Wednesday, January 30, 2008

BBbbuuurrrrrrr BABY!

It got down to -2°f last night and it's supposed to get down to -10°f tonight. If you don't think it's cold, I double dog dare you to put your tongue on that gate.

We need more room. We need to get the birds more climatized but we also need easy access to them for exams, feeding, observation, etc. So, One Wing decided to let the young visitors use his mew. There was just one small problem. The roof blew off of his mew a few years ago in a wind storm and it hadn't been replaced yet. He and Ol' Witch weren't flighted, so why the hurry.

Greg put together a crew and got the materials at cost from Spenard Builders Supply. With a high temperature of +18°f, Greg, Fred and Matt replaced the roof panels in 4 hours. I figured it would take more time. I lost a beer to Greg on that bet.

As soon as they were done, 7 eagles were placed in there to check things out.Greg added a support to the perch for the added weight and everything else checked out GREAT! All of the adults were put in this mew. In the smaller mews, only two birds were placed in each. That's where the immatures were put. There was minor squawking over who got what perch, but nothing to loose any feathers over.

Our equipment is taking a beating though. Visqueen is placed over the lower half of the walls to help protect them from the mewts. With the temperature being so low, the Visqueen isn't as flexable as when it is warmer. These birds being flighted are being very rough on them as you can see.

The inside mews are taking a beating also. We have said we were full before, but until recently we didn't realized what full really was. With the everyday cleaning and scubbing, it's taking it's toll. This is usually the time of year we get to do repairs, but I'm not sure when we'll get that chance now.

Anyhow, my hat is off to the roofing crew. Great job guys!!!!

Click on pix's to enlarge.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Unsung Heroes

They came in all wet and weary...slimed head to tail...

These were the eagles who fought... and lived, in fighting did not fall...

Strong knowing hands washed every bird... so feathers and down would fluff.

Hands felt the trembling bodies, trying hard to be rough.

The eagles came away from washing, with feathers that now were clean.

The volunteers were heroes now! Their efforts great... not seen.

Dr. James R. Scott DVM
Bird Tratment and Learning Center

Monday, January 28, 2008

Officials plan for return of Kodiak eagles

Article published on Monday, January 28th, 2008
Mirror Writer

After a brief vacation to the Mainland where they have been fed, bathed, blow-dried and generally pampered, many of the eagles that made pigs of themselves in the back of an Ocean Beauty Seafoods gurry truck filled with two feet of fish guts, will spend Valentine’s Day back in Kodiak with their eagle mates.

Gary Wheeler, manager of the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, said he expects some of the eagles to return within the next couple of weeks to join the other estimated 500 eagles that reside in the City of Kodiak.

One is unlikely to return.

In anticipation of their return and release in Kodiak, volunteers at the Bird Treatment and Learning Center in Anchorage, are taking the birds outside and getting them acclimated to the cold.

“The last one to be fed was an immature male who had gained back his weight and was looking good and strong,” BTLC volunteer Dave Dorsey said. “He caught the volunteer off guard and got out of his kennel.”

As workers ran outside with blankets to help corral the eagle, that perched on the kennel with a piece of salmon in his talons, he flew off and disappeared from sight.

“(The volunteer) said it climbed, dived and climbed beautifully until out of sight,” Dorsey said. “I guess it was his time to go.”

When the other eagles are released in Kodiak, it will be an educational experience.

“It’s our intent to make (the release) a public event,” Wheeler said. “We’ll probably involve some of the schools as well. There will probably be several releases. We don’t expect them all back at the same time.”

Wheeler didn’t expect when the 50 bald eagles made their ill-fated plunge, it would result in a flurry of questions from people across the nation.

There were plenty of questions from local residents, as well.

Has this happened before?

Why were they all male?

Would they be retuned to Kodiak?

What happed to the dead eagles?

Making the best of a bad situation, Wheeler used the tragic event to help educate the public on eagle habits by hosting an eagle presentation at the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge Visitors Center, given by wildlife biologist Brandon Saito.

They started with a rundown of the day’s events leading up to the eagle fish-gut bath.

It turns out the call to Ocean Beauty wasn’t their first eagle call of the day.

“It’s unusual to get more than two calls (a day),” Saito said.

That day they received four.

The first call wildlife officials responded to was an eagle electrocution, not an uncommon event in Kodiak.

“The eagles are electrocuted when they land on unprotected power poles,” Saito said.

Wildlife officials have been working with the electric company to gradually minimize electrocution incidents by installing raptor safe devices.

“Generally, the newer power lines that are built are built to those standards,” Wheeler said. “The problem is the older lines built years ago need to be retrofitted. There was more of a problem in Kodiak 10 years ago.”

Another leading cause of eagle fatalities is run-ins with cars, and that was what officials responded to on their second call.

“Eagles can easily get distracted,” Saito said.

The eagle wildlife officials rescued had a head injury and was shipped along with the slimed eagles to the BTLC and will return to Kodiak when the BTLC deems he is ready for release.

The third call of the day wildlife officials responded to was a false alarm, and only served to keep officials on edge.

They needed that edge on the fourth call, with what local wildlife officials are calling “Eagle Call No. 4, Wildlife Pandemonium,” also the title of their presentation Friday night.

Saito said that on that fateful fourth call, while responding to an eagle-in-distress call from a concerned citizen who reported seeing a slimy eagle near Ocean Beauty Seafoods, plant workers called and said they had at least 13 eagles in the back of their truck.

The full extent of the problem wasn’t realized until the trunk dropped the contents of the truck onto the plant floor.

“The stench of fish guts was heavy,” said Saito, one of the wildlife officials to respond. “Eagles went scurrying for whatever cover they could find.”

After wrangling the eagles, wildlife officials brought them to the refuge center’s maintenance warehouse for cleaning and later shipped them to Anchorage.

Now they are being prepared for their return to Kodiak.

Saito said the truck driver, after pulling out of the plant, went to close the plant door before closing the top of the truck, to stop heat from escaping from the plant.

In that short time, the eagles began diving into the truck.

Ocean Beauty Seafoods officials said they are reviewing and strengthening their policy.

Other causes of eagle deaths in Kodiak include tangles in fishnets and poisoning at the city dump. Although eagles have been known to be shot around the country, Wheeler said that’s not a problem in Kodiak.

Mirror writer Ralph Gibbs can be reach via e-mail at

Copied from the Kodiak Daily Mirror.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

and more, and more and more

Hey, Belle is back. That means Cindy and Todd are back from the Vet Conference in Fla. The added relief is welcome for sure. Cindy still has end of year stuff to do with USF&W, so she will have her hands full.

Right now things are sort of routine. We are taking the eagles outside in kennels to get them acclimatized. The temps have been dropping so Mother Nature has been helping some. Unfortunately we don't have a facility to release them in for short periods. Yesterday it got down to 0°F and some of them started to shiver early, so back inside they came. They won't have that opportunity once they are released, so we have to make sure they can tolerate it before then. They water proofing still isn't up to full par either, but we're getting there.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Dances with wolves

Business goes on even with our 28 visitors occupying most of everyones time. I stopped by during my lunch break at the real job and they brought in two birds during that time. One was a bohemian waxwing, we got a handful of them right now. The other was a bald eagle brought in by Shannon of the Alaska Zoo.

It seems this very young bald decided to play in the recently opened wolf pen. These 6 wolves came to the zoo this past May as part of the wolf reduction program near McGrath. They easily became a popular item at the zoo.

Even though the pups probably enjoyed the young balds visit, being wolves they don't know how to play gently with feathers. This guy didn't receive any bodily injuries, however it did loose a mouthful of primary feathers. When he got to TLC he had already visited the Alaska Zoo DVM, so he got an outdoor mew and a portion of salmon.

Megan's dog Tank wasn't very impressed, but was thankful that there was other interesting news besides our visitors from Kodiak. Today the second group spent several hours outside getting acclimated. The temperature averaged around 7°F. Their progress continues to improve.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Washing slimed eagles cleanses soul


Published: January 23rd, 2008 12:39 AM

America's economic engine seems to run on marketers selling us stuff we don't need based on advertising that convinces us we can't live without it. But if I sometimes despair over the materialistic world that has swallowed America whole, a week spent in the company of volunteers who willingly held smelly slimed eagles that were very unhappy about getting a bath cures me of that despair. Because while marketing may drive our economic engine, it's the volunteers in our communities who drive our hearts and souls.

Just about everyone by now knows the story of the eagles that thought there was such a thing as a free lunch. They dove into a truck filled with salmon slime. Some died in the truck. But 30 were rescued and showed up in batches at Bird TLC in Anchorage to be cleaned and cared for until they can be released.

I think the best comment heard after we learned that the eagles -- all but one or two male, by the way -- had participated in this debacle came from another volunteer, Stewart, who suggested that this was nothing more than a tailgating party gone bad.

And from the looks on the eagles' faces as they were washed and blown dry, bad is a mild description of what they feel happened to them. But there again, if these were all female eagles, they would probably be enjoying the wash and blow dry and thinking the day at the spa was worth the plunge into the salmon slime.

Through all the craziness of those first few days of eagles in various stages of wash, dry and really, really mad, the one picture clearest in my mind is that of Barbara Callahan of the international bird rescue group washing them, in a rubber apron, rubber gloves and rubber pants, hair awry and eagle stuff sloshed all over her but wearing perfectly applied makeup and earrings. Just because you're working in eagle poop doesn't mean you shouldn't look like a lady.

The rest of us probably didn't look as good as Barbara. I know that I didn't have makeup on, couldn't find a pair of earrings if my life depended on it, and wore my scrungiest pants and shirt to cut up smelly old salmon because I own only one nice shirt and it seemed wrong to wear that for the task at hand. As for the rest of the volunteers, what they all seemed to be wearing was a love of eagles, a sense of dedication to helping in a crisis and an enormous sense of humor that got them past some of the grosser parts of the job. As I looked around at the warehouse full of people all busily engaged in wildlife rescue, I thought to myself that you couldn't get people to work that hard and with that much devotion if you were paying them. But they were all engaged in a labor of love that had no price.

So far, all the eagles that came to Bird TLC survived not only the slime dive but also the bathing and spraying and blow drying and tube feeding required to get them back on their feet and ready to go out into the wild again, cleaner and hopefully a lot wiser. Though we aren't holding out a lot of hope on the wiser part. Did I mention they were almost all guys? One can only hope they've learned there is no such thing as a free lunch. Unless, of course, you're at Bird TLC.

Long after these eagles are in their aeries telling their kids about the weird experience they once had when aliens abducted them, probed them, fed them and then freed them, the volunteers who are responsible for the success of this bedraggled group will still be at Bird TLC doing what they do routinely week after week, with or without the glare of the media. They will be cleaning mews, treating sick birds, fixing meals -- generally doing their part to help Alaska's wildlife. More important, doing their part to make this world a little bit kinder and a little bit gentler for all living creatures in it.

It's what volunteers do. They feed the spiritual life of this nation and make America a great place to live. Don't believe me? I've got a bunch of eagles you can talk to that will back me up 100 percent.
Copied from todays ADN.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Day 9 & 10

Sorry there was no update yesterday. I was brain fried and worn out, so I went to bed. All was going well yesterday. We continued with our misting and all of the other fun chores like laundry. We also tried a few different things on trying to get the birds that aren't eating to eat. We found out that a few of them would eat if the food was not in a dish. I guess they don't use dishes in the wild.

Today we started moving some of the kennel birds outside to acclimate to the weather. Only one got a chill and had to come back inside. We'll evaluate him further.

We did have an issue with one bird, or should I say he had an issue with us. They were feeding them in their kennels while outside. The last one to be fed was an immature male who had gained back his weight and was looking good and strong. He caught the volunteer off guard and got out of his kennel. The other volunteer ran inside for help. When everyone responded with blankets in hand, the eagle was on top of his kennel with his piece of salmon. He ignored everyone until they moved closer. He looked at his salmon, looked at Greg, reached back and grabbed his salmon with his talons and took off beautifully.

Greg said it climbed, dived and climbed beautifully until out of sight. I guess it was his time to go.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Day 8, 1 Week has gone by

Today started week 2 and we have come a long way. The birds are really showing improvement. What really amazes me is the volunteers. You might be tired of me saying this but they have been awesome. Look through the pix's from the last week and see how many different faces you see. We even had a mom, dad and daughter team today.

But back to the birds. This group is a little more feisty than our normal rehab birds. Ones that have been hit by a car or caught in a trap aren't as aggressive as these guys. That's good though. Maybe it will speed up their time of release. As it looks right now, these guys will be shipped back to Kodiak for release.

I've been doing the misting of the birds the last couple of days. We're misting for 5 minutes to try to encourage preening. Preening will help get their water proofing back to normal. They'll need that in Kodiak. If you look at the bird in the last pix' water has beaded up and is running down his back. That's good. A soaked bird is not.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Day 7 and the everyone presses on

We're seeing a lot of improvement in the condition of the birds everyday. Some are lagging behind a little, but they will turn around here shortly.

There's a lot of behind the scenes work that needs to get done everyday. Perches and mew mats need to be scrubbed, mews need to be scrubbed down, kennels need to be taken apart, cleaned and put back together, food (salmon) needs to be prepared and weighed, water dishes need to be cleaned and put back and I can go on and on. And what's nice about it is that everyone does it without a complaint. They aren't the chores you'll see in the brochures, but they are the ones that have to be done.

And the smorgasbord of people that we have doing the work. We have military guys and gals, hair stylist, retired people, housewives, artist, furniture mover, you name it and we probably have one.

The birds are being misted with water now for about 5 minutes at a time. The idea is to get them to preen and get their waterproofing up to par. The bird in the last pix was just misted. He's hanging his wings away from his body so he can dry.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Day 6 and things are going well

The surviving eagles continue to draw national attention to Kodiak and the Bird Treatment and Learning Center in Anchorage. Megan Pool, BTLC’s events coordinator, said donations of food are so great that officials are storing some of it at the Anchorage Zoo.

“Our freezers are full,” Megan said. “Everybody in Anchorage is really emptying out their freezers, with good salmon, too. Public support has been awesome. It renews my faith in humankind.”

That was taken from the Kodiak Daily Mirror. Megan's doing an excellent job and TLC is lucky to have her. We're lucky to have all of our volunteers also. They have really been stepping up to the plate. They amaze me everyday.

"One Wing" , our sole survivor from the Exxon Valdez oil spill disaster is keeping an eye on everything. I was putting some fish away in storage and was walking back threw the mew yard and looked over at him in his mew. We have a heat light on him because of his age and only having one wing he needs the help staying warm. The light glows red and he's just perched there watching everything.

Do you think he approves?

Click on pix's to enlarge.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Day 5 and it's getting a little smoother

The whole operation is going smoother today. Everyone is fine tuning their job and responsibilities. Only one eagle has a puncture wound. I would have expected more. It'll be OK in time, but the wound will be monitored closely for infection and so forth.

We're doing some more spot washing today. Shannon is an Alaska Zoo employee who volunteered at Bird TLC years back. She's also a great supporter of TLC.

The kitchen crew is cooking. I had to say that. They had all of the meals prepped and all of the dishes and equipment spotless.

For all that we have going on, the volunteer crew is doing AWESOME! I've said it in the past and I'll say it again, TLC has some AWESOME volunteers.

Cindy left this afternoon for a verterinary conference in Orlando. She had been planning on going for quite a while. She worked right up to the last minute before heading to the airport. I hope she gets some good rest down there.

All of the birds are improving.

I've added a slideshow on the sideboard. Click on it to enlarge it and go to my Picasa public gallery. It hasn't been edited for content so it might have some boring pix's and some not to pretty pix's.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Day 4, a long day but a good day.

All of the initial washing is now complete. Half of the birds were reinspected and noted if they needed any spot washing. We also started misting the birds to see if they will start to preen. A lot was acomplished today, but there is still more to be done. We estimate the minimum the birds will be at Bird TLC is 3 weeks.

But it's obvious that they like the food. The eagle in picture #2 scarfed his down and would not let go of the plate. He's a talker also. Everytime I would go by his kennel he would talk to you. We'll increase the amount they are fed tomorrow.

We had volunteers working hard today. Voliunteers from USF&W, Alaska Zoo and of course TLC.

The days have been long and hard but daylight is just over the horizon.

Day 3

More eagle washing today. There are 5 eagles left to wash and that will be accomplished tomorrow morning. All of the Bird TLC volunteers have been stepping up to help with this heavy task.

Also, the Anchorage community and Kodiak Island have been stepping up with donations of salmon and money. We have also been getting a lot of telephone calls with financial support from all over the country.

I would like to thank all of the bloggers who are posting about our situation in an effort to help us get some more financial assistance. Your support is deeply appreciated.

Also, thanks to the Anchorage Daily News, Kodiak Daily Mirror, Channels 2, 11 and 13 for their help in getting the word out.

On a sad note, we did loose one of the eagles this morning. It was hard to get it's core temperature up, it was depressed and non-responsive. Keep your feathers crossed that's it's the last one lost.

Click on Pix's to enlarge.

Monday, January 14, 2008

We got 31

With the help of Alaska Airlines, we got the rest of the Bald Eagles in From Kodiak. This is the most eagles that Bird TLC has taken in at one time. since the organization started.

I'll have more stories and pictures when I get the time. The first picture is the wash station. Each bird will be thoroughly washed in 105° temp water with Dawn soap. Their talons are wrapped for safety and a hood is placed over their eyes to help calm them down.

Picture #2 is the rinse station. There must be no fish oil residue or soap residue left behind. It takes any where's fron 45 minutes to 1 hour to wash and rinse each bird. It takes 3 people to do it safely.

Picture #3 is 21 eagles in kennels in a room where the heat is being maintained at 80°. Before they can be moved to a larger mew they must be dry. We only have one in critical condition right now, but he is being monitored closely.

Thanks again to everyone for their support. I'll have more for you soon.
Here's today's story in ADN.

Click pix's to enlarge.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

We started with 14

Just a quick post because I'm pooped and need to get some rest. We took in 14 Bald Eagle's from Kodiak today, 13 were from the fish processing plant mishap and one was from a collision with a car. 4 got thorough baths and 100cc IV of lactate ringers. The rest will start getting their baths in the morning.

I'll do better post after some rest and we get this squared away.

Today's ADN story.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

At least 20 eagles die looking for easy meal

Factory workers try to save birds from quicksand-like goo
Story from Anchorage Daily News


Dozens of bald eagles descended on a dump truck hauling fish guts at a Kodiak processing plant Friday and got tangled in the mess, leaving at least 20 of the birds drowned, buried or crushed, according to federal wildlife officials.

About 50 eagles were watching and waiting for a meal outside the Ocean Beauty Seafoods plant when the uncovered dump truck pulled out of a garage, said wildlife biologist Brandon Saito, of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Once the birds began landing to gorge themselves, their massive numbers pushed others down into the sludge, which was about the consistency of quicksand, Saito said. Factory workers, who had apparently moved the truck out only for a few minutes, pulled it back inside when they saw what was happening.

"It's not a very big space for that many eagles to get into," Saito said. "Some of the birds got crushed and buried. Some were drowning in the slime. It was really heavy, thick stuff."

Temperatures in Kodiak on Friday afternoon were in the midteens, causing some of the soaked eagles to "flash freeze" when they were pulled free, Saito said.

Several workers shoveled through the mess to pull birds out as the dump truck incrementally released loads of the guts onto the garage floor, Saito said. As the birds were rescued, they were taken to a "triage" room, where employes of the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge washed them off in large tubs of soapy warm water and evaluated them, he said.

"We cleaned them up and tried to warm them up, but some of them weren't doing too good," he said.

The eagles were exhausted from struggling to escape the goo, Saito said. Many were hypothermic from being submerged in the cold water.

Thirty surviving eagles were taken to refuge headquarters, where they were being kept indoors in tarp-covered truck beds because there were not enough kennels to house all of them, he said.

Saito said he expected more of the birds could die overnight. They were to be evaluated this morning to figure out which were doing well enough to be released and which would need to undergo physical therapy, he said.

Those that need further medical attention likely will be shipped to Anchorage, where the Bird Treatment and Learning Center can care for them, he said.

Shipping them might be an issue, though. While the fish and wildlife agency has agreements with ERA Aviation and Alaska Airlines to fly injured birds for free when space is available, moving them in such large numbers could pose a problem, he said.

The dead birds will be shipped to a U.S. Department of Interior clearinghouse where Native American groups could apply to be given the birds or their feathers for ceremonial purposes.

Tony Olazabal, production manager at the Ocean Beauty plant, declined to comment when reached at home Friday night.
Photo credit: JAY BARRETT / The Associated Press

Eagles await transfer to a warm U.S. Fish and Wildlife warehouse after being rescued from the cold on Friday.

Story credit: Find James Halpin online at or call him at 257-4589. The Associated Press and KMXT public radio contributed to this report.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Mystery flies with Homer hawk

Mystery flies with Homer hawk

by Jason Moore
Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2008

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- The Bird Treatment and Learning Center is searching for the owner of a red-tailed hawk.

The center received the hawk Dec. 31 from a bird specialist in Homer and thought it might be sick or injured since it didn't display any signs of being skittish around people.

"That's when I went and got my falconry glove and I held the glove out to him and the bird jumped happily onto the glove," said Cindy Palmatier, an employee at the center. "I thought, wow, somebody's been training the bird. He really doesn't like people behind him."

The hawk seems to be in good condition and spirits even though it does not like people coming up from behind.

Red-tailed hawk owners are required to have the birds banded with special identification. This one isn't.

But from its behavior the Bird TLC believes it belongs to someone and they'd like that someone to come forward to retrieve their bird.

Contact Jason Moore at

To see KTUU news video ( Mystery flies with Homer hawk) Click here.

From tonights news on KTUU Channel 2.

Friday, January 04, 2008

New Snowy Owl presenter

Lisa Pajot checked off on Anna the Snowy Owl today. Lisa did a presentation in front of members of the Education Committee, Karen and Mary Bethe, Cindy our Rehab Director and Chris and myself, two members/ presenters. She demonstrated that she could safely present the sometimes aggressive female Snowy Owl and had good knowledge of the species.

Lisa already presents / caretakes a Magpie and a Great Horned Owl for Bird TLC. In 2006 she did 52 presentations, the most of any volunteer at Bird TLC.

Congratulations Lisa!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Last bird of the year

Our Red-tailed Hawk is looking soooo much better today. It's standing on perch and looking alert. It's taken to humans real easy. We're wondering if it's a falconry bird that got loose or was released. Cindy has been inquiring with falconers, but no one claims it yet.

Click pix's to enlarge