Saturday, October 25, 2008

The swan that didn't go home

Today was scheduled to be a boring day at home doing chores and all of that fun stuff. I have just started feeling better after being sick for about a week (if you couldn't tell from the lack of posting). I slept in until almost 10AM which is highly unusual for me. Sleeping in usually mean 7AM max if I'm lucky.

I got one cup of Maxwell House down when I got a call from Rachel at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center outside of Portage. There were reports of an injured swan sitting on the side of the road about a mile south of AWCC. At first I was a little leery about responding. I was just starting to feel better, I've been on wild goose (swan) chases before and this was an hour drive away, and if I found him it was a two person job to catch him. I told her I was going to call U.S.F.&W.

I called U.S.F.&W. and got a message machine. Rachel called back and gave me a little better location of the bird and says she's getting all kinds of reports on it. There's only her and one other person working today, so they can't respond. I called Megan who usually could help me out but I knew she couldn't today. Bird TLC was at an event for Trick or Treat Town and so were most of our volunteers.

Megan suggested that I call Beki. Beki is a relatively new clinic volunteer who also wants to become a presenter. We've been to a couple events together. So I called her and she was excited about getting to go.

We met up at Bird TLC and loaded up with blankets, a kennel and bird drugs. Off we headed to Portage. When we arrived we drove along side of the highway looking for our swan. There was no luck the first pass or on the drive back. I called Rachel to see if there was any updates and she said no. We decided to do another pass but slower. When we started our search again, a van pulled over and asked if we were looking for a swan. We told him we were and he said he was also but having no luck.

We started our search again and withing 20 feet Beki spotted our swan. The 3 of us put a plan of action together and caught the guy. He's a big one, 9.575 KG. Have I told you it was +27°f and then minus whatever the windchill was? It was cold! We checked in with Rachel at AWCC and thanked her for calling him in. Then we headed back to Anchorage.

There was no significant finds during his first exam, but we'll have a DVM check him out on Monday. In the meantime it's R&R, fresh food and a warm mew.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Volunteer Orientation

We have a Volunteer Orientation about once every October. It's aimed mainly at volunteers who are interested in presenting the Bird TLC Education Birds. A lot of people see us out in the public presenting these birds, but they don't realize what all is involved. So they get to spend about 6 hours getting a thorough orientation tell them all the good and bad things involved.

Each of our Ed Birds are required by U.S.F.& be shown at 12 presentations per year. Bird TLC requires every Education Presenter to present 12 times a year. Each bird could have several presenters, but most have just one. Last year Ghost and I did 60 presentations together. It would be nice to have another presenter checked off on him to help carry the load.

Each presenter in training is mentored by another presenter that has been checked off on that species and has some good presenting experience and bird handling under their belt. I was mentored by Cindy and after 2 years of presenting Ghost, she still gives me some good pointers.

Depending on the person and the bird, it usually takes 3 to 6 months before they are ready to be checked off as a presenter. Large raptors like eagles could take longer. Bird TLC requires eagle presenters in training to take and pass the Alaska Falconry Exam.

Expenses will include buying your own glove, transportation expenses, and leashes. Some presenters help the presenter / caretaker pay for food for the bird, but that is up to the individuals.

Dedication is the key. It all looks like fun and it is, but first the person must be trained with bird handling and the background of the species being presented.

Good luck everyone and I hope to see you presenting soon!

Photo Credit: Dick Williams / Bird TLC

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Bye - Bye BE 07-34

BE 07-34 came to Bird TLC early last year with a bone density issue. He wasn't eating properly and he couldn't fly. After some long term R&R at TLC with a proper diet, he became very aggressive around feeding time. We decided it was time for him to go back on his own.

Bird Point was selected along Turnagain Arm. The salmon are still in the area some and it gives a food source. It's nice for these guys to have the best day and night possible for the first one out. It's also nice for them to have a little easy food source at first also.

When we got to Bird Point, it was raining and had high wind gust. So we decided to move towards Girdwood and a little inland from the Arm. Our little caravan of volunteers agreed and most of them followed us to find a good release spot.

We found one in Girdwood. It was still raining, but hardly any wind. We were interrupted for a short bit by a dog that insisted we play fetch with him first. I guess new players is better than listening to the owner, so we played for a bit and then the owner recovered the ball and off they went.

Our bird came out fast. He headed towards the trees to settle down and figure out where he was. It's been over a year since he came to TLC and has some adjusting to do, but we think he'll do just fine.

Photo Credit: Photo's #2 & 3 by Dick Williams / Bird TLC
Photo #1 by Dave Dorsey / Bird TLC

Friday, October 10, 2008

Megan checks off

Bird TLC's Events Coordinator, Megan Pool checked off on the Northern Goshawk yesterday. She did a very good job and will make an excellent education presenter.

To get checked off, Megan must do a presentation in front of her peers and have at least 1 member of the Education Committee in attendance. She must show that she can handle the bird and tell us about its species. When she's done she also must answer questions from the audience.

Megan did all that. Now she must do 2 presentations observed by another presenter and then she's on her own.

Congratulations Megan!

For more pictures. click here.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Memorial release for Fran Reed

Several dozen friends of Fran Reed turned out at the Bird TLC property on 9/27 for a memorial release of a rehabilitated eagle back to the wild. As I walked through the crowd I could here many stories being told about Fran.

The weather was perfect. The rain that had been coming down stopped for a day. The leaves were in their full fall colors and we even had an eagle do a fly by checking things out.

The eagle that was released was in a hurry to get back to business. She left the release box and headed for Potters Marsh non-stop.

The crowd stayed around for a while afterwards and enjoyed apple cider, snacks and a few more stories. It was a beautiful day for a release and a beautiful memorial.

For more on Fran Reed in the ADN, click here.