Patoka Lake Raptor Journal
Carol Groves, the first interpreter and raptor handler at Patoka Lake, started a journal in the 1980s to record the lives of birds. Dana Reckelhoff, Interpretive Naturalist at Patoka Lake, continues the work. Below are a sampling of entries. Read entries from 2016 and 2017.
3: Tom, Whitney and I trimmed the birds’ beaks and talons today. We started with owl, the hawk and finally eagle. We were able to get weights on them today also. The red-tailed hawk came in at 2 pounds 6 ounces. Owl weighed in at 4.9 ounces. The eagle weighed 11 pounds 10 ounces. We put A&D ointment on both the eagles and hawks feet from jesses to toes. They were looking a little dry since it has been in the lower temperatures lately (5 – 16F). The birds have been eating a decent amount. We are pleased with their appetites. Hawk was given three chicks and two mice today. Owl got one mouse. Eagle received a large carp mid-section.
13: The birds have been eating better this week. They were out last Saturday for Eagle Watch and all maintained their positions on the glove without bating. Today the birds did not receive any vitamins on their meals. Their water bowls have been freezing up in the hawk and eagle mews. Shelters have been sprayed down less due to the outdoor hose being frozen solid.
18: Things are still frozen within the mews. Today I found a second fish frozen to eagle’s stump for the week. One was there yesterday half eaten. Today I came back to find that yesterday’s fish is half eaten and stuck also. Neither Tom nor I are strong enough to pry them off. They will just stay put until we get a warm day later this week. Weather channel is reporting temperatures near 32F this weekend.
28: Assistant Property Manager, Rocky Brown, cared for the birds today. He reported that the eagle is still not eating much within the last week. She had three-fourths of a rat left. He gave her another rat today. She has been leaving behind most of her fish the last few days also. Owl is also not eating much lately. Some nights he is leaving all food untouched within the last week. The hawk is eating well however. We will continue to monitor this pattern. I do not get concerned until it becomes consecutive days of non-eating from a single bird, like we saw with the eagle in Dec. 2014.
7: The red-tailed hawk is back to playing with his tennis ball again. Last week on Thursday, Jason Hickman reported that he was playing with it when he went out to feed the birds in the afternoon. This afternoon, I found his ball in his water dish after cleaning the shelters earlier in the day. Eagle has been food aggressive towards leftovers in the last week but she is choosing to eat only half of her food when it is provided. She has gone after the leftovers two times this week while we are cleaning them up.
11: To add a little more stimulation to the eagle and hawk’s lives, I placed their food (mice for hawk and two rats for eagle) inside their hollee roller balls yesterday. Today all three birds had no leftovers, just numerous pellets inside the mews. Calcium and vitahawk were administered via 5 mice for hawk, two mice for owl and 3 smaller fish for eagle.
15: Temperatures reached 60F+ today and are going to be warmer for a few days. I determined that today would be a good day for the birds to fast. Their shelters were cleaned in the morning. Food was not replaced as usual this afternoon. They will be fed tomorrow around 5 p.m. due to a meeting that I have in Indy.
24: The birds all traveled with Whitney and I to the library in Dubois for a program. Their shelters were cleaned in the morning during a heavy rainstorm. While at the library all three birds did well. Eagle cast a very slimy, scale filled pellet while on the drive to the library but did not get carsick. Once we returned, we fed the birds in another heavy rain shower. We also changed the hawk’s jesses since one had torn in the last two days. This relentless rain is causing everything including the jesses to stay damp. Hawk was given a fresh pair but the owl and eagle’s looked in good condition.