MIL OSI Translation. Region: Russian Federation –
Falcons, hawks, eagles and other birds of prey are trained here, and among the patients of the veterinarian-ornithologist you can find wasp-eaters, woodpeckers, blackbirds and crows.
Almost 40 years ago, on February 19, 1983, the All-Union Ornithological Society was organized under the USSR Academy of Sciences. Since then, the Day of the Birdwatcher is celebrated on this day. This is a significant holiday for all staff of the bird house in Sokolniki Park, including those who have not studied to become an ornithologist, but work with birds at the behest of their souls.
Read about how birds get into the birdhouse and who cares about them in this mos.ru article.
Falconry and the largest dovecote
On the territory of the birdhouse, there are many aviaries with birds. Huge black crows, magpies, hawks, owls, kestrels and saker falcons live on the street even in winter – they are not afraid of low temperatures.
For the falcons, a courtyard was equipped with perches – special rings on which birds can sit, if necessary, freely spreading their wings. Birdhouse director Vadim Mishin explained that the perches are a tribute to the age-old tradition of keeping birds of prey, they help keep their plumage in perfect condition.
Sokolniki also houses the largest dovecote in Moscow – its area is 250 square meters. There are special openings on the roof, thanks to which the birds can freely fly out and fly back.
Migratory birds are kept in a warm building – they do not live outside until spring comes. Among them are hobbyists, wasp-eaters and a sparrowhawk. The premises for employees are also located here.
How can Sokolniki be without falcons?
The birdhouse at Sokolniki appeared eight years ago. Its creator, Vadim Mishin, was in no way connected with birds by profession, and the idea to organize a falconry arose spontaneously.
“One day a friend asked me:“ How is it, “Sokolniki” – and without falcons? ” After all, historically this is the place where the kings were engaged in falconry. This is how the idea to create a falconry was born, I went with it to the director of the park, and he supported me, ”says Vadim Mishin.
Hunting birds are purchased in nurseries. Specialists who teach adults the ancient art of falconry keep their pets here.
Initially, it was planned to focus specifically on the falconry, but it turned out that the birdhouse was also needed as a place for rehabilitation, treatment and maintenance of birds. Birds come here, which need constant care. Someone is brought by the owners, who understand that they cannot take care of the winged pet on their own.
It is important that the project is open: you can visit the birds, learn about their condition, help with money or food. Everyone is accepted in the bird house, regardless of the species, value and rarity of the bird.
“We take everyone – both pigeons and crows. We don’t sort anyone by value. Our task is to cure, get out and release. Therefore, if we understand that the bird will be able to return to freedom, we try not to get attached to it, we do not even give a name. It is important that the bird does not become completely tame, ”explains Vadim Mishin.
Some of the birds are kept by volunteers. However, not everyone can be entrusted with this responsibility – a volunteer must be able to care for a bird, know the needs and characteristics of a particular species.
Seal for a woodpecker and antidepressants for a parrot
There is a quarantine department for newly arrived guests – birds live in it while they take tests and find out if they need medical help (and if so, what kind). If, after quarantine, the bird still cannot live in the wild, it is transferred to a hospital. Here winged patients receive the necessary treatment. Birds, whose injuries cannot be cured, remain to live in the birdhouse.
For example, among the permanent residents there is a raven with a broken wing. They did not operate on him – the birds do not tolerate such manipulations well, besides, the raven still could not fly again. The wasp eater has been living here for four years now, and has become a victim of poachers. The bird was trapped and severely injured its paws.
Quite recently, a female golden eagle named Kailash appeared in a bird shelter. She is already 15-16 years old – a respectable age for golden eagles, which in nature live up to 20. Kailash suffered a traumatic brain injury, she has diabetes, heart and lung failure.
Veterinarian-ornithologist Natalya Anisimova treats feathered patients and helps them look after them. Sometimes she has to invent non-standard methods. For example, for a woodpecker with an exfoliated beak, she came up with the idea of making a “plaster cast” from the same material that dentists use to fill their teeth. This helped – the woodpecker is growing a new whole beak, and soon it will be able to return to its natural habitat.
“Craniocerebral trauma often occurs with small birds, because they hit the glass,” says Natalya. – It happens that birds are hit by cars, pigeons are often attacked by predators. Unfortunately, many birds, especially crows, become victims of cruel fun – people use them as live targets. “
According to employees, pneumatic weapons sold without a license are the most dangerous for birds. Bullets from it do not kill them immediately, but crush bones and remain in the body. If the bird does not fall into the hands of the veterinarian, it dies slowly and painfully.
Even in the administration office there are cages with parrots, which the former owners could not keep. They met strangers with flapping of their wings and kept up a conversation in their own avian language.
“When it’s quiet here, the birds are silent,” explained Vadim Mishin. “And since we are talking, then they want to participate in the conversation.”
Like humans, birds can suffer from mental health problems. Such problems are expressed in the fact that birds pull out their feathers. Therefore, for example, one of the gray parrots has to take antidepressants. The patient is now feeling much better and boasts a beautiful, newly regrown, gray-blue plumage.
Birds have a good memory, they remember good and evil. Birds affected by humans can suffer serious psychological trauma. Over time, after treatment, such birds can calmly react to the staff and visitors of the park, but it is not possible to completely restore trust in people.
Some guests of the bird shelter, on the contrary, become so attached to people that they do not want to leave them, even after they recover.
One day they brought a nest with three birdworms. They came out, two flew away, and one remained. They named him Sonny. The starling sat on the shoulder of people, followed them everywhere and once participated in checking the tickets of visitors. When the time came to fly to warm lands, he left the birdhouse, but for several years in a row he returned and lived in a birdhouse on its territory.
“We lived with a grosbeak, which we released five times. So he would find some person in the park and start pounding him with his beak until he was taken back to the birdhouse, ”Vadim Mishin tells another funny story.
Proud and loyal
The falconer is considered to be one of the rarest professions, so collaboration with craftsmen is highly valued in the birdlife. The art of falconry is, first of all, the ability to establish contact with a hunting bird. You need to become her friend, not a master, find a common language with her – this is what the falconer should devote most of his time to. Not only man chooses a bird to work with, but also a bird chooses a man.
Hunting birds need a special approach: the carrot and stick method, which is used to train animals, will not work here. Every falconer knows: if you shout or punish a proud bird, it can respond with aggression or even fly away. Therefore, when training, experts only encourage pets.
Today falconry has almost lost its practical purpose. That is why there are plans to organize a sports falconry, in which instead of living victims there will be drones-dummies. To participate in this sport, the bird must be trained to hunt for a dummy, and pieces of meat will be attached to the drones as a reward.
Hunting birds are useful not only in hunting: falconry services are used to disperse birds, for example, near large granaries. Flocks of birds that nest near airports are also dangerous: getting into the turbines of an aircraft, they can provoke an accident. The only effective way to disperse them is to keep the predators.
Vadim Mishin is convinced that the diversity of bird species must be preserved.
“We, for example, are engaged in floriculture, develop new varieties of flowers, nurture them in flower beds, take care of them – why? Because of beauty, because of our need for it. Birds are, one might say, heavenly flowers. And in many situations, especially in urban conditions, if we leave them without help, they will not coexist with us. Perhaps only crows and pigeons will remain, but this is not enough, ”he says.
The birdhouse is open to visitors from Tuesday to Sunday (Monday is cleaning day). On weekdays, the birdhouse is open from 11:00 to 19:00, and on weekends from 11:00 to 20:00.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.