Friday, November 4, 2011

The right way...and the wrong way.

Good morning y’all,

This link came up on my YouTube page this morning from CLAWS, Inc. I apologise ahead of time, but blogspot doesn't allow for hyperlinks, so if you wish to view the clip, you will have to copy and paste.

I don’t know where they are located, but it’s a 4 minute clip of 3 Barred Owl orphans and their subsequent release. The big difference between HawkTalk and CLAWS (along with 99% of the other rehabbers) is the operant conditioning and subsequent HACKING of young.

The Barred owl babes from this season

When released, they aren’t thrown out to live or die…they leave chambers at their leisure and settle into the trees around the property

The term ‘hacking’ means to condition the babes to come to a certain spot for food while still in chambers (using a portable hack board), then moving the hack board outside the door to the chambers when the time comes to release them. They are wed to this hack board because they have been taught that it’s their food source. Rather than being taken to a strange place to be tossed out, the idea is that they will remain close by, developing their life skills while being fed on the hack board. This is a ‘slow release’, as opposed to what the CLAWS clip shows as a ‘hard release’. A slow release takes months of dedication and consistency because the babes are having to learn everything on their own while you make sure they don’t starve to death in the process.

The hack board – the life line to their survival

They venture farther and farther out and will continue to wean themselves from your help but every now and then, one will return to say ‘hello…remember me?”
I don’t know if there is any scientific data available, but it just makes sense to me that the orphans that are properly hacked have a much better chance of long term survival than ones that are grown to a certain age, then just tossed out to live or die. When you take into account that about 80% of the whole healthy babes that are parent raised starve to death before their first winter is up, can you just imagine the staggering mortality rate for birds that are raised to a certain age, then, as in this case – taken to the middle of a football field so they have to fly HOW FAR (?) to find cover, THEN hope there is enough prey to sustain three young, hungry tots that have zero life skills?

Please don’t email them and give them grief; I just wanted to illustrate that there is a right way and a wrong way to raise orphaned raptors to achieve maximum success and why anyone would wish to waste such time and resources to a less than successful end…I just don’t understand.

If I made the rules (and believe you me, we have plenty of them at the state and federal level) I would REQUIRE young to be hacked out and if you don’t have the proper habitat/skills, then you would be required to pass that baby along to someone who possessed those skills.

The clip below is of little Wally, who, by the feel of his keel and his disposition, is an adult Barred owl who was gliding along minding his own beeswax when he slammed into the side of a chicken truck Wednesday night. He broke his right leg and his right wing and underwent a huge surgery yesterday. A big HawkTalk hug and thanks goes out to Dr. David Martinez and the staff of Loving Hands Animal Hospital for patching him back together. This is the link to a video of a collection of stills that I took yesterday…

He’s up today, with his bad leg propped up on a towel roll, leaning against the side of the crate. It’s going to be a long haul for this poor guy; I just hope his good leg can hold up for the three weeks it will take before we can pull the pin on the bad one because I cannot force him to lie down. *sigh*

As always, thanks for taking the journey with me and remember that if at any time, you wish to get off the train, just tell me and I will remove you from the mailing list….m.

PS: I know life sucks for everyone right now, but if you have a little Mouse Money to spare, it sure could go to good use.  (for the donation link and lots of cool video clips on the right side bar)


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