We have 130 birds at the Center. Baskets and baskets with fledglings, juveniles and adults cover every inch of the tables, and the incubator has a never ending collection of babies that must be fed every half hour. When I was at the Center a few days ago, Lena, one of the interns, was feeding some tiny sparrows. It takes patience and skill to measure out just the right amount of food, and carefully put that food into a baby bird beak that’s franticly moving its head and beak. Do that 25 times, and then again in half an hour.
As I was writing this, I just received this email from our Director, Carol Akerlof: “The interns are doing the best they can, but volunteers make the difference between care and really good care. Any encouragement you can give volunteers would be great. We have babies in the incubator, two white ducks who really appreciate fresh water, and lots of basket birds who would like to have a fruit plate along with their mealworms and seed. “
The Bird Center could not exist without the Volunteers. You clean the baskets, give the birds their food and water, sweep the floor, buy the supplies and the food, wash the dishes, and transport birds. Volunteers will often stay on after their shift to finish a job. Sometimes a volunteer will release a bird back into the wild that has been successfully rehabilitated. Open the basket, and in one second, it’s out and away towards the trees and that makes all the work worthwhile.
GREAT NEWS!!!! 5 SPARROWS READY TO MOVE TO FLIGHT CAGE
The very first sparrows, raised from babies, are ready to go to a flight cage where they will get to test their wings and show that they can fly before releasing them.
This very devoted pair of domestic Pekin ducks were found abandoned in a parking lot and brought to the Bird Center. One of them has an injured beak, both have sores on their feet and missing feathers. As soon as they are healthy, we will find a new home for them. Here, they are enjoying a bath.
Mayor’s Green Fair
This Friday from 6pm-9pm. We are still in need of volunteers to help out at the Bird Center’s table. Please let Phyllis know if you can help for an hour or two!
Rainbow Feathers Bird Fair
18th Annual Bird Fair
Sunday, June 12 10 AM to 4 PM
VFW Post 345
27345 Schoolcraft Rd.
Redford MI 48335
The Rainbow Feathers adopts unwanted DOMESTIC birds and offers them for adoption to a good home. The prices vary depending on handling and vet costs.
The Bird Center will have a table soliciting donations and potential volunteers.
Linda Whiteaker and Casper (the starling) will be hosting the table. Any interest in assisting at the table, please contact:
Any interest in attending the show, just show up, and introduce yourself to us. I believe there is a small entrance charge for the show.
Please check out the calendar to see if you can help out and fill an open shift! It is much appreciated!
No Escape from Harsh Reality: the plight of domestic ducks and geese
by Karen Benzel,
Public Affairs Director, International Bird Rescue Research Center
Go to any almost any park with a pond and you’ll find abandoned domestic ducks and geese. Most people probably don’t think about how the birds got there or why, and most also don’t know the difference between a wild duck or goose (which has feathers long enough for flight, and muscles designed for quick take-offs) and a domesticated one (which has been breed to be slow and flightless) However, there is a big difference between an animal that is born with all the instincts it needs to live its life independently of humans, and a domesticated animal that depends on humans for food and shelter.
Much like baby rabbits, ducklings, goslings and chicks are also bought on impulse, by people who don’t know anything about how to raise or house them, because they are “cute”. Usually this happens around Easter when pet shops and feed stores sell them as Easter basket stuffers. Some are even dyed, just like Easter eggs, green, blue, lavender or pink. It’s hard to understand what people are thinking when they buy pets on impulse and without educating themselves to the animals needs and requirements. Animal shelters are filled to capacity largely due to ignorance. And so, already stressed from being sent over long distances in the mail, most of these birds will die from lack of warmth, proper nutrition and the stress of being handled by children. With proper care, some will survive, but as their cuteness fades, and as they become big, and “messy,” many will inevitably make the car trip to a pond or lake to “fend for themselves.” A few, very lucky ones, will be raised properly, protected and loved. Although less common as pets, ducks, geese and chickens have individual personalities and character just like many other companion animals.
When domestic ducks and geese are abandoned, their problems quickly compound. There is nothing to keep the domestic ducks, and geese, from mating with wild waterfowl, creating hybrids. This adversely alters the gene pool of wild birds, weakening it. When domestic ducks like pekins mate with mallards, instead of little brown ducklings, you’ll see yellow, brown, black and mixtures of colors. The resulting hybrids are much larger and heavier than mallards. When these males try to mate with wild mallards, they can injure and even drown them.
Canada Geese and mallards tend to tolerate humans more than other species and may even come close and take some bread; but come spring, they will migrate to their summer home. The domestics cannot escape because they can’t fly. If they run out of food, they simply starve to death, or die of complications from malnutrition due to diets of bread and crackers.
Ducks are mainly vegetarian but they require some protein. You may see wild ducks and geese in a cornfield or wheat field after harvest; they are eating the raw, unprocessed product, a whole food. Along with grains they are getting grasses, shoots of weeds, worms, snails, and bugs. In the water they tip to graze shallow areas for water plants, consuming small fish when they find them. Birds fly to different areas for different foods, so they have a wide variety of foods, but plants and vegetation comprise most of their diet.
People mean well when they bring big bags of bread and crackers and it is difficult for them to understand that they are killing the birds with their kindness. Bread fills the birds up, swelling in their stomach, but providing no nutritional value. Yet the birds that can’t fly can only go as far as they can walk. Stale bread from an occasional visitor may be their only meal.
Ask your local pet shop to not sell “Easter” bunnies, ducklings and chicks out of respect for the environment, the animals, and all the non-profit organizations and local shelters that will end up having to care for them.
When you see flocks of abandoned geese and ducks, remember they are not living the good life. If you would like to adopt ducks, geese or both (being flock animals they do not do well alone) contact your local shelter and animal control and tell them to alert you should they ever need to place birds.
*I have copied parts of the article for this newsletter. The much longer and more informative article can be found at www.bird-rescue.org
Chimney Swifts returning to roost in the chimney at the Historic Winery Building
Video cam streams massive swift roost
(Excerpted from USA Today)
Larry Schwitters is pushing 74 – and a few days ago he pushed himself to climb 151 feet up a century-old brick chimney in Farmington.
In the rain. Twice.
He did it for the birds.
More precisely, he did it to continuously spy on a massive chimney swift roost – and so others across the globe can, too. Because thanks to Schwitters and a few others who helped make it happen, a video camera now sits inside the towering chimney of the Historic Winery Building on Grand River Avenue in Farmington, where it’s believed the largest known population of chimney swifts spends the night from spring to late fall.
Building owner Dave White said the swifts started inhabiting the chimney in the 1990s, after the coal-burning furnace was shut down for good. But a few years ago, his wife, Michelle Romans noticed their numbers had grown considerably, and they began to suspect something unusual – and awesome – was happening. Apparently, they were right. She learned about getting a good estimate of how many of the migratory birds were making the chimney their northern hemisphere hangout. A count last fall determined that some 50,000 had found their way to the chimney – those who had been there for the last several months as well as others who joined them on their migration from northern Michigan and Canada back to their winter home in South America’s Amazon basin. Schwitters, who set up similar video equipment in a Portland, Ore. swift roost about five years ago, said there’s plenty to learn and enjoy by watching the birds. “They’re here all summer, and it’s possible they aren’t just roosting but nesting, too,” he said. “There was no way to know. “Until now.
“I’ve been watching them for more than 15 years, and always thought that they were really cool birds. Now you’ll be able to look in your computer to watch them, which will be nice,” said White, who established the “Swift Sanctuary” in 2013 to spread awareness and preserve the roost.
On a late afternoon a few weeks ago, Gabby Costello and I took binoculars and folding chairs and drove to Farmington to watch the chimney swifts come home for the night. After spending all day in the air catching insects, 50,000 birds, the largest known population of chimney swifts, return each evening to roost in the 150-foot-tall brick chimney of the Historic Winery building. As the light begins to fade, the first few swifts arrive and circle around the chimney, joined by ever greater numbers of their companions. The tiny acrobats tumble around and around through the darkening sky before diving down into the chimney, and their high noisy chattering fills the air around us. It is almost dark when the last ones disappear from sight and then it is silent. Time seemed to stop, yet it felt like hours had passed. I looked at my watch and it all happened in less than an hour.
From spring to late fall these swifts make their home in Michigan, and then migrate to South America for the winter.
Google: Swift Sanctuary Detroit Michigan for information about visiting the swifts as they get ready for bed.