Education and Rehabilitation at Wild Wings Sanctuary

November 6, 2012 by  
Filed under Features

With the goal of promoting environmental conservation through education, Wild Wings Inc. serves as a sanctuary and rehabilitation center focusing primarily on raptors, and offers educational programs to encourage awareness of, and personal responsibility for, the natural world of which we are all a part. Operating as a not-for-profit corporation, Wild Wings is located in the Mondon Ponds Park, near the intersection of Pond Road and Clover Street, Honeoye Falls, NY. Visitors to the sanctuary will be able to view the more than twenty birds of prey which, due to their injuries, are unable to be released into the wild and have become permanent residents at Wild Wings.

The permanent residents of Wild Wings include a magnificent female Golden Eagle named Isis that broke both wings when colliding with a car in 1995. Athena is a female Bald Eagle that suffered a gunshot wound and is no longer able to fly, while the male Harris’ Hawk Sierra was unsuccessful as a falconry bird and is unable to hunt for his food. Resident owls that have suffered various injuries and are unable to fend for themselves include the male Barred Owl named Hunter; the one-eyed female Eastern Screech Owl named Wink; the male Long-eared Owl named Cody; and a Saw-Whet Owl named Blaze. The birds are housed in large enclosures along a pathway, offering visitors a close-up view. Feeding of the birds is not permitted, and visitors are asked to refrain from making sudden movements and not make too much noise as this startles the birds.

Workshops, demonstrations and other educational programs are all part of the effort Wild Wings is making to educate the public about the difference each one of us can make in preserving nature and the environment. Among the Wild Wings Classes are Owls and Creatures of the Night; Nest Boxes; Animal House; Critter Class and Owl Pellet Program. The Wild Wings Raptors on the Road is a series of programs where trained volunteers travel to various venues to perform live bird of prey demonstrations, conduct owl pellet dissection workshops, give art and photography students the opportunity to use live raptors as models, and a general ‘meet and greet’ with a variety of birds. Wild Wings also offers programs to fulfill requirements for New York State Boy Scout and Girl Scout badges.

The beautiful setting at Mendon Ponds Park offers visitors the opportunity to enjoy a day in the outdoors with nature hikes and guided tours. Add to this a visit to the Wild Wings facility and you have the perfect venue for a family outing.

Wind Power Threat to Birds

February 15, 2011 by  
Filed under Features

Every country around the world is looking for alternative energy sources that will not harm the environment, as conservation of our planet has been at the forefront of many political discussions. Even though new technologies are being developed, every change made does have an impact on the environment in some way. Creating energy from wind also poses danger to the wildlife, especially to the lives of birds. The Fish and Wildlife Service in the United States has asked government to implement guidelines to energy developers, as rising bird deaths are causing great concern.

Wind energy operations could lead to the deaths of millions of birds if the correct guidelines are not put in place. In the year 2005, a report was released to highlight the threat to birds through manmade structures such as wind turbines, towers, power lines and telecommunication towers. The numbers were staggering, estimating that more than five hundred million birds were being killed by collisions with these structures in one year in the United States. The 2009 report released by the Fish and Wildlife Service showed that wind turbines were the causes of approximately four hundred and forty thousand bird deaths. Protecting vital bird species, such as bald eagles and golden eagles, is essential and the deaths of so many other birds are creating an imbalance in sensitive ecosystems. Ken Salazar, Interior Secretary, commented on the guidelines proposal by saying: “We have a responsibility to ensure that solar, wind and geothermal projects are built in the right way and in the right places so they protect our natural and cultural resources and balance the needs of our wildlife.”

Even though the American Bird Conservancy knows that the guidelines will not eliminate bird deaths completely, it will save millions of bird lives as the wind industry grows. Vice President of the American Bird Conservancy, Mike Parr, commented: “Let’s not fast-track wind energy at the expense of America’s birds. Just a few small changes need to be made to make wind bird-smart, but without these, wind power simply can’t be considered a green technology.” Bird groups and foundations are hoping that their guidelines will be taken seriously by the government, in order for technology to develop without damaging the environment.

2011 Winter Wings Festival

December 22, 2010 by  
Filed under Events

Organized by the Klamath Basin Audubon Society, the 2011 Winter Wings Festival will feature a fascinating schedule including field trips, workshops, lectures and more. Keynote speakers will include Jeffrey Gordon and Arthur Morris. Other events taking place during the Winter Wings Festival are a photography contest, art contest, art show, pelicans on parade auction and much more.

The area in which the Winter Wings Festival takes place is ideal for exceptinal birding, particularly as it is home to a large number of wintering Bald Eagles. So be sure not to miss this amazing event.

Date: 18 to 20 February 2011
Time: 5:45 am
Venue: Oregon Institute of Technology
City: Klamath Falls
State: Oregon
Country: United States of America

African Fish Eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer)

February 9, 2009 by  
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The African Fish Eagle or as it is scientifically known, Haliaeetus vocifer, can be seen throughout Southern Africa and is known by many varieties of names, in many languages. This includes the River eagle, Aigle pecheur, Pygargue vocifer, Afrikaanse visarend and so on. This fairly large bird is related to the North American Bald Eagle and can be easily identified by the distinct black, brown body and white head and tail. The length of the African Fish Eagle varies between 63 and 75 cm.

The Fish Eagles habitat is limited to mainly lakes, large rivers, pans and dams with surrounding trees for it to perch on. They can also be found near estuaries and coastal lagoons but are rarely spotted in the southwestern parts of Africa and areas on the eastern part of Somalia because the land is so arid. The African Fish Eagle makes its nest out of large piles of sticks, 30 to 60 cm deep and 120 to 180 cm in diameter. The nest is built usually near water at the fork of a tree, sometimes on a cliff ledge or on a steep slope on a low slope.

The beautiful and distinct call of the African Fish Eagle is synonymous with the sound of Africa and is very similar to the American Bald Eagle. There are two specific calls, the one is in flight and the other is when it is perched. When the male fish eagle nears the nest it makes a kind of mellow ‘quock’ sound where as the female has a more of a shriller sound.

The African Fish Eagle pairs up whether it is in or out of mating season, which goes from March to September. The pairs even go as far as sharing any kills that they make between the two of them. The African Fish Eagle is known as a kleptoparasite, which means that it will steal prey from another bird, like the Goliath Heron who loses a lot of its catch to Fish Eagles. They will also take advantage of nesting water birds for their eggs and young.

The main diet of the Fish Eagle is fish that they catch and occasionally when it is dead. They can catch a fish that weighs up to 1 kg in weight and now and again up to 3 kg’s. If the fish weighs more then two and a half kilograms the eagle will not carry it in flight but will plane it along the waters surface to shore. Fish eagles mainly catch lungfish and catfish and in some places will feed off flamingos and other water birds if the occasion presents itself. It has been known to eat dead animals and on very rare occasions they will even feed off monkeys, insects, frogs, dassies and so on. The hunt begins when the eagle leaves its perch to stoop and catch its prey with its feet about 15 cm from the waters surface. It’s not often that the African Fish Eagle will catch prey in the sky or submerge itself in the water.

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

February 9, 2009 by  
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The legendary Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) has long been a symbol of power, wisdom and beauty. Many of the Native American tribes chose to venerate the bird, while European settlers chose to make it the national symbol of the country. As it flies it makes use of thermal convection currents and other environmental factors to give the picture of effortless grace that so easily captivates man’s admiration. Bald Eagles may emit a squeak or a shrill cry punctuated by grunts as they fly but do not make the eagle scream that one so commonly associates with them. As one sees the Bald Eagle soaring high above, it may be seem infallible. However, for much of the 20th century, this beautiful bird was on the brink of extinction.

Also known as the American Eagle, the bird can be found in much of North America and its range stretches all the way from northern Mexico to most of Canada. Those found below the 38 degree North latitude belong to the subspecies leucocephalus while those above this latitude belong to the subspecies washingtoniensis. The Bald Eagle gets its name from the word piebald which was used to refer to the dark and white colouring of the bird’s head and body. The immature Bald Eagle has speckled brown plumage and looks similar to the Golden Eagle. However, the Bald Eagle has feathers down its legs while the Golden Eagle does not. After two or three years, the Bald Eagle starts to reach sexual maturity and it develops its distinctive white head and tailm and its dark brown body. The average adult has a wingspan of about 7 feet (2m) and can weigh between 4.1 and 5.8 kg’s depending on gender. Wild Bald Eagles generally live between 20-30 years, although they may live as long as 60 years in captivity if their needs are well catered for. Nests may be as big as eight feet across and parents share nesting responsibilities. The female may lay between one and three eggs but it is rare for all offspring to fly successfully.

In 1984, the National Wildlife Federation listed hunting, electrocution, collisions in flight and poisoning as the leading causes of death. For many years there was controversy surrounding the effect of the pesticide DDT on the bird but after extensive research it was found that the chemical had little – if any – effect on the Bald Eagle. Today, after years of careful preservation, the species is no longer in danger. There is a stable population of eagles spread across the continent with steady growth being evident in certain parts of the country, and about half of all Bald Eagles being found in Alaska. Bald Eagles are protected by law and illegal possession of either dead or live birds is considered a felony.

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