Friday, September 19, 2008
Our birds, which are conditioned to stand on a glove, are still wild animals! So a certain amount of wrestling is needed to accomplish this very necessary task. So, out comes the towel, along with a Dremel tool, which does a quick and precise job on overgrown beaks and talons.
Although the birds don't like the initial grabbing, they are remarkably quiet while being "coped", as the trimming is called in the falconry world. Being wrapped in a towel, like a Bird Burrito, is much like using a hood.
After trimming, the slightly ruffled raptors hop back onto the glove. We also weigh them, and it's amazing how quickly they settle down after the ordeal! Of course, just like people, our birds have individual personalities. So our Swainson's Hawk is letting us know he did NOT enjoy that!
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Early Monday morning we got the call. A woman in Los Lunas had a bird in her bathtub (No water). Could Hawks Aloft come get it? The first thing to establish: was it a hawk?
We have a series of questions we ask to determine, as closely as possible, what type of winged creature a member of the public has. This person was adamant she had a small hawk, probably a Kestrel. Transporting and handling a raptor usually takes special skills. Before driving an hour to pick up a bird, we ensure it is one of our target species; raptor, corvid, or roadrunner, because anyone can transport a songbird to the Wildlife Rehabilitator.
The next question: was it truly injured? Many fledgling birds, including raptors, are "kidnapped" from the wild each year because well-meaning people pick them up when they are in the awkward "just out of the nest" stage. They will be clumsy fliers for a few days, but their parents continue to care for them. Even trying to watch the bird to determine if it is abandoned will keep the parents away. Right now, it is mostly passed fledgling season. So the little bird was probably not a "brancher" learning to fly. The Los Lunas folks were able to easily scoop up this particular bird with a towel, and the husband proceeded to examine its wings and legs without the bird retaliating (i.e. grabbing him back!). So this bird was probably injured.
Our Raptor Biologist, Ron Kellermueller, found on his arrival that the bird in the bathtub was indeed a hawk - a Sharp-shinned Hawk, smaller relative of the Cooper's Hawk so ubiquitous to the Rio Grande bosque. When he arrived at the office with his feathered charge, we did a quick once over and found no broken bones, but a marked discrepancy in the fleshiness on either side of the keel. Just like our muscles atrophy without use, if a bird has an injury that prevents proper flying, the muscles of the keel will wither from disuse. The one-sided nature of this bird's muscle problem pointed to a possible fracture of the coracoid, a collar-bone like part of a bird's skeletal system. This bone provides muscle attachment for the strong flight muscles of the chest. A fractured coracoid will prevent flight. The good news is, with cage rest and supportive care, this little bird should make a full recovery, and be back to terrorizing songbirds soon!
Monday, September 15, 2008
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Friday, September 5, 2008
I'm not sure that the question I have is about a hawk/owl/or what. We have a relatively large bird that comes out at night and makes a horrifying SCREEEEEECH sound. I listened to the screech owl sounds on line and it sounds nothing like it. I would estimate the size to be about 12" tall. Got any suggestions? I am really interested in what it is. Thanks!
Midwest Wisconsin, near the Mississippi
As you may guess, it can be very difficult to identify a bird through an e-mail! You have, however, provided two essential details: that it comes out at night, and that it makes a horrible screeching noise! To help further identify, we might need some more information, such as:
-Is the bird calling from on the ground, or up in a tree?
-Can you see anything at all that gives you an impression of shape or color, or even pale vs. dark?
-Are you in a rural area or in the center of a town or city?
Based on the information we have, though, one bird that springs to mind is a Barn Owl. Barn Owls are large, pale birds that frequently live in barns or other man-made structures (hence the name). They can even be attracted to Barn Owl-sized birdhouses! Their typical call is a horrid, squealing screech. While they don't often make noise, they will do so if they are disturbed, such as by human presence! They have a wide habitat range, and can be found in agricultural areas as well as suburbs. The male Barn Owl is smaller than the female, just above 12 inches long.
I copied a link that contains some Barn Owl information, as well as some of their calls. The "typical" call is the one that sounds the weirdest, to me! So listen to that call, and if that's not the bird you are hearing, try to get a little bit better of a look. If you get some more information, please let me know - We'd like to help you solve your mystery bird!
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Malcolm Kellermueller, Fledgling Biologist, is shown releasing Burrow Owls that were relocated from a construction site in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Four owls, one adult and three young, had to be safely excavated from three burrows and relocated to an area where they would not be disturbed. Malcolm is the son of Ron Kellermueller, HAI Raptor Biologist