Is it winter yet?

By Dana Ripper
Having just seen our last blog was December 19th, I feel compelled to update.  Aside from visiting family at Christmastime, we’ve being doing a lot of computer work that no one wants to hear about, BUT there have been some very fun events lately.

Rehabber Laura Raiff about to release
a Barred Owl while the young man
who found it looks on. 

On our way north for Christmas, we were lucky enough to have good timing for banding TWO Barred Owls that the Raptor Rehab Project was about to release.  Both had sustained head injuries likely related to being hit by cars.  One of the best parts of that day was the family who had found one of the owls had come to watch its release!

Maxie, the world’s
largest goose, at Sumner, MO,
where Swan Lake NWR provides
habitat for millions of waterfowl.

Our holiday season was also marked by two Christmas Bird Counts (CBCs) – Columbia and Swan Lake.  This was our first time ever at Swan Lake, and it was awesome.  The highlight for us on that New Year’s Day CBC was watching several Northern Harriers go to roost. Counts are down throughout the state this year as a result of the incredibly mild winter we’re having.

Last weekend, with the help of Connie and Eric at Van Meter State Park, we put on a very fun public workshop on winter birds.  Almost 40 people attended, some coming from over an hour away.  Van Meter’s American Indian Cultural Center was a great venue.  The afternoon consisted of a presentation on winter bird ID, making bird feeders, and a banding demonstration.  You can read more about it in a Marshall Democrat story that we were really pleased and appreciative to see in Tuesday’s paper.

Finally, we have started a weekly banding session with our long-time assistant Stephanie Putnam and our newest assistant, Brittany Woody.  Brittany joined us in October 2011, and is a very helpful and pleasant addition to our team.  Once-a-week banding during the winter months will keep us all in practice for spring migration.  It will also allow us to keep up with color-banding birds at both our house and the MRBO intern house that we can continually collect data on for the Backyard Banding program.

Happy 2012 to all!

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