Fall and the fall migration of aerial insectivores including nighthawks, swifts, swallows and martins is underway in Wisconsin. Migration is when birds move in flocks and affects the types of patients that we see in our clinic. This annual event occurs as temperatures begin to drop making the aerial insect populations less stable than in our summer months. The insect eating birds are headed for Mexico, Central and South America and the Caribbean to spend the winter, before they return to our region in May.
We've admitted several nighthawks, a crepuscular member of the nightjar family. Nighthawks are active during twilight hours, not at night as their name suggests. This is the medium sized bird, like all aerial insectivores, eats only when flying. It dips and dives over fields and roadways catching flying insects in their wide mouths as they go. For those of our followers that live in the Mid-west, it is a fantastic experience to go outside and "look up" during twilight hours particularly over open fields when insects are active. If you are lucky you will see this magnificent bird hunting insects. The nighthawk has a white patch on each dark brown wing which make them distinctive and easy to identify even from a distance.
The 2014 State of the Birds Report lists Common Nighthawk as a bird in steep decline across north America, due to pesticides, and habitat loss.
Most of our nighthawk patients were hit by vehicles or downed in the heavy rainstorms in our area.
We continue to see baby birds, but the species have changed. Most of our American robin babies and other passerines are now grown. Many have been released with more nearing release.
Cedar Waxwings, American goldfinches and Mourning doves are late nesting species and now make up the baby population at REGI.
The last of our late hatch ducklings, now grown Wood ducks, Mergansers and Mallards will be released on Monday in a protected area. Hunting season for geese and ducks has begun. Finding protected areas is challenging and one more reason our babies are not hand fed, handled or tamed in any way. Our young geese have integrated into our local goose population. We do have a few young geese in care, including the recently admitted goose with fishing line wrapped around her tongue, leg and foot that will remain with us a bit longer. She is recovering well thanks to our transporter that removed a great deal of line before the goose was transported.
Poisoning seems to be a common theme this fall. Our young bald eagle continues to have neurological symptoms as we wait for his brain to repair. Many hummingbirds have been admitted exhibiting signs of pesticide poisoning. As a reminder, please do not use herbicides or pesticides on your flower gardens, particularly if you also have hummingbird feeders. Attracting hummingbirds and then serving them poison as they eat aphids and nectar from your through your flowers is a serious problem.
It has been a busy time as we prepare for arrival of our fall interns on Monday Sept 3rd, construction of our new clinic and building enclosures for our education birds.
We had a fabulous building crew on Thursday that worked many hours to finish up an enclosure for our peregrines. Many thanks to our amazing volunteers! Our heroes are:
Thanks everyone for your help and support. We appreciate you all so much.