Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Written by volunteer Amy Rembold

It’s that time of year when family and friends join together to honor the tradition of Thanksgiving. We at Owl Moon Raptor Center are a family that comes together daily to work to save raptors that are sick or injured. Our director, Suzanne Shoemaker, spends every day (minus the rare days away), from morning until night, taking care of these incredible birds of prey. Volunteers come in to clean cages, help hold birds to administer medications and other treatments, prepare food, or fly the birds on a creance line to recondition them for release. Others transport birds to the center at all hours, and finally help with the release. There are a million other tasks that our partners accomplish.  Veterinarians such as those at Bennett Creek Animal Hospital and Eye Care For Animals provide birds with x-rays, examinations, and surgeries and other procedures. Arborists such as those at Comprehensive Tree Care help us rescue birds entangled in fishing line in trees, and return fallen nestlings to their nests to rejoin their families. There are so many to thank!

 

So far in 2017, Owl Moon has admitted well over 200 birds of prey needing our attention, and the numbers are increasing every year. We are dependent on our “family” which includes you, the concerned citizens who notify us of an injured raptor, rescue and transporters that drive many miles to move the injured raptor to Owl Moon, our director and volunteers who work tirelessly to provide the best care for the injured patient for the ultimate goal of returning the bird back into the wild, and finally the donors that provide us with the means to pay for medicine, medical care, food and the supplies that are essential for the everyday care of these magnificent birds.

We thank you and the raptors thank you! Happy Thanksgiving!!! We hope you enjoy your feast as much as this owl enjoys his (Warning: this video is not for the squeamish)!

 

The 2018 Owl Moon Calendar has gone to press!

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Our 2018 Owl Moon calendar is again one you will be proud to display in your home or office, and give as a gift to friends and family this holiday season. As in the past, the 2018 Owl Moon Calendar features wonderful images and stories of some of the owl, hawk, falcon, and eagle patients that have come through our rehabilitation center this year, as well as a “raptor calendar” describing what is happening in the raptor world each month.

This year’s calendar will be slightly smaller than in recent years, and will be bound by saddle-stitching and staples, rather than a spiral binding. These changes allow us to save on printing and mailing costs so that more of your donation can go to the care and treatment of the birds of prey that come to us in need.

The 2018 calendar features stories about “Chessie”, an adult osprey who recovered from fractures in both her shoulders and was able to fly free again, and “Wilbur, a young Great Horned Owl who survived West Nile Virus. and many more.

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2018 Calendars are available for a donation of $25 for one or $100 for five.

Please specify (in the comments after you donate online) if would like a calendar with your donation, and how many.  Thank you!

You can receive your calendar in person with a donation at the Owl Moon Raptor Festival at Black Hill Regional Park, 12pm-4pm on November 12th (see post below), or…

Donate online or mail your check to:

Owl Moon Raptor Center
20201 Bucklodge Rd.
Boyds, MD 20841

Features:

  • Nesting and migration dates for Mid-Atlantic birds of prey
  • 12 stories
  • 24 full-color images
  • Card stock covers
  • Saddle stitched and stapled binding
  • 8.75 x 11.5 inches
  • Tax deductible
  • All proceeds support the care of the birds!

Owl Moon is a registered 501(c)(3) and all donations are tax deductible.

Come One Come All!

We are pleased and proud to announce our 4th Annual Owl Moon Raptor Festival coming up on Sunday, November 12th from noon to 4 pm. Many thanks to our friends at Montgomery Parks- Black Hill Regional Park Nature Center for offering to host us again this year. Of course, we could not do this event without the help of Adventures With Raptors, who will be there with their many Owls, Hawks, and Falcons to provide close up viewing and photography, as well as exciting flight demonstrations! There will be plenty of fun and educational activities for the enjoyment of kids of all ages, and you can learn about Owl Moon Raptor Center‘s work to help injured, sick, and orphaned birds of prey from all over Maryland. We are close to breaking our own 2016 record of 204 injured raptors admitted, including several Bald Eagles and Peregrine Falcons. We appreciate your contributions to help us keep up with the needs of our Maryland birds of prey. This year has been a particularly bad one for cases of West Nile Virus, which is often fatal in birds. We are currently treating four Great Horned Owls we suspect are victims of this virus.

Please join us this year for another wonderful opportunity to have adventures with raptors and support the important work we do at Owl Moon to save the owls, hawks, and falcons that come in harms way. And please share this post and spread the word to your friends and family! Thank you!!!

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Turkey Vulture Shooting Victim

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A recent call from a citizen concerned about a vulture with an injured wing resulted in our newest patient. The adult female turkey vulture was hiding under the gentleman’s car, and when he turned his back, she ran into his garage and took refuge there. He  wasn’t sure he liked the guest in his garage, but he heeded our advice to close the garage door, with the guarantee that an Owl Moon volunteer would remove the vulture in a timely manor. Vultures are very fast on their feet, and can leap over 5 foot fences, so even a vulture that can’t fly can require an army to capture. Having her confined in a garage would be a huge help. Our volunteer, Amy, arrived and caught the injured vulture, boxed her, and transported her to Owl Moon Raptor Center. Upon examination, we determined that she had a fracture in the metacarpal bones of the outer right wing. We took her to Bennett Creek Animal Hospital for x-rays. The radiographs confirmed that she had been shot, which caused the fracture, and excruciating pain. We cleaned and treated the wound, and devised a splint to stabilize the fractured bone. We applied the splint with tape, and bandaged the wing to immobilize it and make her more comfortable. She is receiving pain medicine and antibiotics, as well as regular bandage changes and physical therapy.

This turkey vulture was found in a residential neighborhood in Laurel, MD, and is not likely to have traveled far in her condition. We suspect she was shot in or near this neighborhood. It is illegal to shoot any birds of prey, and this includes vultures. This case was reported to the US Fish and Wildlife Service and MD Department of Natural Resources Police.

A few interesting facts about Turkey Vultures and why they are important in our environment include the following:

  • Being carrion feeders (scavengers), Turkey Vultures serve the important purpose of cleaning up our roadkill deer and other carrion. A world without vultures would be a world littered with the carcasses of dead animals.
  • The Turkey Vulture, unlike most birds, has a highly developed sense of smell. Their sense of smell is so keen that they “can detect the scent of rotting flesh in concentrations as tiny as a few parts per billion in the air” and find food that has been hidden under leaves, according to a study done by scientists with the Smithsonian Institute. Their smell is so much better than their Black Vulture cousins, that Black Vultures watch for where Turkey Vultures fly in circles above a dead animal and then swoop in to partake in the carrion feast.
  • Turkey Vultures cannot sing, since they have no vocal cords, but rather make a gutteral hissing sound that sounds like a mad dragon.
  • They are the most migratory vulture species in North America.
  • They are very large birds and, while flying, are commonly mistaken for eagles. Turkey vultures soar with few wing flaps and hold their wings in a slight “V” position.

We usually do not know what happened to the raptors that come into our care, but we know that vultures often choose the trees and roofs of homes in suburban neighborhoods for roosting, sometimes in large numbers. They can make quite a mess with their droppings. We know this habit can make a homeowner unhappy, and some will take up firearms to rid themselves of this nuisance. Shooting a vulture or two won’t solve the problem, and there are alternative and lawful ways to discourage a vulture roost.

In the article “If You Can’t Live With Turkey Vultures Get Them to Move” written by Andrea Kitay in the LA Times on July 02, 2000, many ways to discourage vulture roosts are suggested, some of which include the following:

According to Noel Myers, staff wildlife biologist at the USDA’s Wildlife Services in Sacramento, California, the remedies they are confined to include eliminating or thinning trees the birds are roosting in, or simply harassing them away.  Myers suggests using a high-pressure water spray, loud noises like sirens and honking sounds–or even firecrackers if they are legal where you live.  Generally, turkey vultures leave their roosts in the morning to search out food. They may spend the day loafing on roofs, poles, the ground, spa and boat covers—even patio furniture. You’ll want to begin your harassment routine in the late afternoon, when the first birds begin to return to the roost. Be persistent. Turkey vultures can get pretty entrenched in their roost, so you may have great difficulty convincing them to go. And then, if they do, they may only move next door.
For further information on vulture deterrents please reference the following website:

https://turkeyvulturesociety.wordpress.com/quick-facts/discouraging-vultures/

Don’t forget to mark your calendars for the Owl Moon Raptor Festival on Sunday, November 12, 2017 from noon to 4 pm at Black Hills Regional Park Nature Center.

Turkey Vulture

We are wrapping the vulture’s fractured wing to her body after splinting the fractured bone. This will immobilize the wing so it will heal, and support it for her comfort. We wear gloves to control her head (beak) and protect ourselves from her bite, which is capable of  can tearing bites from a deer carcass and can hurt us too! 

Great Horned Owl Rescued From Entanglement in Fishing Line

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Monofilament fishing line that is left out in the environment is a danger to wildlife. Our most recent patient is a female Great-Horned Owl who was found dangling from a tree with her left wing wrapped in fishing line. Lucky for her, a kind-hearted fisherman found her, cut her free, and brought her to Owl Moon for rehabilitation. She was completely exhausted and dehydrated, and being a heavy bird, her wing was badly strained from her struggle to free herself. We have rehydrated her and bandaged the injured wing to give it rest. We are hoping that the damage to her shoulder from the stress of hanging can heal, and we can get her back to the wild where she belongs. Without the thoughtfulness of this kind-hearted fisherman, this beautiful bird would have suffered a horrific death. If you should encounter fishing line in nature, please collect it and dispose of it properly. Your actions could save a life!

The Owl Moon 2017 Calendar is Here!

The 2017 Owl Moon Raptor Center calendar has arrived! Pick up your copy at the Owl Moon Raptor Center Festival on November 13th or donate online to receive your copy in time for the holidays!

This year’s calendar features stories about a bald eagle rescued from a soccer net and five barred owls who formed a makeshift family during their stay at Owl Moon.

As always, 100 percent of donations go toward the care and support of the birds. Owl Moon is a registered 501(c)(3) and all donations are tax deductible.

Owl Moon Raptor Festival

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Join us, rain or shine, for the third annual Owl Moon Raptor Festival. There will be live bird demonstrations from Adventures with Raptors, photo opportunities, games and activities for kids, and food and fun for the whole family! Admission is free!

Sunday, November 13th, 2016
Noon to 4:00 pm
Black Hills Regional Park Nature Center
20930 Lake Ridge Dr. Boyds, MD 20841

Our 2017 calendar will be available for sale along with our first ever festival T-shirt.
Tax-deductible donations will be gratefully accepted to provide for the treatment and rehabilitation of injured and sick raptors.

Owl Moon Raptor Center is registered with the IRS as a 501(c)3 non-profit.

Festival photo by Rakesh Subramanian.

Bald Eagle “Trust:” Another Update!

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Trust

On Monday, March 28th, after three plus weeks of healing time, removing her wing wrap every three days for physical therapy, we took Bald Eagle “Trust”, back to Bennett Creek Animal Hospital for follow-up radiographs and examination by Dr. Debbie Deans. Our hope was that the fractured coracoid bone in her left shoulder was calloused, that is, mostly healed. The news was not encouraging. There was still a significant pain response when Trust’s shoulder was manipulated, and it appeared in the radiograph that her coracoid fracture was a “delayed union”, meaning that it was slow in forming a callous and would require more time to heal. The delay was perhaps related to excessive soft tissue damage in the area of the fracture, which would not be visible in a radiograph. Delayed unions generally have a poorer prognosis for return to normal flight and release. We gathered the advise of several veterinarians (avian specialists) as to how to proceed. The consensus was to re-wrap Trust’s wing, leaving it on for a full week with no physical therapy, to give it extra stability and uninterrupted time to heal. We were advised to then remove the wrap for physical therapy. If she showed no evidence of pain, we could leave it off, and then follow up with another set of radiographs in a few days.

Trust's follow-up radiograph

Trust’s follow-up radiograph

Positioning a sedated Trust on the x-ray table at Bennett Creek Animal Hospital

Positioning a sedated Trust on the x-ray table at Bennett Creek Animal Hospital

Today, April 7th, marked a full week with the wing wrapped and no physical therapy.  We removed the wrap and did our usual PT session of flexing the joints and stretching the muscles in Trust’s injured left wing. The moment of truth was when we got to the shoulder and gently moved her wing in small circles around that joint. We were impressed and relieved by how calm she was. There appeared to be no pain response at all. So today I am pleased to announce that we removed Trust’s wing wrap, and left it off! We still can’t say if she will fly normally again or be released, but it appears that her fracture has finally healed. Tonight I even saw her raise her left wing at the injured shoulder, which gives me hope.

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Look! No wing wrap! (but an undignified feather stuck on her beak)

Update on Bald Eagle “Trust”

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Trust’s overall condition has been improving over the past few days. Her mouth (mucous membranes) is moist and pinker, and she is becoming more feisty and regaining her appetite. All are signs that the internal bleeding is resolving and she is feeling better. On Friday, March 11, we removed Trust’s wing wrap to do some physical therapy on the injured wing.

Physical therapy is an important part of wildlife rehabilitation, just as it is in human rehabilitation. It is necessary to keep the joints mobile, and the skin and muscles elastic and flexible while the fractured bone is healing. The following videos were taken during Trust’s PT session, after we removed the wing wrap. We normally keep raptors hooded during treatments such as this, because it reduces stimulation (and hence stress) on the birds and keeps them quiet. We have found with Trust, that she seems to prefer to see what is going on, and will often stay quieter with the hood off. However, we do need to use the hood when it is safer for the handlers to do so.

Following physical therapy, we reapplied the wing wrap so that her fractured coracoid can continue to heal. The following video shows that procedure.

Trust ate the better part of a Red Perch (fish) earlier today. These days, she waits until she is alone and things have quieted down before she eats her fish. In the evening, however, it is a different story. Her dinner is venison, with medications inserted (but don’t tell her). When she spies the venison, she is much more aggressive about eating than she is with the fish. She doesn’t even wait for me to put down the plate!