Late Thursday in Bird World

30 June 2022

UPDATE ON LITTLE BIT 17: Message from Humane Indiana Wildlife. ” Hello! We will post an update on ND17 tomorrow. Today was stressful for him, as you can imagine, but he is doing well and receiving much needed care.”

I am feeling some comfort in the news that Little Bit ND17 was taken to Valpo to the Humane Indiana Wildlife clinic for a thorough examination and assessment at 11:40 this morning. This is the best news Bird World has had in a couple of weeks. ——–And in the update ‘much needed care’ indicates that getting him to the clinic was the right decision.

I know that the St Patrick’s County Parks staff could never have foreseen the events that would transpire at the ND-LEEF Bald Eagle nest this season. There is an expectation of stability – business as usual – but as many know, we live in very unstable times. And so it was with the nest. The second hatch ND16 took exception to Little Bit’s existence. The aggression, the deterioration of the nest, and then Little Bit’s 60 foot drop to the ground would never have entered the minds of park staff as spring arrived in South Bend, Indiana. But, it did happen. I am grateful that they were able to get Little Bit 17 removed from the bushes and taken to the Valpo clinic. IDNR has stated that not all rehabbers will take birds now because of Avian Flu – so thank you Humane Wildlife Indiana, too.

We wait to hear how our little eaglet is doing tomorrow!


The Dyfi Osprey Project has published all the information on the ringing along with the video of the ringing and weighing and another earlier one of nest aggression attributed to the fact that all three were females. There is a map showing the rivers and a pronunciation guide to the chick’s names after those rivers. It is a good read. Have a look. This is the kind of information that becomes so useful about the nests. Here is that link:

https://www.dyfiospreyproject.com/blog/emyr-mwt/bendigedig-ringing-2022?fbclid=IwAR2OAkzY88lJjf-QaZNhY8Tyvx1AfH_NW6U15ayNz_tvyLlU50BYQhVJdQo

The ringing video is a really good one to watch. They are so careful and the chicks just pancake and stay still. It takes no time. Those colour Darvic rings with their numbers tell us so much information about these amazing birds and their life journeys.

There is also images and information on the ringing of nest 1A at Kielder. This nest had four babies ——yes, I did not get that wrong – 4. I did not mention it but once because I was so afraid that something would happen to little 4. There is a picture of him in there at 1000 grams. His big sister is 50% heavier at 1560. The other two were males. The ringers could not determine the gender of little 4 because he is so small for his age. I hope he proves mighty.

I have been working on and off on a couple of stories about wildlife rehabilitation clinics. They are our go-to when it comes to getting care for our wildlife in need. Each is special in its own way. Some specialize in certain animals and will not take birds. Because of the spread of H5N1 Avian Flu this year, many will not take our feathered friends. So, a bit of a shout out to Valpo for taking Little Bit. They need your support whether it is with your time, volunteering, with a few dollars or a truck load. Every bit is appreciated. Believe it or not, old clean towels are always wanted!!!! So, while we wait to hear about Little Bit 17, I will spend a little time showing you what I did today.

This afternoon was a day to spend at our own rehabilitation clinic. It is the only wildlife clinic in Manitoba with a full time vet, operating room and diagnostic equipment and it is run entirely by donations and volunteers.

Wildlife Haven is not unique. Every facility – those that many of you know by their names – CROW, The Audubon Centre, A Place Called Hope – operate entirely on donations and the generous time offered by volunteers.

I have been working on a blog about 2 other wildlife centres that I will finish up shortly. I was moved to tell you a little bit about our facility because the first thing the Rehabilitation Manager said was, “99% of the injuries to wildlife are human caused.” Everything that we do has the potential to harm the animals that share this planet with us – it can range from kidnapping bunnies from their Mum, to road accidents, taking wildlife in our houses where they imprint on humans, to wind turbines, sticky or glue traps – the list as you know is endless. I am grateful that there is a big campaign to let people know that fishing line is dangerous. It is that time of year when people should be using non-lead fishing tackle, barbless hooks, and helping to clean up the shores as well as taking care of their own area where they fish. I had no idea that so many bunnies arrive at the care facility. Over 900 right now!

Tip regarding rabbits. If you see a brown circle on your lawn and remove the grass covering and see bunnies, do not think that their mother has abandoned them. Take 2 thin sticks and criss-cross them over the top. Go back in 24 hours. If the sticks are moved, the Mum has been in to feed the babies. If the sticks have not been moved, then take the babies to a wildlife rehabber. Put a towel in a box with a lid and holes for air and carefully transport them to the closest facility.

Our centre has been in existence since 1984 but it has only recently been able to have full vet facilities. The amount of rehabilitation work that they are able to do has increased with generous donations for flight and hunting training. That requires trained staff and intense dedication and it is precisely what Little Bit 17 will require. He is missing that by not being with Mum, Dad, 15 and 16. So he is like WBSE28. We want Little Bit kept so that he is able to successfully live in the wild and what I have learned from our local team is that this is a long slow process. It doesn’t happen in weeks. 6 months or more for some birds.

Our wildlife facility, Wildlife Haven, is determined to educate the public through open house days as well as taking the ambassadors to the schools. Start young, teach the children to love and care for the welfare of animals. So every week on Friday they will have what is called a Raptor Rendezvous Day. It was fantastic to see so many people with children at the first event. They also sponsor Open Houses and try hard to let people know how much effort there is in caring for the wildlife patients. From 5 am to 7pm, songbirds are fed every half hour. They constantly need volunteers to do this. The middle of the summer is the most crucial time. Some volunteers are trained in ways to enrich the lives of the raptors that will spend all their lives in the centre. Eagles get bored, too!

So today they introduced three of the ambassadors that help educate the public on how to respect wildlife and what to do if they find an injured animal. They were a Swainsons’ Hawk, a Great Horned Owl, and a Great Gray Owl. The Great Grey Owl is the provincial bird of Manitoba.

This is Avro. He is a light morph Swainson’s Hawk. He was hit by a car. The accident caused him to be blind in his right eye. Losing that one eye meant that Avro is unable to hunt and provide for himself in the wild.

There are lots of Swainson’s Hawks that come to the southern part of our province to breed in the summer. They migrate to Argentina in the winter. Avro is 18 years old now.

Uma is a very small Great Horned Owl. Uma’s nest was in the yard of a family that watched. They noticed that Uma was much smaller than the other owlets and it appeared ‘different’ to the other siblings. It was determined that Uma was under developed due to a lack of food — just like Little Bit 17. Uma was also missing an eye and its beak was out of alignment. Uma would never be able to survive in the wild.

Great Horned Owls are very plentiful and they adapt to all manner of environments from the forests of northern Manitoba to the deserts of Southwest United States and beyond. They have excellent hearing – a kind of shallow disk or satellite-shaped face. The tufts on their heads are neither ears or horns. The ears are on the side of the head, like all raptors, and they are covered with feathers. The tufts are feathers. You can see that Una lost his right eye. He is fed rats every day. He can fly and has a enclosure that is large enough for him to do that. Owls hunt from dawn to dusk and mostly within an hour of each of those times of day. They will hunt during the day time to feed their young, if necessary.

You can see the misalignment of the beak in the image below. Imagine trying to tear into a squirrel with that beak.

This is Zoe with Una. She gave an amazing presentation and answered every question and more.

The last ambassador today was Ash the Great Gray Owl. Ash was orphaned and his rescuers took him home to live with them. As a result he imprinted on humans and not owls. This means that Ash believes she is human, not owl. Despite Ash being in excellent health he will never be able to live in the wild and know what it is like to fly free and hunt.

With its excellent hearing, a Great Gray Owl can detect a mouse under 60 cm or 2 feet of snow. Incredible. In the image below you can see the fur covered legs and talons that help the Great Gray in our cold winters.

It was a great afternoon and came on a day to really think about the important work that these people do.

What can you do? Well you can volunteer or you can donate. Want to do something else? Talk to people about caring for the wildlife on our planet. Let them understand how important it is to get them to care quickly if it is needed. Put on window strips to stop bird strike. Talk to people about putting poison on their lawns. Have that chat about fishing line with people you know and the need for lead free equipment. Take a shovel in your car. When you see road kill, pull over. Of course, be careful but move the road kill off the road and away from it. Vultures, hawks, eagles, and all manner of wildlife will find it and it will be cleared down to the bone within a few hours. Put out bird feeders and water…..lobby for protective wind turbine blades…the list is, sadly, endless. Educate yourself and talk to the experts at your local wildlife clinic.

Several of the streaming cams are set to go offline today. One of those is UFlorida-Gainesville. We will look forward to joining Mum and Dad in the new year! Big and Middle are doing exceptionally well.

Tomorrow is Canada Day. I will be posting a short blog in the morning. I hope that some news of Little Bit will be available. I will also try to check on other nests that we are watching closely including Osoyoos, Boathouse, and FortisExshaw that have wee ones in the nest.

Thank you for joining me. Thank you to everyone who cares for our much loved feather friends and to everyone who worked hard and believed that Little Bit 17 needed to be assessed. It is a bit world out there with many polarizing opinions and intervention is one of those. Take care. See you soon.

Thank you to Dyfi and Kielder for their ringing updates on their blog that I included here today – and to Wildlife Haven for all they do.

6 Comments

  1. B says:

    Thanks, Mary Ann, for keeping us posted on ND17 — so glad that he is in good hands. Keep fighting, 17!
    Thanks, too, for the introduction to your wildlife center and for introducing us to three of your ambassadors.

    1. You are very welcome, B. Like most rehab centres it has grown and grown – and is literally or was – in the middle of no where. They do an amazing job and there are credits for vet students to do work there. It is a win-win. Next week 3 more raptors.

  2. Linda Kontol says:

    Thank you Mary Ann for these updates.
    So glad little ND17 is doing good and in the care he needs.
    Thank you for all those pics from the wildlife center too and the links to read and pics from the nests. The owls and hawks are very pretty there at the wildlife center.
    Have a great evening and see you sometime tomorrow morning. Hope there will be an update on little 17❤️🙏
    Linda

    1. You are absolutely welcome Linda. I am glad you enjoyed them. They are doing 3 ambassadors a week so the little ones don’t get too squirmy.

  3. Lisa says:

    Awesome shout out to all those directly and/or indirectly involved in caring for our sick, injured and in need wildlife. We can all help in so many ways….

    1. We sure can!!!!!!!!!! I continue to tell people around me to collect clean old towels and laundry detergent for them if they can’t give a donation. Everything helps including having a garage sale or something for the local rehabber! — Thank you for all your caring, Lisa.

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