Friday, March 30, 2012

Bald Eagles Receive Pedicure

OK, our bald eagles didn't really receive pedicures ... or did they???

Take a look at our video and you be the judge.

Twice a year, all of our permanent resident birds receive full health exams by the trained staff here at VINS. As you'll see in this video, one of our two exhibit bald eagles has his talons and beak coped (or trimmed). In the wild, these birds would naturally wear down their talons and beaks at a faster rate; we help our exhibit raptors out by doing a bit of trimming as part of their bi-annual health checks.

You'll notice our raptors wear hoods during their exams. This helps keep them calm by preventing them from seeing all that is going on around them: the staff moving about, the clippers coming toward their beak, a vaccination on its way to their thigh, etc.

Both our bald eagles proved to be in good health after their exams, and are sporting nicely trimmed talons and handsome beaks. Come see for yourself at the VINS Nature Center!

In the top photo, Nature Center Operations Manager Chris Collier uses a dremel to trim a bald eagle's beak, while VINS intern Hannah Goldman holds the bird. In the bottom photo, Goldman smiles as the eagle awaits his health check.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Oh babe, I hate to go...

It appeared to be a little hard for this barred owl to say goodbye to staff here at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science. The owl, recently released back into the wild after successful rehabilitation here at VINS, took a while to fly from VINS intern Priya Subbarayan's outstretched arms, as you'll see in our video.

You might remember this fine-looking barred from an earlier blog we did featuring the bird's wing wrap removal. After a few month's of care, the owl's head trauma and wing fracture healed, and we returned him back to his home! Have a great summer, owl!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Golden eagles: check!

Yesterday, VINS staff donned heavy-duty welding gloves and tackled golden eagles. Sounds a little weird, but it's all in the name of health!

Watch our video of VINS staff examining golden eagles.

Twice a year, all of our exhibit raptors -- from screech owls to turkey vultures -- are taken out of their enclosures and given a full health exam. We check their eyes, ears, throats, mouths, wings, feet and everything in between. We weigh them, provide appropriate vaccinations and make sure their original injury sites are stable -- whether it's a missing eye or an old fracture in a wing.

While we love to handle all of the birds we have here on exhibit, the golden eagles always present a special challenge. Getting up close and personal with a 12-pound raptor who's got talons that could pierce your skull always makes for a memorable day.

It's an honor for us to be in the presence of such powerful creatures, and we are proud to provide homes for these non-releasable raptors.

Stay tuned for more videos and photos of Health Check Day. Above left, the female golden eagle has her feet checked. Right, the male golden eagle has his beak coped (trimmed).

Friday, March 2, 2012

In the 'Neck' of Time

This pileated woodpecker was found along a road, unable to fly, in Middlebury, VT. With a wing injury, a gaping wound on her neck, and a snowstorm on the way, this girl was rescued just in the nick of time! Thank you to the couple who drove this bird several hours to VINS on a snowy Saturday morning.

Watch a video of this woodpecker's wound care.

Upon examination, we found an open wound on the bird's neck, which we suspect form
ed when she was clipped by a passing car. While no fracture was found in the bird's right wing, we noticed it drooped a bit, so we wrapped her wing up in case there was an undetected shoulder injury. We'll keep the wrap on for a few weeks to stabilize her wing.

Already the woodpecker's neck is healing up nicely, and once we remove her wing wrap we'll be able to assess her chances of returning to life in the wild. So far, so great!

Below, VINS interns Priya Subbarayan (left) and Hannah Goldman work on the woodpecker.