Another Wednesday, another day volunteering at the Bird Treatment and Learning Center. I'm becoming more familiar with what we need to do, but still need to be told.
Today I was charged with taking care of the Golden Eye duck. That meant getting him out of the cage, getting his keel and feet medicated with ointment, cleaning the cage and returning him to it, and making sure he had his food.
|The duck was making his move, keeping a golden eye on me while heading to the edge of the netting before hopping into the water left after draining the tank.|
It's always a contest trying to get a water bird out of a cage that has water so they can swim around. Who would win today?
First I needed to turn off the heater for the water and open the valve to let the tank drain. Then I removed the food and weighed it so we'd know if he was eating, and how much, and removed all the crates and netting that's set up for him to sit on.
The challenge was catching the Golden Eye … putting a towel over him so I'd not hurt him, making sure to keep his wings close to his body so he couldn't harm himself. And I needed to keep the towel over his head so he'd remain calm, mostly. Easier said than done. He's getting pretty wiley as he's been here a few months.
|The evil Golden Eye ... giving me the eye as he moved to the far side of the tank.|
As I moved in on him, he moved away from me, to the bottom of the tank and to the far wall. It's a good thing since you don't want the birds to be friendly, but then the only way to catch him is to get into the cage and tank with him. I was up for it; it was my job, and in I went. I came out with the duck, but quite a bit wetter than when I went in. So, who won that contest? Guess I'd call it a draw. We both took some hits … him caught, me wet.
I asked for some help to get his keel and feet medicated, and while I was waiting for help and to get it done, he bit me. On the hand, on the webbing between my thumb and finger. It's not as though he has shark teeth, but he was sure nipping away, and I could feel it. Interesting feeling, duck bites. They sure weren't love bites but no broken skin, not even a hole in my thin exam glove.
|Back home to a clean cage and tank ... and dinner is served.|
After all of this, my next chore was helping clean a couple of eagle mews. This is physical, hard work, and I was sweating. Scrub the walls and floor with a soapy type of cleaner, then rinse. Cleaning and scrubbing off bird poo can be difficult. The dark stuff (I learned today) is the actual poo and the white stuff is used to help keep their nests glued together, so the white stuff sets up like concrete. Time for a break … and to get my head undizzified (yep, no real word).
|Bird poo, eagle mew. How do they get it halfway up the wall?|
Another duck, a Mallard drake, also needed to be moved so I got to pick him up, too. He really didn't like me, backing away, ducking (haha) and weaving, crouching down and hissing at me. I was just holding on to him while he had a quick cage-cleaning, then back in so he could give me a “look.”
|His head got out from under the towel, but the Mallard didn't bite me.|
Two of the volunteers got the call to go pick up a downed raven on the other side of town. These folks drive in from Soldotna to volunteer, and that is pure dedication.
Back to the eagle mew to finish cleaning. There are a few open ones for a change. Usually the birds are kept indoors til we know they are ready to start exercising their wings, then are moved to outside mews while they build up their wing muscles. This prepares them to be taken to the flight line where they will be flight tested and to get used to flying around prior to being released.
|Salmon for the eagles, mice for the owl and berries for the Waxwings.|
We were all working very efficiently today, and within two hours were nearly finished. There was some laundry to fold and a couple of birds to feed, but pretty much everything was done.
Then the raven arrived, big, beautiful, shiny, black. And beady bird eyes that could drill a hole through you. He was sitting in a dog kennel, and just watched us, never missing a thing. This raven might have some issue as he was on the ground and not flying, but there didn't appear to be anything wrong with his mental attitude.
|I don't believe there's anything common about this Common Raven at all.|
Sharon, Terry and I did an initial intake exam. We got out the tape, as once he was removed from the kennel we needed to apply the tape around his beak so he couldn't rip us to shreds with his beak. Sharon got the blanket over him and got him out. She and Terry got the blanket from over his head and I taped his beak. One danger down.
|Tape. Check. Beak out of commission.|
The next danger was the talons … grab the feet, hold firmly. I got to do that, too.
|Talons and feet must be held firmly so you don't get grabbed.|
Sharon checked his wings, moving them out to see if they appeared to have any problems, or anything broken. While it wasn't 100 percent, it appeared the right wing had some issues. I felt one wing to get an idea of what a healthy wing feels like, straight, no knobs or apparent breaks.
|Wing exam. Check.|
We weighed him, then determined the amount of meds to give him, based on his weight. I was allowed to give it to him. Load the syringe, try to get it under the tongue, not straight on, but to the side of the beak. It was kind of how I used to give wormer to my horses years ago. Yahoo. Success. Or at least we didn't see any of it spit out.
|A pencil in the beak allowed us to get the syringe in and medication given.|
The last task for the day was to get him to a clean cage and provide water and food … a veritable birdie buffet … apple, salmon, birdie cornbread, red meat, hamburger, broccoli, hard-boiled egg. I'm sure he doesn't realize how good we were to him.
He only had beady birdie eyes for us.