As the nation wades through an unprecedented ocean of daily COVID-19 news and social distancing guidelines, animal keepers around the country continue caring for their animals. The staff at the W.K. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary is no exception. Our animal care staff is on site every day of the year to make sure the birds have what they need, whether during a severe snowstorm or a global pandemic.
Everyday tasks include filling feed stations along the lakeshore for the waterfowl, delivering mice to the birds of prey and fish to the bald eagles, cleaning out water dishes, adding enrichment activities to enclosures for the birds, and continued cleaning and maintenance of the habitats.
As essential employees, animal keepers Sara DePew-Bäby and Angela Scapini have implemented staggered work hours following social distancing guidelines. However, they must work side-by-side during the twice-monthly animal health exams as the birds still need regular exams and medication.
Donning personal protection equipment, or PPE, one person holds the bird while the other examines the animal, checking body condition and trimming beaks and talons. Each bird is weighed during the exam, as weight loss can be one of the first signs of illness in an animal, so close attention is paid to diet, age and condition of the bird.
March through July are peak visitation and income-generating months for the Sanctuary. With events, programs and our popular end-of-school year field trips canceled, the Sanctuary has lost an estimated $40,000 of income, which normally is used to purchases food, supplies and medication to care for our birds. Each month, it costs $300 to feed the birds of prey alone. These birds are permanently injured and would not be able to hunt to endure in the wild, so they rely on us for their survival.
We’re always appreciative of your support, but especially during these tough times. Please consider making a gift toward the feeding and care for the Sanctuary birds. Your gift will help sustain the Sanctuary and care for the birds during these uncertain times.
Although our in-person events are postponed indefinitely, the Sanctuary trails remain open daily between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. as long as visitors follow social distancing and safety guidelines. We look forward to the day when we can fully reopen, welcoming back families, school field trips, birders and photographers to enjoy the natural beauty that the Sanctuary has provided you for over 90 years.