Sunday, February 26, 2006

Yeoman Raven Master

How do you get this kind of job? It sounds like the ticket for me. I'm not much on fancy suits, but I like the hat.

The Ravens in the Tower of London have been locked up to protect them from the Bird flu.

It is not known when the ravens first came to the Tower of London, but their presence there is surrounded by myth and legend. Unusually for birds of ill omen, the future of both Country and Kingdom relies upon their continued residence, for according to legend, at least six ravens must remain lest both Tower and Monarchy fall.

The first Royal Observatory was housed in the north eastern turret of the White Tower. Legend has it that John Flamsteed (1646 - 1719), the 'astronomical observator' complained to King Charles II that the birds were interfering with his observations. The King therefore ordered their destruction only to be told that if the ravens left the Tower, the White Tower would fall and a great disaster befall the Kingdom. Sensibly the King changed his mind and decreed that at least six ravens should be kept at the Tower at all times to prevent disaster.

The importance of the ravens is so great, in fact, that there is an official raven master who tends to the birds and ensures these animals remain at the Towers. The Raven Master Derrick Coyle is a Yeoman Warder or 'Beefeater' dedicated to caring for the Tower's unique Unkindness of Ravens. Coyle, a former soldier who has tended the Tower's ravens for 22 years, knows his six charges well. "They're smarter than we are," he said. "They are at the top of the pecking order in the bird world."

Ravens can live for about 25 years. When one of the Tower ravens dies it is usually replaced by a wild one. Recently, however, some have been hatched in captivity. The oldest raven to live at the Tower was Jim Crow, who died at the age of 44. The oldest raven curently living at the Tower is Hardey, who is 26 years old.

The six, notoriously unfriendly birds -- Branwen, Hugine, Munin, Gwyllum, Thor and Baldrick -- already have their wings clipped to prevent them from flying away. The birds are getting used to their new surroundings, Coyle said.

"We are taking advice on the vaccinations against avian flu, and in the meantime, we will continue to give our six ravens as much care and attention as they need," he added. He is confident the birds are comfortable in their new custom-built indoor aviaries in the medieval Upper Brick Tower. He visits at 5 a.m. each day to give them their regular diet of raw meat, blood-soaked biscuits and the occasional rabbit.

"The first day was very stressful for them, but now they're happy," Coyle said, dressed to meet visitors in his scarlet-black Beefeater uniform. "When I walked in this morning, Thor - the one who talks - said 'Good morning.' "

Coyle now has to substitute his yeoman's outfit for a full, protective bird flu suit when he tends to the ravens.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Thinking of Spring

It doesn't matter what the calendar says, spring won't be here for about another two months. With spring comes new flowers, leaves on the trees and baby birds. It also shows what winter was hiding like trash under the snow, dog poop, bird poop, dead leaves, etc.

We need to start getting ready now to clean this up, at least at Bird TLC, and we decided to have our first......

Mew Yard Spring Clean-Up

So we're going to have our first clean-up committee meeting on 2/28 @ 11:30 @ the Bird TLC clinic. We need to get ready for trash removal, mew repair, roof repair, raking, gravel spreading, etc. There's a lot to be done and it will take a crew of people to get it done right.

Here's your invitation to join the committee. We would love to have you not matter what level of skills you have. Your interest in having healthy birds in a clean and safe enviroment is a great start.

I hope to see you there!

Monday, February 20, 2006

business is up

The volcano's have quieted down, the earthquakes have taken a break, the temperatures have turned abnormally warm, Fur Rondy has started, the sky has gone gray and Bird TLC's business has picked up.

Here's an imature Northern Goshawk that won't stay on it's perch for me to take a picture. He was shot somewhere's in the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge. After repairs and some r&r it should be released.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

We're up to 7 eagles now

It's a younger crowd, but Bird TLC has admitted 7 bald eagles so far this year. All for different reasons and different loctions around Alaska.

The first one shown is BE 06-06. It was feeding off a dead whales carcase near Old Harbor. During his take off he cliped a wire and crashed into the whale. He was cover in the lovely smelling whale oil and bruised his right wing up. He should be releasable in a little while.

The next one is BE 06-07. He was found on the ground in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. We don't know what's up. There no breaks or anything obvious. We'll be running some test.

Next is BE 06-04 from Palmer, Alaska. It's crop was full and toxic. It ate something that it shouldn't have. It's crop has been flushed but now it won't eat. We'll give it a little time before we tube feed.

All three of these eagles should be releasable later on.

Next is 06-023. No it's not an eagle. It's our great horned owl who didn't like being goosed. As you can tell, it's still a little pissed off. Too soon to tell if it will be released. It has a good chunk bitten out of it's right wing.

I walked through the clinic last night and counted birds. I doubt very much if this counts for the Great Backyard Bird Count 2006. I was inside, in the clinic and the birds really didn't want to be there. Seven eagles, two ravens, one great horned owl, one goshawk, one gyr falcon, two waxwings, and a magpie. The clinic has been hopping.

The 2006 Eagle pictures are posted in the photobucket to your right. Including some x-rays.

Bald Eagle killer sentenced to five years in prison

An excellent article on Amy's Wildbird on the Fly. Check it out!

Homer adopts ordinance to prevent feeding of eagles

HOMER, Alaska (AP) - Hundreds of bald eagles that gather at the Homer spit each winter for handouts won't be so lucky now that the city council has passed an ordinance barring the feeding of eagles.

The city council adopted the ordinance on Monday. It passed on a 4-2 vote.

Homer acted one month after the state Board of Game declined to regulate the practice of eagle feeding. The state regulators said the problems were local and the jurisdiction federal.

The new law bars deliberate feeding of eagles, ravens, crows and gulls beginning next winter. It provides an exception for 82-year-old Jean Keene, the famous "Eagle Lady" who has been feeding eagles on the Spit for 25 years. But even Keene's program must end by 2010, the City Council ruled.

The rest of the story in the Anchorage Daily News.

Photo by Kaz Takahashi

Friday, February 17, 2006

GHO - 1, Geese - 1

I got a call from the office during lunch. Glenda asked if I had time to pick up a great horned owl at the airport. It came in from Homer via ERA Aviation. Sure, I wasn't too far from there and had some free time.

I picked the kennel up at the cargo terminal and took a peek through the vents. This guy was ticked off. He was just a hissing. Off to Bird TLC we go.

As I stumble through the door I announce that our visitor is here. Cindy (Rehab Director) speaks up and says "You mean the one that got beat up by a bunch of geese"?

It seems this owl decided to get into a domestic goose pen. He killed one and the rest of them didn't like it. They bit the @*%% out of this guy and it hasn't been happy since.

They got some pretty good chuncks from it's right wing. It's going to be sore for a little while. We're not sure how it's going to heal. There's nothing to sew together.

GHO - 1
Geese - 1

Thursday, February 16, 2006

I and the Bird 17

Head over to Wildbird on the Fly for the 17th edition of I and the Bird. Amy does an excellent job of taking us through the festival. Read all kinds of stories on all kinds of birds from around the world.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The bald eagle is closer to being delisted

(February 13, 2006) The bald eagle is closer to being delisted. The USFWS issued guidelines on how the bald eagle should be protected by landowners and others, once it's no longer safeguarded as a "threatened" species. There are proposals which prohibit disturbing the bald eagle, which include disruption of its breeding, feeding or sheltering, which could cause death or injury to its young, or the death of eaglets due to nest abandonment.

Officials said the action could lead to the removal of the bald eagle from the "threatened" species list within the next year or so.

Bald eagles were officially declared an endangered species in 1967 in all areas of the United States south of the 40th parallel, under a law that preceded the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

Even if the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removes the bald eagle from the "threatened" species list, it will still be protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. The Bald Eagle Protection Act prohibits the take, transport, sale, barter, trade, import and export, and possession of eagles, making it illegal for anyone to collect eagles and eagle parts, nests, or eggs without a permit. Possession of a feather or other body parts of a bald eagle is a felony with a fine of up to $10,000 and/or imprisonment, although federally recognized Native Americans are able to possess these emblems which are traditional in their culture. The bald eagle is still listed as "threatened" in the United States.

The eagle in the picture is the first one of the year for Bird TLC, BE 06-01. It was shot and broke his wing on landing. As of yesterday we are up to 4 eagles admitted this year. You decide.

For more info on bald eagles check out

Monday, February 13, 2006

Rhino Auklet update

Good news. Our unusual visitor, the rhinoceros auklet was released by the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward. It's gone home.

Come see my state

Here's a good article on CNN about how to visit Alaska without taking a cruise.

If your going to drive through Canada, make sure you bring your passport. Alaska is the only state that you have to drive through a foreign country to get to it. Since 9/11, a passport is required and makes it a lot easier. You will be going through both U.S. and Canadian Customs.

You'll also have to have a major credit card or $500 for an emergency. On the Alaskan Highway, services can be spread out a bit. It's a serious trip, so be prepaired. But, it's a trip you won't forget.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

A forgotten history

C-141 tail number 66-0177 has carried vital cargo all over the world. However, on Feb. 12, 1973, there was a very special cargo - this was the aircraft that brought the first 40 American POWs from Gia Lam Airport, Hanoi, North Vietnam to start Operation Homecoming. 33 years ago today, it became the "Hanoi Taxi".

This proud aircraft will be the last of it's kind when retiring on May 6th bring an end to a an era that can't be brought back. It's been replaced by the more modern C-17.

It's one of my favorite birds. It's on top of my life list.

It's cloudy

Idea stolen from my friend Cindy at WoodSong. Hey, I even see her name in it.

Friday, February 10, 2006

El Crapo weather

State trucks block the Seward Highway at Girdwood on Feb. 9 after blizzard-like conditions and avalanches forced its closure. Seward Highway is the only highway leading south from Anchorage.

Check out these articles in the Anchorage Daily News on what fine weather we've been having.

Also check out the State DOT web site for road warnings.

Sorry there hasn't been a lot of posting going on. I've been real busy and the clinic has been also. 3 Eagles so far this year, 1 from gun shot, 1 caught in a snare and I'm not sure on the other one. Will update later.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Unusual visitor

About once a year we receive a call from Totem Ocean Trailer Express at the Anchorage Port. Barbara Doak recieved the call last week and went to the port and retreived a Rhinoceros Auklet that had been found on one of their cargo ships.

After taking it to the Bird TLC clinic, it was examined and found nothing was wrong with it. We figure it was flying along and found this giant odd shaped island to land on and rest. After resting it found itself disoriented at the Port of Anchorage. That's when TOTEM called us.

It was transfered to the Alaska Sealife Center in Seward, Alaska. They have the facilities to better care for seabirds then we do. These birds can be very fragile and without the proper care, diet and surroundings, they can easily die. ASC has excellent facilities for this and an excellent world-renowned staff. Ruthie and I got to visit with the ASC and some of it's staff last year. Excellent people! They'll get it back up to speed and release it when the time is right and in the proper location.

Augustine update

She's been pretty quiet lately. That's a good thing. Our weather is improving also. Temps are around +24°F. We are having high wind warnings though.

From AVO;

Current Level of Concern Color Code: ORANGE

2006-02-05 10:01:33
Seismicity has remained at a low level over the past hour, but remains above background. Occasional pyroclastic or block and ash flows on the island's flanks continue. 50-knot winds persist on Augustine Island.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

BE 06-01 First Eagle of 2006

Our first eagle of 2006 is a gun shot victim. Check out the x-rays at the left and count the pellets. We believe he fractured his right wing after being shot and trying to land. He was spoted in Wasilla on the side of the road with his wing drooping. He was recovered by Brent, one of our volunteers that live in the area and he brought the injured eagle into Bird TLC.

These type of injuries (biting tongue) to eagles are not uncommon. It happens all over the U.S., not just in Alaska. Why is what baffels most of us. There is no sport in it. You don't want to eat them. You can't keep it as a trophy. Who can stand up and act patriotic and then go out and shoot at the national symbol? This majestic bird of prey beloved by so many.

This guy will be with us for a while. He'll sit out the rest of winter while his wing heals. If all heals well he'll go to our flight center to get his strength back. Then if he proves to us that he can survive and hunt on his own, he'll be released.

As you've read in my other post, this is illegal. If you know of someone injuring wildlife, it's your duty as a human being to report it to the authorities.

Stop Senseless killings and endangerment to our wildlife!

In Alaska Report Violations 1 - 800 - 478 - 3377

On another note, THANKS to all of the people donating salmon to the birds at Bird TLC. We had a total of 51 eagles in 2005. Many of them are still under rehabiltation at our clinic or flight center. It takes a lot of food to keep these birds healthy. Thanks for thinking of us.

We're still taking donations of uncooked & unseasoned salmon. If your cleaning out your freezer, think of us. Call 562-4852 for directions.

Bird TLC is not open for tours. We are a emergency clinic for sick, injured or orphaned wild birds. If you want to see wild birds, visit the Alaska Zoo or Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

23-5 Meme from John @ DC

I see that I was tagged with a meme. Here are the rules:

1. Go into your archives.
2. Find your 23rd post.
3. Post the fifth sentence (or closest to it).
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.
5. Tag five other people to do the same thing.

3 of 4 talons have come off and blood circulation is poor in one digit.

It's from a follow up post on 3 immature eagles from Seward on 8/23/2004 who were twisted in fishing line and dangling from their nest. We lost the one in the picture. The other 2 were released later on.

Now for my tags...1st R&R of Dharma Bums since they just worked their butt off on a far out IATB 16, 2nd is Clare (Golden Child?) of The House and other Arctic Musings. 3rd is Pamela of Thomasburg Walks the other Joni Mitchell fan. 4th is Cindy of Woodsong if she can stay out of the mud long enough. 5th is Duncan of Ben Cruachan Blog as long as he doesn't bring any of those flat cockroaches.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

I and the Bird 16

Dharma Bums is transformed for the day into a place of peace, love, and birds. Rexroth's Daughter & dread pirate roberts present Birdstock, the online virtual concert and celebration of wild birds.

They've put together a fantastic line up of performers from around the world for you, all singing their songs of birds. Some of us write poems, some photograph, some count, some hold them in their hands and heal them, some paint pictures of their inspiring beauty. But each of us in our own way sings a song of praise and delight, love and appreciation for these wild birds that live among us.

I and the Bird 16 at Dharma Bums.