Saturday, May 31, 2008

2008 Mew Yard Spring Clean Up

2008 Mew Yard Spring Clean Up was a squeaking success. We had a great turn out of Bird TLC Volunteers and we got everything done on our to do list. Even the weather was awesome.

All of the mews got pressure washed inside and out, new visqueen to protect the walls from mewts, a truck lad of weeds were pulled and repairs were made to mew #3.

There are things we can't do to the mews during the winter because of the extreme temperatures. The walls can't be washed or doors adjusted when it's 20° outside. So this is the beginning of spring and a good time to get it all done all at once. There was a lot to be done also. We've been busier this year and the wear and tear showed.

Thanks to the following for making today an awesome clean up day; Bev, Terri, Larry, Mary, Dick, Wayne, Debbie, Doug, Susan, Megan and Cindy.

Also, Thanks to The Moose's Tooth for the free pizza and CPR Automotive for the use of their pressure washer again.

Megan said it all right before we left for the day, "We have the best volunteers".

Sunday, May 25, 2008

He's outa here

Bird TLC is an organization that has a really good staff and some really dedicated volunteers. But without our awesome supporters, TLC wouldn't exist. Let me introduce Karen & David, two supporters who outbid others at our auction this past March for a chance to release an eagle back to the wild.

They couldn't have picked a more beautiful day for a release. It was nice and sunny with just a little bit of wind. We all drove about 30 minutes south of Anchorage to Bird Point where Megan (our Events Director) had prearranged for us to meet for the release. As we picked out the spot we wanted to actually do the release, 3 vans full of 30 university students and staff from Alabama pulled up. It made us a little leery at first, but once we saw they were really interested we continued on.

We use a release box to release our eagles. We find it to be the safest for both the bird and the people doing the release. Also, the bird doesn't have to be handled too much before being released. The release box was placed on top of a table along a wall facing Cook Inlet with ample room for everyone to gather around at a safe distance.

Karen and David opened the box, the bird jumped up and flew almost directly at 2 of our friends, Britt and John, who came down to take pictures of the release. It continued straight for the Inlet, giving us a little concern and then it turned right looking for a tree to hang out in for a while.

A beautiful and successful release of a very handsome and healthy mature Bald Eagle. We stood around and talked about the release for a while and then we all headed in our own directions. Karen & David returned Megan to TLC, John & Britt went further along Turnagain Arm to take more pictures, Ruth and I went to Girdwood for lunch and all of the people from Alabama went to Seward.

Our eagle is in Bird Point. He originally came from Homer with a fractured wing back in February and who knows, he might head back there on his own or he might find Bird Point a little nicer for him.

Photo credits: Photo #1,3,4, & 5 Ruth Dorsey/ Bird TLC
Photo #2 Britt Coon/ Alaska Zoo

To see more of Ruth's photo's, click here.
To see some of John's photo's, click here.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Beauty gets her beak

Check out the video and then check out this link.
We'll keep you up to date on her progress.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The babies are coming

Baby birds that is. On Friday a lady brought in this little fellow that was found on the side of a trail in a dog park. She couldn't see a nest, so she brought him into us. She didn't want to take a chance that a dog would find it also. He'll stay with us or a Baby Bird Mom until it's ready to be released.

Can you identify what species?? Scroll down for the answer.

Northern Saw-Whet Owl

Friday, May 16, 2008

Good things happen

Thanks to our new friends at Rusty's Towing and Recovery, an eyesore was removed from the Bird TLC property over looking Potter Marsh.

Over a month ago someone or someones deposited this relic over the bluff making it extremely hard to retrieve. Also, with the end of summer, the ground was real muddy, so a recovery vehicle couldn't get back into where it needed to.

I called Rusty about 2 weeks ago. He asked for me to call back when the ground had hardened. It finally had and he sent a wrecker out in between other jobs. What's humorous is that Dave the wrecker driver had just dropped an injured yellow warbler off at the clinic this morning. Before that he had never heard of us.

You could tell that Dave had done this type of job before. He had the experience, the personality and the truck. TLC volunteer Greg took the cable down the bluff and attached it to the car. Within 15 minutes it was at the top and ready to go to the junk yard.

Thanks to some misguided citizens we aquired this car. Thanks to a generous local businessman in our community and his professional employee we had this fine Detroit specimen removed. Thier phone number will be the only one I give out when someone needs their service.

Rusty and Dave, Thanks a bunch!!!!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

After oil catastrophe, lives rose on eagle’s wings


Published: May 13th, 2008 11:42 PM
Last Modified: May 13th, 2008 11:42 PM

My sister is not exactly a bird lover. She lives across from a migratory bird sanctuary, but over the years some birds decided to build nests in her front yard instead. Daphne Duck returned annually for about five years. She’d lay her eggs and then defend her clutch against anyone trying to get up the front stairs. Having a cool summer drink on Judy’s porch while watching the sunset on the bay took on a whole new meaning when accompanied by a mad mama duck trying to attack.

This year, a robin chose to build a nest in a tree close to her front door. Judy has to use her back door now because approaching her house from the front leads to an attack from a tiny but furious mother robin.

And in what has to be the crowning moment in Judy’s relationship with birds, she has had more seagulls poop on her while she walks the boardwalk in Atlantic City than anyone else I know. I tell her this is karma because the birds sense her antagonism toward them.

My feelings about birds are quite different. I don’t know why I have such a passion for them. As a youngster, I had exactly two connections to birds — the seagulls on the boardwalk that Mom used to let me feed, which constituted my weekly contact with nature; and the pigeons my grandfather tried to grab in parks and bring home on the trolley for my nona to cook. Yet somewhere in there I fell in love with birds and the freedom they seemed to embody. Maybe it has something to do with my childhood fixation on being able to fly like Mighty Mouse. Is it really such a big leap from a flying mouse to an eagle?

OK, maybe it is. But however I got to where I am, here I am, doing volunteer shifts every week at the Bird Treatment and Learning Center, our wild bird rehab center in Anchorage. I feel privileged each time I enter a mew with an eagle and stand so close to such primal power.

Being next to such a magnificent creature brings me closer to the wild nature that is still humanity’s heritage than I ever thought possible. I know that eagle could take me down in a second. But it doesn’t. It eyes me warily and gives me the benefit of the doubt. Well, the fact that I’m carrying dinner might also have something to do with its tolerance.

One of our eagles, One Wing, died last week after almost 20 years in residence with us. Most people in Alaska, and many people around the country, know One Wing’s story. A victim of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, he ended up spending the rest of his life teaching us how to make lemonade out of lemons. A tragedy took his wing, but it couldn’t take his spirit.

So every Tuesday I would search through our freezers for a special treat for him and his mate, Old Witch. Maybe a rabbit one week, a squirrel the next, a turkey after that. Each week I tried to put some variety into the daily ration of salmon that nourishes our eagles most of the time.

Eventually Old Witch lived up to her name and got old. When we knew she couldn’t make it through another winter, we set her free to fly again in a better place. One Wing was now alone. I spent time with him when I could, talking to him, listening to his replies – which mostly ranged along the lines of “Where’s my rabbit, woman? Now get out of my mew and let me eat in peace.”

We didn’t know we’d be saying goodbye to him so soon. One Wing is flying free with Old Witch now. Bird TLC volunteers appreciate how privileged we were to get to know a spirit as amazing as his. Walking by his empty mew will always make us a little sad. We know, though, that he’s happy now, happy and free and as light as a feather, memories of an oil spill that crippled him faded into the past. That takes some of the sadness away but doesn’t stop the ache in our hearts for the eagle that stole them so many years ago.

Elise Patkotak is a writer who lives in Anchorage. Read her blog at

This was copied from todays ADN without permission but I'm sure they will understand.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival

One of my favorite presenters at Bird TLC, Lisa and I attended the Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival. While there she presented a Great Horned Owl and a Magpie and of course I presented Ghost the Snowy Owl. It's an event that I like going to every year and the birds are always well received by the people there.

On Sunday we did a 3 hour presentation at the Islands and Ocean Visitor Center for all who were attending the Birders Breakfast and all of the Junior Birders who also received their awards there.

Both presentations are always fun. People from all over visit Homer during the festival. It's a great opportunity for them to view birds that aren't from where they are. We also get to educate them on the birds, our organization, our great state and hopefully they use the information to help the birds they do see so they don't have to visit our clinic.

After Saturdays presentation, we were approached by the operator of the City of Soldotna Animal Shelter. She had a Bald Eagle that was toxic from eating something it shouldn't have. She wasn't set up to care take it and asked if we would take it to our clinic. On the return trip I stopped and pick up the eagle and a Herring Gull that had swallowed a fish hook that she picked up that day.

That eagle became the 56 one to come to our clinic this year. It wasn't very grateful, it bit the heck out of my finger. You think it would learn what not to eat.

Thanks to our friend Alex in Homer. He helps us get around every year we go there. He also took the presentation pictures. THANKS BUDDY!!!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

One Wing is soaring with Eagles again

It is a sad day at Bird TLC.

I went grocery shopping this morning and when I returned home there was a message from Barbara P., our Sunday lead volunteer. She said to please call her. Right behind her message was one from Dr. Scott, asking me to call him about One Wing’s death.

I tried to call Barbara, no answer, so Todd & I left for the clinic, hoping there had been some sort of misunderstanding. No such luck. The note from Barbara stated that the crew had found One Wing dead in his mew at 9:00am.

I was stunned, yes he was old, but he had been doing so well. Acting normal, eating, talking to everyone….. In fact, he had just chewed me out on Friday for some infraction when I walked through the mew yard.

I hate it when a bird dies and I don’t even see it coming. Especially when it is a bird that I’ve been keeping such a good eye on since Witch died.

A necropsy revealed a heart based tumor that had apparently ruptured. The pericardial sac was filled with blood, and the blood clot/tumor on the heart

were easily visible. The best that I can say is that it was a quick end. When the tumor ruptured, death would have been almost instantaneous.

We will all miss One Wing, but when I spoke with Dr. Scott, he said that he felt the bird had gone just the way he would have wanted to.

My condolences to all who had such a special relationship with this great bird. For my part, I remember being there when Dr. Scott amputated his wing so many years ago…….

Cindy Palmatier
Director of Avian Care
Bird Treatment & Learning Center
(907) 562-4813

Here's a link to "One Wing's Gift" by Dr. James Scott, DVM.

Here's a link to a story in the Anchorage Daily News, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, KTUU Channel 2,

Friday, May 02, 2008

It's nice to be recognized

It's always nice to be recognized. The unfortunate accident at Ocean Beauty Seafood in Kodiak back in January of this year got the Bird TLC organization a lot of recognition and a lot of it's members got it also. We had members being interviewed on the Anchorage news channels and newspaper, Kodiak news, APS released it all over the country, we even saw it on CNN.

Today the May edition of Alaska Magazine came out and guess what. Yup, the story finally made it and guess what. Yup, one of Dave's pictures made it also and guess what. My wife Ruth is in the picture. They cropped out Dr Palmatier and Laura Magowan, sorry.

More copies of Alaska Magazine go to people outside of Alaska than what stays in state. (That's including the copies I bought for my mom and sister back in Maryland). If you have or want to visit Alaska, you have ordered Alaska Magazine. It covers recent news, what going on during that month and things like that. It's more tourist minded, but it has a lot of neat stuff in it.

Sorry, you can't check out the story and photo online. We we're the main event or even the second even. But if you see a copy, check out page 10.

So yes I'm cheesing and Ruth has already called her mom and dad.