Archive | December 2014

63 Year-Old Frequent Flyer Gives Birth!

Wisdom2014

Photographer: Greg Joder/USFWS

This sprightly 63 year-old has yet to find any wrinkles on her smooth and lovely feathered visage even though she has flown about three million miles (or about five million km) in her lifetime; that’s about six round trips from the earth to the moon! She is not only raising another chick, she has already raised at least 30 baby chicks in her lifetime.

 

Wisdom is a 63-year old Laysan Albatross, the world’s oldest known banded bird in existence. She winters at Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in the Pacific. Wisdom has survived earthquakes and tsunamis, long-line fishing threats and floating plastic litter, millions of kilometers in flight high in the air and close calls with sharks while fishing in the ocean. Wisdom has raised many healthy chicks over the years and at the age of 63, and is now incubating another egg! Her mate was patiently waiting for her just a few feet from their previous nesting site when she winged her way back to him at the end of November. Her chick is due to hatch out in early February of 2015.

WisdomandEgg

Photographer: Greg Joder/USFWS

 

I learned about Wisdom through a wonderful children’s book, “Wisdom, the Midway Albatross,” by Darcy Pattison. This book is being read by the students in our international school in Tokyo as part of the Sakura Medal reading promotion program where students read and then vote on their favorite books from a list of newly-published children’s literature in various categories. “Wisdom” references the 2011 Japan earthquake and is a favorite among the students, many of whom remember that frightening day. Some have relatives who did not survive the tsunami. The readers identify with this intrepid flyer who has survived for so many years despite the considerable challenges and dangers.

Here is footage from December 8th of Wisdom on her nest, preening and relaxing, courtesy of Dan Clark:

Wisdom Incubates Egg on Midway Atoll (12.08.2014). Video: Dan Clark/USFWS

If the video is not visible, here is a link to go to the original source:

www.flickr.com/photos/usfwspacific/15433458753/in/photostream/

Feathered Sanctuary

What do you do with a wounded wild bird? Adopt it as your own pet?HawkinTree

Bird rescue is a noble and worthy endeavor, but it is best to take your feathered friend to a sanctuary where it can be healed and, if possible, re-introduced into the wild. When we lived in California, we found a juvenile red-shouldered hawk that appeared to have been shot in the wing by a neighbor. We wrapped it in a towel and took it to a bird rescue center where it was treated and released.

HawkShot

 

Wounded birds need specialized care which is often impossible for untrained tender-hearted rescuers to provide.

Sanctuaries do a good job of treating their feathered patients. Here are some lovely residents of Florida’s Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary:

Sanctuary-Birds-white-pelican

Seabird Sanctuary Slideshow

This one-winged white pelican goes to school… not to learn but to teach children about wild seabirds and what we can do to protect them and keep their environment safe and healthy. This large bird is a permanent resident at the sanctuary since he would not be able to survive in the wild on his own. If he were a healthy and strong white pelican, he would collaborate with his pelican friends in shallow water to gather fish into the middle of their floating formation so that they could easily scoop up their supper.

The Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary is the largest bird sanctuary in the United States of America and admits more than 10,000 birds each year to be rehabilitated and released back into the wild. It is open every day of the year from 9:00 am until sunset.

“A wonderful bird is the pelican, His beak will hold more than his belican.”  “The Pelican” (1910) by Dixon Lanier Merritt