Friday, August 28, 2009

Thanks for your time with us Rollie

I got a call today from Britt while she was feeding at the flight center. Rollie was breathing heavy and it was kind of raspie. My heart dropped and made plans to get him after work and take him to the clinic. Todd and Cindy are on vacation this week, but they were going to come in for him.

After work we drove out to the flight center not expecting the best. I walked up to Rollie in the cell and as he ran he would stop and try to catch his breath. We caught him and placed him in a kennel to transport to the clinic. He was breathing heavy even when he had rested in the kennel for a bit. Things were not looking good at all.

Rollie had come to Bird TLC on 6/22/2007 and was checked in by Mary Bethe, Ruth and myself. He had been hit by a car and had been scuffed up pretty good. There was some head trauma too. He spent some quality time at the clinic and was later transferred to the flight center.

At the flight center we noticed that he tried to fly and would trip and roll over. We couldn't figure what was going on. He also took high careful steps. Ruth nick named him Rollie and it stuck. Cindy came out to the flight center for a visit and to examine Rollie. She found his left wing would come out of joint sometimes. So sometimes he would trip on it and roll and other times he would fly. Nothing could be done so this made him a non-releasable bird.

He had that beautiful mature bald eagle head. This summer being as gorgeous as it was, the sun would shine on him and he looked picture perfect. He also stayed close to Captain Hook, another bird out at the flight center. They just seemed to be buds.

Birds that are non-releasable are placed on what I call Eagle Bay. It's a website that organizations with the right permits and willing to go through the proper procedures can acquire these birds for educational purposes. Even though they are non-releaseable, they are a valuable education tool. It's been hard to place birds this year, we think because of the economy. It's quite a commitment to caretake for one of these birds. He also had some issues that some might not want to deal with. So we took care of him and he shared his eagleness with us.

Dr. Palmatier wanted to find out what had caused her situation. It wasn't asper as we suspected. She was having heart failure. We found out she was female and not a he and she was a much older bird than what we had thought. She had lived a long life. The last of it she was caretaked by thosed who cared for her.

We'll miss you Rollie. Birds like you remind us of why we at TLC do what we do.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Bye Bye to Bye Bye Birdie 2009

Bye Bye Birdie 2003 is for the history books now. We had awesome weather, a great turn out and 2 awesome releases. We had a lot of help from our partners, the Alaska Zoo and Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

We had some financial help from ConocoPhillips,
U.S. Fish & Wildlife and Fred Meyers. It's been a tough year and their support is definately appreciated.

The first release was a Great Horned Owl that my friend Britt and I rescued at Bird Creek last weekend. It was tangled up in fishing line. We recovered it and got it back to TLC where we got the rest of the fishing line off of it. Fortunately the damage was minimal and it was ready to go back to the wild in a short time. He didn't want to leave his kennel at first, but when he did he didn't look back.

The next release was a mature Bald Eagle that came to TLC last year unstable on its feet. It wasn't unstable yesterday. He was ready to go. He took off for Potter Marsh like there was no tomorrow.

Thanks to Britt for these photo's. I had to work most of the day and then presented Gus at the end of the event. Check out more at her website here and John Gomes website here.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Bye Bye Birdie

Bird TLC Presents: Bye Bye Birdie 2009
Who’s Overhead?

If you are dying to see all of Bird TLC’s live education birds in one place at one time, this is your chance.
If you have a really good bird call, come down and try your luck in the bird calling contest.
If you have been wondering when you will get to see Bird TLC release an eagle back into the wild, this is it.

The 5th annual Bye Bye Birdie event will be held at the Bird TLC property (15500 Old Seward Highway) on August 22nd, 2009 from 12-4pm. This event celebrates the end of migratory bird season, raises awareness about the wild birds in our community and the good work of Bird TLC. The afternoon will be filled with kid’s activities, live education birds on display, as well as multi bird formal education programs, a bird calling contest and will end with a rehabilitated eagle release. First place winner of the bird call contest receives the opportunity to release the eagle. This event is free and open to the public and will take place rain or shine. Come on out and learn about our local avian diversity, have a gourmet hotdog provided by Tia’s Gourmet Alaska Sausages and Hot Dogs, sip a free caffeinated beverage from Kaladi Bros., all while enjoying the view of Potter Marsh and Turnagain Arm.

Thank you to our generous event sponsors; US Fish and Wildlife Service, Fred Meyer, and Conoco Phillips. Partners that help to make this event possible are the AK Department of Fish and Game and The Alaska Zoo.
For more info, go to or cal Bird TLC at 562-4852.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

It's been a bizzy week

Our Rough-Legged Hawk got released in Girdwood. He took off like a bullet as expected. He was a joy to have visit, but he'll be more happy in the wild.

I checked off on Gus the Great Horned Owl on Wednesday. He been an education bird with Bird TLC since 1991. Our first outing is this weekend at Bye Bye Birdie on Saturday.

Todd Palmatier checked off on Maverick the Peregrine Falcon on Thursday. Todd is our lead DVM and Maverick just became an education bird this year.

We released BE 08-78 on Saturday. He put on a heck of a show for his release. He had been with us since November 2008. He's off to a good restart in the wild.

Friday, August 14, 2009

New resident at the flight center

Our junior sandhill crane moved to the flight center on Wednesday. Here he'll be able to get some flight time and there's less of a chance of him getting imprinted.

Photo credit: Britt Coon / Bird TLC

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Common Loon release at Sand Lake

Thanks to Larry and Mary Marshburn for hosting our Common Loon release at their home on Sand Lake. We had a fantastic crowd and a very mellow release.

I'm use to raptor releases to where you let them go and they are gone like a bullet. This guy did a nice casual wade and paddle, look back, wade and paddle.

A good time was had by all.

Photo Credit: William Bloomhuff

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Member of the 'Eagle nation' flies free after treatment

HIGHER CALLING: Ceremony honors bird's special lore.

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner via The Associated Press

Published: August 2nd, 2009 08:44 PM
Last Modified: August 2nd, 2009 08:44 PM

FAIRBANKS -- Kim Green of Two Rivers stood beneath the hot Fairbanks sun in a full-length, fringed hide dress, her eyes drawn to the cloudless blue sky.

"Oh!" she exclaimed, tracking a young eagle to his perch in a tall spruce overlooking the Chena River.

"We can release all this wonderful energy, these prayers and hopes," she said. "An injured animal is going to carry our prayers, our spirituality."

An Abenaki by heritage, Green was among several hundred people captivated by the recent release of a rehabilitated eagle at the Midnight Sun Intertribal Powwow on the Carlson Center lawn.

Named Bolt, the 2- or 3-year-old eagle was found in February 2008 on the ground near Kodiak. Stunned by a power line, the eagle's chest and back bore open wounds, and parts of his spine were showing, said Lisa Pajot of the Bird Treatment and Learning Center in Anchorage.

Rescuers flew the bird to the center, where staff treated his wounds with antibiotic ointment for several months, fed him plenty and allowed time for healing. Bolt was moved to the center's flight training facility at Fort Richardson after several months of convalescence. There, he made short forays into the air, building wing strength for an eventual release back to the wild.

"An electrocution is usually really hard to recover from, but this particular bird, he's great," Pajot said. "He's definitely feisty; he's ready to go."

Upon release, some birds dart to a high point and pause, getting their bearings and a read on the lay of the land.

"Others keep flying, like they want to get as far away from humans as possible," she said.

Bolt did both.

The eagle darted to a higher perch, atop a spruce, spreading his broad, powerful wings to showcase a splash of color, and perhaps to test his flight muscles.

A frenzied flurry of gulls circled the treetop, squawking at the newcomer. In an elegant push, the eagle took off as the crowd let out a collective cheer, watching the bird bat his brown wings, glide, bat, and glide, dipping along the Chena with two gulls at his tail.

Powwow chairman Benno Cleveland, who is half Eskimo and half German, said eagles are a rich part of Alaska Native culture.

"We believe the eagle is a messenger from the Creator to the people, and from the people back to the Creator," Cleveland explained.

The eagle is not earth-bound, and soars higher than any other, high enough to spread those messages, according to Native lore. Eagle feathers often are used in prayer and healing, while wings may be used to smudge incense for cleansing and other ceremonies.

"In Fairbanks, we didn't have too many eagles flying around here for a long time," he said. "But lately, we're seeing a lot more, and young ones as well."

Four veterans carried the eagle's rectangular box to the release site, where four Athabascan elders opened the doors to freedom.

"Have good thoughts within your heart and in your mind," Cleveland urged spectators prior to the release. Give thanks to the Creator for allowing "one of our brothers of the Eagle Nation to be free."

Bolt shot straight from the box, starting into a long, graceful sweep up into the branches of spruce trees, flushing out smaller birds.

Four women in traditional regalia stepped out in a wide circle to a drum beat, bearing a ceremonial blanket for donations to the bird center. More than $300 was collected from onlookers torn between the dancing display and a search for the eagle in treetops across the river.

The center takes in about 50 eagles and 800 other birds per year, Pajot said. People are the largest threats to eagles.

"Eagles don't have natural predators," she explained.

The birds that find their way to the Anchorage center often have been hit by a vehicle, absorbed toxins at landfills, or ingested fishing line and lures.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Say adios to BE 08-76

Gary Bullock won the bid for this eagle release at our last auction. He gave it to a friends son, Brendan, for his birthday. He couldn't have asked for a more beautiful birthday or a neater birthday present. This present flew away, but that's OK. It was supposed to.

BE 08-76 came to us from the Kodiak NWR in October 2008 with a right eye injury. Unfortunately he lost the eye. He was still a strong bird, so after a few weeks he was sent to the flight center.

He flew beautifully, but he needed some work with his navigation and landings. Only having one eye made life as he was use to a little different now.

All that got better out at the flight center. He soon became one of the favorites of the volunteers. This late spring he was determined releasable and was waiting his turn to be set free.

Brandon's birthday was the day. He took out of the box without looking back. He's on his own now. He has to hunt and defend for himself. No fresh salmon will be brought to him, he has to get his own dinner now.

Thanks go out to Niki for helping me with getting Ol' One Eye from the flight center and getting set up.