Saturday, October 20, 2007

RAPTOR-licious update

RAPTOR updates...
But first, a lesson in coping.
In the wild, raptors' beaks are naturally worn down every day from breaking bones in their prey and pulling meat off the bones. Captive birds sometimes need our help in keeping their beaks in good order. An overgrown beak can seriously interfere with the bird's ability to eat. When Lorelei and I arrived at RAPTOR today (for a meeting) Jeff, Marilyn and Melinda were doing some "face" work on our two education red-tails.
Isis beak coping

First it was Isis' turn. It takes three people to cope properly. One person holds the feet (the BUSINESS end of a red-tail!), one person keeps the mouth open (with a pencil or other small wooden rod) and then one person who does the actual coping. Jeff uses a Dremel drill to slowly shape the beak.
(Isis is wearing a falconer's hood to protect her eyes from any flying bits)

coping 2

It's more than just whacking off a bunch of the beak at the tip. The drill will make the beak hot if left in one place for any length of time, so he gently sweeps one side of the beak, then switches to the other side. Removing a tiny amount at a time prevents a huge chunk coming off.

Isis much better

All better. But I was glad I wasn't putting her back in her mew. The birds are rightly pissed off by being handled. See how pale her beak is? Compare to Scarlet's beak below:

Scarlet coping

Afterwards, I was asked to bring Lucy back in from her sunbathing in the yard. I grabbed some mice and continued our trust-training. Melinda, one of our tireless rehabbers, grabbed my camera and took some pictures for me. Thanks, Melinda. They turned out really nice!
BTW: Melinda is looking for a good camera to go with her Swarovski scope. Anyone with suggestions?

Offering mouse to Lucy
"You want this, Luce?"

I don't think I want that
"I don't feel like eating right now, thanks."
(The open mouth means that I had my hand too close to her face. Warning noted.)

Talking with Lucy
Since she didn't want to eat, we just had a chat.

I'm so pretty
I do so love this bird. Peregrines have such beautiful markings...during programs, I like to point out to audiences Lucy's "Striped pajamas".
And that proud look in her eye...somehow mixed with a look of sweetness. I don't know how she does it. Holding a bird who, if in the wild, is the fastest moving creature on the's humbling, to say the least.

If I have success with Lucy feeding on the glove, I may start working with the other birds. I hear that red-tails are so food-aggressive, it's easy to train them. That would be fun. As long as they don't get my finger too.

Education bird update:
No-No, the barn owl, has been under the tender administrations of Marilyn and Melinda for a full two months. They have been trying to save his wing from being amputated at the wrist. (Birds have bones in their wings like we do in our arms) But even after all their care, our vet has determined that it would be best for the bird to have the damaged wing partially amputated. Poor guy. But he will be good to go very soon.
Still waiting to work with the barred owl, who will be taking the place of Elvis. I keep hearing she is very sweet. I can't wait to start working with both of these owls. Imagine a barn owl in one of my programs! I am so thrilled!


Liza Lee Miller said...

Wow! Amazing pics. I've dremeled many a dog's nails but a hawk's beak? Mmmmm, no thanks! I enjoyed watching though. Very cool.

Love the pictures of you with Lucy, too. What a beauty!

NatureWoman said...

I love Lucy and her striped pj's too! Melinda took great photos of you two. And cool photos on coping, wow, you have some brave & kind people there!

Mary said...

I could hardly look at the coping.

But, I did enjoy seeing you and Lucy. Great photos! The two of you have a good relationship going on, Susan.

Be careful with those red-tails...

I can't wait to hear the names of the barn owls.

KatDoc said...

I'm disappointed in the lesson on coping. I thought you were going to help me get through patients dying unepectedly, staff members fighting with each other or calling in sick with no back-up, or the spector of an ex-boyfriend suddenly reappearing. (It's been a rough week.)

No, seriously, love the beak trimming photos. I didn't know it was called "coping," so you taught me something new today.

I think Barn Owls are my favorite owls, because of their wonderful faces. Can't wait to see yours at a program some day.

Lucy is gorgeous as always. Nice photos of the two of you.


Lynne said...

Those are terrific pictures of you and Lucy! I hope the trust training is going well. I' can't wait to see the new owls.

Dave said...

Nice post on beak coping.

mon@rch said...

Never thought about them having the PJ's on! LOL WOW you guys have been busy over at raptor!

dguzman said...

Wow, I didn't even know you had to cope their beaks; thanks for the lesson.

On the "mouth open, warning noted" part--why does she open her mouth to warn you? Is that like a "look in here, baby, because your finger's about to be in here" kind of thing? Sorry if it's a stupid question; just want to know what's going on.

Anonymous said...

The mouse in your previous post did not seem to be coping too well.


Susan Gets Native said...

Kathi: Ex? OMG. Give me all the details!
Swami: You are a sick man.

Delia: It's not a stupid question. With all the birds, if we get our hands too close to their mouths, their first instinct is to bite. Since most of our birds are fairly "manned down", they can resist the actual biting. But they will take a chunk out of you if you don't listen to their body language. So Lucy was telling me that I was too close. And I backed off. I watched her bite someone once...he was helping me put on new jesses, and she laid into him. It's not meanness, by any means. Just being a bird of prey.

dguzman said...

Thanks for the info, Susan! I bet that would hurt like the bejeebus!

KatDoc said...

Hey, Susan - Are you packed yet? Don't forget your 'jammies and your toothbrush.

Are you taking a lap top with you so you can blog directly from Cape May? If the whole Flock is going to be in New Jersey, will I have any blogs to read, or will I have to go "cold turkey?"

Can't wait to hear all about it, either from the road or when you get back home.

~Kathi, trying to contain her jealousy, and hoping for a really fabulous Yard Bird to make up for missing the trip