The Right Tool

Having the right tool can mean the difference between struggling with or flying through a task. In animal care, a good hose is one of the most important and revered tools. The hose should clean enclosures and perches, rinse off egg yolk after a program, fill water pans, and cool the birds on a hot day.  The right nozzle needs to be powerful enough to strip epoxy-like Red-tailed Hawk mutes off mew walls and gentle enough to send a light mist over the birds. Our first nozzle was not adjustable, the second had weak water pressure, and the third broke after a few months of use. This summer we finally found the heavy-duty nozzle that can do it all.

img_7360.jpgA sharp pair of scissors is also essential for an aviculturist. They are used daily to carefully prepare raptor meals and quickly become worn after slicing through bones, fur, and feathers. A scissor sharpener is essential, but sometimes they break beyond repair. We said goodbye this week to our most trustworthy pair of take-apart scissors after years of service. A new pair will soon replace them, but until then, food prep might be a struggle with the backup scissors.


The mew remodeling last fall improved the bird’s experience in their enclosures. They can look out the window and soak up the sun, and choose to sit in the rain or snow under the skylight.

We also wanted to improve the visitor experience. Instead of being a nondescript, mysterious building in the backyard, visitors now have a chance to see the birds and learn about them. This informational sign was just installed this week, along with species labels for each mew, so visitors can read about raptors and hopefully see one of the birds looking back at them.

Thanks to Volunteer Larry for installing the sign!

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DIY Humidity


Caring for animals often requires a DIY spirit. Sometimes it stems from a desire to save money, other times the materials are just not available commercially.

My most recent DIY project was creating a humidity box for the snakes. Extra humidity helps soften their old skin so it comes off in one piece. With both snakes preparing to shed, I headed to Rondeau’s and perused a variety of plastic containers, finally finding one that was just the right size.

The transformation from storage box to snake hide was simple with a pair of scissors. I carved out a hole in the plastic, filled in a layer of damp moss bedding, and set the box in the snake’s habitat. Emory the Rat Snake soon found her way inside and coiled herself in the tropical microclimate. A few days later, I found her perfectly shed skin wrapped around her enclosure. It worked!