Fate of eagles unknown after WA group loses permit

Birds from the Sardis Raptor Center, including two bald eagles, were on display for the first day of the Northwest Washington Fair in Lynden in August 2012. PHILIP A. DWYER — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD Read more here: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2013/07/27/3114387/fate-of-eagles-unknown-after-wa.html#storylink=cpy

Birds from the Sardis Raptor Center, including two bald eagles, were on display for the first day of the Northwest Washington Fair in Lynden in August 2012.

FERNDALE, WASH. — The fate of 18 bald eagles is uncertain since the Washington rescue group that has been caring for them has lost its permit.

KOMO-TV reports (http://is.gd/gn3TKj) officials at the Sardis Wildlife Center fears the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will seize and euthanize the eagles.

But the woman responsible for handing out migratory bird permits for the Fish and Wildlife service says the government will eventually take the birds from the rescue group, but does not intend to kill the animals.

The 18 eagles have been brought to the Sardis Wildlife Center over the past 20 years for a variety of reasons. They are released back into the wild if they can be.

Sharon Wolters runs the nonprofit and said she’s had paperwork problems with her IRS nonprofit status and with Fish and Wildlife. That’s what has caused the uncertainty about the eagles’ future.

In addition to the bald eagles, the center also hosts other birds, including hawks, owls, vultures and even a seagull.



Falconers exhibit birds of prey performances at Medieval Fair

Craig Bamford holds a saker falcon at the Royal Gauntlet Birds of Prey show at the Medieval Fair Friday, April 5.

Craig Bamford holds a saker falcon at the Royal Gauntlet Birds of Prey show at the Medieval Fair Friday, April 5.

A group of bird rehabilitators impressed and informed audiences with nearly a dozen species of Oklahoma’s avian wildlife at Norman’s Medieval Fair Friday through Sunday.

The Royal Gauntlet Birds of Prey, an organization of licensed falconers and volunteers based in Coweta, Okla., made its 17th trip to Reaves Park to educate fairgoers, collect donations and share their passion for their recuperating raptors, said Bob Aanonsen, Master Falconer.

Aanonsen and his team of volunteers put on a 30-minute show on the Camelot Stage of the fairgrounds three times daily Friday through Sunday. Vested in medieval-themed threads, Aanonsen discussed biology, ecology and conservation while the various species of owl, hawk, and falcon soared across the audience to and from their handlers.

“It’s so much different than seeing them in a zoo because you’re virtually two inches away from this bird,” Aanonsen said. “They all have their personalities, and they’re different, every single one of them.”

Peregrine and saker falcons, sharp-shinned and red-tail hawks and great horned and Eurasian eagle owls were featured in the show, and several other species were kept at the Royal Gauntlet’s tent in the northwest area of the fairgrounds.

The American kestrel, rough-legged hawk, ferruginous hawk, red-shouldered hawk and Northern harrier are also classified as birds of prey by their keen eyesight, hooked beaks and sharp talons, according to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

The team has taken in 23 rescues this year from all over Oklahoma that have sustained injuries from predators, hunters and cars and contracted diseases from insect bites including West Nile virus and even malaria in the past, Aanonsen said.

“It’s kind of a slow year,” Aanonsen said. “Usually we’re probably up to around 90.”

Jessie, a 3-year-old Harris’ hawk, proved the instinctive independence of the raptors during the group’s first show of the weekend. Her name is from a Latin root meaning “to seize,” Aanonsen said.

In one demonstration, Jessie flew well beyond the hooked arm of trainer, Shannon Cole, to perch on a tall tree several hundred feet above and behind the audience of the outdoor stage.

“She has quite the attitude, but we have learned to work with each other,” Cole said. “She makes my life complete along with my husband, although I like her sometimes better than him.”

Within a couple minutes, Aanonsen lured Jessie from the treetop with raw bits of food.

However, it’s always a possibility that the birds don’t return to the trainer’s gauntlet, the Kevlar glove protecting the trainer’s forearm from 200 to 700 pounds of talon pressure depending on the species of raptor, Aanonsen said.

Gaining trust through training is part of the rehabilitation process, Aanonsen said.

“What we do first is get them healthy, and sometimes that may take just a few days,” Aanonsen said. “Before we ever release a bird of prey back into the wild, we have to condition it to sit on the glove, accept food from us [and] fly back after a hunt if the hunt is unsuccessful.”

The most rewarding aspect of rehabilitation is a successful release back into the wild, which is why the team hunts with the birds, Aanonsen said.

The volunteers act as the “hound dogs” indicating and retrieving prey for the birds as they hunt, said Cole, who has been a volunteer for four years.

“Once … we think they can manage themselves in the wild on their own, then we can release them, so they can become a productive part of their society in nature,” Cole said.

Although the raptors have evolved into modern society, their roots in medieval times reach back about 12,000 years, Aanonsen said.

“Falconry had its zenith during medieval times because King Henry [VIII] ordained it such,” Aanonsen said.

Falcons indicated nobility in Europe after Marco Polo brought them from his travels in the Middle East, and its heyday was between the 11th and 15th centuries, Aanonsen said.

source : oudaily.com

Choice of Birdfair venue ruffles feathers

A bitter row has erupted over the staging of a major event celebrating wild birds at the stately home of a lord who also owns an estate with one of Scotland’s worst records for illegally persecuting birds of prey.

An owl was shot at Leadhills estate in South Lanarkshire

An owl was shot at Leadhills estate in South Lanarkshire

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) in Scotland has come under fire for hosting its popular Scottish Birdfair next month at Hopetoun House, pictured above, on the Firth of Forth near Edinburgh.

Lord Hopetoun is owner of the 11,000-acre Leadhills grouse-shooting estate in South Lanarkshire, which has been repeatedly linked to wildlife crime incidents. Estate gamekeepers have been convicted for laying poisoned bait and shooting an owl, and last October a golden eagle was found shot close to the estate’s border.

In the past Lord Hopetoun has denied he is responsible for the management of his estate, which is on long-term lease to a sporting company registered in Delaware, USA. But this is questioned by a land campaigner who has studied the lease.

Ronnie Graham, an expert on birds of prey and a veteran member of the Scottish Raptor Study Groups, is calling for a boycott of the RSPB Birdfair. “I’m just furious at the RSPB’s blatant disregard for their members’ and general public opinion,” he told the Sunday Herald.

“They are riding roughshod over the good work that many Scottish raptor workers do every year under the dark shadow of persecution. Leadhills is an absolute black hole for birds of prey and this has been well documented over the years.”

Graham, who runs a gourmet meat and fish business in Dumfriesshire, thinks potential visitors to the fair on May 11-12 should make an “informed decision” about whether to go. “It seems quite amazing that the RSPB, which campaigns seemingly tirelessly to end the poisoning, shooting and trapping of our birds of prey, has chosen this location” he said.

Hopetoun House, east of South Queensferry, has been the ancestral home of the Hopetoun family for more than 300 years. It is owned by a charitable trust, of which Lord Hopetoun is a member. Formerly Andrew Hopetoun and an executive with the former defence electronics company GEC Marconi in London, he now lives in the house and runs the estate. His father, the Marquess of Linlithgow, also lives there in a cottage.

Hopetoun House last year hosted the first Scottish Birdfair, which attracted 4500 visitors and 85 exhibitors. This year the event is backed by the National Trust for Scotland and The Scotsman newspaper.

Last year, a spokesman for Lord Hopetoun said Hopetoun estate had “no role whatsoever” in the management of Leadhills estate. But the 20-year lease to the US Atlantic Sporting company allows Lord Hopetoun to carry out limited “estate management activities”, to share gamekeepers and to take shooting parties to Leadhills.

According to the land reform campaigner and author Andy Wightman, Lord Hopetoun also has the power to end the lease if the law is broken. “He has the right to terminate the lease where shooting is not carried out ‘in accordance with normal practice on a driven grouse moor’,” said Wightman. “That would include any instances of illegal persecution of wildlife.”

Last week, Lord Hopetoun’s spokeswoman declined to comment, deferring to a statement from the RSPB, which reaffirmed its strong opposition to crimes against birds of prey but said it would not “take issue” with managing land for grouse shooting as long as it was legal and sustainable.

“We are aware that Leadhills estate is in the same family ownership as the privately owned Hopetoun Estate, and have not sought to hide this widely known connection,” said RSPB spokesman James Reynolds. He added: “We accept that Hopetoun estate do not condone any illegal practices on their land.”

source : heraldscotland.com

Southern Illinois Bird Fair to be held in Collinsville

Visitors and vendors at the Southern Illinois Bird Fair in Collinsville.

Visitors and vendors at the Southern Illinois Bird Fair in Collinsville.

The Collinsville VFW will be turned into an aviary when birds of a feather flock together for the Southern Illinois Bird Fair this weekend.

Hundreds of the winged creatures will be joining about 500 visitors at the twice-a-year bird fair, which has been held since 2009. In addition to parrots, parakeets, macaws, cockatiels and canaries available for sale, several dozen independent vendors will be offering feed, cages, perches, playhouses, toys and an assortment of bird-related products.

ttOrganizer Marsha Lehan said many of the visitors are longtime bird enthusiasts who know they can get the specific items at the fair. Others are first-time bird owners who have a lot of questions about having a bird for a pet.

“This is an opportunity to go and see the birds and find out what they’re about,” said Lehan, who lives in Lebanon.

Lehan said it’s important to educate yourself about owning a bird because different types of birds need various levels of maintenance and care. She said the Southern Illinois Bird Fair is unlike pet stores where a potential bird owner doesn’t have the opportunity to interact with their possible pet or see what their personality is like.

“Some of them are messy, some of them scream all night,” said Lehan, who owns five birds. “Most of the birds you’ll see are hand-fed baby birds — they’re taken away from their mother early (to be socialized). It’s not like going in a pet store. You can hold them and most of the time they’re not afraid of you.”

Lehan said the cost of the birds is dependent upon the size and are priced from $20 to several hundred dollars.

Lehan said the fair draws local residents who are interested in birds and attracts vendors from as far away as New York City.

Former Collinsville resident Diana Powell has been selling the canaries she breeds at the bird fair since it started. She said the Southern Illinois Bird Fair is good for her business because it gives her an opportunity to make sure the birds she sells has the right feed, cage and the new owners are the right fit.

“Birds are not for everybody,” said Powell, who has moved to the Springfield area. “I enjoy the show because I like talking to people about my birds. I like the bird fair because they have the cages there they can buy and I can monitor the size to make sure the cages are large enough for the birds.”

Lehan began the bird fair upon the suggestion of her friend and business partner Gail Kefalas, who lives in Decatur. Kefalas, who is a Granite City native, owns about 20 birds and used to own a pet store in Collinsville called Second Nature. She said the duo, who are former co-workers, were looking for a way to supplement their income when lost their computer programming jobs. About 65 vendor stations are sold for $40 each and admission is $4.

But the duo also wanted to share their love for the magical flying, singing and talking animals. Lehan delights in talking about her parakeet who plays peek-a-boo and tells her goodbye when she picks up her car keys.

And Powell shared the story of how her father, who was dealing with dementia before his death, was soothed by the “happy sound” of her canaries singing.

Kefalas said many bird owners find having birds for pets is more manageable than a dog or cat because you don’t have to worry about taking them for walks or training them. But she said it’s still important for most birds to be taken out of the cage and allowed to fly and socialize.

“When I found out how much fun birds were to have as pets, I really fell in love with (owning birds),” Kefalas said. “They just bond to their owner like a dog or a cat. They want to sit on your shoulder and, especially the ones you can talk to, they’ll talk back to you. These birds really know what they’re saying.

“I have a room in the basement where I let the little ones fly around. As soon as I walk in, they’re all flying around for my attention.”


The Birds and More Exotic Bird Fair nests in Aiken

The Birds and More Exotic Bird Fair flew into Aiken this weekend, showcasing some colorful feathered creatures as well as offering some deals on bird accessories.

The fair, organized by Don Price, kicked off Saturday at the Western Carolina State Fairgrounds where vendors and bird breeders were assisting curious residents and other bird enthusiasts. Continue reading