Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year

Happy New Years to everyone that visits us here at Bird TLC. I hope that everyones new year is healthy and safe. We'll blog with you next year!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Blessed Beast and Birds Store closes 12/31

The Blessed Beast and Birds Store, the partnership between The Alaska Zoo and Bird TLC, closes on 12/31. It was just meant for the holidays and has been a big success. I don't have any numbers or figures, but for what our overhead was we did well. This was our first venture into selling merchandise like this and we learned a lot. Next year we know our store will be much better because of this years experiences. We will also have a lot longer to prepare for it.

For those of you living in the Anchorage area, Saturday will be your last chance to visit us at the Dimond Center. After that, all Bird TLC product will be available at the Bird TLC clinic and all Alaska Zoo product will be available at the Alaska Zoo Gift Shop at the zoo.

Thanks to all of the volunteers who helped make the store a success. I won't start naming them because I don't want to accidentally leave someone out. Anyhow, thanks a lot volunteers!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Startling starling numbers appear in bird count

Startling starling numbers appear in bird count

AUDUBON: Invasive species has spread since its U.S. arrival in 1890s.

Anchorage Daily News

Published: December 27, 2005
Last Modified: December 27, 2005 at 03:04 AM

Look out, Anchorage woodpeckers. The starlings are coming -- and they just might be admiring your homes.

Local birders who participated in the recent 2005 Anchorage Christmas Bird Count noted a sharp increase in European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris), a sometimes aggressive species that's relatively new to Alaska.

Only three starlings were spotted in town a decade ago during the 1995 Christmas bird count, according to the local chapter of the National Audubon Society, which sponsors the annual survey.

Last year, there were 35. But observers who joined the Dec. 17 count found 156 European starlings, almost four times the old record.

Here's the rest of the story.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas

Warm wishes to everyone from all of us here at Bird Treatment and Learning Center. I hope everyone's holiday is warm and safe.

If your looking for a last minute tax deduction, Bird TLC is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization. Send a check made out to;

Bird TLC
P.O. Box 230496
Anchorage, Alaska 99523

So far this year Bird TLC has admitted over 700 birds, 50 of them being eagles. A lot of their stories are posted here on the blog, but not all of them. It takes a lot of funds to operate such an clinic. All help both large and small is appreciated.

If you would like to become a card carrying member, select a level that's appropriate for you. If there's not a big enough level, customize your own.

Yearly Membership Levels

___ $1000 Hero ___ $500 Partner ___ $250 Benefactor

___ $100 Supporter ___ $45 Family ___ $25 Individual

For your membership, you'll receive a Bird TLC pin, Bird TLC membership card, our quarterly newsletter "Flight Feather", and undying gratitude from all the birds and volunteers at Bird TLC.

Mark your check "blog membership, attn: Dave", and I'll send a Bird TLC window sticker. You'll be the envy of all of your birding friends. Sorry, online donations aren't available yet.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Col. Norman Vaughan dies at age 100

Anchorage, Alaska - Adventurer, explorer and Alaska icon Col. Norman Vaughan passed away this morning.

According to friends and family, the colonel, who celebrated his 100th birthday Monday, died peacefully at Providence Alaska Medical Center shortly after 10 a.m. Friday.

Vaughan is famous for accompanying Admiral Byrd on his trip to the South Pole in 1928. He ran dogs in the 1932 Olympics and used his mushing knowledge to lead a daring World War II mission across Greenland to recover a top secret bomb site from a downed Allied bomber.

Always looking for the next challenge, Vaughan began running the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in his 70s. His last Great Race came when he was 85. Three years later, he climbed an Antarctic mountain, which now bears his name.

I was fortunate to have meet Norman Vaughan twice at the Great Alaskan Sportsman Show. The Bird TLC venue was set up right next to him. I never saw him without a smile and a twickle in his eye's. He would talk to anyone interested in talking to him. He had lived a life that most prople could only dream of. I know Alaska will miss him. I'll be reading stories about him for the rest of my life. A most amazing man.

Here's a link to Anchorage Daily News story.

Here's a link to KTUU Channel 2 in Anchorage.

Here's a link to the Washington Post.

Here's a link to the Boston Globe.

Here's a link to CNN for a nice story on Normie.

And there's many more out there.


Cindy at Woodsong has done a woderful job on hosting IATB 13. She put together many submissions from around the world and put them in a Holiday theme.

Great job Cindy. I'm enjoying the reading.

Monday, December 19, 2005

There are different kinds of people out there

Volunteering at the "Blessed Beast and Birds" holiday store for Bird TLC and The Alaska Zoo, I've have gotten to meet all kinds of people. Located on the second floor of the Dimond Center Mall, we've received a lot of attention. Most of the attention has been good, none has been bad and some has been kind of different.

Having been born in a large east coast city, I've dealt with all kinds of people, good and bad. The same goes for the twenty years I spent in the Air Force. I decided to retire in Alaska over ten years ago. This great state has everything I wanted my family and I to have or be around or not to be around. During this time, like most cities, Anchorage has grown a lot during that time.

If your not in Alaska, we say your outside. "Where are you going? I'm going outside. Well, I'm staying inside where it's warm. No, I'm going to the lower 48.

You know your in Alaska, when the young kids at the mall are fascinated by the escalator. We don't have that many escalators up here. Our store is on the second floor, like I said, right by the escalator. I've seen people almost fall onto or off of the escalator because they noticed one of our presentation birds right as they got on it or was getting off. "I was shopping for a present for grandma when I noticed this big bird on this ladies arm".

The store is huge, at least by our standards. One third of it we have set up for presenting Bird TLC's Education Birds and animals from The Alaska Zoo. You can see into the presentation area through these large glass windows. You can also come inside so they can sit down and hear the presenter talk about the bird or animal. Almost everyday from 1:30-2:30 and then again at 5-6 we have a presentation. It's gotten so popular that we're handing out schedules and people are checking back to see if a particular bird is coming or not.

You can tell from the crowd who's the bird fancier and who's not. Some people sit for the whole hour asking questions and taking pictures. Others sit for a few minutes and then they are on their way. Some people know exactly what kind of bird it is and make comments during the presentation. Others haven't a clue it's a bird. But that's why we're there. To provide avian education to the public.

Norman Vaughan celebrates 100th birthday

Happy 100th Birthday to Norman Vaughan. You don't know who Norman Vaughan is? Norman Vaughan has lived more in his life than many could with several. At 100-years-old, Vaughan has seen it all. It seems like he's done it all as well. He's a World War II veteran, a musher and a great adventurer. Col. Norman Vaughan is an Alaskan icon and on Saturday, he celebrated a very special day.

That's not even the beginning. From a trek across Antarctica, to saving lives during World War II, to racing to Nome at the age of 85, and crossing the frozen terrain of the South Pole at 88, Vaughan is no stranger to adventure. He's done it all with style. As for turning 100, it’s the next adventure that, even now, blazes on. Vaughan had planned on having his celebration on top of Mount Vaughan in Antarctica, but because of finances that didn't happen. Then later it moved to a venue in Anchorage, but after an evaluation by doctors the party was held at Providence Alaska Medical Center.

After 100 years, Vaughan had his first taste of alcohol on Saturday, a sip of champagne.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Great Horned Owl popsicle chase

Cindy at Bird TLC received a call at the clinic from Dorothy in Portage. She and her husband were walking their dog and the dog discovered a great horned owl in the bushes. She said it seemed to have an injured wing, won't fly and didn't like them being around. She thinks it might have flown into a power line. Could we come and get it?

Cindy knows that my wife Ruth and I will respond to calls if at all possible. Portage is about an hours drive from Anchorage where we live. It's snowing for the first time in a week after having spring weather for a few days with everything melting and re-freezing. The roads are slicker than goose poop in a greased frying pan. Sure, we'll go.

Dorothy's directions were right on. Go to mile marker 81 and park at the turn out. Follow the railroad tracks about 1/4 mile towards Girdwood and it's by some water next to the tracks. She was right on the money. It was right were she said it was.

Now it's +28°F with a wind chill of +8°F. The winds are at 10 mph and it's snowing horizontally. I got my polypropylene skivies on and Ruthies bundled up like the little boy on "A Christmas Story" and the GHO doesn't want to go for a van ride. Ruthie caught it with her blanket but he was able to wiggle free and ran across the partially frozen pond.

Ruthie goes back up the railroad tracks and crosses over to the other side. I stayed where we were in case it ran back across. It was the smart owl. It only ran half way across. It's weight didn't effect the partially frozen water like ours would have. So from my side I shook my blanket at it and yelled. It turned and hissed, then ran over to Ruthies side. This time she got a hold of it and held on. She had a good hold of it's feet and it had a good hold of her mittens. However, it was able to shake the blanket off of its head. Ruthie and the owl are now eye to eye and I don't know who's eyes were bigger.

Ruthie wasn't letting go and the owl couldn't go any where's. So we decided she walk back towards the van and I would meet her where the water stopped. She looked like she was carrying a GHO popsicle. Once she got to the end of the water, I was able to cover the owl up completely with a blanket. We got back to the van with frozen faces and adrenaline racing. We placed it in a carrier, covered it up with a blanket and back to Anchorage we head.

As we got closer to Anchorage the worse the road conditions got. However, we made it round trip with owl pick up in two and a half hours. When we got to the clinic, Cindy started to exam the bird but stopped. It had a bad case of feather lice. I mean bad. We sprayed it down and placed him in a indoor mew until the spray took effect. It's hard to examine a bird when there's little crawling things now crawling over you.

The next day, Cindy did a full exam and decided to take x-rays of it's right wing. Bad news, his wrist has multiple fractures. So it was put in a wing wrap hoping it might hold it together. If not, we're looking at amputation. Any which way, it's not going to be able to be released. It's too bad we have to end this story without a release, but we do have a live bird. Thanks to Dorothy for calling this one into us.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Tis the Season

Even the birds are in the holiday spirit. A gyr falcon that's presently in our rehab clinic with a feather disorder is trying to tell us that he wants something else for Christmas.

Thanks for the pic Char!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Alaska's Birds at Risk

There's an excellent article in today's Anchorage Daily News by George Bryson titled "Birds at risk". In short he explains that an increasing number of Alaska bird species are at risk. So says a new survey of "declining and vulnerable bird populations" released this month by Audubon Alaska.

While 37 species were singled out for special concern when the inaugural Alaska WatchList appeared three years ago, a revised Audubon survey now identifies 52 species to monitor -- including such new entries as the trumpeter swan, the gyrfalcon, the American golden plover and the short-eared owl.

It's well worth the reading. It's well worth paying attention to. It's well worth taking action.

As always, any political comments or opinions posted on linked web sites or articles are not those of Bird TLC.

Friday, December 09, 2005



The snow builds up quietly as each flake falls,
the day slips away, then the raven calls.

I watch them go, in two's and three's

as they fly to roost in far off trees.

Ravens scorn the winter, they play and sing;
the snow melts quietly and then it's spring.

With spring comes courtships and flying skills;
rise up the thermals, then a stoop that chills!

These bold black dancers of wind and sky
I watch and wish that I could fly.

James R. Scott

Borrowed from "That I could Fly", A collection of Bird Song, written by James R. Scott D.V.M. Founder of The Bird Treatment and Learning Center, Anchorage, Alaska.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

IATB #12 is now available for your reading pleasure

David of The Wanderling has done an excellent job of putting together I and the Bird #12: The Canterbirdy Tales. If you love stories, if you love poems and if you love good reviews, this is the place to be.

IATB #13 will be available December 20th and it will be hosted by our friend Cindy @ Woodsong. Maybe she'll have some heat by then. E-mail you entries to her @ Cindy or Mike.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Blessed Beast and Birds Store

In partnership, Alaska Zoo and Bird TLC a holiday store named Blessed Beast and Birds has been opened at the Dimond center on the second floor. Items can be purchased for the holidays and proceeds will support the operations of both non-profit organizations. There will also be wild bird and animal presentations.

The store is open daily from 1-7 PM and Saturday from 11-9 PM and Sunday from 12-6 PM.

Click HERE to see a picture gallery of the store. Check back daily for updated pictures.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

More snowy

Our visiting snowy owl is making a great recovery. X-rays were taken the other day and the break is healing well. The wing wrap was removed, but the pin is being left in for a little longer time. It seems he didn't like having the wing wrap on and was pulling at it. So we took it off so he wouldn't injure the wing any more. We'll x-ray again in about a week and then decide if it's time to pull the pin out.

There seems to be a snowy owl invasion in the lower 48 states. The only written article I've found though has been on Birdchick blog. She reports a sort of irruption in Minnesota and Wisconsin. She also has a nice shot of a snowy taken at their airport.

The Snowy Owl is highly nomadic. During periods of lemming and vole population crashes in the Arctic, or excessive cold and snow in winter, mass movements of Snowy Owls occur into southern Canada and northern United States. These invasions occur every 3 to 5 years, but are highly irregular. Adult females stay furthest north while immature males move furthest south during these incursions.

Here's a map of the range of the snowy owl. During southward movements they appear along lakeshores, marine coastlines, marshes, and even roost on buildings in cities and towns. So, if your living in the most southern portion of it's range in the U.S., keep an eye out for a snowy. They could be visiting you this winter.