Sunday, November 18, 2007

A Room with a View - on the inside

This is Ferrug, a 10-year-old, non-releasable ferruginous hawk, and one of the Hawks Aloft educational ambassadors. He was likely hit by a car on a remote mesa top in northern New Mexico during the fall of his hatch year. I have never been able to understand just how it would be possible to actually strike a bird on the narrow two-track dirt paths that are the only vehicle friendly roads on the mesa, and further, how it also happened that someone picked him up and turned him in to a wildlife rehabilitator. He has a badly broken wing with joints that do not extend fully in his right wing.

Because he was so young when his injury occurred, he has adapted well to captivity, and can travel to accompany us at educational programs around New Mexico. Here, he and I, along with a red-tailed hawk, a Mississippi Kite, and an Eastern screech-owl shared a hotel room for the night. We had traveled to eastern New Mexico to give training classes to utility companies for the New Mexico Avian Protection Working Group. The goal of this group is to reduce mortalities due to electrocution and collision with utility structures.

Ferrug is unique, as are all animals, and while he travels well, he does get car sick. That means that the morning of a travel day, he is not fed. It also means that when we arrive at our destination he is voraciously hungry. Shortly after this photo was taken, he wolfed down about 6 mice - whole. Lights out, shortly thereafter, he settled down nicely for the night, and slept contentedly on the perch on his travel box.

In other bird related news, check out David Sibley's Blog
He has been experimenting with ways to reduce avian collisions with windows, and has possibly come up with a novel and inexpensive way to make windows more visible to birds.

In even more bird news, check out International Bird Rescue, that has been rescuing and cleaning birds trapped in the oil slicked waters of the San Francisco Bay.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Debut!

He arrived in May, a nervous, jumpy , frightened fellow. Like all of our other educational ambassadors, this little Red-tailed Hawk has an injury that will permanently prevent his release to the wild. Unlike most red-tails, however, he is a chocolate brown color with a russet red tail, what is known as a dark morph. About 10% of all soaring hawks have this plumage. He had been hit by a car, and is missing the tip of one wing.

One of my favorite things to do is to work with a bird, helping it to become comfortable around me, and then around others. The ultimate reward is being able to present the bird to the public at an education program or an outreach event. Some birds adapt quickly, while others may take years, and some simply are never able to overcome their innate fear of humans.

At first, he just tried to get away from me. But, it quickly became apparent, that eating was his most favored activity. And, he was so motivated by food, that he trusted a little more each day. Little by little, he gained a bit of trust, until he finally came to the glove to take food. Now, he waits and watches for me to open the back door.

We presented him in public for the first time on November 10. It was a little scary, but he adapted well. Now, he doesn't have another program until 2008. It will get easier and easier.

A Room with A View

Taken with my little, old point-n-shoot Olympus, this was the view from my 18th floor hotel room at the Hilton in Houston. I was there to teach for Quilt Festival, but the wellness gods did not shine on me during this trip. Due to a very painful ear infection, most of the week was a blur. I am so thankful to the wonderful students who graciously overlooked the sniffling, sneezing teacher that couldn't hear well.

Still, there were some remarkable highlights at the 2007 International Quilt Festival. Among the most remarkable quilts was the 10.5 foot high x 120 foot long masterpiece of Esther Bryan and Friends, "Quilt of Belonging". It features the work of 263 different Canadians depicting their countries of origin. An unbelievable piece of art and history come together in this stunning interpretation.

The winners of the IQA judged show were equally stunning. The grand prize winner for 2007 was Hollis Chatelain, whose quilt "Hope for our World", is another of her masterpieces. In the quilt, Desmond Tutu is standing in a field surrounded by all the children of the world. Hollis spoke about her vision for this quilt, "I dreamed in purple, that Tutu was standing in a field surrounded by the children, representing hope for our world. Hollis' painted and heavily stitched quilts stand alone. Like many other artists, Hollis works toward a cause, and her cause is Africa. She is a remarkable woman.