Saturday, March 31, 2007

There is a difference between girls and boys

OK, remember this is a family friendly blog. We're talking about birds here. Specifically the Snowy Owls. Can you tell which bird is female and tell me why?

OK, let me help you out. Cindy Palmatier is holding the female Snowy named Anna and I'm holding Ghost who is male. The adult male has less barring and as he gets older the barring gets lighter and he may even turn all white in time.

The female, as in all birds of prey, is larger. Anna is almost a whole pound heavier than Ghost. Her wing span is a little larger and she's a little taller. She's a little bulkier also. Anna is about 9 years old and Ghost is about 4.

Todays pictures were taken at The Great Alaskan Sportsman Show. I'll have more pictures tomorrow. Click here to see more of today with the Snowy's.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Ghost and my first outing

It's offical. Ghost and I had our first presentation last night. A room full of well behaved and very interested Cub Scouts from Pack 11. Ghost was on his best behavior and he did a great job. Extra mice for everyone!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Welcome BE 07-14

This guy is the 14th Eagle we've recieved at the clinic this year. He came to us from Kenai after a citizen called him into Bird TLC and we contacted U.S. Fish and Wildlife in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.

He's an older bird. We are unsure how he got his injuries. Cindy and I examined him at Bird TLC last night. What we could find without xrays was a fractured right radius and bruised right ulna. He aslo has heavy bruising around the left humerus. We wrapped the right wing to stabilize the break. On Thursday Cindy will take him in for xrays.

He was a hungry fellow also. In the picture he wouldn't even look up to smile. He was too busy chowing down.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Great Alaska Sportsman Show

2007 Show Dates & Times:

Thurs. March 29th 4:00 - 9:00pm

Fri. March 30th Noon - 9:00pm

Sat. March 31st 10:00 - 9:00pm

Sun. April 1st 10:00 - 6:00pm

Bird TLC will be there Saturday and Sunday with our raptors. Come on by a say Hi!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Items of Interest

Susan of Susan Gets Native has put together a new blog for her organization, Raptor Inc. RAPTOR, Inc. is a non-profit rescue and rehabilitation center for injured birds of prey located in southwest Ohio. The blog was created to enable them to post current events such as fundraisers and educational programs, to share news about their organization and to report on their rehabilitated birds.

Also, the Center for Biological Diversity has free endangered wildlife ring tones that you can download to your cell phone. Check it out and download them now so you can really bother people in the movie theater.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

It was Golden

It came to us from the Dillingham area. Why a Golden Eagle was there at all, specially during the winter is beyond us. It was very emaciated. It's keal bone stuck out like a knife and it had no strength to even bite at Cindy while she was examining it. Dehydration was another issue. The eagle was so docile that Cindy taught me how to tube feed without having to restrain it.

It had little or no fight left. There were no obvious injuries. Trying to take blood to run test was next to impossible. It was alive for now so it was going to get our best. Whatever food and liquid we gave it came out naturally on the other end, so that all worked OK.

Cindy was getting attached. Not like we haven't been there before. It was going to get every chance to survive. Needless to say that doesn't mean she doesn't give every bird 100% plus in the first place.

A couple days later she thought she had noticed it holding it's head up. She went in it's mew to check on it and it had passed on.

Sometimes your best isn't enough or it's meant to be used on another bird. But, it's perching comfortably where ever eagles go when they die. Cindy and the rest of the TLC Staff gave it's all trying to keep it here but it wasn't meant to be this time.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Van full of eagles

Sorry I've been a little light on posting lately. Between my real job and other projects I've had my hands full. I have some great stories coming up, one about a Golden Eagle we just got in, and another about a Bald Eagle with a frozen wing. I'll get them posted this weekend hopefully.

Wednesday night Ruth and I took 3 non-releasable Bald Eagles to the airport to be shipped to Busch Gardens in Wiliamsburg, VA. They delevoped a preserve there for non-releaseable Eagles and we've sent 4 so far. Remember Ol' Fart? We sent him there also.

The mini-van was just the right size. If any shipping kennel was just a little larger it wouldn't have worked out.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

More Open House pic's

A good friend of Bird TLC's and mine, Britt Coon took some pictures at the Bird TLC Open House last week. Between work and other things, we're just now able to get them available to you. Check out the Bird TLC Gallery at her website.

She took some really good shots of my first time out with Ghost, the Snowy Owl that I work with. Ghost decided to bait and Britt caught most of the recovery. I told her it helped me pick out some of my mistakes. If you can't tell, it was a little cold that day.

While your at her website, look around. She has lots of shots of the Iditarod and Fur Rondy Sled Dog Races along with some wildlife and around Anchorage shots. Though she doesn't admit it, she has a good eye and is very talented.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Scientists doubt sick birds can migrate to Alaska

KTUU Channel 2 News
by Sean Doogan

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Scientists say a new report brings good news regarding Alaska's potential avian influenza threat.
Last spring, many were concerned that millions of wild birds migrating from Asia might bring a deadly strain of bird flu, known as H5N1, with them.
A new report says the threat may not be as bad as many people feared.
After taking almost 20,000 samples from wild and domestic birds last year, scientists say they can not find any examples of Asian bird flu making its way to Alaska.
A recent report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture questions whether sick birds could fly thousands of miles in order to make it here. But that doesn't mean biologists are ready to stop their hunt for bird flu in Alaska.
A new report, released by the Agriculture Department, shows bird flu is already in Alaska.
"We found that only 1.6 percent of the samples we submitted to the national laboratory tested positive for avian influenza," said Doug Alcorn, regional director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
But of the 17,000 samples taken from wild and domestic birds statewide last year, state officials say none showed signs of being infected with the deadly Asian strain of the disease.
"We found some influenza viruses, what we expect to find in the wild population, but no high-pathogen strains of avian influenza," said Dr. Bob Gerlach, VMD, a veterinarian for the state.
Alaska's location makes it the geographical intersection of major migratory flyways, and scientists thought if Asian bird flu were to be seen in North America, it would be seen here first.
But so far, only native, less virulent strains have been found in the state.
"We wouldn't say we are completely in the clear," Alcorn said. "We are testing this year, too; we are going to repeat the work that we did last year with just some minor modifications to our field work."
Biologists from the state and from the federal Department of Fish and Wildlife will again be checking the swamps and fields for signs of avian influenza.
The real threat of bird flu, they say, isn't from migrating wild birds but traveling domestic poultry and people.
"We see product and people moving from place to place, and that gives you another avenue for diseases to be brought into the United States," said Dr. Gerlach.
But with 60 million wild birds making their way from Asia to Alaska each summer, scientists say they will be monitoring Alaska's flyways and waterways for bird flu for years to come, with the ultimate goal of finding nothing.
Scientists will begin testing wild birds when they return in the spring, while tests on local domestic flocks continue.
The state lab will also test birds on display during the Alaska State Fair in Palmer this fall.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Caused by a Fluke

Fluke parasite that is. This Tundra Swan had one attached to each eye. They grew large enough to almost block it's vision completely. Not being able to see well, it crash landed into a tree in Cordova damaging its right wing some.

It was recovered from the tree by the un-named person in the photo's and taken to Terry Webber, a local rehabber. Terry then sent it to Bird TLC. Cindy Palmatier then took it to Pet Stop where the Fluke's were removed and x-rays were taken.

There were no broken bones found, just a good punture wound to the right wing. Full recovery is expected. As soon as the wound heals, it will be released.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Owly inducted

For Immediate Release, March 3, 2007

Also Names Famed British Researcher “Champion of Owls”

HOUSTON, Minn.— An owl who motivated an autistic child to begin speaking and the man who founded the world’s first and foremost owl conservation organization were inducted into the World Owl Hall of Fame at the Festival of Owls in Houston, Minnesota on March 2, 2007.

Owly, a short-eared owl from Alaska, started on his career path as an educator when he crashed headlong into the floodlight of a fishing boat out on the open ocean during his first migration. After winning over the crew of the boat and the villagers of Saint Paul Island as they all came together to care for the injured raptor, Owly traveled by plane to the Bird Treatment and Learning Center in Anchorage, where he received more specialized care.

Owly’s physical injuries healed first; his psychological healing did not really begin till he was moved out of the clinic and into the stimulating environment of volunteer Barbara Doak’s sunroom cage in her home. While watching birds at the nearby birdfeeders, he became animated and began to eat on his own for the first time since his injury. It soon became apparent, though, that vision problems sustained during his crash would be permanent, leaving him unable to see well enough to live in the wild again. He then accepted a new job as an educator, working with the treatment center’s staff as an ambassador for his kind.

Owly’s easygoing temperament makes him an excellent choice for educating blind and partially sighted people, who can relate to his handicap. But perhaps Owly’s biggest achievement came on an occasion when his audience included an autistic child. He was able to connect with this child, apparently, as no human had: the little boy, previously considered to be without language capabilities, ran up to his teacher and spontaneously began asking questions about Owly, astounding parents and teacher alike.

Barbara Doak, Owly’s handler and keeper, sees him as a very special individual. “He’s a very polite, nice, bird,” says Doak. It was Doak’s son Dan who suggested she submit a nomination for Owly for the World Owl Hall of Fame’s Lady Gray’l Award. When Dan was told that Owly had won, he responded, “I have never known such a famous owl before, let alone one so modest.”

Owly has made so many connections—connections that warm people’s hearts to all owls. In his 14 years of work so far, he has touched the lives of 9,800 people, both in the city of Anchorage and in remote villages requiring flights in small aircraft. And yes: he has also been back to visit the people of Saint Paul, who worked so hard to save his life.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Open House

We had a full house at yesterdays open house. We estimate about 175 people went through the clinic. We even had some that braved the cold temperatures (+24° minus wind chill) and participated in my mew yard tour.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Swimming in Kodiak

The Kodiak Boat Harbor can get a little crowded. It's the largest commercial fishing community in the U.S. You probably have seen shows on TV about the crabbing and fishing they do there. It's the most dangerous jobs in the U.S. outside of the military.

It can be dangerous for eagles also. This young bald was flying around some fishing boats competing with a few other eagles for food when it got bumped into the harbor. Eagles can swim. In cold water is not recommended anywhere's. Especially Kodiak in March.

It was pulled out of the water by some fishermen that felt sorry for it. Beth from U.S. Fish & Wildlife in Kodiak was called. By the time she got there it was turning into a popsicle. She took it back to her office for an exam. She found it to be cold and with a sharp keel (it was hungry for a while).

She contacted Barbara at Bird TLC to let her know when she was sending us the bird. Barbara passed that off to me. Beth had to reschedule a couple times, but it finally made it here.

Ruth and I gave it a full exam. We couldn't find any injuries. It was tired, stressed, wet and hungry. So we place it in a warm indoor mew with some fresh salmon. As you can see in the top pic, it wouldn't eat while we were there, but it wouldn't let us have it back either. The bottom pic is the next day when it was feeling much better.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

IATB #44

It's been a little while since I participated in IATB. Ridger at The Greenbelt has grouped post from around the world into four categories where you will find posts of all sorts, having in common a love of birds and the desire to share that love. One of them includes a poem from Dr Sott called "Raven. "Check out "I and the Bird #44".

Wednesday, March 07, 2007



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.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Revisiting the Flight Center

Cindy and I went out to the Flight Center yesterday to inventory eagles. It was +18°f and there's only one small space heater in the food prep room. The same room where we do exams (left) and store two freezers full of salmon. There are 5 freezers in all out there to store fish. There are 15 eagles in some degree of residence out there right now.

This is their last stop before moving on. They might be released or they might be placed permanately in another facility. If they are being placed its because their injury has healed but it hasn't healed enough for them to be able to survive in the wild. They are disabled but still functionable. They can be used to educate people about eagles

In the shots where you see Cindy below, the area is called a cell. There are three cells 75 feet long and 30 feet wide. Cells A,B and C. In A there are eagles who can't or can barely fly. In B there are eagles who can fly but are far from graceful and in C there are the birds that aren't far from being released.

Over the top of each cell is streached fishing net. Some of the eagles like to hit it with their talons and hang and turn and fly the other direction as in the bottom picture. The net keeps the eagles in but doesn't harm them when they hit it.

The property is on loan from the U.S. Army National Guard since 1989. The building was there but the cells were added with material donated by Exxon during the Exxon Valdez Disaster. The cells were built by the community and Bird TLC Volunteers. It never closes. A volunteer visits everyday to feed and check on the eagles, holidays included.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Come visit our house

Saturday, March 10th, 1-5pm

Please join the Bird Treatment and Learning Center for a special open house. We’ll take you behind the scenes on guided tours to see what happens to the injured birds that come through our doors. Check out what they eat and where they live. Hear amazing rehabilitation stories. Talk to our wild bird experts and see our education birds up close. Live owls, hawks, falcons, eagles and songbirds will be on display. This is a family friendly event. This event is free, but donations are gratefully accepted. For questions check the website: or call 562-4852.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

This week has gone to the dogs

Last weekend it was the start of the Anchorage Fur Rendezvous. There's everything to do from ice bowling to the World Championship Sled Dog Races.

This weekend it's Iditarod XXXV. 1049 miles from Anchorage to Nome. Men and women from around the world competing in the longest sled dog race. Click on link for daily updates.

The picture at left was borrowed from It was taken two blocks from my house.