Wednesday, June 13, 2012

General update: 6/12/12

The Humans have had another busy week taking care of sick and injured raptors at the RMRP.  Not only are there bird cases coming in daily, but there's smoke from the nearby forest fire to contend with (more on that later). 

Since last week, 11 injured and orphaned raptors have come through the critical care unit.  The majority of these are immature American Kestrels.  The Humans refer to these uninjured birds as "young-and-dumb", because there's nothing wrong with them other than making bad decisions during their first flight.  

When the Humans receive a call about an immature bird, the first question they ask the good Samaritan is "Can you find the nest?"  Often times the nest is nearby, and can be found by following either the peeps and screeches of other babies in the nest, or the aggravated screams of mom and dad as they watch over their grounded offspring.  If there's a nest nearby, the good Samaritan on the phone, or one of the RMRP Humans, will move the bird back near its nest, setting the bird on a branch that's off the ground and out of reach of lazy house cats, curious dogs, and hungry foxes. The addled kid will figure out how to get back up to the nest from its safe new perch.  Contrary to popular belief, parents have no problems accepting Human-contaminated chicks back into the nest.  They can't "smell" the Humans on the bird.  In fact, most of us can't smell at all. 

 If there' no nest in the area, the RMRP gets the bird, which is how we ended up with five American Kestrel kids (all from different nests), another immature Great Horned Owl (currently cozied up next to me), and our first immature Red-Tailed Hawk of the season.  They're all completely fine--just young-and-dumb...and hungry. 

Aside from immature birds, the Humans also admitted an adult Red-Tailed Hawk with a broken wing, and an adult Mississippi Kite from Sterling.  The prognosis on the Mississippi Kite (we call them Miki's around here) is very guarded.  We hardly ever see Miki's here, and when we do they're usually immatures.  When an adult comes in, it's usually because they're very injured.  Fingers crossed for the new guy. For those who've never seen one, this is what an adult Mississippi Kite looks like:
In other news, we only have two Bald Eagles!  Unfortunately, one of the original four passed away.  But the other one was a gunshot bird transferred from Wyoming to our large and excellent cage system for flight training and molting.  He soared out of here last weekend.  I'm hoping to nab some pics from a Human who was at the release so I can show you what it was like.  The two Bald Eagles that remain are the long-shot adult with the leg problems and confidence issues, and the high voltage trauma adult with a healing wing wound from a power line.  I'll keep you updated! 

We also kicked out the Turkey Vulture that had been here since last summer.  He flew away to join a kettle (group) of Vultures living in La Porte.  

As for other birds, a lot of the kids (including some of the Kestrels and the one young Screech Owl) are ready to attend mouse school.  As soon as they prove that they know what to do with a mouse [read: catch it, kill it, eat it], they'll be released to the wild.  The Great Horned Owl with the hole in her face is gaining weight (and attitude and strength), and the wound is slowly healing.  The Swainson's Hawks are waiting to finish a molt so they can be released.

Okay, that's enough about birds, how about that enormous wildfire burning just west of here?  For those of you who don't know, a very large forest fire is raging away in the foothills outside Fort Collins.  It's called the High Park Fire, and as of today it's 46,000 acres and 10% contained.  It was started naturally by a lightning strike.  Thousands of Humans have been evacuated, one life has been lost, and well over 100 homes have burned to the ground.  The RMRP has not received any birds from the burn area, but the smoke here in town is a hazard that the Humans are dealing with.  Birds have much more sensitive respiratory systems than Humans (remember the canary in the coal mine?), so the Humans are making sure we're not being disturbed so we won't start breathing fast or heavy.  A lot of the Human staff and volunteers are involved in either fighting the fire, or evacuating from it.  So far no one has suffered any losses.  Here are some pictures from the fire, all taken at or from the RMRP. 

Day 1 (June 9, 2012)

Today (June 13, 2012). The sky would be blue if it weren't so smoky.

Today. The view of the mountains is completely gone. 

Today. Sunbeams shining down through the smoke in the cages. 

On a final note, the Renaissance Festival in Larkspur, Colorado is in full swing.  The RMRP is there every Saturday and Sunday all summer long as "Ye Royal Birds of Prey".  This weekend's theme is Ale Fest!  I can't imagine a better time to visit.  Hope to see you there!

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