Sunday, September 30, 2007

Prudhoe Bay trip

For almost 30 years, British Petrolium (better known as BP) has been operating on Alaska's North Slope. They employ or contract hundreds of Alaskans and donate more than $7.5 million to Alaskan non-profits and communities. They also spend over $1 billion with local contractors and vendors and paid over $700 million in state taxes.

Bird TLC has been invited for several years to participate in their BP Safety Fair. Vendors from all over the state are invited to show their products related to safety. We get to show our birds.

This year Todd Boren and Petra, a Bald Eagle, and myself and Ghost, a Snowy Owl, went as guest of BP Alaska. The first thing we noticed was how nice the people were that they employed or contracted. Dawn picked us up at Kuparik where we landed. She made sure we got our luggage and our birds. Then she also got us some chow. From there we had an hours drive to where we were staying, so she was now our tour guide. She met our every need as geeky tourist (Kuparik Summit 19 feet 3 inches, highest point), making stops, telling us what things are, the whole ticket. She was nice.

Then we met up with the folks running the fair. Keith and his people bent over backwards to make things more comfortable. It almost felt that we were insulting them if we didn't allow them to help.

The next day we got to go on a guided tour with the other vendors. Sorry if the pictures aren't the best. The roads aren't paved and were rather bumpy. The weather was also hazy and very windy in some spots (notice Todd in front of the Arctic Ocean). The cage enclosed entry is so you don't get surprise attacked by a polar bear.

Unfortunately we didn't get to see much wildlife. The weather wasn't the best for them either. We did see some Ravens, ducks and geese.

We got back to the fair and got the birds out to present. Between 3:30 and 9:00 PM we took one 15 minute break. We didn't get a chance to take pictures. We saw over 800 people during that time and they were all nice, polite and excited to see the birds.

Thanks BP Alaska! We had a great time. Your hospitality is the best.

Mary Bethe and Denali, a Golden Eagle and Lisa with Galen, a Great Horned Owl make the same trip next weekend. They'll love it!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Goodbye Ol' Witch

Ol' Witch, long time Bird TLC Education Bald Eagle and companion to One Wing, passed away tonight around 5:30 PM due to old age and a failing heart. She was believed to be around 35.

She originally came to Bird TLC in 1989 from Kodiak NWR, a victim of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Disaster. It was believed that she was eating prey that had been oil contaminated and had toxic poisoning. She had a injured wing, a cracked beak and was very dehydrated. Dr. James Scott, DVM, Bird TLC founder and many volunteers working out of the Arctic Pet Stop cared for her, but she was never able to be released because of her injuries.

During that same time, One Wing came to Bird TLC with his injuries from the same disaster. Little did they know that they would spend the next 18 years together, never able to fly again.
One Wing protected Ol' Witch from all harm. I would spend some quality time cleaning their mew when I first came to TLC. He watched me the whole time I was in their mew, their home, their domain. Anyone who ever visited Bird TLC would later on ask "How's One Wing and Ol' Witch"? I personally believe that they were the most popular eagles in Alaska. These are 2 eagles that I've written about many times and I've said that I liked them better than most people.

There were no dry eye's at TLC tonight. There probably won't be for a little while now. Even now my monitor is a little blurry as I write this. Ol' Witch won't be soon forgotten. I think right now she's soaring high in the heavens.
Goodbye Ol' Witch.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Rough-Legged Hawk released in Girdwood

A gathering of Bird TLC friends accumulated outside The Bakery Shop in Girdwood this past weekend. First, Ellen Murphy-Welk did a presentation with Jasper, a Rough-Legged Hawk who's a Bird TLC Education Bird. Ellen is very knowledgeable of RLH's and has done presentations all over the state.

From there they moved up the road a bit to a nice clearing surrounded by trees at the base of Mt. Alyeska. The Rough-Legged Hawk that came to us with a head injury was released back to the wild by Jim Kaiser, a Bird TLC Supporter.

All flight testing and hunt testing has seemed to work. The RLH took off out of Jim's hands and flew towards the trees and then made a turn right in front of the crowd that had formed like it was showing off. Now it's all up to it to survive.

Thanks to Chris Maack / Bird TLC for sending the pictures.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Flight Testing

All of the birds we release have to first prove that they can fly well. Then they must prove that they can hunt also. For example, we tried the Rough-Legged Hawk (1st pic) in a medium sized mew at the clinic with a pigeon and mice. It really didn't have the proper room, so nothing really happened. Cindy then took it to the flight center and it showed her what it could do.

The same goes for Eagles. They must prove that they can fly and defend for themselves. They don't always hunt, they are opportunist. So if several eagles are trying for salmon strips and one is bashful and just watches no mater how hungry it gets, that's not a good thing. They must be aggressive to survive on their own.

I tagged along to the flight center where they were going to flight test a Snowy Owl. I sort of have a special interest there. The door of the kennel was removed and he had to be coached out with a walking stick. When he got out he just looked around until Cindy jumped (3rd pic). He flew and flew well to the other end of the cell (4th pic).

Now he's going to have to prove to us that he can hunt. That we'll do a little later on. He seems like he is lacking a little motivation right now.

BTW, notice the young man in the red jacket (5th pic)? That's Dr. James Scott, DVM our founder. He's 70 something years young and is still helping out today with catching a few birds with a big smile on his face.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

No shortage of raptors

BE 07-36 came to Bird TLC from Lake Louise where it had collided with a bush plane, the prop to be exact. Today it's trying to sit on perch, but it did have a partial left wing amputation on Monday. It also suffered some internal injuries.

07-438 Snowy Owl came to TLC from Barrow where it was a suspected car hit. X-rays today didn't show anything broken, but he's still shook up. Possible head trauma. R&R, rest and rats for a few days and we'll see how he acts. By it's coloring and size we think its about a 3 year old male.

The Northern Goshawk, I don't have it's log number, came from Homer. After x-rays today it was decided to report it to USF&W Law Enforcement. We believe it was shot in flight. Chances are good that it will recover.

The songbird count for the year is down but the raptor count is up. Walking around the clinic today there were 1 Bald Eagle, 1 Northern Goshawk, 3 Merlins, 1 Short Eared Owl, 1 Great Gray Owl, 1 Great Horned Owl, 1 Raven, 1 Gyrfalcon, 1 Rough-legged Hawk, 1 Pine Grosbeak , 1 Redpoll and 1 Black Capped Chickadee.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Bye-Bye Birdie, almost

Bye-Bye Birdie kicked off with 50 mph wind gust and then a steady rain all day long. Even with those inconveniences we had a fair turn out and fun was had by all.

Birds presented were Bald Eagle, Golden Eagle, Great Horned Owl, Boreal Owl, Bared Owl, Snowy Owl, Magpie, Northwest Crow, American Robins and a Raven.

Venues were by U.S. Fish & Wildlife, Alaska Dept. of Fish & Game, The Alaska Zoo, Friends of Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge, Alaska Sealife Center and the Anchorage Audibon.

Excellent food was provided by Rick of Salmon Express.

B.S.A. Troop 290 helped with parking and the Bonfire with smores. Oh, also with tear down after the event.

At the end of BBB there was a skit put on about what happens when a bird comes into Bird TLC. There were 3 of the cuitest bald eagles that ever came into the clinic there.

The eagle release was canceled due to the foul weather. It's best that the conditions are right for the eagles first day and night out after being kept at TLC for an extended period of time.

Like I said, fun was had by all and were looking forward to next year.

Enjoy the slideshow on the side bar of the set up and the event. -------->

Monday, September 10, 2007

Flight Center Clean Up

Have you ever wondered where the eagles go when they leave the clinic?

Have you ever heard folks talk about the 'flight pens' and wondered what
they were talking about?

Here's your chance to find out!

The date and time have been set for the FLIGHT PEN CLEAN-UP!

Date: September 22, 2007
Time: 9:00am Start time
Where: Fort Richardson, Camp Carroll specifically

What we need to do:
Power wash walls
Rake under perches & sanitize
Re-cover existing perches with Astroturf
Build some new perches for ones that are rotted.

*** If you have drills, saws and/or power washers, we could use these!!!
Try out those toys!

Todd Boren (flight pen lead) is putting out the call on base as well, so
this should be a lot of fun. We can all stop for drinks on the way home!!!
(Soda or whatever your preference)

We'll have soda and snacks at the clean-up just to keep everyone's blood
sugar surging.

There will be a sign up sheet on my door. So let us know if you can help
out. (Or volunteer your spouse!)


Cindy Palmatier
Rehabilitation Director
Bird Treatment & Learning Center

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Before Bye-Bye

Saturday is Bye-Bye Birdie, so today is the porperty clean up day. The day to remove everything that has accumilated on the Bird TLC property since last September.

A few Bird TLC volunteers and some recruited from Elmendorf AFB spent 2 hard hours picking up trash and cutting back the bushes. Then we took it all to the dump.

The site looks fantastic. Hopefully we're lucky enough to have the same weather for Bye-Bye Birdie.

Thanks to the following for the clean up work

Mary Bethe Wright, Gary Bullock, Larry, Nicholas Merfeld, Chris, Shara & Katrina Podobinski, and Megan Pool.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

New blog

I had nothing else to do, so I started another blog. I call it Around Anchorage. My stories and lots of pictures will be what adventures Ruth and I go on around our home town and some from around the state. I still have some fine tuning to do but it's up and running at Around Anchorage.

This in no way will effect this blog. I'll still be doing Bird TLC related stories here as always. Check it out and let me know wha you think.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

#1 is Done

Alex Katzenson from BSA Troop 230 was able to raise the funds to purchase the materials and build Bird TLC a much needed new mew #1. With his crew that he assembled he started and completed construction in 5 days.

Alex had several challenges to work with.

One is at Bird TLC we have a requirement that the mew must be assembled so it could be un-assembled in sections in a short period of time. If there is another major oil spill, Bird TLC must evacuate the premises within 48 hours. He also must build to USF&W requirements.

Two was he must raise all funds himself. Bird TLC has no money in the budget for new mew construction. All wood must be treated wood.

Three was that the north and east wall must be solid walls.

Four was that the door must face the center of the mew yard.

Five was the roof must be slanted for snow run off.

I must say he did a heck of a job. The first bird to use it won't know how lucky it is to have a brand new mew to recuperate in.

Good job Alex!