An update on Luna, WERC's educational Great Horned Owl: She has just laid her second egg (the first had rolled off the shelf and broken). This is the first time since WERC began 30-some years ago that one of our Educational Ambassadors has laid an egg in captivity. The egg is not fertilized and Luna is not trying to incubate it. She is feeling protective of it, though. In this grainy video you can watch her unusual (for her) behavior and listen to her vocalizing.
In the world of wildlife rehabilitation we often say we have almost seen it all. In the nearly 30 years of WERC's existence there have been lots of interesting happenings, from hitch hiking Marmots, to birds with impeccable aim from both ends. Then there are our Educational Ambassadors, who all have their own behaviors that weave a lifetime of stories to be told.
This Easter we have a new story to add to our book, and it is a historic one. First, look at this lovely photo of Luna, taken at this year's Bowl-a-Thon by David Fredericks. While you're looking at it picture those feather tufts as bunny ears, you know, like the Easter Bunny. Got it? Now that you're imaging Luna as the Easter Bunny....what does the Easter Bunny bring? Easter Eggs!
For the first time in W.E.R.C. history, one of our Educational Ambassadors has laid an egg. Who? HOOOO!!! Luna laid an egg...which promptly rolled off of her shelf/perch and smashed on the ground. This egg, seen to the right, closely resembled a chicken egg in both size and color. The flecks you see on it in the photos are dirt and leftovers from it's fall to earth.
Because Luna isn't romantically involved, this egg would not have been viable, But, WHY this has happened is a bit of a mystery to us. Luna came to us in 2008 as a juvenile and is just now turning 8. With the center's location in the hills outside of Morgan Hill, she gets serenaded by wild Great Horned Owls on a regular basis, and has since her arrival. Could that have triggered this natural behavior? Possibly. Why now and not sooner?
We do know that GHO typically lay 2-3 eggs at a time, so we are now on egg watch, Keeping a close eye on things to make sure Luna does not become "egg bound" or have any other complications.
This is one of those fantastic learning experiences that come along in our field that we are taking advantage of. We are reaching out to other rehabilitation centers to find out where else this has happened, what to look out for, and any other information we can get our hands on. We will keep everyone posted on this story. As we learn, you can learn along with us!
President - Board of Directors
Hello friends! Joy here, with a little story to share.
In our previous post "A little bit of foresight can save lives" Colleen talked about some of the diseases that can be spread at the backyard birdfeeder when things aren't kept clean. She outlined a series of 8 steps to take that will assure that your feeders are clean and your wild birds are healthy.
Today, I'm going to stress the importance of step #5, Sweep up old seeds from underneath the feeder and wash the area.
I live near some of the great paved walking/biking trails that wind through Morgan Hill and I try to take advantage of them often. On my recent walks I started to notice an area along the fence, near some bushes, where some good samaritans have been scattering seed to feed the birds. The nearby bushes were teeming with White-Crowned Sparrows, Mourning Doves, Towhees, and I even spotted a Gold-Crowned Sparrow. All of them happily pecking away at the seed on the ground. As I watched them, I realized there was quite a lot of seed built up there. Quite. A. Lot.
So, I enlisted the help of Colleen (thanks again, Colleen!!) to help me clean up the seed waste. I thought it would be a quick task, maybe take a couple of trash bags to fill up, a rake, a shovel, gloves, etc. to make sure the area was clean and safe afterwards.
We took advantage of a dry, sunny Wednesday this past week to work on: Operation Cleanup
Wow! Talk about a workout! The entire operation took us about an hour and 40 minutes total. All the while, walkers strolled by inquiring what we were up to. One couple I spoke with, who happened to also be long time W.E.R.C. supporters, told me that they not only see birds feeding on a regular basis, but also rats and mice. Not a good thing to hear, as this portion of the trail sits next to the apartment complex where I happen to live.
The importance of step #5, sweep up old seeds from underneath the feeder and wash the area, can easily be overlooked. Why wouldn't it be fine to just leave it there for the birds to continue eating? When that seed builds up, it not only attracts rodents, and the diseases they carry, but it also can become a breeding ground for an array of avian diseases that include Salmonellosis, Aspergillosis, Avian Pox, Trichomonias and Mycopalmosis. These diseases can lead to illness and death in birds. In northern California, it is exactly these diseases that cause seasonal bird die offs that often make the news. These diseases can spread rapidly among flocks and wipe out hundreds, even thousands of birds in a very short time.
In our area, we're currently host to many birds who are spending the winter in our warmer temperatures. Soon they will be returning to their spring and summer breeding grounds. Let's all do our best to make sure that they are not taking along any unwelcome illnesses along with them on their return trip.
For all of the tips to help keep your backyard birds healthy, scroll down to the post below. And as always, if you have any questions, feel free to email us, we're just a click away!
Keep Your Backyard Birds Healthy & Happy
During rainy season, it is especially important to be diligent about keeping your bird feeders and seed mix clean and dry. Birds visiting a poorly maintained feeder, with old and/or wet seed, could be susceptible to diseases such as Salmonellosis, Aspergillosis, Avian Pox, Trichomonias and Mycopalmosis. These diseases can cause blindness, respiratory illness, mouth lesions and general poor health which can result in starvation or make the birds more vulnerable to predators. In addition, sick birds spread the diseases to other birds and areas.
How to keep your backyard birds healthy and happy:
WERC's recipient for this year’s prestigious Philanthropy Day honor by the Morgan Hill Community Foundation was Doug Greer. Doug has been a dedicated volunteer at WERC since 2006, caring for everything from hummingbirds to eagles to bobcats. He has taught educational programs in classrooms, at Machado, and at Gilroy Gardens. Doug is currently the Board’s secretary and has been working to identify the ways and means of establishing an expanded wildlife center for the continued support of native wildlife in the south county.
Doug is a talented artist who has donated his beautiful original paintings and notecards of deer, bobcats, and birds to WERC’s BBQ-Auction fundraiser.
The Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Center is pleased to honor Doug for his dedication and support.
Shown from left: Jennifer Marshall Will, John and Teresa Stephenson, Sue Howell, Doug and Lilian Greer, Evonne Davenport. Photo credit: Sue Brazleton
Another victim to a sticky mouse trap. This California King snake was just doing its job hunting a mouse. Unfortunately for the snake the mouse was already caught in a sticky trap so unknowingly the snake joined the mouse. Luckily the snake was noticed and W.E.R.C. was called to help. It took a lot of cleaning but the snake was removed from the trap and will have to wait to shed to remove all the sticky residue from its scales. Oh and the mouse was saved too. How could we leave the little critter after all its been through?
Hello Everyone, and welcome to our new website! Over the next few weeks we will be updating WERC's presence on the web. While we're working on thing, we'd love to hear your input. There's a survey down below, where YOU can tell US what you'd like to see on our new and improved site.
Meanwhile, check out the News & Events section in the menu to see where we'll be next, and for information about upcoming events. We hope to see you all soon!