Sunday, November 30, 2008

What don't they do?

In case you don't recognize her, that's Cindy the Director of Avian Care at Bird TLC. She tried to hide behind the mop, but I was too fast for her. I don't think she ran out of avian care things to do, but she had time for a much needed clean up.

In case you don't recognize him, that's Dr. Todd Palmatier. Our lead DVM is painting. He never runs out of DVM stuff to do, but a fresh coat of paint sure looks nice.

All of TLC is looking real nice this year. We got new carpeting (after a flood) fresh paint in the offices and now the rest rooms also and new furniture donated by I can't say who.


Erika properly identified this mixture of goo and goo and then did a thorough cleaning of the frig.
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I tell you, we have a great staff and some great volunteers. I'm beginning to wonder if they know what I found out Friday night on my drive out to the Flight Center? I bet they did. The word gets around fast. Not that these folks don't work hard all year long.





Yup, you guessed it. Santa's Workshop is open!






Friday, November 28, 2008

Patient visitors hours

We have two ravens that are under rehab and are in the outside raven mew. They have been getting a lot of visitors lately of the raven kind. I don't know if it's because of the holiday season starting or what.

Everyday several different ravens spend some time with them. Sometimes they exchange things. The ones on the outside pass a lot of twigs and the ones on the inside pass out food.

We've been getting quite a show for over a week now. This picture was taken from inside Cindy's office while we watched the show.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

We have a new eagle presenter

Long time Bird TLC volunteer Lisa Pajot checked off on presenting with Petra our Bird TLC Education Bald Eagle. Lisa will be taking the place of Todd Boren who is leaving with the Air Force for England. Lisa has checked off on several birds through the years to include magpie, great horned owl, snowy owl and the short eared owl.

To become a eagle presenter with Bird TLC doesn't happen over night. The requirements are that you check off on 2 raptors, pass the Alaska Falconers Exam and then pass all of the handling requirements of presenting an eagle. Lisa did all those just fine.

Both Lisa and Petra are great representatives of Bird TLC. I can't wait to see them in action together.



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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Welcome to the Flight Center

Actually that's not right. The only people who are allowed there are Bird TLC Staff and Flight Center Volunteers. It's big and it has a very important role in the rehabilitation of raptors. But it can be very unforgiving.

The Flight Center (FC) was built on Camp Carroll ANG Base in 1990. The materials were paid for by money donated by Exxon after the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Disaster. Labor was provided by volunteers. There is no phone service, there is weak cell phone service and no running water during the winter. You must have access to military bases to get to Camp Carroll.

We don't own the building where the Bird TLC Clinic is located. We sub lease it from IBRRC. Part of our agreement to use the facility is that if there's another oil spill disaster in Alaska, we have to evacuate the clinic in 48 hours. The Flight Center is where we would evacuate to.

Right now it's main priority is to house raptors before they are released back to the wild or placed at other facilities. There are 3 cells 30 feet wide, 20 feet tall and 90 feet long and the roof is fishing net. In one cell the non-flighted birds are placed, in another semi-flighted birds are placed and the third is where the flighted birds go.

We don't mix species. Mostly eagles are housed there, but if another species is to be housed there, we have to make some changes. That other species (like an owl or golden eagle) would get a cell all to themselves.

There are 4 volunteers that maintain the FC. They feed, exercise and water the birds on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, one person per day. Depending on how many birds are there depends on how long is takes, but on average it's about 1 1/2 hours. The rest of the time the birds run the place.


To be continued .......






Friday, November 14, 2008

Three years ago today

I was at the Bird TLC clinic and Cindy had a snowy owl that just came in from Soldotna with a broken wing. He needed to have x-rays done and she asked if I would give her a hand. Of course I said yes but little did I know that it would become a life long (so far) commitment.

The break was pretty clean and Dr. Palmatier said he was a perfect candidate for having a stainless steel pin placed in his wing for it to heal. I was well known for not being around for things that involved clinic type of things, but I was heavy into working on our website and the blog. So I asked, to the surprise of many, if I could tag along and take pictures of the operation. To my surprise they said yes.

I remember it like it was yesterday (with the help of old blog post and pictures) but the operation went fairly well with good expectations of the outcome. He was in the clinic for a few more weeks and the his wing wrap was removed and all looked good at the time. After he was monitored for a while longer he was transfered to the flight center so he could get more exercise for a possible release.

From there things took a turn. He was flying but he wasn't flying well. After observing him for a while, we determined he was flying sort of sideways. So he was brought back to the clinic for another thorough exam.

During this exam it was discovered that his wing hadn't healed properly. Somewheres along the way the bone slipped on the pin so his wing set a little off degree. This is something you can't operate on. Their wings can't be re-broken and reset. We took him back to the flight center to be observed some more. We decided that he was non-releasable. He can fly, but because of his new handicap he can't hunt well. He would probably starve.

From there He went to Cindy's (Director of Avian Care) house for her to evaluate him for possible being an education bird. He was working out well, so permits were applied for and approved. From there he was put up to be applied for by a Bird TLC volunteer to caretake, train and present.

The guy who back in 2004 that would tell his wife to go do her bird thing at TLC applied for the snowy owl. With the application I had to submit plans for the mew I would build for him to live in. The mew designs had to be approved by U.S.F.&W., the Bird TLC Education Committee and Cindy. I was approved and so was the mew. I had to build it before snow flew. I worked day and night and finished it 3 days before it snowed.

Cindy became my mentor with training with Ghost and I couldn't of had a better one. Then he came to live in his new mew on Nov 4, 2006. The training continued, some was a little challenging. On March 30th we

got checked off and had our first presentation with Cub Scout Pack 11.

Since then Ghost and I have done 108 presentations around the state. From Prudhoe Bay to Homer, for schools, private organizations and many other events. He has a new trainee. Beki started working with him last week and she's coming along fine. He is a seasoned professional at representing snowy owls and Bird TLC. It's been a blast and I feel very lucky to be working / living with him.

Happy Anniversary Ghost and many thanks to our friends who have supported us.


Sunday, November 09, 2008

Birds have friends at the Loussac Library

Ghost and I had the pleasure of going to the Loussac Library last week. The Friends of the Library posted a bounty for kids to read. Once they had reached their goal, anything more than that was donated to Bird TLC. These young readers helped raise $390 for Bird TLC.

Many thanks to the readers, Friends of the Library and Theresa who took the pictures. It's help like this that makes Bird TLC what it is today.