Bird Abatement at the Cemetery

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One of the jobs our birds of prey have is bird abatement. They work at landfills, airports, vineyards and building sites to move birds like gulls, starlings and geese.

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Geese in the distance

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Geese hanging out near Shakespeare’s grave (Enoch Shakespeare, that is)

We recently started a contract working at my local cemetery to move the flocks of Canada Geese that like to loiter all day leaving their slippery little gifts everywhere. Our job is to go in, count the geese, record any of the neck tags we see and then encourage them to move along. This can be done with lasers, dogs, and of course hawks.

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Getting ready to fly

Today we brought Lulu the female Harris hawk over for our literal wild goose chase. It’s not very hard to convince a group of sixty-seven geese to skedaddle once they see Lulu.

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Lulu can be a bit of a talker

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The end goal

Pretty much one short flight in their direction was enough to send them packing. We still took Lulu for a walk around the rest of the cemetery so she could enjoy some exercise and look beautiful doing it.

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Harris hawk appropriately atop the gravestone of Harriet Harris

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Lulu going after a toss-up, see the little piece of meat?

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Got it!

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There are lots of interesting old tombstones at this cemetery and apparently multiple thousands of people are buried here. Many of the grave markers are very old, and quite a few are for those who died quite young. It’s a beautiful and serene place and I’d like to come back some time with the supplies to do some sketches and stone rubbings.

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Someone my age who was “killed in the explosion” in 1887. Likely a miner

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Gravesite of a 12 year old boy who died in 1889

You can see that both of these old grave markers have been reinforced with concrete. That’s because they’re carved from marble which is actually a very soft stone that erodes comparatively quickly in the weather. Nowadays most gravestones are made from granite.

Owl Rescue

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I was lucky enough to get sent out on an owl rescue call today, where I captured this adorable little guy. He’s a fully-grown, great-horned owl.

He is very underweight and seems to have had head trauma, as one of his eyes is not looking or working right. Fortunately both his wings seem to be in good flapping order and he was pretty alert and took a tidbit of quail from me.

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We gave him some fluids and some pain relief and he will be allowed to recuperate in a warm enclosure. Hopefully he’ll make it through the first 24 hours and start eating and recovering soon!

(Update: Sadly his head trauma was too severe and this little guy had to be humanely euthanized. Sorry little buddy.)

My Best Boys

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Here you can see my amazing boyfriend manning the amazing Harris’ hawk, Paco!

Paco is one of my favorite birds at the Centre, he has such a gentle and curious personality and loves to make small talk with me. I was so happy to introduce him to a human I also care deeply about! Are these a couple of cool boys or what?

Spectacled Owl – First Free Flight of the Year

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This little guy is a favorite of mine and I like to think we’re friends. I enjoy sneaking up the path while the flying demo is ending to coax him out of his aviary so we can say hi to guests on their way out. In the process we usually get to soak up some premium afternoon sunshine!

In these photos we’re waiting for our turn in the demo for the first time this year and this handsome jungle owl is psyched to get flapping!

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Marabou Stork in Action

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We have recently begun flying our very handsome marabou stork again, and boy is he a crowd pleaser!

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He’s a 14 year old male with a ten foot wingspan and he loves to perform. He’s also an extremely intelligent bird, probably one of the two smartest at the Centre, along with our little rescue crow. It’s always amazing to see him showing off his natural abilities on the flying field.

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