A generous donation from an anonymous donor allowed RAPTOR to construct two new flight cages to support our rehabilitation efforts. We have been running short on flight cages, especially for smaller birds, and needed cages that were “mouse-proofed” to support live prey testing. These two new cages, one 10′ x 22′ and the other 10′ x 24′, will primarily support rehabilitation of smaller birds such as screech owls and kestrels, but will also be useful for live prey resting of larger birds.
These new cages numbered 9 and 10 will supplement our existing rehab cages 1 through 8. They are both equipped with double doors and small vestibules to prevent escapes and have the lower portion of the walls lined with slick metal to prevent live mice from escaping. When a bird with questionable hunting skills is being evaluated, or in some cases trained, the bird is weighed and put in the cage along with a number of live mice. The bird must hunt and capture the live mice in order to feed itself. Sometimes the mice are sneaky and hide and sometimes they escape.
The bird under evaluation is weighed daily to ensure it is finding and eating the mice. If a bird loses weight, it either “doesn’t get it” or else has a problem such as poor vision or coordination that prevents it from finding and eating the mice. In either case , the new cage will allow us to evaluate and determine the birds’ ability to successfully hunt.
The construction of the new cages is similar to that of our other cages. with treated lumber and gravel on the floor. Solid panels are used to provide protection and privacy, so birds in one cages cannot see birds in an adjacent cage. Slatted walls allow light and air circulation but prevent escape without risk of feather damage. A combination of slats and wire screening on the roof maintains the cage’s integrity while allowing sunlight and air circulation. The new cages were build by Dan Gallagher Contracting & Remodeling, the same contractor who build our other cages.
The new cages will allow us to support more species simultaneously and will allow us to “live prey test” birds more quickly so that birds can be released as soon as possible. Previously, birds often had to wait for “a turn” in the only other cage suitable for live prey testing. We look forward to using these new cages and wish to thank the donor and volunteers who made this possible.