Friday, January 29, 2010

Great Blue Heron In Rehab

One of the largest birds in Northeast Ohio - a Great Blue Heron - is one of the latest patients in our Wildlife Education & Rehabilitation Program. This Heron came in suffering a fractured left radius or wing bone and left foot. It was found in a backyard, where they are often spotted fishing in koi ponds.

We’re working with a local vet to determine the best course of treatment, with the hope of returning this magnificent creature back to the wild. If you want to read more about this bird, take a look at this Great Blue Heron page at the Ohio Division of Wildlife website that’s packed with information. We have more photos posted in an album on our Facebook Page, too.

It’s winter, but the work of rehab is never done! Do you have questions about wildlife? Call our expert Wildlife staff at 440-871-2900 x 204.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Diving Birds Get Help Finding Open Water

Among the wildlife we see more frequently this time of year in our Wildlife Education & Rehabilitation Program are diving birds such as Grebes, Loons, Goldeneyes and Scoters. These birds tend to migrate here from the north during the winter to take advantage of our relatively milder weather. Diving birds have legs that are set far back on their bodies, ideal for propelling them through the water and diving for dinner (as you can see in these photos of our most recent patient.)

While they work "swimmingly" in the water, the placement of these legs are not ideal for walking (some of these birds can’t even walk on land) and they require open water for proper take-off. This time of year, these birds can get stuck on snow-covered land, or in shallow puddles that collect on land and give the appearance of deeper water. Often, all that is required of us is that we get these birds to open water so they can regain their ability to take flight.

In our most recent diving bird case, a Pied-billed Grebe was brought in last week after getting stuck in a water tank. Our rehab staff checked for injuries – these birds can injure themselves as they struggle to get off land. A quick swim in our water tank reassured us that the bird’s crucial waterproofing was intact. Lastly, we confirmed it could gather food.

Wildlife Rehabilitation Specialist Amy LeMonds and Rehab volunteer Christa Sandy were then able to release the bird on Lake Erie last week, in the warm open water near the Avon Lake power plant. By the way, the nearby Miller’s Road boat launch landing is a great place to view these birds during the winter.

You can really see the placement of the legs in the video clips we have posted on our Facebook page and Our YouTube Channel.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Design Wild, Wearable Art For a $100 Prize!

Calling all artists! Use paints or pencils, crayons or collage to create animal-inspired original art for our official, 2010 t-shirt design contest. The winner will receive $100 and the limited edition t-shirt featuring their design! Last year's winning art (seen this photo of the finished shirt) was submitted by A Bay Middle School student, but artists of any age can enter.
Contest rules and guidelines:
  • must include 3 or more of the Center’s resident animals
  • must be colorful, fun and kid-friendl
  • cannot be larger than 8” x 10”
  • should be completed on plain, white paper (NO t-shirt outlines)
  • official Center logo and name will be added to the t-shirts during production. Please do NOT use Center name, logo (or the “LENSC” acronym) in your design.
Download a printable PDF entry form with complete contest guidelines. Entry deadline: February 28. Artwork will not be returned.

Finalists will be on display by mid March in our lobby, online in the Kids Corner Nature Art Gallery and on Lake Erie Nature & Science Center’s Facebook Fan Page. To vote for the winner, stop in to fill out a paper ballot or click “like” under your favorite(s) once we post finalists in a Photo Album on Facebook. The winner will be notified by March 31.
T-shirt go on sale at our annual Family Fun Fest, Sunday June 6.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

StarLab Visit In the News & Disney Volunteer Days

Some nice pictures and a description of our StarLab in action made the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram today. Schuele Planetarium Director Jay Reynolds took the starry sky dome and astronomy lessons on the road to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Lorain County last night.

The story, linked here, centers around a volunteer who helped with our portable planetarium and earned a Disney day in the process. By the way, Lake Erie Nature & Science Center is also participating in the Disney program. (Photo above is from the Chronicle Telegram's Chuck Humel. His complete slide-show is at this link.)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

How Wild Animals Cope With Cold and Snow

As hearty as we are here in Northeast Ohio, we're reminded this week how nature's Lake Erie "snow machine" provides both winter beauty and challenges to our daily activities! But what about all those wild creatures you see out the window from your cozy, fireside easy chair? How do they handle the harsh elements without the benefit of snow blowers, toasty furnaces, snow tires and hot cocoa?

You can find out about Wildlife in Winter at our free, family-friendly Meet An Animal program coming up this Saturday, January 9 at 3 p.m. You’ll get to see live animals up close in this interactive program and learn the ways they cope with winter from special adaptations and migration to hibernation and dormancy.

The upcoming schedule for many other programs at Lake Erie Nature & Science Center is available in the Education listings on our website or you can call the Center at (440) 871-2900.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Westlake White Deer Sighting Explained

A Westlake resident recently submitted Rebecca Steele's photo of a white deer spotted in their neighborhood. They wanted to know, "Is this an albino?" With Rebecca's permission, we thought we'd share her great photo and the response to the question from Wildlife Rehabilitation Specialist Amy LeMonds here on our blog.

This is actually more common than you might think. It is a white-tailed deer and is not albino. The term for the coloring is "piebald." Albinos are much more rare (genetically speaking). Our Wildlife Education & Rehabilitation Program gets reports on these deer every year and we have confirmed the presence of quite a few piebalds in the Rocky River Reservation.

Point of interest: if there were more natural predators to deer, piebalds would likely be less common because they would stand out in their environment and be spotted by predators more easily. -Amy LeMonds

This time of year, the piebalds might have the camouflage advantage in all this snow! Piebald coloring is an inherited genetic trait and can range from very slight patches of white hair to almost totally white coats. Unlike true albinos, piebald deer have brown eyes and black hooves. Piebald deer are rare (around 1% of the population) but widely documented and much more common than albinos.

Update: new photo (above) taken in January snow, by Jeanne Palmer, also in Westlake. Looks like the same deer.