Early August 2017 newsletter

 

Hard to believe it is already August. My computer needs to be retired, and I have been having problems with it, so this newsletter is late. The heavy summer heat bears down on us and we could use rain. But gardens are lush with flowers enough for picking bouquets and more than enough cucumbers to make a delicious cold summer soup.

There are 106 birds at the Center. We have plenty of Robins, several Flickers, a tiny Chipping Sparrow and 2 groups of young Chimney Swifts.
 As the season begins to wind down, some of our staff are moving on. Daniella Silver is leaving and will be travelling to Israel. Best of luck and THANK YOU for your hard work and dedication to the birds !
 
 
WEST NILE UPDATE (from the DNR)

Good Afternoon.  Since the last update on July 19th we have received results on 14 positive animals; an American Crow from Allegan County, an American Crow from Baraga County, a Red-tailed Hawk from Eaton County, an American Woodcock from Houghton County, an American Crow from Kent County, 2 American Crows from Livingston County, a Red-tailed Hawk from Oakland County, an American Crow from Ontonagon County, an American Crow from Ottawa County, and a Common Grackle, 2 American Crows, and a Cooper’s Hawk from Wayne County.  This brings the total number of West Nile Virus positive animals in 2017 to 42 from 26 counties:

Lower Peninsula
Allegan County American Crow
Barry County Wild Turkey
Eaton County American Crow, Red-tailed Hawk
Genesee County Ivory Gull
Ingham County American Crow
Jackson County American Crow
Kalamazoo County American Crow
Kent County American Crow
Lenawee County American Crow
Livingston County Great Horned Owl, American Crow (2)
Mecosta County American Crow
Missaukee County American Crow
Oakland County Common Grackle, Red-tailed Hawk, Mallard
Ottawa County—American Crow
Shiawassee County Blue Jay
Van Buren County American Crow
Washtenaw County Green Heron
Wayne County American Robin (2), Common Grackle, American Crow (2), Coopers Hawk

Upper Peninsula
Alger County American Crow
Baraga Couny Bald Eagle, American Crow (2)
Delta County American Crow, Northern Goshawk
Houghton County American Crow, American Woodcock
Luce County American Crow (2)
Marquette County Common Raven, American Crow
Menominee County American Crow
Ontonagon County American Crow

If you receive calls from the public concerning neurologically abnormal avian species, please try to collect the bird, euthanize it if necessary, and submit it to the Lab as soon as possible for examination and testing.  Depending on the species and the clinical signs observed, we may test the bird for Avian Influenza as well.  If we confirm West Nile Virus in a species in a county, we may not test additional birds from the same species for West Nile Virus but we will still necropsy the bird if submitted for examination.

If you receive a report of a die-off of bats, please collect 3-6 specimens and we will test them for Rabies and West Nile Virus and perform a necropsy.  If you receive a report of other neurologically abnormal mammalian species, please try to collect it, euthanize it if necessary (please do not damage the brain), and submit it to us as soon as possible.  Depending on the species, we will test it for a variety of diseases (Rabies, Canine Distemper, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, West Nile Virus, etc.).  There are chapters in our Wildlife Disease Manual (www.michigan.gov/wdm) on all of these diseases if you want to read more about them.

Thank you for your assistance with the collection of specimens for testing.  I will keep you updated on West Nile Virus positive animals that we examine and if you have any questions, call me or send me an email.  Tom

Thomas M. Cooley
Wildlife Biologist/Pathologist
Michigan Department of Natural Resources
Wildlife Disease Lab
4125 Beaumont Rd.
Lansing, MI  48910

Chimney Swift
Young Chimney Swifts clinging to their mesh enclosure at the Bird Center
  • Chimney Swift
Chaetura pelagica ORDER: CAPRIMULGIFORMES FAMILY: APODIDAE
 IUCN Conservation Status: Near Threatened
A bird best identified by silhouette, the smudge-gray Chimney Swift nimbly maneuvers over rooftops, fields, and rivers to catch insects. Its tiny body, curving wings, and stiff, shallow wingbeats give it a flight style as distinctive as its fluid, chattering call. This enigmatic little bird spends almost its entire life airborne. When it lands, it can’t perch-it clings to vertical walls inside chimneys or in hollow trees or caves. This species has suffered sharp declines as chimneys fall into disuse across the continent.
Food
Chimney Swifts eat airborne insects. Feeding on the wing, they capture flies, bugs, bees, wasps, ants, mayflies, beetles, fleas, and other insects. They grab large insects with their bills; small ones go right down the throat. Chimney Swifts feed over urban and residential neighborhoods, fields, grasslands, orchards, forests, and marshes. They can also pick insects from branch tips and “helicopter” down through the foliage to flush out prey. Normally diurnal foragers, they sometimes hunt for insects at night around streetlights or lit windows. They have been reported taking berries from elderberry bushes.
Nesting
Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
3-5 eggs
Number of Broods
1-2 broods
Incubation Period
16-21 days
Nestling Period
14-19 days
Egg Description
Pure white.
Condition at Hatching
Helpless and naked.
Nest Description
The nest is a half-saucer of loosely woven twigs, stuck together and cemented to the chimney wall with the bird’s glue-like saliva. Both parents independently contribute to the nest: they break off small twigs with their feet while flying through branches, then return to the nest site with the twigs in their bills. The completed nest measures 2-3 inches from front to back, 4 inches wide, and 1 inch deep.

Although they originally nested in natural sites such as caves and hollow trees of old-growth forests, Chimney Swifts now nest primarily in chimneys and other artificial sites with vertical surfaces and low light (including air vents, old wells, abandoned cisterns, outhouses, boathouses, garages, silos, barns, lighthouses, and firewood sheds). Both members of a breeding pair may fly toward several potential nest locations, then cling side by side at one particular site, with one member of the pair giving a rhythmic chipping call.
BehaviorChimney Swifts spend their lives airborne, except when they are roosting or on the nest. They perform aerial courtship displays within 2 weeks of arriving on their North American breeding grounds, forming monogamous pairs for the season.  After the young fledge, small groups of parents and young from several chimneys join larger staging flocks in bigger chimneys nearby. At the end of summer they gather into large groups to migrate to South America. During migration, as many as 10,000 swifts may circle in a tornado-like flock at dusk and funnel into a roosting chimney to spend the night. The lives of these widespread urban birds are surprisingly unstudied, because of their inaccessible nesting and roosting sites and their aerial lifestyle.
ConservationChimney Swifts have been in a long-term, rangewide decline of about 2.5% per year between 1966 and 2015, resulting in a cumulative decline of 72%, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 7.8 million, with 99% breeding in the U.S., and 1% in Canada. The 2014 State of the Birds Report listed the species as a Common Bird in Steep Decline.
 These birds probably became much more numerous with European settlement and the building of millions of chimneys. But traditional brick chimneys are now deteriorating and modern chimneys tend to be unsuitable for nest sites. Adding to the problem, some homeowners now cap their unused chimneys. Chimney cleaning during the nesting season can inadvertently destroy nests and kill swifts. Logging of old-growth forests can reduce the availability of natural nest sites. To prevent further decline, people may need to preserve existing chimneys or create new structures specifically for swift nesting; designs can be downloaded from the North American Chimney Swift Nest Site Research Project.
Migration    Long-distance migrant. Chimney Swifts breed in urban and suburban habitats across the eastern half of the United States and southern Canada. They spend the winter in the upper Amazon basin of Peru, Ecuador, Chile, and Brazil, Chimney Swifts migrate to South America each winter flying across the Gulf of Mexico or skirting it along the Texas coast (a route they’re more likely to take in spring than fall). Many swifts use one of three distinct flyways: the Atlantic coast, the east side of the Appalachians, and the Mississippi River. They fly high in the sky during the day and roost in chimneys at night.
 
Backyard Tips
Chimney Swifts may take up residence in your brick chimney if you leave the chimney cap off. It’s a good idea to keep the damper closed during summer and to schedule chimney cleanings either before or after the breeding season. If you don’t have a chimney, you can build a swift nesting tower with plans from the North American Chimney Swift Nest Site Research Project.
 The “flying cigar” silhouette of the Chimney Swift is a common sight all summer in the skies over eastern cities and towns. Lakes and rivers are especially good places to look for swifts.
WANT TO SEE SWIFTS IN ACTION???
You can watch the swifts settle in for the night : Go to Detroit Audubon.com for information about the The Swift Sanctuary to watch the daily spectacular show as up to 50,000 Chimney Swifts swirl around and around like a tornado before the avian funnel cloud swirls right down into this historic winery. A wooded area behind the historic winery abuts the Rouge River, so there may be some migrants lurking there as well. As far as we know this is THE largest roost of Chimney Swifts in North America! . Bring a lawn chair to sit and watch this incredible show. The biggest congregation of swifts in this chimney usually happens in the fall.  MID AUGUST TO END OF OCTOBER 6-9 PM
As the late summer afternoon shadows lengthen I watch a group of about 15 chimney swifts. First I hear their high chattering calls, then I watch them circling in the sky around and around until it’s dark. I don’t know where they spend the night or how far away their roost is.
 
  
Chipping Sparrow                       
 Have a splendid weekend, Perhaps a moonlight swim?

Summer Solstice Newsletter

SUMMER  SOLSTICE  NEWSLETTER
BIRD CENTER OF WASHTENAW county
Our 13th year of helping wild birds!

From May 8th, the first day we “opened” until now, we’ve taken in 546 birds. We have about 145 birds in the Center now, 9 in flight cages, 23 goslings at various caretaker’s houses, and 10 nestlings in the incubator.
We are asking volunteers who can, to take an extra shift until we get the numbers of birds down. Interns and staff are staying late in order to get the baskets changed and the birds fed before they leave for the night.
 
This juvenile Nuthatch came in as a nestling with a wing injury. The wing was taped (see photo) and has healed. It has been flight-tested and is flying well although not ready to be released.
Clinic Manager Gabby and Staff member Seana taping the wing of a Tree Swallow.
THE BIRD CENTER NEEDS YOUR HELP
Each year, we release hundreds of orphaned and injured birds back into the wild, many of which first need to gain strength in a flight cage. Each flight cage houses as many as 150 birds annually. Unfortunately, one of our cages has been crushed by a fallen tree and will need to be rebuilt. We are also looking to build  additional flight cages as our intake numbers grow.
To help the Bird Center reach the goal of raising $1500 for this cause, please visit: www.gofundme.com/help-fund-a-new-flight-cage
The Bird Center receives no state or federal funding, and is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit.
Please share this link. Thank you for supporting the Bird Center’s mission.
 

 
Volunteers Jake West and Liam Pendleton staffed the Bird Center table at
the June 9 Annual Mayor’s Green Fair.
“The Green Fair went really well!” said Jake. “It was a really nice evening and we had the chance to talk to some pretty interesting people.”
I asked Jake and Liam about working at the Bird Center.
Jake told me,”I am a senior Biomedical Engineering student at U of M aspiring to become a veterinarian. As a pre-veterinary student, I have devoted myself to being involved in various animal care based opportunities including research, clinic work at a veterinary hospital, and of course, volunteering at the Bird Center. The Bird Center has been a wonderful experience for me, as I have been getting exposure to animal care in a way that is new and refreshing. I joined the volunteer staff at the Bird Center because I wanted to help the local community and its avian wildlife, as well as diversify my animal care skills and experience. Working at the Bird Center has been amazing in giving me this chance to broaden my scope of animal care. It has also exposed me to a group of people who are as truly passionate about wildlife as I am. “
And Liam:
“I’m studying environmental biology and I’m also a volunteer here at the Bird Center. I started back at the beginning of May and my duties at the center have involved cleaning and arranging enclosures for birds, feeding, and a variety of other tasks that are needed around the Center. I was received warmly by the staff and interns working at the Center, and I absolutely love the time I spend here. I’d recommend to anyone looking to get some hands-on experience with wildlife rehabilitation to volunteer at the Bird Center.”
THANK YOU TO TWO FANTASTIC VOLUNTEERS!!!!
 
*****

WE DON’T APPRECIATE HOW VERY STRANGE BIRDS
ARE
From
Birdology, by Sy Montgomery
“Birds, which are more different from us than any other class of creatures we commonly see, can see polarized and ultraviolet light, experience colors we can never know, sense the earth’s magnetic field, and navigate using subtle changes in odor and barometric pressure:
Birds are the only wild animals most people see every day. No matter where we live, birds live with us. Too many of us take them for granted. We don’t appreciate how very strange they are, how different. We don’t realize what otherworldly creatures birds are. Their hearts look like those of crocodiles. Birds are covered with modified scales — we call them feathers. Their bones are hollow, permeated with extensive air sacs. They have no hands. They give birth to eggs.
No other scientific classification of living creature we commonly see is so different from us as is the class Aves. We don’t even think of birds as animals (although they are — as are humans, of course). We consider animals to be our fellow mammals, with whom our kinship is obvious. … We shared a common ancestor with even the most distant of our fellow placental mammals as recently as 100 million years ago. The last ancestor we shared with the birds, however, traces back 325 to 350 million years ago.
A bird is as distant from us as a dinosaur. But unlike the extinct mon-sters of the Jurassic and Cretaceous, birds today are everywhere among us — on our sidewalks, at our bird feeders, on our dinner plates. Yet despite our disparate evolutionary paths, scientists are now beginning to reveal the extent to which birds’ emotional and intellectual abilities are remarkably like ours. …
The first thing you need to know about birds is that birds are Individuals. … Although a flock of hens is all about community, each chicken is quite distinctive, and the personality of each individual is extremely important to the flock dynamic. People who don’t know chickens are always astonished to learn this, but when you are in the company of birds, you must be prepared to be surprised.
A second fundamental truth of birds is that Birds Are Dinosaurs. That may be difficult to see when you’re watching a fluffy chickadee at the feeder, but it is abundantly clear when you are crashing through the rain forest of Queensland, Australia, pursuing a 150-pound cassowary, a bird as tall as a man, crowned with a helmet of bone on its head and a killer claw on each foot. … The dinosaurian lineage that became the birds left the earth for the skies. And in doing this, they utterly reshaped their bodies inside and out. … Their bones are hollow; their feathers weigh more than the skeleton. Their bodies are full of air sacs; their feathers, also hollow shafted, are sculpted to capture and move air. Birds are essentially feather-fringed bubbles. …
Birds are able to apprehend the world in ways that we cannot. They can see polarized and ultraviolet light. They experience colors we can never know. They sense the earth’s magnetic field , navigate using subtle changes in odor and barometric pressure. They imbibe realities of this world that we cannot fathom and use them to circumnavigate the globe. We are only now starting to understand how birds accomplish these extraordinary feats, by way of one of our most ordinary and unappreciated birds, the pigeon. …
“Though gifted with instincts and senses that we lack, birds’ intellectual capacities are shockingly similar to our own. Some birds appreciate human art to the extent that they can learn to tell the difference between the paintings of Monet and those of Manet. Some birds love to dance. … Birds’ capacity for song is of course so legendary that many cultures tell us the birds taught music to humans. There are birds who can even speak to us meaningfully in our own language — something that, many scientists believe, even our close hominid cousins, the Neanderthals, probably could not do.”
Sy has written many books for children and adults, among them
Soul of the Octopus and The Good Pig: The Extraordinary Life of Christopher Hogwood.
 
*****
 When Birds Think You’re Too Close to Their Nests
 
There are a variety of behaviors birds display when they feel threatened.  Understanding them will make you a more responsible birder.
Observing bird behavior is one of the many pleasures of birding. Each species has its own quirks of feeding, flight, and social interaction, and seeing a bird engage in these natural behaviors gives the burgeoning birder a better understanding of the species beyond just field marks and identification points.
Of all the behaviors a bird engages in, however, new birders should take care to learn some sooner than others: namely, the variety of ways birds tell you that you’re too close to their nests.
It’s the beginning of summer, and birds are either sitting on eggs or already have hungry hatchlings to feed. This time of year is when birds are most vulnerable-and the most defensive.
The consequences of getting too close to a nest can be severe. Birds can abandon nests if disturbed or harassed, dooming eggs and hatchlings. Less obvious, repeated human visits close to a nest or nesting area can leave a path or scent trail for predators to follow. If you know you’re birding near a nest, the NestWatch site from Cornell Lab of Ornithology recommends against taking a “dead-end trail” to a nest area so that predators won’t have a direct route.
Birds won’t abandon a nest easily, though, and adult birds have developed a variety of ways to distract or deter unwanted visitors from visiting a nest.
Some of these behaviors are unmistakeable. Like dive-bombing. You won’t miss being dive-bombed. It’s the most aggressive form of anti-predator behavior, and it’s just what it sounds like: birds fly directly at the intruder in order to drive them away from the nest.
All kinds of birds dive-bomb. If you live in the suburban United States, you may have noticed aggressive Northern Mockingbirds in recent weeks. Here is a news report of some Brewer’s Blackbirds dive-bombing passers-by in downtown San Francisco. Here’s another news report, this time a scary one, claiming that dive-bomb attacks by crows are “on the rise!” (They’re not.) I’ve even heard of Goshawks-yes, Goshawks-dive-bombing people and putting big gashes in their heads. And in Victoria, Australia, dive-bombing Australian Magpies are so prevalent in the springtime that the government provides citizen-science based maps of nesting birds to help people avoid being attacked.
To find out more about dive-bombing and other defense displays, I called up Caroline Thow, a PhD candidate studying behavioral ecology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She even has her own dive-bombing story: While researching gull nests, Thow says that she and her colleagues had to wear bike helmets to protect themselves from the pecking!
While you rarely can get scratched or pecked, truth is, dive-bombing is most dangerous for the bird. They’re spending energy trying to scare you away instead of feeding and caring for their young. There’s really only two pieces of advice for someone being dive-bombed: cover your head, and get the heck out of there! Don’t linger, don’t film it and put it on YouTube, just leave. (Scientists in the act of science are exempt, of course, and should look into buying a bike helmet.)
Not all birds defend their nests as directly and aggressively as dive-bombers. Some species try more creative approaches to distract or scare away predators from their nest. Nesting raptors are very sensitive to disturbance, but occasionally they choose nesting spots that allow people to safely observe and photograph from afar. That’s the case with the Red-tailed Hawk nest in Ithaca, New York, which is about 70 yards from a bridge. The most famous distraction display is the Killdeer’s “broken wing” act. When a curious human or a predator gets too close to a Killdeer nest or some young birds, the adults can turn into full-on thespians, loudly and pathetically faking a broken wing in hopes that the predator will pay attention to them and not the nest. Once the bait is taken, the Killdeer will lure the predator as far away as possible before making a miraculous recovery and flying back to the babies. It’s truly an Oscar-worthy performance.
While perhaps not as dramatic as the Killdeer, other birds also have clever tactics for deterring predators. “Some birds will do their best snake impression, by hissing and swaying their heads around when you get too close to a nest,” Thow says. Other species, including some shorebirds such as Piping Plovers and certain grassland birds such as sparrows, will do what’s called a “rodent run,” distracting predators by conspicuously running through the grass like a mouse.
According to Thow, there is a lot of variance in distraction displays. “It really depends on the type of bird involved, and sometimes even varies between individuals in a species,” she says. “I’ve seen a broken-wing display from an American Avocet and been mobbed by another in the same population.”
The simplest type of distraction displays are vocal. Adult birds can issue a quick call when a potential threat approaches that baby birds intuitively know means “sit still and be quiet.” When everyone in the nest is frozen, the parent bird can head elsewhere and distract the predator with vocalizations. These attention-getting noises can also vary widely, according to Cornell’s Birds of North America database, including “short, snarling, and faint cries” in Sanderling, “growling and hissing” in Mexican Whip-poor-will, and a “ventriloquial whisper song” in Bachman’s Sparrow. The more you bird, the more you’ll begin realizing which calls sound more like warnings or distractions than others. .
As a good rule, when the behavior of a bird seems oddly conspicuous, it’s probably trying to deter or distract you from an area. “Anti-predator behaviors generally are intended to get the attention of the intruder or surrounding birds,” Thow says “So if you see a bird acting in an exaggerated and noisy way you don’t normally observe in your birding outings, you might be too close to a nest!”
Because of this, birders need to be aware of their surroundings and should be on the lookout for birds acting strangely, especially during nesting season. “Part of recognizing these behaviors is situational awareness and arming yourself with a little natural history,” Thow says.  “Ask yourself: Is it breeding season? Am I in good breeding habitat for the species that seems to be behaving strangely? If your answer is yes to either of those, the chances are that the behavior is an anti-predator behavior is much more likely.”
Context clues are also important because some species won’t do any sort of distraction display at all, instead opting to hunker down when predators are nearby. If it’s breeding season and you’re walking across a field or other dense low habitat when an adult bird flushes from practically beneath your feet, you might be right on top of a nest. When that happens, you should look very carefully at the ground around you, and even if you can’t spot a nest, back up slowly and detour around the site.
Birders have a responsibility to not harm the birds we’re enjoying. Nesting season is a stressful time for birds, so let’s not make it any worse. Birds will tell you when you’re getting too close, and learning to recognize those behaviors will help protect the birds and let you enjoy the pleasure of bird behavior-from a safe distance.
***
You can help nesting birds! 
Start providing the shelter and food nesting birds and their chicks need by growing native plants around your home.

The Summer Solstice. Those endless summer days,
and long, lingering twilights. Fireflies!!!
 
A pair of Chickadees has built a nest in a gourd hanging from my crabapple tree with a great view from the porch  to watch the busy goings on. The babies have hatched, we think they are 6-7 days old. There are constant trips to the nest bringing food, and like all cavity nesters, the parents take away the fecal sac from the nest and leave it some distance away which keeps the nest clean. I timed the number of visits to the nest in a ½ hour. 10 trips to and from the nest
 
 

Condor returns to thank man…

Published on Jun 13, 2017
A condor has struck up an unusual friendship with a man who saved the huge creature’s life.

The man nursed the condor back to health after it reportedly fell from a nest as a baby.

And the condor clearly didn’t forget his rescuer, as video footage shows the pair greeting each other with hugs and one big warm embrace, after the condor returned.

After being rescued, the condor – the largest bird in North America – was then able to learn how to fly and return to normal life.

It is not unusual for the condor to fly back and visit its rescuer, and according to locals the bird is said to return to visit the man fairly frequently.

Animal lovers have hailed the condor on social media where the heartwarming clip has been viewed nearly 2,000 times.

Emma Johnson commented how the video made her day, before adding: “Great people do exist.”

And Roxanne Reeves said: “This warms my heart to see this for a change instead of animals being abused, this man truly has a kind heart and soul and the beautiful condor can see it.”

Memorial Day Newsletter

memorialdaynewsletter
The door to the building is open-
I can hear them half a block away, loud and frantic. I can picture them, beaks wide open andnecks stretched up shoutingfeedme!feedme!feedme! And they will get fed, every 15-30 minutes. Here at the Bird Center, volunteers, interns and staff are super busy keeping up with the care of the orphaned and injured songbirds that have been brought to us.
There are 114 birds at the Center, a mix of nestlings in incubators, fledglings in mesh covered buckets, and the older birds in covered laundry baskets.
In less than 2 weeks the robins, finch and other songbird babies will transform themselves from pink skinned fuzzy nestlings to feathered fledglings and to juveniles. Then they will be transferred to a laundry basket and slowly, finally learn to be self feeding. We’re almost at capacity and it isn’t even June.
Intern Tyler Heyen, staff members Nicky Diroff and Remy Thomas, and brand new volunteer Stephanie Christau are busy cleaning baskets, feeding birds and answering the phone. Stephanie tells me she started just the day before. She found an injured robin, took it to the Humane Society and they sent her to us. She knew then and there that she wanted to volunteer and signed up on the spot! We are caring for a Horned Lark with a wing injury and a Grosbeak that has a head and shoulder injury, both birds are unable to be released and we are in contact with the Akron Zoo.
 
 Intern Tyler Heyen and Staff member Nicky Diroff feeding the birds.


It is with our deepest sorrow we report that the Bird Center of Washtenaw County and the rehabilitation community has lost a wonderful wildlife rehabilitator friend, and colleague.
Amanda Margraves died Saturday night in South Dade, FL.
Amanda started out her career at the Bird Center from 2005-2007 after graduating from U of M with an anthropology and zoological degree. She relocated to Georgia and then to Belize where she rehabilitated birds. She later made a home in Florida where she worked as a rehabilitater with the South Dade Wildlife Rescue Center and as a zookeeper at the Miami Zoo.
Amanda had a huge heart for animals and would go above and beyond to do anything for them. She was a big asset to the Center when it opened and to Carol Akerlof, the Center’s founder.
We send our deepest thoughts and prayers to the friends and family of Amanda as they accept this sudden sad loss. Amanda would want us to continue our mission and tend to the birds.
Thank you Amanda for all that you did.

 Every year The Bird Center
sends one of our staff members to the
 National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association Conference.
 This scholarship will be named
 the Amanda Musgraves scholarship
Staff member Daniella Silver holding a female Mallard Duck that had been hit by a car. She is recuperating well and we are hopeful that she will be released.
“I love working at the bird center because it has allowed me to become a part of a great community with a common passion for wildlife. I learn something new from my peers every day. I also learn from the birds, each one with its own personality.
This mallard laid an egg when she first came in. I call her big mama now”.

 

Dear Bird Center,
Have you ever been to the Nichols Arboretum Peony Garden? Hundreds of the plants are in bloom now! The garden is near the CS Mott Children’s Hospital. It’s the largest peony garden in the US.
 Take a picnic !
 Have a lovely weekend. Phyllis

This is an important and very informative article.
TICKS AND LYME DISEASE
With spring finally here, meaning tick season has returned as well, Washtenaw County Public Health is reminding residents that Lyme disease has been detected here. The conditions exist for Lyme transmission to occur throughout the county. This is where it’s helpful for residents be aware – both to take preventative steps to prevent infection, but also to submit ticks for identification and testing.”
Lyme disease is spread by the tiny deer tick. Ticks feed on blood, and infected ticks transmit the disease as they feed. Although the deer tick prefers to feed on wild animals, especially mice, birds, opossum, raccoon, and deer, they will also feed on dogs, cats, livestock, and humans. When people visit or live near deer tick habitats, they run a high risk of contracting Lyme disease. For your own safety, you should become familiar with tick habits and habitats, and you should learn how to prevent tick bites.
Favorite Tick Habitats
Deer ticks prefer to live in the woods. Dense, mature woods with a thick undergrowth of shrubs and small trees are their favorite habitat (85%). They also are found, to a lesser degree, along the edge of the woods, where the woods meet lawns or fields. Very few (4–8%) are found in lawns, because properly mowed lawns are too hot and dry to sustain the tiny deer tick. Ticks prefer the cool, moist woodlands where they have a better chance of finding an animal host.
Where you live, your hobbies, and your habits may influence your risk of a tick bite. Notice in particular these high-risk factors:
   * yards surrounded by dense woods
   * birdbaths, birdfeeders
   * outdoor pets that come indoors
   * woodpiles, brushpiles, stone or rock walls
   * swingsets, treehouses in the woods
   * outdoor occupations: landscapers, utility line workers, farmers, etc.
   * outdoor recreation: freshwater fishing, camping, hiking, hunting, etc.
Many of these factors encourage wildlife near the home, and these animals may carry ticks. Mice in particular are known hosts of immature deer ticks and carriers of Lyme disease. Reduce, remove, or avoid these risk factors as much as possible.
Personal Protection
Outdoor pursuits need not be discontinued as long as precautions are taken to prevent a tick bite:
   * Wear light-colored clothing (ticks are easier to see).
   * Wear long pants tucked into socks.
   * Avoid tall grass and shrubby areas.
   * Widen trails through woods (to 6 feet).
   * Remove brushpiles.
   * Keep turfgrass mowed.
   * Thin out low shrub vegetation in woods.
   * Wear a tick repellent.
Repellents contain the active ingredient permethrin (Duranon, Permethrin Tick Repellent, Permanone), or N,N-diethyl-meta-tolumide, usually called DEET (Off, Cutters, Muskol, etc.)* Follow label directions; apply until clothing is damp and allow to dry. These products repel 82-100% of ticks.
Tick Identification
Seventy percent of all Lyme disease cases occur from the bite of the immature (nymph) deer tick. Before feeding, nymphs are the size of a poppy seed with a dark head and translucent body. After feeding, they swell and appear dark gray and round, about the size of a mustard seed.
Adult deer ticks are the size of a sesame seed before feeding; females have a black head and brick red abdomen. After feeding, they turn gray and swell to the size of a sunflower seed kernel.
Deer ticks are active all year round, as long as the temperature is over 35°F. Peak activity months are May-June (nymphs), and October-November (adults).
Ask your county extension agent for a free copy of the bulletin “Protect Yourself from Ticks and Lyme Disease” for specific ways to identify different ticks.
Finding and Removing Ticks
Ticks don’t fly, jump, or drop from trees. They inhabit shrubby vegetation (nymphs: four- to six-inch vegetation; adults: waist-high vegetation) and wait for an animal to brush by. They then grasp the animal’s fur or skin, and crawl up the body. Ticks will wander on the body for 30-60 minutes before they insert their mouth-parts and begin to feed.
INFECTED DEER TICKS MUST FEED FOR AT LEAST 12 TO 24 HOURS before they can begin to transmit the Lyme disease bacterium. Therefore you should remove ticks as soon as possible. Take a shower after outdoor activity and check your body thoroughly, paying close attention to the armpits, the groin, and neck. Use the buddy system! Look for ticks nightly, especially if you have young children.
Remove ticks with tweezers only (bent, “needle-nose” tweezers are best). Do not use alcohol, nail polish, hot matches, petroleum jelly, or other methods to remove ticks. These methods may actually traumatize ticks, causing them to regurgitate gut contents, which may include the Lyme disease bacterium.
More information about Lyme disease and tick-borne disease prevention is available on the county’s website.
Washtenaw County Public Health encourages residents to submit ticks for identification, noting blacklegged ticks found in Washtenaw County tested positive for the Lyme pathogen in 2016.
The more local ticks are tested, the better the county will know how widespread the risk of Lyme disease is in different areas of the county.
The state also has a program to identify ticks, and if it is a live blacklegged tick, test for Lyme disease. Information is available on the state’s website.
Ask your county extension agent for a free copy of the bulletin “Protect Yourself from Ticks and Lyme Disease” for specific ways to identify different ticks.