Monday, July 25, 2011

What is chirping in my chimney?

Have you heard chirping noises in your chimney and wondered what it was? Chances are you have probably heard the chattering of Chimney Swifts, a unique species of bird that nest only in chimneys. Lake Erie Nature & Science Center’s Wildlife Education & Rehabilitation staff receives many calls about these birds at this time of year as it is their primary nesting season.

Sometimes called “flying cigars” Chimney Swifts are small, dark colored birds with long pointed wings and stiff tails. The only swifts commonly found in eastern North America, they have a cylindrical body and tend to be similar in appearance to swallows. Just like bats, swifts are aerial foragers whose diets consist primarily of flying insects.

Instead of perching like most birds, swifts use their long claws to grasp chimneys and other vertical surfaces. They are often in flight, and even bathe while flying! Swifts are able to fly over a body of water, smack the water with their breast and then bounce back up, shaking off excess water from their feathers as they fly away.

Chimney Swifts are also known for their distinctive nest construction. The parents weave small twigs together in the shape of a half-saucer and then glue the nest to the side of a chimney with their saliva. Their nests can hold anywhere from 1-5 eggs.

Although Chimney Swifts are not currently a species of concern, their population numbers are decreasing across their range because they are losing nesting sites. A contributing factor may be that construction of chimney flues have become narrower and covered, leaving Chimney Swifts fewer places to nest.

Wildlife Rehabilitation Coordinator Amy LeMonds has found Chimney Swifts nesting in the Center’s chimney this summer. According to LeMonds, another factor limiting nesting sites for Chimney Swifts are that people buy caps for their chimneys to keep raccoons out, but in doing so they also prevent Chimney Swifts from nesting.

LeMonds recommends that homeowners purchase caps that are large enough to let swifts in but can still keep raccoons at bay. Additional information on how to make your chimney a good habitat for Chimney Swifts can be found online from the Chimney Swift Nest Site Research Project.

According to LeMonds, swifts can be difficult to rehabilitate. In most cases, if you find a baby Chimney Swift, the best thing you can do for it is to stick it back up in the chimney flue so that its parents can care for it. If you find a baby bird and are unsure of what to do or if you have any wildlife questions, please call Lake Erie Nature & Science Center at 440-871-2900.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Be On the Lookout for Cedar Waxwings!

Have you ever seen a beautifully colored bird dining on a feast of berries? Then you are likely looking at a Cedar Waxwing, a type of bird typically found in wooded areas and near farms, orchards and suburban homes where berry trees and bushes are plentiful. They have a large head with a short neck and bill and are adorned with a variety of colors. Cedar Waxwings have brown heads that fade to gray on their wingtips, yellow bellies, a black face mask outlined in white and their namesake waxy red tips on the end of their wings.

At this time of year, Lake Erie Nature & Science Center receives many calls asking about these birds because it is their peak nesting season. Cedar Waxwings are unique because they are very social birds that tend to flock and dine together. Wherever one Cedar Waxwing can be found, there are bound to be more.

A distinctive part of the Cedar Waxwing’s diet is their love for berries and their ability to eat them whole, including seeds. Cedar Waxwings are one of the few birds in North America that eat fruit and can even live on fruit alone for a few months at a time. Sometimes Cedar Waxwings accidentally eat berries that have begun to ferment, causing them to become intoxicated and in some cases even die from alcohol poisoning. Lake Erie Nature & Science Center has fielded calls about large groups of these birds falling over on the ground or out of the sky, drunk from eating fermented berries. There have even been recent instances of this behavior in the national news as well.

Despite their fancy for fruit, berries are not the only component of the Cedar Waxwing’s diet. They also fly over water looking for insects to catch. Baby Cedar Waxwings in particular need to eat bugs to maintain proper calcium levels. Sometimes people feed baby Cedar Waxwings berries thinking that they are helping their development, when in fact they are hindering it. Cedar Waxwing babies cannot receive enough calcium from eating berries alone and can suffer bone deformation.

Not only are they unique in their feeding habits, but Cedar Waxwings also have unusual mating tendencies. During courtship, males and females will hop toward each other, alternating back and forth and occasionally touching bills. Males will typically pass a small item such as a berry, insect or flower petal to the female who will hop away and then return the item to the male. This strange dance is repeated a few times until the female eats the gift.

In nest building, the male and female both search for a good location, but it is ultimately the female’s decision to choose a nesting spot. Females also do almost all of the nest construction, which can take up to 5-6 days and may require up to 2500 individual trips to the nest. Cedar Waxwing nests are constructed of twigs, grass, cattails, string, horsehair and even remnants of other birds’ nests.

Cedar Waxwing populations are increasing throughout their range and they are not currently a species of concern. For additional information on Cedar Waxwings, please click here. If you have any questions about Cedar Waxwings or other wildlife, please contact Lake Erie Nature & Science Center at 440-871-2900.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

You Can Make a Difference At Your Beach!

Are you passionate about the health of Huntington Beach and its usability for future generations? If so, be certain to attend the kick-off meeting for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) right here at Lake Erie Nature & Science Center on July 27 at 6:30 p.m.

In collaboration with the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, Cleveland Metroparks, Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District, University of Toledo, and the cities of Bay Village and Westlake, Lake Erie Nature & Science Center will be helping to improve water quality at Huntington Beach.

The U.S. EPA has granted over $247,000 for the project, “A Holistic Watershed Approach to Health at Huntington Beach.” As an individual component of a national restoration effort, the improvements at Huntington Beach will have far-reaching effects on the rest of the lake. Through this project, citizens will have the opportunity to become more educated about potential pollution sources feeding into the Porter Creek watershed and can even participate in clean-up activities that show how an individual really can make a difference in water quality.

The project continues through 2013, so there will be plenty of opportunities for community involvement! Future events include storm drain sketching, measuring bacteria levels and teacher workshops which include Project Wet and a rain barrel workshop that can be utilized in the classroom.

Anyone interested in helping with the monitoring or prevention efforts of the GLRI should plan to attend the July 27 kick-off at Lake Erie Nature & Science Center. The grant will be explained, an activity will be provided for children and a preliminary survey to test your knowledge about watershed protection will be given. Additional information is available at the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Website.

To further encourage the improvement of the health of Lake Erie, the Center will be hosting family-friendly Adopt-A-Beach events in August, September and October to record data on beach conditions. This information will be entered into a database to help improve Lake Erie’s water quality. For more information on Lake Erie Nature & Science Center’s programs, please click here.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Why Do Turtles Cross the Road? To Get to the Other Side (Honestly)!

Three midland painted turtles are in the care of the Wildlife Education & Rehabilitation staff at Lake Erie Nature & Science Center after sustaining shell injuries from getting hit by cars while crossing the road.

The repair on a turtle’s shell can take as long as a few years depending on the placement and depth of the crack. The Center’s Wildlife Rehabilitation staff nursed a snapping turtle back to health for two years after it suffered a shell injury. We expect to keep the currently injured turtles in rehabilitation until at least next year.

This is a very dangerous time of year for these turtles because it is their peak nesting season. From May-July, painted turtles will leave the safety of their pond, river or lake and travel to their nesting grounds to lay eggs. Turtles return to the same place to nest every year, even if it is miles away from their home or over dangerous terrain.

Nothing will stop a turtle when trying to reach its nesting grounds. These determined little fellows will fearlessly cross a busy street. If you feel interference is necessary (and it can be done without compromising your own safety!) then it's best to help the turtle across the street in the direction that it is headed. If you move it to a “safer” location, you may have inadvertently done it a disadvantage by placing it farther away from its nesting grounds. Painted turtles will not harm you, but if you see a snapping turtle crossing the road, it is best to let them cross unaided as their bite can be quite powerful.

Painted turtles can lay anywhere from 4-15 eggs when they nest. After burying the eggs, they return to the water, providing no parental care for the eggs or the babies that hatch. The gender of the eggs depends upon the temperature of the nesting grounds at the time they hatch. Warmer temperatures tend to produce females, whereas cooler temperatures tend to produce males.

In the United States there are many subspecies of painted turtles, but only the Midland painted turtle is found in Ohio. They have a red and black coloration along the underside of their plates that gives the appearance of being painted on by hand.

Painted turtles prefer to live in quiet and shallow freshwater areas. During warm summer days they can be seen basking in the sun on rocks and logs. During the winter, painted turtles will seek deeper water and burrow into the mud at the bottom. They slow their heart rate and absorb oxygen through their skin.

If you see a turtle that you think is in need of help, please call Lake Erie Nature & Science Center at 440-871-2900 prior to attempting a rescue. Again, though, please do NOT jeopardize your safety by attempting to rescue any animal.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Fear Not for Fledglings!

Have you seen a baby bird on the ground, unable to fly, and wondered if it was injured? Fortunately, Lake Erie Nature & Science Center is here to answer your question!

Throughout the month of June especially, the Center receives an abundance of calls asking whether or not young birds that appear to be “stuck” on the ground need human assistance. In most cases, the answer is no.

During a baby bird’s fledgling period, it jumps out of the nest and lives on the ground for a few days. This part of a young bird’s life can be very dangerous, but it is a necessary part of development. Fledglings learn to fly, feed themselves and respond to danger during this time and cannot learn these things well in captivity. Humans should NOT intervene unless they are certain that the bird is injured because any young animal’s best chance for survival is in the wild.

Please call Lake Erie Nature & Science Center at 440-871-2900 with any wildlife questions before attempting a rescue. For additional information on what to do if you see a fledgling on the ground that you are concerned about, please see our Wildlife FAQ on fledglings.

One of Nature's Greatest Hunters is in for Recovery After a Smelly Defeat

One of rehab’s newest patients is in our care after losing a foul-smelling encounter with its prey. The great horned owl is one of the Striped Skunk’s only natural predators, but this particular owl that was brought in to us was not successful in his attempt to make a skunk his meal.

Although great horned owls are incredibly strong and have no natural predators in this area, they are not invincible. Our patient came in with puncture wounds to his foot and skunk spray covering his body, including his eyes. Our rehabilitation staff was able to clean out his wound and rinse the skunk spray out of his irritated eyes. We are hopeful for a successful recovery for this majestic bird of prey.

Great horned owls are the largest owls that breed in Ohio. Male and female great horned owls are identical in appearance; however the female tends to be larger than the male. They are one of the three common Ohio owls found in all three major habitats, rural, suburban and even urban. Because they prefer some open area for hunting, great horned owls tend to avoid extremely forested terrain. They can best be found by hearing their traditional hoo-hoo-hooo call.

Male and female great horned owls are identical in appearance, but the females are larger than the males although this can be hard to detect without actually weighing them. They have an almost “tiger-like” striping on their chest and belly which is one reason for their nickname “Tiger of the Woods.” Great horned owls also have a patch of white feathers under their chin, giving them an even more unique appearance.

Great horned owls are the earliest birds to nest, but instead of building their own nests, they use the abandoned nests of hawks, eagles, squirrels and other nesting animals. They prefer nests in large, old trees, but if those are unavailable, they will use old buildings, cliffs and if absolutely necessary, the ground. Great horned owls are monogamous mates and the male will remain with the female, even helping to bring food for her and the owlets once they have hatched.

As always, if you see an animal that you believe to be injured or if you have backyard wildlife questions, please contact Lake Erie Nature & Science Center at 440-871-2900.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Foster Families in Nature

Cheaper By the Dozen - The addition of a
twelfth gosling doesn't phase this family.
 Lake Erie Nature & Science Center successfully released two young goslings into new "foster families" at Westlake’s Clague Park, following treatment by our rehabilitation staff for leg injuries.

One of the goslings was injured by jumping or falling off the roof of Westlake High School where his parents had made a nest. Groundskeepers at the school found him dragging his leg and brought him to the Center's where he was given a ‘boot’ to help his leg heal and the opportunity to recover peacefully.

Although the releases were completed successfully, it can be very difficult to return young animals back into the wild once they are separated from their families. As shown in the video below, our rehabilitation staff had to exercise caution and keep their distance during the release because parent geese are very protective and will charge at anyone who approaches their young too closely.

Geese will accept other baby geese into their family only if they are the same size or smaller than their own young. The same cannot be said of mallard ducks. Rehabilitation staff must find the original family to return the baby to when releasing injured ducklings because any attempt to place the baby with a foster family ends in rejection.

Our rehab staffers emphasize that they only take in baby animals that are seriously injured because human care should be a last resort. We strongly urge you to call Lake Erie Nature & Science Center at 440-871-2900 prior to attempting to rescue any wildlife, especially babies. Oftentimes baby animals are mistaken for being orphaned or injured when they are simply exhibiting normal wildlife behavior. Their best chance for survival is in the wild where their family can care for them.

You'll find more information in the June 14 issue of the Westlake | Bay Village Observer.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Please Pick Up Your Fishing Lines and Lures!

Our Wildlife Education & Rehabilitation Program has taken in many patients due to injuries caused by fishing lines and lures left on beaches.
During the spring season, we treated a young ring-billed gull for a wing injury caused by fishing line. A concerned citizen brought him in, and we were able to cut the barbs and remove the fishing line from his wing. Fortunately, his wing was only left with minor lacerations.

Our patient was a lucky one. Injuries from fishing line tend to be serious because the line can act as a tourniquet, cutting off blood flow and nerve supply to the affected area. If the animal is not treated quickly, muscles and tendons may be damaged. The worst cases result in an amputation of the animal’s arm, leg, wing or other affected body part.

Other injuries can result from leftover fishing lines and lures. Animals may swallow lines and hooks and become poisoned or starve to death. Their feet may become tangled or their bodies can become wrapped up in the line, often resulting in immobility and death.

Birds are not the only animals affected by fishing line. Almost any animal living in or around a body of water, including fish, otters and turtles, can be hurt by fishing debris. Many of the injured animals are never found.

Fishing is an enjoyable pastime for many but we would ask everyone who participates in the sport to be mindful of the wildlife around you. Please be certain to take all of your supplies back with you to avoid potentially fatal injuries to wild animals.

If you see a wild animal that has been injured or want backyard wildlife advice, please contact Lake Erie Nature & Science Center at 440-871-2900.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Get Wrapped Up in Book for Our Boa!

Our big, beautiful boa is one of many reasons to get wrapped up in a good book this summer! This weekend, the Bay Village Branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library is launching its “Read Around the World” summer reading game for children, teens and adults with a variety of great prizes and incentives.

Readers can earn both individual prizes as well as the collective, long-term “adoption” of the boa constrictor living at Lake Erie Nature & Science Center. The Friends of the Bay Village Branch have pledged to pay the snake’s adoption fees for an entire year if reading logs reach the goal of 20,000 hours.

Beginning June 4, readers of all ages can go to the library to receive a prize and a game board. From then on, all you have to do is read! Each reader can earn entry forms to win Grand prizes such as Zoo memberships and Indians, Browns and Cavaliers game tickets. There's a kickoff event at the Bay Branch on June 13 with Wildlife Wendy, origami demonstrations and pizza.

Lake Erie Nature & Science Center’s Adopt An Animal program allows wildlife lovers to help pay for the care and feeding of the dozens of animals on exhibit and used in teaching and outreach. Adopt An Animal sponsorships are available for as little as $5 per month, with the Boa Constrictor fee set at $25 per month. Of course, “adopted” animals stay at the Center where anyone can visit them during regular Center hours, daily 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Opossums- an Exception to the Rule

Our Wildlife Education & Rehabilitation Program at Lake Erie Nature & Science is currently treating six baby opossums who were found orphaned in the road without Mom and were too young to live without her milk.
Lake Erie Nature & Science Center typically does not take in orphaned babies because they usually have a better chance for survival in the wild.

Opossums, however, are different. They are North America’s only marsupials, meaning Mom carries her babies around in her pouch, just like a kangaroo. Opossum mothers do not nest and are often on the go. In this particular case, Mom was likely killed by a car, leaving her babies helpless.

Baby opossums are carried in Mom’s pouch until they are 2-3 months old and are then carried on her back for another 1-2 months. Opossums have a short life span of only 2-4 years and while young, they rely on Mom for the protection of her pouch and her milk for food.

If you see any animal that appears to be orphaned or injured, please contact Lake Erie Nature & Science Center at 440-871-2900 for more information before attempting a rescue.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Injured Baby Hawks Facing Long Rehab

Two baby hawks rescued from a tree that came crashing down in Monday night's storm are now in the care of Lake Erie Nature & Science Center.

Troy and Marci Anderson, the Berea couple who rescued the nestlings from the fallen nest and tree, brought them to our Wildlife Education & Rehabilitation Program staff yesterday. After a visit to the vet, the birds are starting what looks to be a long-term rehab, recovering from leg fractures.
Both nestlings were hand-fed a good morning meal today and received anti-inflammatory meds. We're keeping them contained and limiting movement to promote healing of the fractured legs. They'll be returning to the vet in a week to remove bandages and re-xray the legs.

We posted a whole album of photos this morning on our Facebook page and WKYC-TV Reporter Jennifer Lindgren filed a terrific report on Channel 3 last night, complete with video of the adorable babies. As Jennifer notes, our nonprofit rehab services are offered at no cost to public and are supported through donations. Want to help these patients and others? You can donate online now.

Here's our own "LENSCTube" video clip from breakfast:

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Rehab's Pretty Patient- the Pileated Woodpecker

Our Wildlife Education & Rehabilitation Program has a fascinating and beautiful avian patient in treatment this week—a pileated woodpecker that suffered head trauma, most likely after flying into a window.

Pileated woodpeckers are similar in size to a crow and are the largest woodpeckers found in the majority of North America. The call of the pileated woodpecker has a loud and resonant “kuk-kuk-kuk” sound. Listen to their call by clicking here.

These birds also have a distinctive red crest on their heads and live in deciduous and coniferous forests with large trees, which they prefer for nesting. The pileated woodpecker will create a nesting cavity in a dead tree and empty it completely except for wood shavings.

Pileated woodpeckers also engage in an unusual behavior in searching for food. They dig rectangular holes in trees to search for ants. Sometimes, when digging holes in small trees, they create holes so deep that the tree may actually break in half!

The pileated woodpecker population encountered a large decline with the clearing of eastern forests, but their numbers have been making a comeback since the mid-20th century. They are not considered to be a species of concern.

If you see a bird or other animal that you believe to be injured, or if you have backyard wildlife questions, please contact Lake Erie Nature & Science Center at (440) 871-2900.

Abandoned Fawn?

Our Wildlife Education & Rehabilitation Program staffers are receiving their first calls of the year about potentially abandoned fawns. We field a ton of calls during the spring from concerned wildlife lovers, asking if a fawn lying down alone is orphaned.
Our answer? The fawn usually is NOT abandoned, but rather following its instincts. In order to protect her young, mom will frequently leave her fawn alone to prevent attracting predators to her vulnerable baby. She will return when she feels it is safe to do so. However, if a fawn is consistently walking around and making noise, there may be cause for concern.
You’ll find much more information about fawns by reading Lake Erie Nature & Science Center’s Wildlife FAQ #13 on baby deer.

The fawn is born with very little scent and white spots for camouflage. As long as the fawn does not move, it will be hidden from all kinds of danger.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Birds on the Road to Recovery in Rehab

Our Wildlife Education & Rehabilitation Program is just starting the busy season right now, so it can be difficult to pause long enough to share cool animal photos and stories. We did manage to photograph three current avian patients during treatment this week.

The first is a female Rose-breasted Grosbeak with an injured leg. Grosbeaks live in any type of woods, and have a very distinctive song that is said to sound similar to that of a robin, but more melodic, as if it were sung by an opera singer. The Center also has a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak. Click here to see the differences between the male and female Grosbeaks and to hear their song.

We also have a female Belted Kingfisher that is being treated for a fractured clavicle(collar bone). Unlike most bird species, the female Belted Kingfishers are more colorful than males, with a rust-colored band on their breast. Kingfishers are known for having a large head and bill for their small body size, which allows them to easily catch fish. They can even dive at 25 mph from great heights while hunting! The Belted Kingfisher can live in any area where there is an open body of water.

Another bird currently in treatment for a wing injury is a baby Rock Pigeon. Although many people often see pigeons as “dirty city birds”, humans have valued them for thousands of years for many reasons including as food and to carry messages. Their natural environment is rocky cliffs in the mountains and coasts of Europe. They are highly adaptable often utilizing man-made structures such as bridges and buildings for nesting which has allowed them to establish healthy populations worldwide.

The rescuer of the baby Rock Pigeon is actively searching to find the roost site in the hope that we can return the baby to its nesting family following treatment. Wild baby animals belong in the wild to learn from their parents. Please do not approach a baby animal unless it has been seriously injured.

Oftentimes baby animals may appear to be abandoned, when in fact the parents are staying away to protect them. A baby animal’s best chance of survival is to remain in the wild where their mother can care for them. If you have questions regarding a wild animal, please call Lake Erie Nature & Science Center at (440) 871-2900.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Honeybee Hive Buzzes to Life - Watch Videos

 Lake Erie Nature & Science Center's honeybee hive is buzzing with activity again! Lorain County beekeeper Scott Danniger set up the new observation hive with approximately 3,000 busy bees today.

This larger hive has more trays (20), room and ventilation than our former observation hive which lost its queen and bees over the winter.

The queen bee (center)  is marked with a white dot.

The queen of these gentle, Italian honeybees is marked with a white spot on her back and she's already laying eggs. Stop in and try to find her in the Stickney Honeybee Exhibit. We're open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week and admission is free!

We have a some great still photos of the transfer posted on our Facebook page.

For more information on beekeeping, check out the website of the Lorain County Beekeepers Association. They make educational appearances and hold a series of classes, if you're interested in learning more about raising honeybees.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Fox Family Shares NE Ohio Home

One of our great Wildlife Education & Rehabilitation volunteers has a front row view of spring baby season and was kind enough to share her photos with us! A Red Fox has created a den under the her deck and, at this time of year, the kits are starting to explore with the parents.

Wildlife Rehabiltiation Coordinator Amy LeMonds says that it's not uncommon to see a fox family out during the day while the kits are in this learning stage of life, even though these animals are typically nocturnal. We estimate that the kits in the photos are probably a couple months old.

Our volunteer reports that mom is an excellent hunter and is observed providing animals to the kits daily. The youngsters will soon become more successful hunting on their own but stay with their family for up to 9 months.

You never know who or what will wind up sharing your backyard (or deck, if you let them) in Northeast Ohio. We're not disclosing the location of our volunteer's home to make sure both the human and fox families maintain privacy.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Student Rainbarrel Project

Lilly Lowther, Danielle Gaudino
and Katherine Knight pose 
with the rain barrel and Center
Executive Director Catherine Timko.
Just in time for Earth Day last week, students in Mrs. Martha Fisher’s third grade class from Westerly Elementary School in Bay Village dropped off a rain barrel, beautifully painted with flowers and insects. Lake Erie Nature & Science Center is one of several locations around town displaying the students' handiwork, complete with an educatonal message about the benefits of rain barrels (like reduction of erosion, pollution and flooding).

The class is selling each rain barrel  for $100 with the proceeds going to the Bay Education Foundation. If you're interested in buying a decorated rain barrel you can contact Mrs. Fishers class at 440-617-7578. Nice work students and thanks for sharing your work with our visitors!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

List of Duck Prizes and Sponsors Growing

Do you have a duck in the race yet? The list of Family Fun Fest and Great Duck Race sponsors and prize donors is growing. Cash, sports tickets, museum and zoo passes, certificates for tasty dining and more are already on the list of cool stuff that will make up the prize packs given to first 30 ducks to cross the finish line on Porter Creek.

So far, four generous area businesses have stepped up to sponsor this year's event! Join us in recognizing Faber-Castell/Creativity for Kids, The Goddard School for Early Childhood Development, Hyland Software and ShurTech Brands!

Want to join our sponsors or prize donors? There's still time leading up to our Sunday, June 5 event. Call 440-871-2900 today and ask for Ann Miller or Barb Caskey.

Access a Fun Fest Duck Sponsor form here.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Nature & Nesting Ducks Know Best

We're heading into Mallard nesting season and each year, we expect this question on the other end of our frequently ringing Wildlife Education & Rehabilitation phone line: "A duck started a nest in my yard and laid a couple of eggs, but she's not sitting on the nest! What should I do?"

This common question can best be answered through an explanation of how Mallards nest. The female mallard (hen) will spend weeks scouting out an area to build her nest. Mallards will nest almost anywhere within reasonable distance of a water source and often in what seems to be inappropriate locations such as near a road, in a parking lot or a yard with big dogs. It’s helpful for us humans to remember that, most of the time, a duck knows how to choose a good nest area better then we do.

After choosing a location and constructing the nest, the female will lay one egg a day but then leave and join the male (drake) at a nearby water source. Once the whole clutch (usually 8-10 eggs) has been laid, she begins incubation for about 28 days. Not sitting on the eggs until the last egg is laid is what allows all the ducklings to hatch at the same time. Shortly after the female has begun incubation, the male will leave and provides no care for the eggs, hen, or ducklings.
Mallard ducklings are precocial which means that they are mobile and able to eat on their own almost immediately after they hatch. Within hours after hatch, the hen leads the ducklings to her chosen water source where they will remain. A duck nest is only for the eggs and not for the ducklings.

The trip to water can be quite dangerous. However, it's important that we allow the ducklings to remain with the hen so she can teach them everything they need to know to survive in the wild. Most often, human attempts at helping them during this stage results in increased accidents and abandonment as mother and the ducklings react frantically to human intervention.

Often, we humans think the hen doesn’t know what she’s doing when she nests in our yards, parking lots and other “human” places. The fact is she knows exactly what she is doing. While not every nesting attempt by any bird can always be successful, the vast majority of these suburban duck nests produce healthy wild ducklings. Additionally, when a duck nest fails, the hen usually starts the process all over, replacing the lost eggs often in a new location.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Swan Confirmed As Endangered Trumpeter

A swan sighting prompted another inquiry to our Wildlife Department that’s worth sharing. The Conway family photographed this beautiful bird in Medina and they thought it could be a Trumpeter Swan but were unsure whether Ohio was home to this type of swan. The swan was banded which made the Conways ask if this large bird should be reported to someone? Lake Erie Nature & Science Center has been the Conway family’s wildlife resource for almost 40 years so they knew just who to call for answers.

Our wildlife staff confirmed that the bird in this photo is in fact a Trumpeter Swan which is an endangered species in Ohio. The state has participated in a reintroduction program since 1997 and in 2009 recorded an all-time high of 73 swans fledging.

Trumpeter Swans are often misidentified Mute Swans which are European birds that have been introduced into the U.S. Mute Swans have created a problem for Trumpeter Swans because they very aggressive and can take over territories of the native Trumpeters. Tundra Swans can also be seen migrating through Ohio and also can be confused for Trumpeter Swans.

If you spot an endangered species, it can be reported to the Ohio Division of Wildlife. You can read more about bird banding here, including links for reporting a bird band sighting.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mystery Owl - Who You Gonna Call?

By Brownstone Day School students - Lakewood
A class of students from the Brownstone Day School in Lakewood snapped this terrific photo outside their classroom and wondered if the pint-sized owl was a baby. Luckily, the class had the wildlife staff at Lake Erie Nature & Science Center to give them some insight and information about their backyard discovery.

We loved the photo so much, we asked if we could share it, along with the information our Wildlife Education & Rehabliation Coordinator, Amy LeMonds, had for them:
That is an adult Northern Saw-whet Owl. It is the smallest owl found in this state and in the Eastern U.S. There are a couple of smaller owl species found in the Western U.S.
Saw-whet Owls are found here all year and eat small mammals like mice. When there is tons of snow they will keep a cache of food which freezes and when they are ready to eat it they thaw it by incubating it like an egg. They hunt with their excellent night vision and specialized hearing. The owl's oval face (which creates a disc shape to gather sound waves - like when you see a cat's ears move to “capture” sounds) and asymmetrical ears give them such good hearing.
Below is a link to Ohio Division of Wildlife which has excellent native animal info.
Thanks and let me know if you ever have wildlife questions in the future. - Amy LeMonds

Wildlife is waking up for spring and increasingly active this time of year. There's a lot to see and discover in your own backyard. Enjoy the show!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Discount for The Ugly Duckling & More

Enjoy movies? Take advantage of Lake Erie Nature & Science Center's special discount for the 35th Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF). As a Community Sponsor for the family film, The Ugly Duckling, we are pleased to offer our friends $2 off per ticket for ANY show during the Festival, which runs from March 24 - April 3 at Tower City Cinemas.


To receive your discount, use the code: LENSC when purchasing tickets any of the following ways:
  • Online at (24 hours a day)
  • By Phone at 877-304-FILM (3456)
  • In the Ulmer & Berne Film Fest Box Office, lobby of Tower City Cinemas

Tickets went on sale to the general public today, Friday, March 11. Additional restrictions may apply. Enjoy the shows!




Friday, February 18, 2011

White Pelican Video Progress Report

Update  2/28/11
Our pelican is now in the hands of the experts at World Bird Sanctuary in St. Louis. Amy drove the bird there over the weekend (starting out in Friday's blizzard) and was impressed with the wildlife hospital that will be overseeing the next phase of this big bird's rehab. Thanks to everyone who supported the care and transfer of this unique patient!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

American White Pelican in Rehab

We’re caring for an unusual patient in Wildlife Education & Rehabilitation Program an American White Pelican. Although a few of these birds wind up in our neck of the woods each year, it’s rarely seen in Ohio because the American White Pelican’s normal breeding range is the Northern Plains and Mountain West and it winters along the southern coasts.

The snowy white pelican with black edged wings was picked up in the Cuyahoga River and brought to us on January 19. It had been observed injured for a few days and we immediately noted an obvious left wing injury. An x-ray and veterinary exam revealed no fracture. We are currently treating for a soft tissue injury, keeping the wing stable with a wrap.

Some of the photos we have posted on our Facebook page were taken as Wildlife Rehabilitation Coordinator Amy LeMonds and Wildlife Director Dave Wolf worked to keep the bird eating. (One shot shows the pelican’s amazing open mouth and its long bill with extensible pouch.) The American White Pelican is one of the largest birds in North America .

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Wow! What Were You Doing In High School?

Vince DiGennaro, Sean Waitkus &
Center Executive Director Catherine Timko
Two teen volunteers at Lake Erie Nature & Science Center secured a nearly $1,000 corporate donation to support our Bay Village nonprofit. North Olmsted High School Seniors Vince DiGennaro and Sean Waitkus went into the board room to compete for funds under the Farmers Insurance Future Leaders Development Program and presented the donation they earned to Executive Director Catherine Timko today.

Vince and Sean developed a 20-minute presentation to explain why the nonprofit charity of their choice should receive a financial donation. A panel of company leaders judged competing student pitches and based on communication, content, appearance and overall presentation. Sean and Vince worked "countless hours" on the presentation which included a PowerPoint and video synched to music.

Vince and Sean are both involved in North Olmsted High School’s SITES (Social Involvement Through Education and Service) Program, which partnered with Farmers to engage students in the competition. Sean has logged more than 1,500 volunteer hours at Lake Erie Nature & Science Center and won the Volunteer Service Award at his high school for three years running. He is an aspiring naturalist with plans to study wildlife at Hocking College.

Vince has accumulated more than 100 volunteer hours at the Center since September 2010. He plans to attend the University of Miami (Florida) to study meteorology and marine science.

Well done Sean and Vince! Thank you!