Saturday, May 20, 2006

A bird day to remember


Isis, a mostly albino red-tailed hawk; a Program bird at RAPTOR

Soft-boiled eggs, anyone?

If every day was like this one, I would start walking into rooms backward so I could see myself coming. This morning, I went to RAPTOR Inc. to start my volunteering. I had such a blast! First we "did the mice", meaning cleaning the cages and feeding the feeder mice. And I learned how the mice are put down...quite humanely, I think. They are spun by their tails to disorient them and then a metal bar is pressed down on their necks to separate their spine. Quick, to the point. I though having rats would make me steal all the mice and set them free, but I was surprised at how cool and professional I felt about it. It's for the birds, so it's okay with me.
Then I got to help feed the birds. The fare was quail, big rats, little rats, big mice, little mice and pinkie mice. Yum. It was a birder's dream come true, to get that close to "real" birds of prey. These aren't fluffy little cutsie birds...they are fierce, proud predators who like to be anywhere but where they are. RAPTOR Inc. has a friend forever in me.
When I got home, I crashed on the couch for a bit, and Geoff quips,
"Hey, there's an interesting bird at the feeders."
A rose-breasted grosbeak. Can we say another life bird???
After dinner and ice cream at the nature preserve, it was home again to check the nests in the back yard. And I was greeted by not two chickadee babies, but FIVE, sticking their little faces out of the nest box and yelling for food. I got one very fuzzy shot, but I am leery of getting too nosy, since they are about a week old, and I don't want them to try and fledge early.
Sitting out on the swing talking to my Mom on the phone, a Great Blue Heron
(my signature bird) flew overhead.
The tree swallows are still around, but I'm not sure what phase of nesting they are in, because I don't want to bug them by lowering the gourd every day. As of 3 days ago, the nest was empty and the female isn't sitting...she's flying around like there are no eggs there,
so there probably aren't.
There were two cold eggs in the bluebird house, laid by House Sparrows (duh duh duh duh!)
So I decided to try something: a friend of my MIL suggested freezing the eggs and then putting them back, so the eggs don't hatch and the male doesn't go on a "nest vengeance" massacre on the other nests in the area. But we also thought that the eggs would crack if frozen, so I boiled some water and put the eggs in to soft-boil them. I then put them back in the nest. I will do this until they are all laid, and then see if the HOSP vacate the premises.
A birdy, birdy day!!!


MojoMan said...

An interesting reminder that in nature, some creatures must die so that others may live. I might have trouble with that job, though, because I don't even like to step on an ant.

But, even I could probably kill a sparrow if I thought it was dispalcing a bluebird.

Susan Gets Native said...

I don't think I could actually do the "bumping" as the director calls it. They do it so fast, I was relieved. I had talked to her before my first day, so I knew that was an aspect of the rehab.
I will be trapping house sparrows for any Cooper's hawks that may come in. And I really don't feel bad about it...they have chased off my bluebirds. Rrrr....

LauraHinNJ said...

Sounds like you got to do lots of neat stuff!