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OK So I was out all last week with a trip for Geology.  So here is what has been happening at Blue Ridge!

I went in there Friday not expecting too many animals.....I couldn't have been more wrong.

Poor Peggy!  By the time all the babies are fed - it was nearly 1!  That didn't leave much time to get everyone else done.  So I spent the entire time cleaning out wading pools (blue heron, geese and a duck) along with making sure the education residents were fed and watered.  Who knew a groundhog would love dandilions so much?  Tater went ga ga over them. LOL

There are 14 baby squirrels, 3 baby foxes, a hawk with lead poisoning, the usual crew of flying squirrels, owls, etc...and a skunk.

I felt bad for having to leave at 3 with only 3/4 of the population done.  But I had to get to Warren County to meet with their GIS people for another class. Sigh - I hate leaving I never know what is going to happen when I return.

The kestrel finally gave up and they had to put her down.  I didn't cry though I really wanted to.  I was too busy taking care of everyone else.

I didn't realize how many there were to take care of until I got the joy (NOT) of making the carcas run to the SPCA for incineration.  Soo many animals came through I didn't even know about!  But we have to focus on the ones we can and do help.

Again, Dr. Burwell's talents surprize me.  She is simply amazing at putting bird wings together again when there really doesn't seem to be anything there.

Apr. 4th, 2008

Updated pics from the build and general stuff (babies too).  I didn't get to go this week because of classes and a trip i am leaving for tomorrow. i spent all day tuesday at the school and didn't get home until 9pm. i have been so slammed with a 10 page paper and everything else. :)

See you all next week!

Busy Friday

Walked in to find that we got those cages up just in time!  Baby squirrels and a baby red fox.  OM stars are they soo cute!!!!!   very very cute.  Dangerous! 

I learned how to hold the bottle for each along with how much etc.  The red fox was actually black! I didn't know and I felt foolish.  They were amazingly small and fragile.

cleaned out the cages, checked on the inhabitants and their injuries.  Then it was release time!!!  We released 3 owls friday. I was soo happy.  They were the easterns.    And very happy to be flying outside.  Since we track where they came from it's easy to put them back in the area they started in.

This week should prove to be interesting. With the babies there and how knows what has changed over the weekend I am always unsure on Tuesday's what I am going to find when I get there.   Each day I learn a ton between Vicki who has been a tiger keeper, sun bears, etc...  Peggy the wildlife biologist and then when Dr. Burwell is around even more from her!! 

Dr. Burwell is amazing.  She gave me the pics and the radiographs from the injuries.  When you look at the injuries on film you can't figure out how in the world she is going to fix them, and then wella' there is the bird all fixed!  Someday I hope to actually watch her in surgery.  Her skills in wing repair just blows my mine.


Today in one of my ES classes one of the guys knows I like birds.  While we were walking around the lake for class he kept telling me about the various ducks and geese and birds.  Apparently his grandmother taught him and he learned growing up about birds of all kinds.  So we located the nests and he marked the eggs - he has been doing a study for 3 years now.  We spent time talking about invasive species.

It's great to have someone else who loves birds as much as me.  He asked me why I didn't go to VA Tech and get my Vet Tech degree. LOL  Everyone asks that eventually.  I just couldn't leave Winchester. I love it here.  If they ever had a program I might get it to help me out with my job hunt. :)

So thanks everyone for the great input on the wings and the hawk!!!  Also the inputs on books to read and areas to look into regarding wild life work.  Especially the Anatomy and Physiology books on hawks, owls, small mammals etc.  I have bought a few and studied them already!!!!

Pictures are UP

Dr. Burwell sent me pictures of the Hawk with the burnt wings.  I would love some input from others who have seen this and dealt with it.  Also - does anyone take care of baby bunnies?  What do you feed them? How often? Etc.

The American Kestrel is doing great.  She is using her wing to fly down to the water, but hopping up to her favorite perch.  (Picture as well).

We moved 3 of the 4 screeches to a flight cage in the yard.  They are not the brightest bulbs in the yard by any means. LOL  They wanted to hang on the wall when there are two boxes set up for them and multiple perches. LOL

The vulture has been released and now in his old flight cage (after much cleaning on my part! wet and cold = grumpy intern) is the bard owl with the pinned wing.  He is doing really well now.

Our education animals are starting to realize it's time for working season. LOL  They are getting excited.

Our new intake sheets are being designed that will be nice along with my review of all the licences, forms, and laws on rehabs.  That is the hardest part of this internship I think.  Bird poop cleaning is soo much easier. LOL

Still no ideas for internship for summer. Sigh.  I looked at a place in NM that had environmental/biological education - the area I want to do most.  I am hoping to find bird studies maybe in DC or MD.  we'll have to see.  Right now I am focused on GIS, Geology and Community and Regional Environmental Studies.

Blue Ridge on TV & The Big Build

The build went spectacular.  Vicki - the director was soo happy with the design Fran created she just gushed. LOL  Dr. Burwell (The land trust and the Vet) came out in the afternoon as was blown away by how much got done.

2 of the 3 cages are done all but the wire for the top.  The 3rd cage needs 4 pannels and the door and the roof.  That is all.  They did such an amazing job!  I will post pictures when I get them uploaded.  Dr. Burwell is sending me copies as well so I will post both sets.

The mammal cages are awsome.  A triple cage with a double door system.   There are also doors going between the cages so that we can open them if we need more space.  And, we can cut each of the 3 cages in half if need be and have doors for all the sections.   Peggy (Our biologist) gave Fran ideas, Fran went and studied other designs and came up with the final design. 

We are also on the local news - will be posted on their website tomorrow:  http://www.tv3winchester.com/home/headlines/16704086.html

Peggy is holding TWO Possom.  One of our education animals.  We decided to have pizza for lunch with the crew and bring out TWO and Red Barron the Eastern Screech Owl to show them what they are working for (or rather who).  It was great.  Everyone asked questions and we got to do a Q&A session with the volunteers.  I couldn't have asked for a better turn out and day for this project. 

Being put in charge of a project like this is not easy.  I had to figure out what the land trust would allow, what the Board would allow, what funds and materials we had on hand, what the sizes needed to be, safety issues such as the wire on the bottom of the cages (in or out?), where would the help come from, where would the tools come from for such a project?, what about the ground?  How much work needed to be done to clear it but still keep the woods as natural as possible?

We didn't knock down any trees, minimal clean up was needed and the team brought their own battery power tools!!!!  I provided drinks all day.  Rich brought these amazing clamps and they really helped this project move so fast!  They clamped like 6 flats together and everyone worked in a team despite not knowing one another!

There was one minor injury - which everyone described as a slow motion cartoon effect.  Fran got bumped on the head by a falling pannel.  She wasn't hurt until this morning when she went to brush her hair. LOL  Since a majority of the crew came from not only out of town but out of state as well they stayed at our house.  When she walked out of the room and screeched from brushing her hair everyone had to laugh.  The pain wasn't funny - but the fact it didn't hurt until the next day was pretty amusing.  (You had to be there and know her.)

Everything went so incredibly well.  I couldn't be happier.  I got the news out and the TV crew responded, interviews for the local paper, the people, etc.  There were two teens there getting credits for community service.  They both learned a lot about teamwork and wildlife.  One is going to volunteer a couple hours a month now until the end of school instead of doing her hours elsewhere.

The variety of people was awsome:  Master's of Engineering, Computer Programmer, Lawyer, 2 DoD employees (NO, I don't know what they do.),  Retired Science Teacher, Me the Intern, Woodworker, Teenagers, Customer Support, Homemaker,  Parallegal,  you name it.  Everyone came together to help the Center.  I was so  greatful.  All day I kept saying thank you!  I know they were tired of hearing it . LOL

For the next project: Painting the inside of the Wildlife Center itself.  It's an old house and it desperately needs it.  The only heat is a wood stove  (No, I am not kidding!).  And they are out of wood for it so I am working on getting more.  There are lots of little things I am doing like getting supplies, donations, you name it.  But the big project is nearly done as of yesterday.  We are scheduling another afternoon/evening to put the roof on which will take no time at all.

I got to spend time with the Kestrel too.  I noticed she did not go to the top perch to eat and I put fresh food for her lower.  She ate it all very fast.  Then I checked her wing and made sure that the stitches were healing well.  She is looking great.

The neuro-damaged hawk who can't walk is now standing from time to time on a perch!!!  Day by day he is doing better and we are seeing improvement.

I still have no idea what I am going to do for this summer~!~!!!!  I want to keep working in rehab/education/wildlife education - but I just don't know where to look to find an internship or summer work.  School is out the first week of may and I am doing some work for our Environmental Sciences Dept until June 1st.  We are working on grants for things like bird counts in a particular area, macro-invertebrate studies, bog studies, wetland work, etc...should be interesting.  And you know while I am doing all that I will be watching the birds. LOL


Today was busy!  Started off with quick cleaning and feeding of the 4 screech owls.  Then the outside owls and hawks, etc.  BUT today's suprize - I got to take a hawk over to Dr. Burwell's to be x-rayed and checked out.  Here is a stumper for you all to help us figure out!

(I will post pics when Dr. B. sends them to me.)

Hawk wing - shoulder very "burnt" and bloody.  The long feathers are curled....no, I am not kidding - they are curled!  Explain that??????  Small bone break, cleaned, fixed and put in the infirmary.  But we have no clear how that happend.  IDEAS?????

The great blue heron is outside now in her own enclosure.  The wing is healing up great but Dr. B was worried because the femur is HUGE!  The screws barely made it and luckily they were just long enough.  She is doing well and very happy in her pool and cage.

The american kestrel is doing wonderful!  we put the video camera out just in time to watch her flap her wing!  it's doing great.  I am soo relieved. we were really worried that infection was not wanting to clear up.

I am really excited about saturday. I am hoping the weather stays clear enough for everything to come together.  Everything is all set for the build.  Except the building the last couple of pannels and the door.  I will be posting pics sometime sunday night!

Everyone is doing really well.  One of the small screeches has some serious infection in his toe - but it's doing great.

Today I got to hold a hawk for the first time.  I wasn't scared, but more concerned that I would not hurt him.  I am strong and sometimes I am scared that I am going to hurt the birds when I hold them.  Have any of you gone through that???  How did you feel when you held your first hawk???

I still ahvce no clue about summer and what I am going to do. LOL I live near the Baltimore and the National Zoo - but they are too hard to get into for summer programs. I would love to get into a bird banding/watching program of some type - I just have no clue. LOL  As long as it has to do with birds or wildlife behavior.  Behavioral studies are of real interest.

So how is everyone doing out there? What interesting things have you come across?  Would love to find out!

Thank you to the person who reminded me about the shallow pan for the kestrel!!!!  She likes her new pan and is doing really well with it.

Busy Day

So we are preparing for the big build of the 3 8x16' mammal cages.  I thought I was going to get to finish cleaning the area, but Peg had something else in mind for me which thrilled me to no end.

We have an American Kestrel female with a badly broken wing.  Today I got to prepare a flight cage for her outside!  This is a big step towards recovery for the little lady.  I had to think about a lot of things in doing the cage.  Safety, exercise, location etc.

There is a lot that goes into building a cage that I never really thought about until today.  Peg told me why I needed the things I did and then said to figure out how to do it with what we had handy.  Being a non-profit and small rehab facility means being creative. LOL

So I put flight netting inside the cage to keep her from being caught in the bigger wires.  Then I put up a tarp on the side that faces our wood/wire supply pile since saturday it's going to be very busy.  This will give her privacy.  we put a small carrier in there with towels for her to hide in.  I arranged new branches in the flight cage so that she could hop from the ground, water supply all the way up to a really high branch about 6' off the ground.  it interlaced back and forth across the cage so that while her wing is healing she can still get around but have enough room to exercise the wing.

Peg taught me about kestrels, their mating habits, their nesting habits, etc.  It's really the first time so far that we have really done the teacher/student bit and it was great because it was hands on and applicable to what I was doing.  She has it in her to be a great teacher if she wasn't soo focused on being a biologist. LOL

I am really nervous about this big build project I am taking on.  I know Fran has the building supplies, parts, designs, etc. covered.  I am now focused on the press releases, the pizza for the volunteers, the drinks/ice, and hoping we get enough!  We have a pavillion nearby for everyone to sit and take breaks at which is great.  I really want this to pull off well as it will be the big part of my evaluation.  I can get volunteers from anywhere as I have tons of friends into wildlife, but to actually pull off the build will be sweet.

I have no idea what to do for internships/volunteering this summer - if you guys have ideas - let me know!  May will be spent with Dr. B doing: wetland study, bog study, bird count in 3 mile radius, macro invertebrate study on Shenandoah and Potomac rivers for health of water.  But that is 1 month and there is still June, July and August to deal with.

I am graduating next year!  2 more semesters!  Now what am I doing after that???? No clue. :)

Thursday is more site prep for Saturday and Friday is finalizing the shopping and copying the layout plans so people can see what goes where.  I am sooo nervous!  It's a HUGE project!

Be well!

What's Up??

Sorry I haven't been around.  I have been incredibly sick and I didn't want to get the animals infected, etc.....  or our poor single handedly biologist who takes care of the day to day stuff.  Loosing her to illness would just break down the system beyond thought at this point. LOL

So what is new at Blue Ridge????  Well the 8th we are pulling a few stumps, cleaning up the ground and preparing for 3 new cages for mammals!  Thanks to everyone who sent me such great blue prints and ideas and thoughts about things to be careful of, etc.  The plans are terrific and I will post pictures after everything is done. :)

Thanks to the great thoughts on the hawks - my local hawk eats at the feeder (drive through fast food for 1!) about every 3 days.  I find a bit of a pile of either feathers or bunnie fur.  I have contacted the office where I lived and told them under no circumstances are they to put down anything to kill the bunnies!  I have also worked with them to build bird houses and a few bat boxes which everyone in the area is really enjoying.  The bats come out at night and you can hear them slap the water on the lakes as they eat.  People are sitting quietly on the benches watching.  Great education opportunity.

I am writing an article for the newsletter about the local birds and the to-do's/nots. The office is really happy about it and looking forward to something soon.

The wildlife center is amazing.  Everything changes so fast!  One day the hawk with the neurodamage is not able to move, now he tries to push himself up and will walk to his food!  A volunteer there puts him out in the big pen and helps him walk around.  The female american kestrel with the really bad wing is healing now.  The extra anti-biotics are expensive, but when you think about her flying free it's all worth it.

Even the residents are going nuts - it's breeding season!  The owls aren't so bad - but Lucy the hawk is cawing up something fierce.  There is a nested pair in the area and they are all skrieking at one another. LOL

Here is an email I sent out to the school list for those that are anywhere close to the region. LOL

The powers that be have decided to let us go ahead and do the land prep on the 8th!~!!!  We are going to be pulling stumps, raking the ground and snipping small branches along with mapping out where the cage parts are being placed.  We might also get to build the last 4 pannels and the 2 doors we need if we have enough people.

Reminder:  15th is the big build!  We need your help!  With spring approaching we are already starting to get the hint that it's going to be a busy year.  Right now owls, hawks and birds of prey in general are breeding.   We need those cages....

So please - if you have the time - let me know and give us a hand.

Marie R. Dahl
Environmental Studies
Intern - blue ridge wildlife center

What a day!

On the way to the Center I got to do my first pick up!  I had to go to the local emergency vet and pick up a white crowned sparrow with a missing tail.  Perfectly healthy - just hopping without a rudder. LOL

We got the measurements and designs done for the cage build with the sides we already have pre-built.  Cleaned up some of the cages.  Fed all the new birds!  In one week we have doubled the owl/hawk population.  No kidding.  The porch was empty last week - it currently has:  4 screech owls (2 red/2 grey), 1 red shouldered hawk and 1 red tail hawk.  The infirmary has all new guests.  Two barred owls, 2 red tails and a possum.  Oh - the kestrel.  Outisde I gave up trying to figure out who moved where. LOL

The vet was there today so I got to help with that. She is totally amazing!  I learned how to hold the kestrel so they could check her infected eye and check the pins on the wing.  Then the little one I brought in, then a screech owl whose toes are infected.   That was rough - you feel so bad for them when they cry - but you know you are doing them good in the long run.

We have donations come in and I checked them in and gave a tour.

Seeing how much changes in a matter of 7 days really hits home just what is going on around you.  How those birds you see on the highway watching are really in a dangerous spot.

On a happy note - 2 porcupines spotted (one died as he was being brought to us) in VIRGINIA!  Yes - I am totally serious!  They are not supposed to be down here and now Peggy is starting to figure out more about them because we are not used to them.

The groundhog that lives there came out to visit.  I got to pet her - she is much softer and sweeter than I thought!  She is a big baby really who just wants scratched. 

I learned a lot today about management, animal care and budget issues.  That was great - gave me a better insight as to what really goes on.