Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Vet Check

   We referred a young Broadwing Hawk to the clinic (Animal Medical Center) for a checkup.  He was not yet able to fly, but was otherwise in good health.  The parents continue to feed these juvenile birds after they jump from the nest, so this one was fed a good meal, and returned to the area from which he came.

   Dr. White checks the young Broadwing Hawk for injuries.  Photo by Kristy Morris.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Kestrel Release!

   Four American Kestrels are released in prime habitat at Little Swamp Sanctuary after recovering from minor injuries.  They spent several weeks in a 36 foot long  flight cage learning to hunt prior to release.  Here they will catch the many grasshoppers and dragonflies that inhabitat the swamp.

   Joanne Williams prepares the first young bird for release.

   Audrey Diadiun prepares another........

   Kathleen Bennett prepares a kestrel for release.  (Jimmy watches from below.)

   Kristy Morris releases one of the kestrels  (Jimmy thinks he is helping)......

   Everyone shares photos.  Left to Right:  Joanne Williams, Audrey Diadiun, Barb Rogers, Kathleen Bennett, Kristy Morris.

   The kestrels enjoy the day more than anyone!

Monday, June 20, 2011

New Raptors in Need of Care.....

Just an update on some of the nestling owls:  The young barred owl being fostered by adult barred owls is being fed through the window by the adults.  Early one morning before the sun was up, I heard the adults calling with different vocalizations to the nestling; they seem to be teaching him different calls.  We also occasionally hear wild barred owls calling to the youngster in the cage.


   Young screech owls are doing well.  One that was in very poor condition from incorrect food has recovered, and all are retaining their fear of humans.

Photo by Kristy Morris

It helps to have a friend...........

Photo by Krisy Morris


We received young kestrels from several locations; most were in the process of fledging.  One was in the road, some were being attacked by feral cats.  They all were fed by hand for one day before being placed in the larger pen.  Below, Barb Rogers feeds the young kestrel held by summer intern, Kathleen Bennett.

Photo by by Kristy Morris

 They stayed only briefly in a nest box, then exploded out of the box and are learning from an adult female foster parent.  The foster parent is on the far left.  She was observed by intern, Kathleen Bennett, as she fed one of the fledglings.

                                     Photo by Kristy Morris

They become very possessive of their food.  They are fed mice, and have already started to hunt crickets.

Photo by Kathleen Bennett

In order to keep these young birds from becoming too habituated to people, they are fed through a feeding flap, and all photos are taken through this viewing window.  Here, Krisy Morris, one of our summer interns, photographs the young kestrels.

Photo by Kathleen Bennett


A Great Horned Owl is rescued from a likely death.  This owl was emaciated, but is now growing stronger with daily care.  She was named "Chance" by her finders.

Photo by Kathleen Bennett

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Keeping the "wild" in Wildlife

Five young owls were received in the past week for rehabilitation.  A few of these juvenile owls were injured or sick; others may have been pushed out of the nest early.  The challenge of raising these young owls, is to keep them from becoming habituated to people, and to help them retain their fear of humans, dogs, and predators.  They will need to learn to hunt for their food, choose the right habitat, communitcate with their own species, and display correct behavior for their species.  Much of this is made easier through the use of foster parents.  Adult owls of the same species will help to raise the young.

This young Barred Owl was given a partial nest box.  He hides behind the wall when people approach.  We are able to gain access if needed but otherwise, he is left to associate with his own species.  The foster parent is in a cage on the left.

From this view, you can see the foster parent (Wilma), and the juvenile in the background (Willie).  When the youngster can fly, both owls will live in a flight cage as the young owl learns hunting techniques from the adult owl.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Into the Mist

A Short-eared owl was turned in to us by an Isabella County Sherrif Deputy last fall.  Short-eared Owls are rare in Michigan, and are one of the most beautiful owls that exist.  Photographs do not do them justice.

Above, Barb Rogers (left) and Joanne Williams (right) examine the owl's injuries.  A fracture in the radius/ulna had rendered her unable to fly.  However, Dr. White was able to splint the wing, and she slowly healed over the winter and exercised in one of our large outdoor flight cages.

Short-eared Owls nest in the far North in open fields on the ground.  Although they sometimes nest in Michigan, they are extremely rare.  Great Horned Owls, also an open country owl, would drive them away, if found in the same territory.  For this reason, we released her in the Upper Peninsula, on one of our trips north to monitor peregrine falcons in early spring.  The release area has been known to have no Great Horned Owls.

She flew into the wind in the mist from the top of the cliff at Lake of the Clouds.  From there, she could locate the valley where the habitat was right for her.

By the next day, the mist had cleared and the ice had melted away.  The east end of  Lake of the Clouds, a remote valley at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park may be her new home.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Heading Home!

One of several Rough-legged Hawks was released recently.  Kathleen Bennett from Northern Michigan University assisted with Earth Day programs, and received the honor of releasing on of these magnificent hawks.

Note the very light head of this particular Rough-legged Hawk.  Their color varies from dark chocolate brown to almost white.

Kathleen's family gathers to view the event............

 Joe gives a brief talk on arctic birds...............

Kathleen very carefully positions the hawk for release.

 And she's off!  She will fly home to her arctic territory in a matter of days.  Her mate is likely already there.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

From Ontario..........

Ellie Maxwell, entomologist at Dow Gardens in Midland, found this Red-tailed Hawk down in a gulley and unable to fly.  She (the hawk) was sore and bruised and did not respond to treatment for many days.  After a  long stay in our outdoor cages, her health began to improve.

Note the USFWS band on her left leg.  This allowed us to trace her origin to a nest in Ontario.  She hatched from an egg in 2009, and was banded by Mr. Claude Radley. 

Joe hands her to Ellie for the release............................

And she' off time to find a mate and nest.  It is unlikely she was on territory when found, so she could be on her way back to Canada, or if Michigan suits her, perhaps she'll stay.