People have been bringing abandoned Mississippi kites to the Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo for raptor rehabilitation, but Zoo Supervisor Sara Hamlin said most of these young birds should be left alone.
This is the season for juvenile Mississippi kites to fledge, the time when they acquire the feathers necessary for flight.
“We’ve had about 10 come into the rehab in the last two weeks,” Hamlin said. “In all but one case, the birds were perfectly healthy; they had just been on the ground instead of in the nest.
“At the fledgling age the birds are able to go longer periods of time without eating, so it may appear that the parents aren’t caring for it when they actually are. The best thing for these birds is to leave them alone and keep dogs, cats and kids away from them. It usually only takes a few days for them to learn to fly,” Hamlin explained.
“If the bird is injured it can be brought here as soon as possible. Do not give it food or water as giving it the wrong thing can kill it.”
In late March, the zoo received a young Great Horned Owl from a nest that was knocked from its branch during a storm. At the time, Hamlin said hand-feeding the owl might leave it unsuitable for release into the wild. But on Wednesday, she said she hopes the owl will be ready for release in a couple of weeks.
Meet Squash: Tarantula ambassador
The Education Building at the zoo is home to several smaller species, including a female Chilean Rose-Hair Tarantula named Squash. Zookeeper Alex Odin shared some interesting facts about this hairy spider.
“People are often afraid of spiders, but she’s not very dangerous to humans at all,” he said. This spider from South America primarily eats insects, but might also catch lizards, small mice or even birds in the wild.
The “rose” in its name comes from the dull pink coloring on its back.
Tarantulas paralyze their prey with venom, then they throw up stomach acids into them. This allows the spiders to consume prey significantly larger than themselves. “They suck it out like a smoothie,” Odin said.
Female tarantulas can live 15-20 years; the males live about six years.