Well Hope is still with us here at Native Bird Care. She has done a great job, as best as could be expected given she was shot with buckshot and her wing bones were fractured very badly. She will be with us another month as we make some hard decisions. We are working to get her wing amputated at the elbow, the fractures simply did not heal as we needed them to for flight. For pain reduction and long term use, removal is the only option. Once that is done, which we are fundraising for, we can put her in a safe location with a mate so that she can live out her life as best she can. She must have no pain for release so that she will have a normal life and behavior. If you want to help Hope, we are fundraising for her surgery and continued medications. Other swan sanctuaries have done this surgery with great success and results on their swans. So we are quite optimistic.
Well December was the busiest we have ever experienced, with nearly 20 water birds being found and brought into the center. Kudos to all of you who helped these sweet little birds!
We had eared, horned, and pied-billed grebes, western grebes, a loon, and new this year, and so exciting, ruddy ducks. Ruddy ducks, like all the others, are unable to fly once grounded...their wings are just too small for their heavy, little bodies. These birds are deep divers and most fishers, so they need that weight to get down into the water. The wings are small so they are streamlined....similar to a penguin. All but the ruddies have their feet positioned back behind them, rather than below like a duck. This makes it hard for them to run or stand up.
The smallest grebes need at least 20 feet of water runway to get into the air. The ruddies even longer, they have to huff and puff and waddle on top of the water a good distance to finally get themselves launched into the air. Google some images of grebees running on water, it is quite cool.
All but the ruddies and coots, should have been somewhere else. The little grebes - horned, eared, and pied-billed - migrate in December and even into January. The coots and ruddies are local but the cold froze up their water and they simply did not have enough to get launched. The western grebe and loon simply did not make it over the Cascades and got caught in the storms. All were taken to appropriate places. The western and loon went to Yaquina Bay, the horned went to Siletz Bay, the eareds went to Summer Lake, the pied-billed went to Fern Ridge in Eugene, and the ruddies and coots stayed in Bend at Hatfield Lake. All were happy to get out of the snow and onto water!
To me, there is almost nothing more fascinating then water bird feet. I just love those cute little webbed feet, and how the birds use them to paddle around and fish. The western can get going fast enough, primarily with his feet that he can actually spear a fish! Very cool (not for the fish of course).
In the pictures below, you can see how the eared grebes feet are behind her, while the ruddies is underneath. Ruddies eat vegetation and some water bugs, eareds eat bugs and fish. You can see that the size of their wings, while helping them underwater, makes them less able to get out of the water and into the air. The coot, the one with the white nose, has his feet most like the usual duck, right beneath his belly. Looking closely at their feet, you will see that all 3 types of birds have different webbing. The coot and eareds have lobes in their webbing, while the duck has the usual ducklike paddle for a foot.
Author: Elise Wolf
I have been fascinated by wild birds my whole life. The current stresses on our wild bird populations is extraordinary, and helping them is not only an act of kindness and compassion, but demonstrates that humans do have the ability to be selfless and act with love towards their non-human planetary family.