Friday, April 19, 2013

Red-hot Red-tail

Not too long ago, we played host to a red-tailed hawk who was suffering the effects of our long, harsh Vermont winter. She was emaciated and crawling with internal parasites, but she was full of fire and spirit – take a look back at her humble beginnings in the VINS rehab department.

Watch a video of this red-hot red-tail on her journey back into the wild.

In a little more than one month, this red-tail put on 220 grams – about ½ pound.  That doesn’t sound like much, but it’s quite a lot for a bird who weighs in at a meager 2.6 pounds. It’s the equivalent of a 130 pound human gaining 24.5 pounds in 40 days!

This special gal was the embodiment of everything we love about red-tailed hawks. She was graceful and wild and nothing short of spectacular. We suspect she was getting on in years – her dark amber eyes, bright red unblemished tail, and chocolate-hued body were good indications of her age – so she had certainly earned her red-tail attitude. During her time at VINS, she put on plenty of weight, got in some practice flights, and tested her new strength on live prey – and she’s ready to go!

As you’ll see in the video of her release, madam red-tail was, indeed, red-hot! She’s raising her hackles – the feathers on top of her head - and looking as fierce as possible. Though she gets a bit of a short start initially, once her freedom sinks in, she takes a nice long flight into the forest. Farewell, feisty lady!

Goodbye, VINS!

Releasing a barred owl back into the wild.
Today I had the chance to release a barred owl who came to VINS in February after being struck by a car. This will be the last bird I release for VINS, as my time here in the wildlife rehabilitation department comes to a close.

Watch a video of the owl's release!

I've been working at VINS for five years now, caring for all sorts of birds -- from nestling cedar waxwings and baby robins, to great blue herons and bald eagles. Every bird has been special and important, but some patients I remember more than others, like the osprey with vision problems who we tried desperately to save, but couldn't. Or the little hummingbird who came in with what the presenter thought were injured wings, but it turned out the hummer just had some spiderwebs wrapped around his feathers (that's how tiny hummingbirds are; spiderwebs can prevent them from flapping their wings!).

Beyond the beloved birds, the people I've met here at VINS have made my time here so special. Staff and interns, like Sara E., Calah, Lauren, Sarah S., Katie, Noella, Jenna, Hannah, and Chris (and all the other interns I've met along the way). Volunteers like Jack, Betsy, Marjory, Peg, Jeff, Lilah, Duff, Pat, and Sara have been so fun to work with and get to know. Thank you all for a wonderful five years here at VINS.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Baby, baby, baby, ohhhh!

Mallard duckling
Each spring and summer, VINS Wildlife Services cares for several hundred injured and orphaned baby birds. Watch our cute baby bird video!

We patch up baby birds' wounds, set their broken bones, and feed them specialized meals that mimic their diets in the wild. Once the birds are healthy enough and ready to live life on their own, we release them to the wild.

Caring for these birds means around-the-clock attention, feedings, and cleaning. Please consider donating to help us care for these precious lives!

Nestling barred owl.