Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Welcome back!

Really, I'm welcoming myself back.

As you may have noticed, I haven't been posting for the past month!  It's not that there's been nothing to report, but rather than I was taking a well-earned vacation from being an educator.  For one month I took a break from school visits, tours, blogging, and tweeting (still plenty of hooting, though).  I watched the Humans celebrate the holidays with funny hats and lots of food.  I saw fireworks over the city usher in the new year.  I saw the final bird for 2012 be carried through the doors, and the first bird of 2013.  I saw volunteers travel away from the RMRP to visit their other family and friends, and I saw them come back, eager again to brave the cold, early mornings, and long, frigid days for the sake of us birds.

Now the weather is warmer, my vacation is over, and I'm ready again to regale you with tales of the RMRP. First off, a summary of the holidays:

Our final number of admissions for 2012 was 265 birds.  Not the most ever, but certainly a high caseload, and a particularly challenging range of species and injuries.  More details and stats on the 2012 cases (species composition, injuries breakdown, release rate, etc) coming sometime in the next few weeks, so stay tuned.

Bald eagle with lead poisoning and a wing injury
The first admission for 2012 was a Bald Eagle, and the last admission was a Northern Harrier.  For 2013, the first admission was, again, a Bald Eagle.  He's probably a fourth year male bird, suffering from lead poisoning, an eye injury, and a wing droop.  The Humans treat lead poisoning with chelation, a process which uses Calcium-EDTA to draw the lead out of the bloodstream.  He's finished with his first round of chelation, is taking a break for a few days to allow remaining lead to come out of the woodwork, so to speak, and he'll move on to a second round soon.  Lead poisoning often comes with neurological side effects, which could be causing the wing droop, so hopefully that will resolve as the lead is cleared out of his system.

If you remember, January 2012 had us taking care of four sick and injured Bald Eagles at one time, a scenario the Humans hope to not repeat this January.  Here's hoping these amazing creatures stay happy and healthy in the wild, and don't have to visit the RMRP for care.

Weighing the Merlin on a cold day - see her breath as she vocalizes? 
The cold temperatures over the past few weeks proved very challenging for birds and Humans alike.  In cold weather like that, Humans have to think about a wide range of care-related issues that aren't usually so critical.  Can we avoid disturbing the bird, so the bird can conserve its heat and energy?  Is the bird's food going to freeze before it has a chance to eat?  Can we clean with water today, or will it instantly freeze and create hazards for birds and volunteers?  Are the little birds with high metabolisms maintaining their weight in these cold temps?  Fortunately, the Humans at the RMRP have plenty of experience with conditions like these, and the birds were extremely well cared for, as usual.  As for the Humans themselves, they dealt with the cold with many layers of thermals and Carhartts, hand warmers, insulated boots, hot water bottles, and good attitudes despite the frigidity of their work.

At last, here we are, experiencing some warmer temps and sunny days as a reward for the past few weeks.  The warm weather has provided an opportunity to deep clean the cages, use the hoses again instead of just buckets, and de-ice the pathways and parking lots.  In the past couple of weeks, the Humans have admitted the Bald Eagle mentioned above, a Cooper's Hawk, and an American Kestrel.  In exchange, they've released a female Merlin that recovered from a broken wing, a very handsome male Great Horned Owl that came in emaciated, and a Red-Tailed Hawk that was admitted with a skull fracture and massive head trauma.

That last case, the Red-Tailed Hawk, is truly amazing.  You may remember her from this picture:
Red-Tailed Hawk with skull fracture and damaged eye
The head trauma rendered her right eye useless and problematic.  After prey-testing her to be sure she could hunt with just one good eye, she was brought to the Vet Teaching Hospital to have her eye removed.  She recovered well from the surgery, and went back to hunting live prey like she still had two good eyes.  Seriously, that bird was a killing machine, and she often tried to use her skills on the Humans taking care of her.  She was released last week, and, true to form, she spun around and tried to attack her releaser one last time before flying away to go kill more appropriately-sized prey.

One-eyed Red-Tailed Hawk after release! 
Everything else at the RMRP is tripping along nicely.  As always this time of year, the Humans are busy, busy, busy planning and preparing for the annual Gala and Auction event.  Auction items are coming in daily, so be sure to come to the event to snag the best of it!  Details on our website here, including information on Early Bird tickets, which are only available for a few more days.

I'll be writing again soon to post more pictures of birds and other goings-on, so be sure to check back soon! Also, I'll be creating a new page on this blog with profiles of all us Educational Ambassadors for the RMRP, so stay tuned for those as well.