Thursday, July 30, 2009

What's Cookin' at VINS? Rachael Ray!

Food Network star Rachael Ray made a stop at VINS July 22. While Ray wasn't at our Quechee location to cook up a meal, she got things cookin' with the release of five yellow-bellied sapsuckers who were patients in the VINS Wildlife Services rehabilitation department.

The sapsucker release was part of a tour Ray and husband John Cusimano took of VINS, which will be a featured segment on the cook's travel show, Rachael's Vacations.

The five young sapsuckers originally came to VINS June 23, when a man noticed he accidentally destroyed their nest after cutting down a tree in the yard. Sapsuckers are cavity-nesters, and can sometimes be found nesting in holes in trees. The parents flew off and did not return once the tree fell, so the staff of VINS Wildlife Services took over as sapsucker parents -- feeding the birds and keeping them warm as their parents would have. Sapsuckers like to eat -- you guessed it, sap -- from trees. While we don't have ample access to sap, a mixture of good ol' Vermont maple syrup and water does the trick. The sapsuckers also received plenty of peanut butter mixed with mealworms, stuffed into logs. That's an ideal treat for these woodpeckers to peck at, as they would drill into trees in the wild for sap and insects.

Ray and her husband each had the opportunity to release one of the sapsuckers. Cusimano held one of the sapsuckers before releasing it, while Ray opted to open the box containing the birds to release another sapsucker.

VINS rehabilitates and releases back into the wild hundreds of birds each year. Please join Rachael Ray as a friend of VINS by making a donation today and support this important work.

Rachael's Vacations will air the segment on VINS Nature Center in early 2010. In the photo above, from left to right, John Cusimano, Rachael Ray, and VINS staff Sara Eisenhauer and Chris Collier.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Release of the Mighty Ducks!

Many moons ago, VINS Wildlife Services took in several clutches of young, orphaned wood ducklings. Okay, it wasn't many moons ago -- more like 2 months ago -- but with the countless buckets of duck weed we've gone through and loads upon loads of towels we've laundered, it sure does seem like ages ago since we first took in the little woodies.

Just last week, we had the pleasure of seeing these almost-fully-grown-up ducks head out into the real world. We released the wood ducks together in one large group. While initially the groups were separated while young -- since some were older and therefore larger than others -- their last few weeks were spent together in our outdoor songbird aviary. True, wood ducks certainly aren't songbirds, but the aviary provided the group of 10 with space for a kiddie pool and ample room to roam around. VINS staff members Audrey Gossett and Ian Miyashiro released the ducks at a large pond surrounded by forest -- great wood duck habitat!

Please click here to see a video of wood ducks' release into the wild!
And compare and contrast the size of the ducks from May to July in the photos below!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

One... Two... Three... Four... Five... Six!

UPDATE: We have some hardy eaters on our hands here, with each belted kingfisher eating about 3 minnows every hour for 11 hours each day! That's about 200 minnows every day of the week! Please consider making a donation to Wildlife Services to help us care for these young birds, who will likely be in our care for weeks, if not months. Please see the "Donate" button at the top, left-hand side of this page to help... and thank you : )

Six baby belted kingfishers arrived at VINS Wildlife Services this morning. Yesterday, a man was out bulldozing in his yard when he disrupted a cavity nest in which seven of the young birds were nesting. Mom and Dad Kingfisher flew off from the nest and did not return after several hours passed. When one of the original seven babies died, the man knew it was time to call a rehabilitator. So now we have them in our care. All birds seem to be in good health, and are being fed 2-3 minnows every hour.

Kingfishers are found year-round throughout Vermont and much of the United States, and are often heard before they're seen. They have a tremulous, trilling cry that they sing loud and clear while flying. You can often spot kingfishers above a river or lake, perched on a tree branch or power line, where they get a -- well -- bird's-eye-view of the water and the fish moving within it. Once they spot a fish, they plunge into water to grab it with their large beaks.

In our video below, Wildlife Services' staff Ian and Sara hand-feed minnows to one of the kingfishers.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Little, Green, Minnow-Eating Machine!

A long-necked cutie made his way into VINS Wildlife Services on June 27. The fledgling green heron, with his bright yellow legs and downy feathers, is a bit of a rarity in Wildlife Services (although they are found throughout Vermont). Although we're sorry he's injured, we all appreciate the opportunity to work with this wading bird and see him up close.

The young heron was attacked by a dog. Initially the heron was brought to a rehabilitator in northern Vermont, but was transferred here where we could better accommodate the bird's needs.

The heron has a fracture in his tibiotarsus -- a bone in the bird's leg below the femur. The leg has been splinted by Wildlife Services staff, and the heron is doing well. He's being fed whole minnows throughout the day. His splint is due to come off on July 5 so that we can check on the healing progress of the bone. In the video above, you can see the splint as well as a special shoe we made to keep his toes flat while the splint is on. Also, note the minnows swimming in one of the bowls beside him!

And in other news...

Nestling American Kestrel: Abducted!
A lot of the babies that come into VINS Wildlife Services are considered "abducted, healthy" nestlings or fledglings. These are the birds that have been well-cared for by the bird parents, but who a human figured was injured because the youngster wasn't in a nest. It's an easy mistake to make, as it can be difficult to discern whether a young bird on the ground needs help. Often times, however, a baby bird on the ground just needs to be re-nested or is simply fledging -- meaning the bird is trying out his wings, and doesn't quite have the whole flying thing down.

We use the term "abducted" as essentially a bird was stolen, or bird-napped, from its proper habitat. However, we realize that people are just trying to do the right thing and help an animal, and there's no maliciousness involved in the bird's "abduction." For more info on when to rescue a baby bird and when to leave it alone, read our Baby Bird Facts.

The American kestrel featured in the video above is considered an "abducted" nestling. He was found sitting on a family's front porch. When brought in for examination, Wildlife Services' staff deemed the bird in good health -- a bird who should have been re-nested with its siblings and parents. Since the bird is healthy and since it's always best to have the proper parents for a baby bird, we are going to try to re-nest the kestrel with another group of baby kestrels known to be nesting on a local man's property. As long as the birds are the same age, the mother and father kestrel should accept the newbie as their own.