Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Bald Eagle Receiving Care

The VINS Wildlife Services department is currently treating a juvenile bald eagle, who was found grounded in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom Sept. 5.

See local news coverage of our eagle patient:


The bird was transported to VINS, and upon examination we found the eagle to have a fracture in his right wing. We also noted a splattering of blood on the underside of each of his wings, which led us to suspect he may have been shot. We took the eagle to Kedron Valley Veterinary Clinic (Woodstock, VT) for x-ray, and found indeed the eagle had been shot with a shotgun. In the x-ray, the shot shows up as small white circles -- there's no mistaking it. One piece of shot in particular is clearly the culprit of the fracture.

We immediately wrapped the eagle's wing to allow his fracture to heal properly. The wrap was removed after 2 weeks' time, and we found the wing to have healed nicely. The fracture -- though healed -- is still a bit fragile, so for now the eagle, which we believe to be male based on his size, is indoors in a smaller enclosure. Eventually he will be moved into our outdoor flight cage, where we can monitor his flight and see if his injuries have altered his flight ability. The eagle is eating heaping portions of fish and other meat daily. He is feisty, alert and bright-eyed -- all promising signs for a return to the wild.

Please check back here for updates, video footage of the eagle and to learn more about his daily care here at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Another Shot at Life

This Canada goose was brought to VINS August 24, spotted by a member of the public who noticed the bird was unable to fly.

The bird came to us emaciated and weak, but with no apparent injuries. We suspected lead poisoning might be the problem and upon x-ray, the VINS Wildlife Services department found the bird to b
e riddled with bird shot (see photo; x-ray courtesy of Kedron Valley Veterinary Clinic in Woodstock, VT), including a pellet from a pellet gun we believe contained lead. Luckily, the lead pellet was not in the bird's gizzard, which would have caused severe lead poisoning. We did treat the bird for lead, and also with several medications to treat his heavy parasite load (most wild birds carry parasites).

After some rest, relaxation and plenty of eating, the goose was back to health. We released him back into the wild Sept. 17. You can see photos of his release below. Good luck, goose! Photos by VINS volunteer Chiara Centrangolo.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Owls Hit the Big Screen

At VINS, we already know owls are cool. So it was no surprise many of the staff here got more than a little excited when word of Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole got out. This animated film, which opens today, is about a group of kidnapped owls who join forces to save their kingdom.

To celebrate the opening of this film, VINS' staff and our education barn owl (pictured above) will be at the premier of the movie at the Lebanon, N.H. Entertainment Cinemas 6 on Saturday, Sept. 25, 6:45-7:15 p.m. The movie follows at 7:25 p.m. Staff will be giving discounted VINS' admission tickets (where you can see all sorts of owls!) to the public. Click here for more information.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Grown & Gone

One of the orphaned northern harriers brought to VINS in August was released back into the wild last Friday. We released her in northern Vermont, full of open land with rodents aplenty.

While in our care, this harrier doubled in size and left a stunning, full-grown raptor. She spent time in our flight cage building up her flight muscles and hunting for live
mice in her enclosure. We live-prey test our raptors before releasing them to the wild to ensure they can hunt and survive on their own once out of our care.

You may remember this harrier came to VINS with a sibling. Unfortunately, the sibling did not come to us in as good health as the other -- presenting thinner and weaker -- and did not survive.

With migration season upon us, this hawk will instinctively migrate to a warmer climate, leaving the cold Vermont winter behind. She'll head to southern parts of the United States, or perhaps as far as Central or South America. Photos by VINS volunteer Chiara Cetrangolo.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Update: Great-horned Owl

The great-horned owl that came to VINS drenched in whey is still receiving care from the Wildlife Services department. The owl's feathers have been cleaned of whey, but we are still contending with a wound on one of her wing tips.

The wound is regularly cleaned and debrided of dead tissue to encourage new tissue growth, which hopefully will allow the wound to fully heal. This particular owl is a tough customer, and she is adamant about ripping
off the bandages we put on her wing tip. This is problematic as we do not want to expose her wound to further infection. After trying all sorts of methods to keep the bandage on her, we finally settled on duct tape -- definitely not a common tool here in the Wildlife Services department, but it works. The duct tape does not come in contact with the owl's wound -- it merely holds the bandage in place (which is no small feat with such a nitpicky bird).

The owl was recently moved to a larger enclosure, is eating well and is maintaining a bright and feisty attitude -- all good things. Check back for more updates on this big girl.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Look For It Now: Banded Garden Spider

Autumn is nipping at this summer's heels, but don't put your field guides away just yet! There's still time to take in plenty of flora and fauna in our own backyards. The meadow here at VINS is full of bright and hardy flowering plants and flowers. Canada goldenrod (Solidago canadensis) and great lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica) are growing tall over the soft flowers of rabbit-foot clover (Trifolium arvense).

Suspended in-between these late-summer flowers is the banded garden spider (Argiope trifasciata), of which our meadows are full. This garden spider is found hanging head-down it is web, which she will weave east-west between stems and reeds.

The female has yellow-silver striping on her back. She has a dark abdomen, which she will usually face south toward the sun -- important for this late-summer arthropod during the cooler weather. The male is smaller and not as frequently seen. The female will deposit her egg cocoon in her web in early fall, with hundreds of spiderlings emerging next spring.

You'll find these fantastic spiders until the
first freeze. The cold weather is coming: look for the banded garden spider now! (Photos clockwise from top left: banded garden spider, rabbit-foot clover and great lobelia.)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Wintering Raptors

Join VINS tonight, Thursday, Sept. 2, to hear tales from ornithologist Al Hinde about his studies and travels out west, and about Hinde's contributions to the field of ornithology and raptor studies. His presentation, "Wintering Raptors of the Great Basin: Oasis High in the Desert," will help prepare people for heading out into the field to witness the amazing fall migrations.

An accomplished ornithologist, Hinde has spent more than 20 years banding and studying the raptors of the Great Basin of Nevada and Utah, contributing to the knowledge of regional and national raptor ecology. His studies have led to the discovery of eight major concentration areas of at least 18 species of wintering raptors, including rough-legged hawks, red-tailed hawks, ferruginous hawks and great-horned owls.

This event is tonight from 7:00 - 8:30 p.m., and is free and open to the public. For more information, call (802) 359-5000, ext. 223.