“I realized that If I had to choose, I would rather have birds than airplanes.” – Charles Lindbergh
AIDA has a wonderful avian facility, the Ruth Melichar Bird Center. Although seasonal hours exist, we are open 7 days a week, 365 days a year including holidays. We care for over 3000 birds annually and maintain close to 70% release rate. Since we are open 84 hours weeks April-Sept; we must pay a small staff to care for the birds. Most infant birds must be fed every 15 mins, 12 hrs. a day. Normally we have 100-200 baby birds at any given time throughout the summer. Of the 3000 plus birds, 300 or more are waterfowl with most of those being ducklings. Baby birds and ducklings all require heat 24/7, which is provided by either heating pads and/or ceramic heat bulbs. The volume of water utilized in caring for waterfowl is enormous. Swim tanks and enclosures must be hosed down and cleaned 2-3 times daily. We have amazing Volunteers that work incredible hours for these young birds.
Here are a few of the beautiful birds that came through our Bird Center.
WESTERN TANAGERS made a stong appearance in the valley in Spring 2008 with tempting cool temperatures. This handsome make was one of many Tanagers that came into the Bird Center due to injuries caused by cats or striking a window. When the temperatures heated up, they moved on to mountain habitats.
This BOHEMIAN WAXWING is larger than his Cedar Waxwing cousins. Bohemian and Cedar Waxwings are very similar in appearance and have the characteristic “Lone Ranger” mask. Both are common in the Treasure Valley. Cedar Waxwings flock to Pyracantha bushes in the winter. Their call is a high, buzzy trill.
If you are lucky enough to see LAZULI BUNTINGS in your backyard in the spring, you know who strikingly beautiful thes songbirds are. How the males learn their song is one of the many cool things about this bird. Like most songbirds, only the males sing. But, unlike most songbirds, they don’t learn their song in the first few weeks of life from their fathers (or other nearby males). When young males migrate to their breeding grounds, they arrive without a complete song of their own. They develop their song by taking parts of songs from older males, and putting these snips and pieces together.
BLACK-CHINNED HUMMINGBIRDS Notice the size of a rehabber’s thumb in comparison to the nest! Hummingbirds do not live on nectar along – they get their protein from tiny insects. Baby hummingbirds should not be fed hummingbird nectar or sugar water because they need lots of protein to grow. Mom provides this essential element until the babies learn to catch their own. A great source of information on hummingbirds go to: www.hummingbirdsociety.org or www.hummingbirds.net
A Rarity in Boise…Eastern Screech Owl – This little guy was found on Boise Avenue near Geckler in early November of 2008. He was unable to perch and had suffered some head trauma which affected his right eye…notice the pupil dilation. S/he was released in early December. It has only been recently that Western and Eastern Screech Owls were differentiated. Eastern Screech Owl’s range is : north to south, central-Montana to Texas and all the way east. The Eastern Screech Owl shown above is of the lightest and whitest morph and is only found in the northwestern part of the range (ie. eastern half of Montana).
WESTERN SCREECH OWLS are one of the most common owls in the valley. Western Screech owls eat a variety of foods; they eat mice, earthworms, and can even take prey larger than they; such as rabbits and ducks. Owls fly silently due to special comb-like feathers on the leading edge of the primary wing feathers. These feathers help muffle the sound of the air rushing over the wing surface and allow the owl to fly silently.
AMERICAN KESTRELS from the nestling state to fledging age. All 6 came in together. On the left the whiter of them was obviously the last to hatch. On the right are three of the six as fledglings. Notice the gray wings on one of them, that indicates it is a male. The care of young raptors is complex; they readily imprint on humans, sometimes within hours. As with all baby birds, the best parents are their own parents.
Nestling SWAINSON’S HAWK
These SWAINSON’S HAWKS were not able to be renested with their own parents. With the help of raptor researcher James McKinley, they were placed in nests that had “siblings” their approximate age. Parents will accept these newcomers and teach them what they need to know to survive in the wild. Do not try renesting any birds yourself without first consulting a licensed rehabilitator.
This BULLOCK’S ORIOLE fledgling was found on the property of an AIDA Volunteer. Fortunately, it was able to be returned to its nest and it’s parents.
I am hoping that this message influences you to once again remember our local wildlife and cherish that we are fortunate to ‘live among them’; species different from ourselves, yet exactly like us in more ways than not. When we can realize the value of what they have to share with us, we will become a better species ourselves.
Mady Rothchild President of Animals In Distress, Assn. Inc.