A Tangled Tale

By Louise Polli

In our Win­ter Newslet­ter, we intro­duced you to a bud­ding rela­tion­ship between the Lan­dis Arbore­tum and the Audubon Soci­ety of the Cap­i­tal Region. In this arti­cle, Audubon pro­grams chair and past pres­i­dent John Loz shares a sto­ry with a local twist that illus­trates just one exam­ple of the vital work his orga­ni­za­tion per­forms in con­ser­va­tion and stew­ard­ship. We are proud to part­ner with Audubon and bring you more infor­ma­tion on our mutu­al areas of inter­est, as two birds of a feather .…

– Louise Polli

When most peo­ple think of the Audubon Soci­ety, they no doubt think about look­ing for birds and keep­ing lists and per­haps putting out nest­ing box­es. The society’s mem­bers do just that, of course, but they also engage in any num­ber of con­ser­va­tion efforts, rang­ing from inva­sive plant species removal from bird habi­tats to advo­cat­ing for prop­er fish­ing line disposal.

Owl in the Tree
Look close­ly — there’s an owl swing­ing in the breeze.

On one mem­o­rable occa­sion, Lin­da Brown, a wildlife reha­bil­i­ta­tor, was alert­ed to a rap­tor tan­gled in a tree in the Town of Esper­ance. We arrived at the Sloans­ville Boat Launch, and it was quite evi­dent that there was a young juve­nile owl, swing­ing in the breeze, ensnared in a tree by a fish­ing line,” she report­ed. From the out­set, we knew that this would be a dif­fi­cult to impos­si­ble res­cue. The tree hung out over the rapid­ly mov­ing Crip­ple­bush Creek by at least 20 feet .… .”

For­tu­nate­ly, a group of researchers from Clark­son Uni­ver­si­ty were installing a hydro­log­i­cal mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem along the creek. They were equipped with machetes, scu­ba gear, and oth­er tools of their trade – and they imme­di­ate­ly vol­un­teered to assist with the rescue.

Heroes of the day!

After sev­er­al failed attempts to climb the tree, a grad stu­dent decid­ed to las­so the branch and bring it clos­er to the tree. In the event that the branch broke in the process, anoth­er grad stu­dent was wait­ing in the water to catch the bird before it was swept away. The branch did break – but the bird fell into the arms of a researcher stand­ing chest-high in the creek. I can only say that we were jubi­lant and what looked like an impos­si­ble res­cue turned into the mir­a­cle save of the year,” Lin­da said.

After a quick on-site exam­i­na­tion, Lin­da and a fel­low rehab­ber rec­og­nized that they had res­cued a juve­nile female Great Horned Owl. They took the bird to the Ball­ston Spa Vet­eri­nary Clin­ic, where it was deter­mined that there were no frac­tures. Now dubbed Swinger,” the owl was kept under obser­va­tion for any oth­er injury that might inhib­it her flight.

After a nine-month reha­bil­i­ta­tion to make sure that her wings were strong and func­tion­ing prop­er­ly and to ascer­tain that she had ful­ly recov­ered from an eye infec­tion, Swinger” was released at the Iro­quois Indi­an Muse­um on the Society’s Bird Day 2015.

Although there was a good out­come to this event, pre­ven­tion is impor­tant. Through its col­lab­o­ra­tive agree­ment with the DEC, our local Audubon Soci­ety has installed micro­fil­a­ment dis­pos­al con­tain­ers at trout streams, boat launch­es, and oth­er pub­lic fish­ing areas through­out the Cap­i­tal Region. The organization’s first con­tain­er was placed at the Sloans­ville Boat Launch, the site of Swinger’s” near-fatal encounter.

The Audubon Soci­ety of the Cap­i­tal Region is look­ing for­ward to increas­ing its con­ser­va­tion pres­ence in Schoharie Coun­ty by work­ing close­ly with the Lan­dis Arbore­tum to fos­ter stew­ard­ship of the lands that sup­port birds and oth­er wildlife and our native plants.

Summer 2017

Volume 35 , Number 3

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