Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Spring (and a Ruffed Grouse) Is In the Air

When a ruffed grouse comes into VINS Wildlife Services for rehabilitation, there's usually an audible sigh of dismay from staff members. It's not that we don't love grouses, it's just that their high stress level makes keeping them comfortable -- and quite frankly keeping them alive -- a challenge. We keep their handling down to a minimum and enclose them in a quiet area to help keep their stress levels down, but even with those precautions grouses are tough customers.

This grouse came in April 6 after being struck by a car. He had some soft tissue damage, dehydration and a terrible-looking wound on his head. He basically was scalped in the accident, and his skull was exposed. But after being stitched up by Wildlife Services Director Allison Stark and a few weeks in rehab, the bird was deemed releasable! Please take a peek at our video of the grouse's April 24 release by Wildlife Services staff member Sara Eisenhauer.

In other news... Each year, the staff at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science dedicates a full day's work to a thorough spring cleaning of the nature center. Enclosures are scrubbed. Perches are repaired. Tents and teepees are assembled. Trails are tidied up.

When the enclosures for our exhibit birds are cleaned and necessary repairs made, the birds are removed to prevent what would likely be a stressful situation for them. After removing our two golden eagles from their enclosure and crating them, their enclosure received a thorough scrub-down, new perches and even a new, larger tub to bathe in. But it was when we put the goldens back into their revamped enclosure that things really got interesting! Take a look at the following photos of the golden eagles being moved back into their enclosure! (Photos by VINS volunteer and birder extraordinaire Bob Heitzman.)

Above, the female golden eagle pushes with her talons at the crate door, rearing to go.

Above and below, the female golden flies out of her crate and back to her enclosure. Check out those long legs!

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