Friday, August 25, 2006

Cattle Egrets Still Here and Hurting

I wish I could write that we can relax now because the birds are happily flying South.
Sadly, over a hundred cattle egrets are still here, and the mortality is higher than ever. So please, keep up vigilence. Keep refilling the water troughs for a while longer, removing the dead bodies (using picker-uppers) from the watering areas, and making the trips to Rogers.
This week the Society rescued two to three egrets a day and lost about one every other day, on average. The ones who are struggling appear to be those who have trouble feeding themselves. We saw a few broken wings and several severe cases of flukes in the mouths of the birds.
The birds are subsisting on what little insects they can pull out of the grass. These are mostly juveniles who can fly a little but are not yet strong enough for a long-distance trek. They are leaving as they get stronger, because their numbers seem to be dropping every day. So for the cattle egrets this year, the departure from the rookery is looking more like a gradual dwindling rather than the anticipated sudden migration.
We are also finding other bird species in trouble. For example, Valerie rescued a helpless baby dove earlier in the week.
At the Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, things are looking better, and the season seems to be winding down. Some of the more adult egrets inadvertantly got out of the rookery area, but they joined the passing migrations, and all is well. The smaller ones stayed and are improving every day.
Kathy found a source of free minnows for the Center. She thinks we might get a special deal if we approach the same supplier in Rockwall and mention that we are helping birds at a rookery. This would be a great help, because the birds will eat small fish, even if dead, but they ignored the bits of beef that Ruth lovingly sliced up for them. Would anyone be willing to contact this supplier?
I am accumulating a treasury of beautiful egret images that should put us in excellent shape for a calendar, greetings cards, T-shirts, and other items for fundraising.
Diane, an artist who paints lovely canvases of egrets and herons likes the idea of becoming our Society's official artist. She sent me several photos of her paintings.
Eveline sent us a CD of egret pictures taken at Rogers. Ruth has been photographing the birds here and at Rogers. I have shot a few photos of my own and particularly like one of Chalo with a little trusting friend, taken a month ago. I am attaching just a few of these images here. Please feel welcome to stop by with a USB key for more of them.

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Species in the rookery

Six birds needed rescuing today: three are in quite poor shape, and one is the youngest chick we've seen this year. Some bird parents are in obvious denial about the season's end. Hopefully these are few. It looks like we'll have to keep an eye out for distressed birds for a while yet.
Along these lines, I am attaching to this mail a tentative flyer for posting at the garages and basketball court near the rookery. Claudia will finish it off and post it. Please contact her with any suggestions about the wording and information and let her know whether you would like your name on it and, if so, what telephone number you want next to your name. I recommend that we list two or three first names and accompanying phone numbers.
How about a lunch meeting next Wednesday or Thursday (Aug 9 or 10 at noon) to discuss what we tried, ideas that came up, and how best to proceed? If one of these times won't work for you, let me know.
I have been trying to reach the Grounds Maintenance Supervisor, hoping that a friendly initial meeting (we can send him our more formal letter after that) will help build a good relationship with Physical Plant. So far we're still playing phone tag.
In case some of you are wondering about the species of birds who nest in the rookery, they include, roughly in order of abundance:
  • Cattle egrets
  • Great egrets
  • Little blue herons
  • Snowy egrets
  • Black-crowned night herons
  • Yellow-crowned night herons
  • White ibises
  • Tricolor herons
  • Anhingas
There might be others. These are the ones I've personally seen. Except for two snowy egrets, all the birds we've picked up this year have been the chicks of cattle egrets and great egrets. This is quite puzzling and interesting.