One of my favorite birds is the osprey. Ospreys are nesting at Edwin B. Forsythe Wildlife Refuge and this year they’ve installed a camera on the nest! You can watch the ospreys LIVE on this webcam, 24 hours a day.
What a nice time we had at the Refuge this past Thursday morning! Kerlanda, Javion, Brianna (John’s daughter), Teacher Ruth and I helped Alan Jackson band 130 purple martin chicks at the Edwin B. Forsythe Wildlife Refuge in Oceanville, NJ. The kids had a great time helping Mr. Jackson and the other Refuge volunteers with the purple martin chicks. Kerlanda and Javion even got to band a chick themselves! Each chick receives a silver Federal ID band and a purple NJ State ID band, one on each leg. Each band has a special ID of numbers and letters on the bands. Scientists can use these ID bands to determine loads of information about the bird: age, how far the bird has traveled, where it was banded, etc. Now that we are done banding, we won’t be monitoring the nests again until next year. The purple martins will stick around until mid-August when they will begin their long migration to Brazil!
I got a call from Marylee on Friday night. Almost 9 o’clock pm. It can’t be a bird call, it’s too late, it’s too dark, I’m at Petsmart, please don’t be a bird call.
“Don’t you answer your phone?” she shouted at me.
“I am shopping at Petsmart with Scruffy. What is going on?” I nervously asked.
“There is a lady at Trump Marina with two ducklings. No momma in sight. They followed her to her boat and she has them in a box. Can you PLEASE pick them up?”
“Yes, give me her phone number and I will call her.”
30 minutes later, I now have two peeping, teeny mallard ducklings in the back seat. Scruffy nervously pricks his ears to every tiny peep that comes from the box. It is getting late and I am due to drive to John’s house tonight. What should I do? I can’t drive the ducklings anywhere tonight. I am going to have to care for them now until I can get them to a rehabber.
When we arrive home, I carry the ducklings and Scruffy from the car to the yard. Scruffy bolts for the door as I gingerly carry my precious load into the house. I set up the ducks in the bathroom, soften some duck chow with water and place it next to them in the tub. Yummy! They eagerly dig into the chow, peeping loudly.
Fast forward to Saturday morning. Ducklings are now at John’s house, a playground for wild animals. They run around the yard, jump into the pond, swim around to their heart’s content. I watch them patiently and cautiously, as a momma would. Are they in the water too long? are they cold? hungry? I grab them from the duckweed and dry them with a towel. They huddle next to me for warm and security, snuggling next to each other, peeping softly.
Fast forward again, Sunday afternoon. I carry the box of ducklings to the rehabber who takes them with a smile. “I will take good care of them,” he reassures me.
“I know you will, thanks again!” I try to sound cheerful. I had really grown attached to those little fuzzy-headed babies. I can’t raise ducks, I tell myself. That is why there are people trained to care for injured or orphaned animals. He will make sure the ducklings are well cared for and then released back into the wild where they belong…
Alexandra, Noelia and I sure worked up a sweat today! After helping Al and Peter with the baby purple martins, we chopped down a lot of old milkweed. The Refuge has a very nice garden in front of the visitors’ center. There was tons and tons of milkweed there this year, but it has gone to seed and needed to be cut back. If we want monarchs to lay eggs here this summer and fall, they need fresh milkweed leaves. The milkweed we cut back was also covered with aphids. Aphids are a very strange and interesting insect that lives off the milkweed plant.