Monday, December 13, 2010

The Good Judge and the Endangered Palili bird, Blakeman on Hawk Housing, and the "Queen" of the New York Botanical Garden Passes 
Photo courtesy of  Brennan Mulrooney
From Rhode Island Contributor Karen Anne Kolling...INDEED!

Oh to be a judge:
"His favorite and longest-running case involved protecting a small finch-billed bird, the Palila, by removing wild goats and sheep from the slopes of a volcano. He ruled in 1979 that the bird had standing to sue in federal court and monitored the bird’s welfare for the rest of his life. "

Remember yesterday I asked about the covering of the perch the Boston Train Station Cooper's was sitting on? Here's some thoughts from Oho Hawk and Prairie expert John Blakeman--

"And a raptor rehab question-- What health problem of captive raptors is ameliorated by the covering of the above perch? "
Well, none in particular. It’s a bit curious, as this loose wrapping of cotton (or whatever it is) provides no particularly helpful perch gripping surface.
It was probably used so that it could be easily changed and cleaned, providing to the supposedly injured hawk a clean perch surface that would not allow microbes to get smeared around and infect injured skin openings on the feet (if there were any).
I think this perch surface is merely incidental to someone’s thoughts on how an accipiter hawk (here, the Cooper’s Hawk, Accipiter cooperii) should be housed.
More important and significant is the lattice screening on the sides of the chamber. This is crucial, inasmuch if the bird were to have been put in a conventional cage-like chamber with wire sides, the hawk would instinctively have tried to fly right through it, just as a wild Cooper’s can easily and without injury fly through tree and shrub branches and limbs. Those are woody and bend, and the hawk maneuvers through them with profound alacrity. Not so with hard, immovable cage wire.The lattice of the chamber allows the bird to sit quietly and without distress, while still being to see out into the adjacent landscape.
–John Blakeman
Thanks John, I knew that lattice sided cages were recommended but was never told why, I therefore simplistically surmised it had something to do with their grasping the wire being hard on their feet and beaks. Thanks for the real scoop.
John's right in that the outside covering of the perch is partially to provide an easily cleanable surface for hawk feet. just throw it into the washing machine and put a clean one on. It also likely has some padding underneath as well. Some aviaries use AstroTurf but it tends if not scrupulously cleaned often to harbor bacteria.
The issue is Bumblefoot, a kind of catch all phrase for sores developing on the underside of the feet of captive birds. These can be pressure sores, a splinter prick that becomes infected due to environmental bacteria and spreads, all sorts of things can start Bumblefoot including sitting on the same kind of perch all the time, not enough exercise, being too chubby, you name it. Bird skin heals rapidly but if it heals bacteria under the skin or other forgien matter, or they have pressure wounds that don't heal because of constant pressure in the same areas day after day, things can get out of hand very quickly and sometimes birds must have feet amputated or must be put down as the infection has gotten completely out of control. So that's with the funny perch "slip cover".

And from Bill Walters, gleaner of relevant information from the New York Times--BETH STRAUS WHO REVAMPED THE NEW YORK BOTANICAL GARDENS DIES AT 94
Ms. Straus helped to change the garden's image from that of a public park to that of a museum and an educational institution.
Donna Browne

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