For the last seven years, Wildlife Rehab and Education has been working with biologists Woody Woodrow with the U S Fish and Wildlife Service, Sharon Schmalz Director of the WR&E Wildlife Center and Dr. Ray Telfair a well known ornithologist and former Texas Parks and Wildlife colleague of Woody’s study the movement patterns in Yellow-crowned Night Herons. While these herons are a common sight in our ditches and neighborhoods, biologists don’t know too much about their movement patterns. They are high tree nesters and so banding them in the nest is extremely difficult. Each year WRE typically releases a considerable number of these herons. To Sharon and Woody, this seemed like an opportunity to band some birds and hopefully collect some information about the birds. With the help of Dr. Ray Telfair banding and marking began in 2003. Additional research is being conducted by Dr. Heatley from Texas A&M University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. She is using small blood samples collected from healthy birds to determine normal electrolytes and other blood parameters in these herons. Thus when ill or injured herons are, these values will help rehabilitators, veterinarians and biologists determine appropriate treatment and to diagnose diseases or toxicoses. Before the banding began, Sharon had started to apply hacking techniques used with raptors with the herons. This allowed the birds to transition from a captive state to living without her assistance. When the birds are ready to go, the team bands them with a USFWS number specific aluminum band. In order to track observations of the birds, a nylon flag is also placed with the band above the bird’s wrist (what we think of as their knees). The bands are typically aluminum gray but the [...]
While baby bird season is beginning to wind down, we are still receiving Mockingbirds, Blue Jays and Dove. The pictured Mockingbird is a fledgling. From hatching of an altricial species to the unfurling of enough flight feathers to flutter short distances is considered the nestling stage. Babies are completely dependent on the parents at this stage for nourishment, warmth and protection. Once they fledge, the young will continue to beg for food, but will begin to search for food on their own. Within a few days they are flying well and feeding themselves. Precocial species like Killdeer, chickens and ducks are mobile and self-feeding shortly after hatching. They require mom’s protection and guidance to find good sources of food. They will hang together as a group until the young are flying well. Then the group will disperse. Raptors, especially the larger owls have an additional development phase called branchling that occurs between nestling and fledgling. Branchling babies can’t really fly yet, but they leave the nest and spread out along the nearby branches. They continue to be fed by the parents and strengthen their wings by vigorous flapping. They begin to experiment with flight by jumping and fluttering between branches.
For four days between October 16th and 24th the employees of Chevron opened their hearts and put on their work clothes to help the animals of the Wildlife Rehab & Education Center as a part of their “Chevron HumanKind Campaign.” For every 20 hours a Chevron employee volunteers at a 501(c)(3) non-profit charity of their choice, they can request a grant from Chevron for $500 dollars for the charity. In addition, Chevron will match one to one employee contributions to the charity. Wow! President of Chevron Exploration Technology Company, Melody Meyer worked on the team led by Chevron employee, Tommy Lyle where she helped to build flight cages for the Wildlife Rehab & Education Center’s Education Ambassadors. Not only did these employees get their hands dirty for the love of our wild friends, they also purchased the necessary materials to build the flight cages. Chevron’s HumanKind Campaign has encouraged their employees to learn more about charities and how they can lend a helping hand. “We hope employees who have participated in this program will come back and be a permanent volunteer long after their employee contribution has been made,” says Susie Hebert, Community Engagement Specialist for Chevron. The Wildlife Rehab & Education Center is thankful for the generosity and support of the employees of Chevron and the Chevron HumanKind Campaign. Our animals can now continue to move forward towards a better tomorrow!
Eagle Scout prepares flight cages Eagle Scout, Gil Poplinger organized, fundraised and provided crew to prepare three flight cages for the Wildlife Center. As part of the Eagle Scout program, each scout must select a community service project and manage it from start to finish. In addition to learning important leadership and organizational skills, the scout must fundraise to pay for the project. WR&E volunteers and their spouses constructed the framework for the cages and Gil and his workforce moved sand and gravel into the new flight cages. They also helped attach the hundreds of slats on the cages. The cages have proved invaluable. Each cage has been full of songbirds, water birds and raptors. The birds have gone to their release cages in good health and weight. Thanks to Gil, we have be able to house many birds this first year at the Wildlife Center. 2007