A fun and educational morning at Wildlife Haven

Today was the first day of a four day event held at our wildlife rehabilitation centre, Wildlife Haven, in Ile des Chenes, Manitoba. While Thursday morning was slow, the early afternoon and the rest of the three days are booked solid. It was wonderful listening to the volunteers, the veterinarians in training, and staff talk about the ambassadors as well as giving everyone tours of all the facilities. It is one chance that our not-for-profit centre has for donations and to recruit new volunteers. With the exception of a couple of big donors, the centre is run entirely on donations from people like you and their volunteers, and the generosity of several institutions that provide food for the animals.

Since 1984, Wildlife Haven has been rehabilitating injured, sick and orphaned wildlife. The goal is always to return the mammals and birds back to the wild. To date, more than 44,000 wildlife have received care at the facility. In addition to the wildlife that are given a second life, others live at the centre permanently. They become educational ambassadors. Volunteers use them to educate the public on the challenges that wildlife face and how they can help.

Once the large raptors have gone through several stages of rehabilitation, they are placed in these very large – and long – structures to re-establish their flying and hunting skills. Only when they can fly and hunt on their own will they be released back into the wild.

Wildlife Haven is fortunate to have two of these areas where the large birds of prey can train for their return to a life in the wild.

Scattered around the property are other buildings where the raptors spend time before reaching the final test – flying and hunting.

There is a Great Horned Owl in the structure below strengthening its wings by flying around the enclosure. It was blocked off so that visitors would not cause it stress but you could see the shadow of it flying through the material.

Smaller birds of prey are in the structure below.

In the enclosure below are two beavers. They really demonstrated the term ‘busy as a beaver’. The two spend their entire day taking logs into the water to soak the bark. Then they strip the bark off the log and eat it. In fact, the primary food of a beaver is wood bark. Then they spend their time chewing away on the logs. Once a week the water is cleaned. Beavers have to have water in order to defecate. The logs are replenished once a week or as needed. The tour guide said they were lucky to have a large piece of property with lots of trees so that the beavers can be ‘themselves’. The pair will be released back into the wild at the location where they were captured.

The meal prep area! Want to know where some of those old oranges wind up from the grocery store? Perhaps they get donated to your local wildlife rehabber. Local gardeners also donate surplus veggies.

The University of Manitoba donates mice and rates to Wildlife Haven. They go through a lot of meat because many of the patients are raptors. There are also a host of raptor ambassadors. Majestic, the Bald Eagle who is unable to fly, eats approximately 400 grams – not quite a pound – of good meat a day.

There is a lot of work for staff and volunteers. Visitors got a giggle out of the last item on the list. Cinnabun is a rabbit who is also an ambassador. Apparently Cinnabun loves getting out of her cage and even though the door is locked she is often found wandering around the building when staff arrive in the morning.

Besides raptors there are a lot of water birds such as Pelicans and, currently, there are 44 Canada Geese receiving treatment. There are snakes and turtles amongst the gang as well. The centre does not treat skunks or large animals such as deer, moose, or elk. Skunks require specialist centres because of their spray and its smell but also because they are one of the main carriers of rabies.

There is a Turkey Vulture Ambassador. Its head will turn red when it is an adult. Right now it is just a baby!

Adorable. This young vulture came to the clinic this summer and they hope to release it next summer once it passes its flying and hunting skills testing.

Oh, I could take this beautiful female Red-tail Hawk home in the blink of an eye. What a beautiful bird. She is a permanent ambassador at the centre and reminds me so much of Big Red who lives on the Cornell University campus.

We were introduced to the amazing layer of feathers of a Great Grey Owl. These owls live year round in the forests of Manitoba. Their hearing is so good they can hear the faintest sound of a mouse beneath 60 cm (or 2 ft) of snow. Their enormous layer of feathers with their round tips means that the own glides silently from its perch to get its prey, hunting at dusk and dawn mainly. They range in height from 60 to 84 cm (or 24-33 inches).

Great Grey Owls hunt for voles, mice, lemmings, and shrews.

It is a great fund raiser for the Centre but, for anyone attending one of the tours, they learned so much. I urge you to see when the wildlife rehabilitation clinics in your area has their open house. Go – take a friend. Make an outing of it. While you are there, think about how you can help. Every centre has a long list of items that they use all the time. It is surprising to see what is on those lists. Maybe your pet has died and you have unopened tins or bags of food. Those are great to donate as are veggies from your garden. What about those old sheets and towels? Do not put them in the garbage! Wash them well and put them in a clean bag. They would be very useful. Maybe you want to get more involved and help transport injured animals to the centre. There are a hundred ways to help. Ask the staff for all the possibilities and see if there is something that suits you.

It was a gorgeous day in the country. I wish I could share the murmurations of the Red-winged Blackbirds as they flew off the sunflower fields. Simply stunning the patterns they made in the sky.

Thanks so much for joining me. You take care of yourself. See you soon!

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving from my garden to yours

It is 17 degrees C, clear blue skies, and the birds are chirping their heads off. After two days of grey damp rain, everyone is happy to celebrate and we are all thankful for the wonderful weather.

Thanks to the birds or squirrels there are sunflowers popping up around the planters. The Vermillionaires are for the hummingbirds, and the Cosmos for the bees and butterflies. The thicket in the back of the garden is a favourite place for hiding or cooling off.

I am thankful to each of those that live in or visit our garden every day. There are three different Blue Jays, one Red Squirrel (Little Red), three Grey Squirrels (Baby, Scraggly, and Monk), Mr and Mrs Wood Pecker (he is missing from the images today), Mr Chickadee, and Hedwig, the garden rabbit.

The joy they bring is immense. The Blue Jays have been demonstrating the many ways to clear the kernels off their corn cobs before Scraggly takes the entire cob. Everyone else has also had special seed or suet over the weekend to thank them.

It seemed that half of our City was at the local park today enjoying the beautiful weather and having picnics instead of big elaborate dinners. You could hear laughter all around the pond. Sadly, there was one female Mallard that has a broken wing. I am waiting for someone to bring me the proper pole with netting and we will be out to attempt a rescue to Wildlife Haven.

Of things to be thankful for today, is not only the joy that all of the birds have given me but also for those that dedicate their lives to trying to mend them and get them out in the wild again. Wildlife Haven is certainly one of those!

The trip had been to check on the little Wood Ducks. The one below is an adult female in her summer/fall plumage. Note her striking white eye patch and the yellow line around her eye. She does not, however, have the red iris of the male. She has white streaking on her breast. You can see the blue secondaries.

Indeed, it is very difficult to ID the Wood Ducks at this time of year because there are so many variations occurring.

We know this to be a male because of the red Iris. There is stunning secondaries. In this instance, they look iridescent green at this angle. This is a first year male in his winter plumage.

I was looking for the adult male. The last time I checked he was almost finished his moult and it would be so nice to see him in his magnificent plumage before they leave the pond for their winter homes. He is sleeping up on the bank of Duck Island on the left. You can get a glimpse of how gorgeous he is. Indeed, most of the wood ducks were having a nap. Perhaps they do not like all the people walking about, laughing, having fun.

From my garden to yours, I hope that like us you have family, friends, and critters who delight you and for whom you can say ‘thank you’ every day! Wildlife is wonderful.

Thanks for joining me today. Wish us good luck in getting that female Mallard out of the pond! Take care everyone. See you soon.

Third Egg for Diamond and a Rescue

Saturday Morning. I don’t think that this Swainson’s Thrush knew that he would be spending so much time with me. I suspect that he did not know that he was in for an adventure and a car ride.

Indeed, it is unclear how this little one wound up behind my kitchen in the grass. There were no window strikes. He turned around and faced different directions and thinking that it was simply stunned, I waited for 45 minutes. Still nothing. It tried to fly but that wouldn’t work so…….into the comfort of the transport box on soft, soft sheets and away we went to Wildlife Haven. It was still alive on arrival. Thank Goodness.

As I answered all of the questions by the intake helper, it was a reminder that it is migration season – something we have been talking about for several weeks. Juveniles are finding themselves in trouble all over the place – so what do you do?

  1. You should have the phone number of your nearest wildlife rehabber in your contact list. Check and see if you have that and it is current.
  2. As much as you would like to, please do not feed the wildlife anything – anything. It could cause the to be worse. No cow’s milk, no baby formula! You can offer them a very shallow bowl of water – think saucer actually so they don’t drown.
  3. Do not pet them. The bird or animal is stressed enough. Any undue stress could cause them to have a heart attack.
  4. Keep them in a quiet, dark place. I have a large box that my organic groceries come in. On each side are holes for handles. This is good for the air circulation and allows the box to stay warm and dry while at the same time they are not seeing you.
  5. Don’t let your pets around the injured bird or animal.

Swainson’s Thrush does, during migration, often find itself in back gardens and parks. It often gleans for food on the ground. In our case it could also have been at any one of the feeders or on the ground where the other birds kick off seed. Something, however, had caused it not to be able to fly. It wanted to but just didn’t have the battery power. I hope that it does well in rehab and is on its way to its winter home soon.

Speaking of wildlife rehabbers, they love donations. Many of the raptors like to play with toys. Did you know that? It helps them from being bored. I cannot imagine being a Red Tail-Hawk imprinted on humans that cannot be allowed to fly free. The rehabbers are always in need of food including rabbit and cat/dog kibble. Many rehabbers post a list of wanted items on their website and, of course, they are happy for donations no matter how big or small. So when you think of gifting, think of these folks that are not for profit and survive on donations, please.

Our wildlife rehabber also has one other concern for people who feed the birds. “If you feed the animals in your yards, they may learn to depend on the availability of food from you and may not store for the winter months. So if you are going to feed later in the fall, it is best to continue feeding until the spring months.”

There is very little news out in Bird World. Birds are flying or sitting on eggs. The only ones that seem to be feeding little ones are the White-Bellied Sea Eagles and that continues to go well. Those babies are getting big. Look at those beautiful juvenile feathers coming in.

WBSE 28 can give as good as it gets. This nest has turned around for the good.

Tiny Little’s dad, White YW, is still in his territory as of this morning.

Aran still remains at the Glaslyn Nest. Mrs G was last seen on Sunday, 29 August. Aran does not normally leave til the middle of the month so his presence is not unusual. I need to check on the dates for White YW.

Can you see Aran?

Another male that is still at home is Louis up at Loch Arkaig. In fact, Louis is still feeding Aspen and Alder. I am not sure when it was that Dorcha left on her migration. This makes Louis’s fledglings some of the last to migrate. Here they are sunning themselves on a branch. — You will recall that Louis’s mate, Aila, did not return from migration this year. He made a nest with his new mate, Dorcha, away from the old nest with the camera. Louis is simply a fabulous dad. He even fishes at night if the family needs food. We wish them all the best when they do leave and look forward to their safe return next spring.

Last but never least, Diamond, the Peregrine Falcon in the scrape box on the ground of Orange University laid her third egg this morning around 06:29. Will she lay 4 eggs like the female in Melbourne? or will this be it and she will start the hard incubation. We wait and watch.

Thank you so much for joining me today. Take care and stay safe. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams or FB Pages where I took my screen shots: The Falcon Cam Project Charles Sturt University and Cilla Kinross, The Cumbrian Wildlife Trust and the Foulshaw Moss Osprey Nest, the Friends of Loch Arkaig FB Group, Bywyd Gwyllt Glaslyn, and the Sea Eagle Cam@Birdlife Australia Discovery Centre.