of the room holding him upside down by his legs. Again he started flapping which did nothing but blow loose papers and stuff across the room. Ruthie grabbed the blanket and started to get herself positioned in front of me and the eagle. In between flapping, 35 was bending up to see what I was doing. This was when Ruthie was able to slide the blanket under him on the floor, then bring it up to cover his head. Once that was done we went back to the table, got him on his back again and covered his head and wings with the blanket. Ruthie traded with me, from the head end she reached around 35 and grabbed his legs. This way her arms kept it's wings folded under the blanket. I found the spot and finally gave him his shot. Ruthie picked him up and got him promptly back to his mew.

What seemed like a typical visit to Bird TLC ended up with Ruthie, 35 and I breathing heavy, adrenaline level high, and pumping perspiration. Fortunately no one or eagle was hurt. All the other birds got their meds uneventfully.

By the way, we are now up to 38 eagles this year. 2 came in Friday, 1 from Dutch Harbor who ate something a little toxic and 1 from Kenai Wildlife Refuge that was found caught in a trap. More on these two eagles soon.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Spectacled Eider

A Turn with an Arctic Tern

The Arctic tern (Sterna paradisaea) is a small bird that makes the longest migration of any bird. It breeds in the Arctic tundra (within the Arctic Circle), but flies to the edge of the Antarctic ice pack during the winter. It flies over 21,750 miles (35,000 km) each year - roughly the circumference of the Earth. This excellent flier spends most of its life flying. This tern always experiences long days, since it spends the summer in the Arctic and the (Northern Hemisphere) winter in the Antarctic.

Arctic terns have a life span of about 20 years. This one started it's life as an orphan and is getting a new start with baby bird mom and Rehab Director Cindy Palmatier. Fresh salmon everyday is helping this little fellow grow.In a few weeks he'll be released and start his worldly travels.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

A Surprise Visitor

Spectacled eiders are threatened throughout their range (Federal Register, May 10, 1993). So you see how important it is, that we do our best with this bird (as we always do with all birds). He was brought to Bird TLC by US Fish & Wildlife with 3 fractures to it's left wing (see x-ray picture). The wing is in good alignment for now. We're unable to wrap it to keep it in place (being a water bird), so the bird is being kept quit and isolated. In his food he's given itraconazol, an anti-fungal to help prevent asper. We expect him to be with us 2 to 3 weeks.

Here's some info just in case your unfamiliar with spectacled eider.

Spectacled eiders are large sea ducks, 20‑22 inches long. They are diving ducks that spend most of the year in marine waters where they probably feed on bottom‑dwelling molluscs and crustaceans.

Historically, they've nested along much of the coast of Alaska, from the Nushagak Peninsula in the southwest, north to Barrow, and east nearly to the Canadian border. They also nested along much of the arctic coast of Russia. Today, three primary nesting grounds remain; the central coast of the Yukon‑Kuskokwim Delta, the arctic coastal plain of Alaska, and the arctic coastal plain of Russia. A few pairs nest on St. Lawrence Island, Alaska as well. Their fall and winter distribution was virtually unknown until satellite telemetry lead to the discovery of spectacled eiders at sea in 1995. Important late summer and fall molting areas have been identified in eastern Norton Sound and Ledyard Bay in Alaska, and in Mechigmenskiy Bay and an area offshore between the Kolyma and Indigirka river deltas in Russia. Wintering flocks of spectacled eiders have been observed in the Bering Sea between St. Lawrence and St. Matthew islands.

Between the 1970’s and the 1990’s, the breeding population on the Yukon‑Kuskokwim Delta declined by over 96%, and only about 4,000 pairs nest there today. Historical data for other nesting areas are scarce. Scientists don’t know if populations ever declined in Northern Alaska or Russia, although the population is currently in slow decline on the Arctic Coastal Plain, where about 3,000‑4,000 pairs currently nest on Alaska’s arctic coastal plain, and at least 40,000 pairs nest in arctic Russia. Winter surveys in the Bering Sea, which includes non‑breeding birds, indicate a worldwide population of about 360,000 birds.

Causes of the decline of spectacled eiders are not well understood. Lead poisoning, caused spent lead shot consumed by eiders, has been documented in this species on the Yukon‑Kuskokwim Delta. Subsistence hunting is also a threat to spectacled eiders.

Predation by foxes, large gulls, and ravens on the breeding grounds may be increasing in areas where populations of these predators are enhanced by the year‑round food and shelter provided by human activities and garbage dumps. Complex changes in fish and invertebrate populations in the Bering Sea may be affecting food availability for spectacled eiders during the 8 to 10 month non‑breeding season. Spectacled eiders may also be affected by other shifts in the Bering Sea ecosystem, by commercial fisheries, and by environmental contaminants at sea.

Hunting of eiders is regulated under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Sport and subsistence hunting of spectacled eiders has been closed in Alaska since 1991. However, reported subsistence harvest on the Yukon‑Kuskokwim Delta has averaged 255 spectacled eiders per year over the past ten years. Non‑toxic shot must be used for all waterfowl hunting. Use of lead shot for waterfowl hunting has been prohibited throughout the United States since 1991.

Spectacled eiders are threatened throughout their range (Federal Register, May 10, 1993). So you see how important it is, that we do our best with this bird (as we always do with all birds). He was brought to Bird TLC by US Fish & Wildlife with 3 fractures to it's left wing (see x-ray picture). The wing is in good alignment for now. We're unable to wrap the wing to keep it in place (being a water bird), so the bird is being kept quit and isolated. In his food he's given itraconazol, an anti-fungal to help prevent asper.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Jungle Jack Hanna @ Alaska Zoo

Ruthie and I got a treat tonight. We spent a couple hours at the Alaska Zoo. Jack Hanna, world reknown wildlife correspondent, gave a talk for about an hour. He's very personable and easy to talk to. He had a huge turn out and long line afterwards for autographs and conversation.

I enjoyed his opinions on hunting, fishing, conservation and zoos. If you ever get a chance, check him out.

Jack Hanna

Monday, June 20, 2005

Baby Bird Mom

If you remember, we had a class on becoming a Baby Bird Mom this past May. You must attend this class each year if you would like to foster orphaned baby birds. Well, last week my daughter Cassie became a Baby Bird Mom to two orphaned American Robins. For the past week she's done a heck of a job taking care of them. I think sometimes when I woke her at 6AM to feed the birds she might of had second thoughts.

Tomorrow they go to another volunteer to do a soft release. Construction has started in our busy neighborhood, so it wasn't wise to do it here. The other volunteer will release them at her home where it's less busy. She'll place out food for them everyday until she sees they're not coming back to eat. That means they've moved on to enjoy their own lives.

We know we'll never see them again. Even if we did, they will look like all the other robins. But here's hoping they remember us and the short time spent at our home. Hopefully when the construction ends in our neighborhood, they or their babies will make our neighborhood their home.

Cassie wasn't the only Baby Bird Mom. There were dozens that did a great job this spring. Thanks to them all and I hope you're a mom again next year.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Happy Fathers Day

Fathers Day is pretty cool. It's a holiday I've liked since before I became a father. I remember giving my dad his Fathers Day present and wanting to make his day special. I have 2 older brothers and an older sister who says she's younger than me. I'm the baby of the family, all 200 lbs.

When I came along, my dad was a fireman like his dad before him. My dad was always my hero. He would go to work and come home in his dress firemens uniform. Back then they required it. If he was home sick or injured he would have to wear it whenever he left the house. He looked very heroic in it. Before the days of direct deposit, he would take me with him if he was off on pay day, to pick up his check. He would put me in the drivers seat of the back-up fire engine while he shot the bull with his coworkers. I had a blast.

He drove school buses for 25 years part time. He had to support a wife, 4 kids and a dog. We never went hungry, always had a roof over our head and clothes to wear. I got my work ethics and family responsibility ethics from him. When I picture him in my mind, he's in his firemens uniform and has his flat top hair cut. He's passed away 14 years ago and there's not a day that goes by that I don't think of him.

Now it's my turn. I have 2 sons and a daughter. They are all my favorites. Nick is 23 and drives a truck for a local company. Ryan is 20 and weighing his options on what to do next. Cassie is 17, has one more year of high school and starts working at McDonald's today. They don't get in trouble or cause any.

I feel that I'm a pretty lucky dad. I have great kids. We've had our ups and downs, but with them it's always been up. I enjoy their company and I'm always wanting to hear what they got going on next. Each one has a totally different personality. I am a pretty lucky dad.

Have a Happy Fathers Day, I am.

OK, I know this isn't a blog about me, my family or fathers. It's about Bird TLC & its birds. Last night Ruthie, Cassie and I picked up eagle BE 05-36 at the airport last night. She came in from Sand Point. Things don't look too well though. She has gangrene setting in her right wing from her wrist to almost her shoulder from puncher wounds. We gave her 3cc Baytril and beded her down for the night. Keep your feathers crossed. That's eagle #36 to come through Bird TLC this year.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Raven mew completed

Our new raven mew was completed last week by Scout Brenden from Troop 266. He did a heck of a job and got full approval from the ravens. There's ample room and it has plenty of perches. The ravens also have protection from the weather but can get plenty of fresh air. Thanks Brenden!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

We have fish!

Thanks to everyone who responed to the action alert. We now have ample fish at Bird TLC. However, we are now running out of freezer space.

Also, Thanks to Sagaya Wholesale. They are donating aprox 80 lbs of salmon scrap a day. That will keep our birds with a full crop this summer. Thanks Steve & Nick.

Window hit

Interesting article in the Anchorage Daily News this moring. Check it out.

Monday, June 13, 2005

The kids aren't writting

But Anita at Zoo2You is. We sent 2 eagles to her for placement last month, the eagles formally known as George and Tobias. This is what she wrote us about them.

They both are doing great both steping up, crating, eating perfectly and going on shows. I am soooo impressed with The female (we named
her spirit) she is so willing to learn. She is very talkative but
sweet and patient. Not scared at all but not too bold. She only took
three days to totally get step up. and learned to go to her perch the
first day. Once on a perch it only took two face plants to figure out
where the leash stopped. She loves playing with the towels in hotel

Justice is amazing. He loves to take baths. We have taught him to eat
on cue, drink on cue, he knows step up and step back. He is learning
to put out his wings and to tuck them in on cue. He is also learning
to tuck his head when going in and out of his crate. He is currently in Chicago with Emily one of our trainers doing some media appearances. Spirit is in Arizona with Allie doing the same.

They are with trainers all day everday. When at home (4 days home 3 on the road) They both sit all day out in the sunshine bathing and and talking. Thanks so much for them, you guys have a great ability to choose birds with a great personality and acceptance of captivity.


Sunday, June 12, 2005

Immature Boreal Owl

This immature boreal owl came to us from Wrangell - St. Elias National Park & Preserve. He was found alone sitting on the ground watching the world go by. He'll be released once he's fully flighted. He has no injuries, just no Ma or Pa.

Wrangell - St. Elias is the largest unit of the National Park System and a day's drive east of Anchorage, this spectacular park includes the continent's largest assemblage of glaciers and the greatest collection of peaks above 16,000 feet. Mount St. Elias, at 18,008 feet, is the second highest peak in the United States.

Adjacent to Canada's Kluane National Park, the site is characterized by remote mountains, sweeping valleys, wild rivers, and a variety of wildlife.

Proclaimed as Wrangell-St. Elias National Monument Dec. 1, 1978; established as a national park and preserve Dec. 2, 1980. Wilderness designated Dec. 2, 1980. Designated a World Heritage Site Oct. 24, 1979.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Still need fish


Bird TLC is dangerously low on salmon. Salmon is feed to the eagles and ravens daily. If you have a surplus of salmon in your freezer (no halibut or canned salmon please) please bring into the Bird TLC Office or call 562-4852.


We have had great support from the community on donating salmon. This is the time of year we all clean out our freezers to make room for this years fish. Bird TLC is happy to take last years and before off of your hands. We have a record 35 eagles so far this year coming through our clinic. 3 have been golden eagles who prefer red meat, however the rest have been bald eagles who love salmon. It's taking a toll on our stock of fish. Please contact the office at 562-4852 or bring by Bird TLC @ 6132 Nielson Way M-F 10AM - 5PM.


Flight Center Spring Clean Up

Last Sunday was Spring Clean Up Day @ the Bird TLC Flight Center on Camp Carroll. It was time to cut the grass, trim back bushes, power wash the walls, replace astro turf, clean up muck and make repairs. Winter can take it's toll on the old center. Built in 1988 with funds from the Exxon Valdez spill clean up for the materials, with labor from the local community and military, it has become known as "The Flight Center".

The Flight Center is where we send large birds that need to build up their muscles and flying skills before they can be released. This can be for a short while or for an extended stay, depending on what the origonal injury was.

Our crew of 5 volunteers got a lot of work done. Headed by Kristen Guinn, the hard working eagle and mosquito dodging crew got a lot acomplished. Thanks to the following for their time; Kristen Guinn, Gary Tidwell, Lauren (sorry didn't get last name), Cassie Dorsey and I. Sorry for no pictures, drain bamage day.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Bird TLC Motel Hotel

This snowy owl is just a very short time visitor. Ruth and I picked her up from Alaska Airlines GoldStreak tonight. The Juneau Raptor Center is sending her to Barrow to be released. Cindy takes her to the airport in the early morning. We didn't want to leave her in a small kennel for 5 hours awaiting her next flight.

So we laid out a fresh mat of astro turf and poured a domestic bowl of fresh water. She gets a short relaxing stay before she moves on in the am. Leave your key card on the perch. Hope you enjoyed the stay.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Mew Renew, er, ahh, I mean New Mew

Mew Renew for the summer is coming along well. However, Brendan from Troop 266 is working on his Eagle Scout project. A new raven mew. The project is about half way done and is looking awesome. His crew consisting of Elise, Josh & Dan were working this Saturday in the sunshine and the rain. We're looking forward to the finished project.

Another thanks goes to those who donated material to Brendan's project. Thanks to Home Depot & Ace Hardware (Huffman Rd). It takes special people and companies to make special things happen.

Friday, June 03, 2005

The Sleaziest Bar in Spenard, Alaska

Bird TLC Nite at The Fly By Night Club in Spenard was out of sight. Go figure why the place is world famous, sort of. Mr. Whitekey and the Spamtones were hilarious as always. The music was great, the skits were extremely funny and the service was awesome. Everyone was having a good time. Thanks to those who attended. We're giving the money raised to the birds!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Salmon needed immediately, please!


Bird TLC is dangerously low on salmon. Salmon is feed to the eagles and ravens daily. If you have a surplus of salmon in your freezer (no halibut or canned salmon please) please bring into the Bird TLC Office or call 562-4852.