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Blue heron rescue with Oncor

Oncor saves herons from precarious perch
12:00 AM CDT on Tuesday, April 15, 2008
By RUSS AARON / The Dallas Morning News raaron@dallasnews.com

A Hutchins wildlife program has once again teamed up with Oncor Electric Delivery during "nesting season" to help save birds.


Image by WILLIAM DESHAZER/DMN
Penny Halstead of Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation Center shows a heron chick to Oncor employees.

For the last four years, Oncor has worked with the Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation Center to rescue nests on electric towers as high as 120 feet to ensure that the company's services are not disrupted and that the protected birds are kept safe.

"Our company has been keenly aware of our impact to the environment," said Debbie Boyle, Oncor's senior director for environment health safety and training. "We're working in concert with the environment, but also maintaining reliability."

On Monday, Kathy Rogers of the wildlife center took some recently rescued baby herons to Oncor headquarters in Dallas to show employees firsthand the result of their partnership.

The fuzzy grayish-blue heron chicks were rescued from a 120-foot-tall electric tower in Abilene the first week of April. At the center, they will learn to hunt and feed on their own before being returned to the wild.

Ms. Rogers trains Oncor contractors to climb the towers, place the eggs in a specially designed backpack and remove the nest. The eggs are then transported to the rehabilitation center.

"There's nobody else to take care of them," she said.

Oncor said they have rescued more than 60 great blue herons from electrical towers, but Ms. Rogers believes that number to be substantially higher. The great blue heron is one of many species of birds that is protected by law. Two herons released from the center last year returned this year to nest and breed.

A government permit allows Oncor to remove 25 nests of protected birds each year from its towers, Ms. Rogers said. Additional nests of protected birds are supposed to remain untouched.

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Susan's got our totals for the year!

Wild Bird Totals
10/1/06 through 9/30/07


October 13
November 2
December 3
January 7
February 7
March 14
April 76
May 93
June 110
July 64
August 58
September 36
483 Total


*This includes a few raccoons & opossums that were delivered to Marc (rehabber), with his consent. He has a building on Kathy's property at Roger's Wildlife Rehab. Center.
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No run for 9-16-07

Eastlake said when I called that someone was supposed to bring in a bird, but when I checked in, none had arrived, so no run was made today.

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Labor Day weekend

Dovies! 2 juvenile doves to take from East Lake, fortunately neither hurt, just lost. One was a white-winged and one was a mourning...both had adult feathers on the bodies but still had the little baby fuzzy heads :)

I'm using a new camera and am still getting used to it, so unfortunately the pictures I took were about the size of a postage stamp. I linked above to info pages on both species, so you can at least see what they look like.

August 22nd run

Nada! Except for doves, apparently baby season really is done for the year.

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East Lake had a pigeon and a dove this past Sunday...the dove was in a closed box with side air holes so I did not have a look at it before leaving, but the pigeon was in a box with an open top loosely taped with a gap, so I peeked at it and it peeked back. I have found young/adult pigeons handle the trip pretty calmly. The pidgie last weekend walked back and forth in the box a bit and looked at me when I talked to it, but never got the flutters or the squawks. Same with this one. Variegated greys and blues, with pretty cinnabar colored eyes.

East Lake staff did not know what was wrong with either bird, but said the pigeon "was smelly," which it was. Some sort of bowel trouble, I suppose.

The dove did not survive the trip to Rogers. Staffers looked it over and said that it was severely afflicted with pox. Treatable early on but I guess this one was too far gone.

The pigeon had to be euthanized. It had been poisoned and was basically rotting from the inside out. The matter it was putting out seemed to have charcoal in it, and the feathers and skin all pulled right out as they were trying to clean some of it off. I am glad it did not seem to be in pain, but furious that someone would poison a bird. If you don't want pigeons on your property then there are other ways to deter them...poison is cruel.

So, 0 for 2 this weekend, and I'm sad about it. I know we can't save them all, but the matter of the pigeon is all the more upsetting to me because it was not a natural death.

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Dove season is upon us

This weekend East Lake had an adult pigeon with a broken wing, and a mockingbird juvenile that had tangled with a cat...no puncture wounds but an air sac messed up. Some people came in with a baby dove while I was there, as well. Apparently doves easily pick up throat yeast infections from the soil and each other, but Kathy at Rogers said it usually clears up with about a week of medical treatment.




Someone had brought in an injured cockatiel and also there was a found white parrot...am interested in seeing how those progress. There are lots of little owls in just now, they get bumped out of nests.
Wildlife center is a friend to the feathered
Hutchins nonprofit brings avian orphans back to health

12:00 AM CDT on Friday, August 10, 2007

By KATAYOUN ALIDADI / The Dallas Morning News
kalidadi@dallasnews.com

HUTCHINS – The nestling chimney swift clung to a jade towel in human hands, far from the treetop nest it was born in.

A volunteer handled the palm-sized baby bird to feed it. The shiny black chick, an orphan delivered from Dallas and hungry after a long car ride, eagerly welcomed the soggy grub.

For the next eight to 10 weeks, the bird will be cared for at the Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Hutchins. In October, it will be released into a flock destined for South America.

"We have to get him ready to get out," said Kathy Rogers, the center's founder and a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.

As nestling season continues, the number of orphaned birds in North Texas has soared, say officials at the Rogers center. Incessant rain and the occasional violent storm have blown some chicks out of the coziness of their tree-perched nests to the ground below.

Some of the luckier ones end up at the Rogers center, North Texas' only large-scale facility for orphaned, injured and sick wild bird species.

At any given time, the nonprofit center cares for about 1,000 wild birds, Ms. Rogers said.

"Anything with feathers, we take," she said.

Last year, 4,824 birds and 283 raptors found their way to the center, including 1,700 mallard ducklings recovered from swimming pools. The number of baby birds that have come in so far this season is up about 15 percent from the number received during the same time period last season, Ms. Rogers said.

"We've had a big baby season," she said. "I'll be anxious to do the tally at the end of the year."

Cliff Shackelford, an ornithologist with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, said that there is no true way to track the number of orphaned birds, but that it makes sense that storms would lead to an increase.

Further, the heavy rains earlier this summer – during breeding season – would have provided a larger food supply, leading some birds to breed two or three times, Mr. Shackelford said.

The Rogers center receives birds from all over Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. From East Lake Veterinary Hospital in Dallas, volunteer bird chauffeurs take orphaned or injured birds in their cars to the center each evening.

"It's a chirping factory in your car sometimes," said Susan Bell, who organizes the bird chauffeurs.

In the center's clinic, workers treat birds and monitor birds on medication. If the bird needs a procedure that requires anesthesia, it is taken to a vet.

Chicks are hand-fed soaked cat food, mealworms, fruit, mice and ground fish, depending on the species' diet.

"The baby birds get fed every 20 minutes during daylight hours, from sunup to sundown," Ms. Rogers said.

Most of the outside aviaries are occupied by birds "just hanging out until it's time to go," she said. About 30 great blue herons have reached that stage.

Of those brought to the center last year, 88 percent of the birds and 77 percent of the raptors regained their freedom. Others had to be euthanized because their injuries were too severe. Some became permanent residents and part of the center's educational outreach program.

The whole operation runs on about $160,000 in donations and membership fees, said Ms. Rogers, who has been working with birds for 25 years. The facility is plain, with little landscaping or other features, like awnings.

"We run this on a shoestring," she said. "For the number of birds that we do, it's very cost-effective."

Each bird has its own history and traits. The recovering pelicans devour 5 pounds of restaurant-quality ocean perch a day, while the sole pileated woodpecker has turned to the wooden edges of its aviary.

Tommer, the bronze turkey, can startle kids with his display.

"He is the only thing out there that earns money," said Ms. Rogers, referring to Tommer's past appearances in television commercials for the Tom Thumb grocery chain.

When the center closes for the night, Ms. Rogers and several volunteers each take home about a dozen baby birds in need of continuous attention or feeding.

"She is 24/7 bird," said Robert MacQuigg, who drove the chimney swift chick to the center. "She has given up a lot in life to do what she is doing."

Ms. Rogers said that years ago, she worked as a bridal consultant. She likes doing this better.

"I preferred to deal with sick birds than crazy brides," she said.

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Looks like baby season is over

Just a quick update to say that this is the third week that there have not been any animals to transport to the Rogers Center.

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As an aside, some Rogers residents

There are peafowl in residence on the grounds at Rogers, and they are pretty sassy :) When we drove down Sunday there was a peacock in the parking area and as we parked he opened up his tail. I guess he saw his reflection in the car's side and thought there was another male. Very pretty, though. Anterior and posterior shots :)