Baby Season is Here!

With spring arriving, so has baby season come to the Medina Raptor Center!  As Great Horned Owls are some of the first nesters of the year, we currently have an influx of seven of these babies that are all in various fledgling stages.  Fledgling is a stage in a bird’s life when they are growing their flight feathers and beginning to venture out of the nest.  At this point in their lives, they are not flying on their own and their parents are still bringing them food, but the nest has become crowded so they do a lot of exploring on the branches around them.  They’ll use their developing feathers to give them a little boost as they hop from branch to branch, and they are not very graceful or coordinated while they do this.

800_1967It’s during this stage that we often get calls about babies that are down on the ground.  What is often misunderstood is that these babies aren’t necessarily as helpless as we fear–the parents are around somewhere keeping an eye on their young, and these fledglings will use their beaks and talons, along with their awkward jumping ability, to get themselves back up tree to their parents.  In most cases, if the baby is left alone during this time, it is much better off finding its way back up a tree to the parents.  When we get calls about babies on the ground, we will often ask a lot of questions to determine things such as how long the bird has been on the ground, if the parents have been seen or heard, and if the bird is mobile and moving around.

However, sometimes fledging doesn’t always go well and babies do get hurt during this stage.  That’s where the Medina Raptor Center steps in to take care of these babies, providing them with all the care and attention they need to get better and be released back into the wild.

In addition to all of the Great Horned Owl babies, we also have a pair of Eastern Screech Owls that came to us because the tree where they were living had been cut down.  These owls are the youngest we have ever received a the Center and our volunteers are wesobabies-12orking around the clock to give them all the food they need to get big and strong.  This care is important because all raptors are born altricial, or helpless.  They rely on the parents to provide them with warmth and food.  These babies could barely move themselves around because their legs could not yet support their tiny weight.

The other concern we have when we have babies come in this young is that they will become imprinted on humans.  Imprinting is when a bird (or animal) identifies with the first thing they see or hear.  If a bird imprints on a human, this means we can’t release them to the wild because they may not be afraid of humans, they might not hunt for themselves or be able to reproduce.

When babies come in800_1858 this young, we are take extra measures to prevent imprinting–this means no talking in the hospital, we play the sounds and calls of the baby’s species, and any time we come in contact with the babies, we wear camouflage, masks and gloves to prevent the bird from associating anything with humans. The ultimate goal of rehabilitation is to release the bird back to the wild so that it can hunt and reproduce, so all of the measures we take is to give the birds in our care that best possible chance.

As the raptors begin to have their babies, the ducks and geese in the area have already laid their eggs and their ducklings and goslings are hatched and following around their parents.  Where raptors are born helpless, waterfowl are precocial, which means that upon hatching, they can begin swimming and eating on their own.  They do stay with their parents, however, following them to a source of water.

So what do you do if you find a baby?  We have some wonderful information found here on what to do if you’ve found a baby or an injured bird.  And if you’re not sure what to do, you can always call us and we will be happy to provide advice on the best thing to do for the animal.

 

Ode to a Dead Tree

Ode To A Dead Tree
From Laura Jorden

In the Pleasure of Dead Trees, Justin Isherwood describes  the ongoing contributions of a tree to its habitat after its own life is over. “There is nothing so alive and abundant in nature as a dead tree. It reminds me of a frat house; over crowded, unkempt and prone to late night parties, not to mention the local cops know the address by heart. A dead tree I have learned is better to watch than a live tree.  If you want art and drama in the front yard, all the passion and pathos of ruined civilizations, tend a dead tree.

Dying trees are full of drama and are alive until they finally become mulch in the ground because nature has a way of putting everything to use. Cavities become hollowed out by deer mice, insects, squirrels and woodpeckers. These cavities then become homes for all sorts of other birds.

Trees can be a source of childhood memories.   I remember growing up with a 200+ year old white oak tree in my backyard.  When I was youngster it was the biggest thing I had ever seen. Even today I have not had the privilege to see a larger tree. I loved that tree and the squirrels and owls that lived inside it. I remember when my father built a huge box around it to protect it from the mower blades constantly hitting the huge roots. When the house sold the first thing the new owners did was cut the old tree down.

It seems to me that whenever people move into an area, down come the trees only to be displaced by an ever demanding lawn.  When all the rose bushes and elderberries and mulberries have been removed, flowers and non-native bushes and plants take their place. Lawns are fertilized,  silently  growing and waiting for the lawn mowers to keep them trimmed to perfection.

If you love birds and nature be open to looking at things differently.   Consider not using chemicals and let a few old trees end their days with you.

Well that’s my plea for dead trees and for homes for our feathered friends.  Every spring we send out a message to not cut down trees down in the spring. We are constantly receiving calls about downed baby squirrels, baby birds, and baby owls that have been displaced by tree cutting.  If, for safety reasons you must remove a tree, please consider putting up a nest box in its place to ensure that returning birds will have a home.

Here are just a few of the many cavity dwelling birds in our area:

Tree Swallows Wrens Warblers Great Horned Owls BarredOwls
Chickadees Nuthatches Screech Owls Wood ducks Flickers
Bluebirds Barn Owls Mergansers Woodpeckers

Released Bald Eagle Spotted!

Sometimes when we release a bird back into the wild, they have been banded and we hope for the best.  When they’re released, we feel that they are 100% rehabilitated and can succeed in the wild, but we just don’t know, and so if a banded bird is sighted, it is of great importance to us.  In the case of this juvenile Bald Eagle, we not only know that he’s doing well, but we receive occasional updates from Facebook about it!

This juvenile Bald Eagle came to us in the summer of 2015 after his nest fell and he fell into the waters.  Thanks to the efforts of nearby rescuers, they were able to get him out of the water and bring him into us to allow him to recuperate.

Once we felt that he was on his way to a recovery, MRC worked with the American Eagle Foundation in Tennessee and they offered to complete his rehab by allowing him to live with the eagles they have at their facility and he was released by hacking tower in August, tagged with the patagial tag “N5”.

Since then, we have received sightings of him heading north, and we have just received recent reports of him hanging around in Southeast Ohio.  This is a wonderful success story of rehabilitation and shows the importance of why we band birds before releasing them!

Ban on Live Bird Exhibitions Lifted

Great News! We just received word that the Department of Agriculture has LIFTED THE BAN on off site Live Bird Exhibitions! This means our Educational Ambassadors can go out and educate again! We have already scheduled several events and will be adding more throughout the year. We hope to see you all out there at our programs!

If you would like to schedule a personalized program for your group visit our Group Program page for more information. You can call the center at 330-667-2386 or email us at MedinaRaptor@gmail.com to schedule the program.