Wednesday, November 21, 2007

It's Going Swimmingly


You have to click on the photo shown above. It is a picture of the feet of a Western Grebe, one of the most common species oiled by the Cosco Busan oil spill. Look at that structure! Look at those toenails! Now, imagine working hundreds of these squirming beasties for days on end.

In this photo, a Grebe's waterproofing is being assessed, and it is being given a general medical looking-over. If the bird looks healthy enough, it will spend the night with other healthy Grebes in a special outdoor swimming pool. The birds are wrapped in towels to limit contact from humans, and reduce stress on the animals.

If there are concerns about the waterproofing a birds feathers, the bird will be kept in a heated pen (which Sheri and I built!) so that there is no risk of hypothermia. Because they needed to house so many birds, the rehab center rented a heatable tent, and last night I think about a hundred birds stayed in there.

The birds sit on netting so that waste does not accumulate in their cages, and also because netting is easier on their feet and keels. Besides being generally disgusting and unsanitary, we are concerned about the birds getting fouled with waste, because it is detrimental to their waterproofing.

I think you can see why I keep writing about the feisty-ness of these formidable birds. Would you want to put you hand among those pointy beaks?

The focus of the center has shifted. Fewer live birds are being admitted. (As a result of this catastrophic oil spill, something like fourteen hundred birds died in the field.) Fewer birds need to be washed. Most of the birds in care have passed out of the "emergency room" and the "intensive care unit" and are recuperating with their comrades.

Some washing is still going on. Here, a Loon is being rinsed. It has just been transferred from one rinse pan into another, and you can see all the water it displaces pouring over the pan's side. Loons are big birds. (This photo so also worth clicking on so that you can better appreciate what is going on.)

I later heard this bird vocalizing in the Drying Room. Everyone stopped for a moment to appreciate the haunting sound.

I think this image of drying gloves does a good job of illustrating how many people have been working in the Wash Room.

Also, I thought it echoed the picture of the Grebe's leathery feet nicely.


knitica said...

Loons are my favorite birds, mostly because of that amazing call. I can only imagine what it must have been like to hear it indoors!

Anonymous said...

I have a bird-related question for you, Lisa.

Would you like to come over to our place and wash our turkey before we pop it into the oven for Thanksgiving? The only oil on it is olive oil, sorry!

I assume you may look down on me as I am a bird eater as well as a bird lover, but I do appreciate your efforts to take care of non-barnyard fowl.

I, however, better make the turkey taste good this year or I may have to endure some (foul) comments from Gary's mom! (Gary is a really good cook, where as I am more of a "throw it in the microwave sort of domestic goddess).



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