DELEVAN, NY- Working with wildlife of any kind is always a challenge, a never ending job that requires knowledge, compassion, and a dedication to nature that often transcends the self. Gooseneck Hill Waterfowl Sanctuary in Delevan has been raising birds since 1983, and is the largest covered aviary in the United States.
It's a lot of work on a year round basis, but the Spring often presents the biggest obstacles. Last year's early,hot spring had it's own set of problems but this year a quick thaw and steady rains bring a flood of adversity. Rosemary and Milt Miner are Gooseneck Hill's stewards." If you remember, St.Patrick's day last year it was 73 degrees," says Milt "A lot of seventies and eighties and so on, that's too soon, so it messes up everything, messes up the buds on the trees and everything else ! " Rosemary agrees." You're always fighting Mother Nature, you have to worry about the snow, the wet snow, the rain, too much flood, and then the heat, and if it's too hot you have to watch for the health of the birds."
The Miners have to be vigilant at all times. Spring is breeding time for waterfowl, and despite the cold weather, Mother Nature cannot be delayed. Rosemary explains." They get so tired of waiting they nested in the snow, some of the eggs didn't make it because they usually will get off for an hour and that hour is too long for those eggs to cool down, especially when it's twenty degrees out."
When that happens the birds may need a little help. Eggs can be removed from the nest and incubated successfully, other times help comes after the hatch, Milt tells 2 The Outdoors.
" A lot of times you'll let them hatch out, then you take the eggs,you know they're already hatched out, so you take the little goslings or whatever they happen to be, and you put them in brooders and things like that, and you hand raise them."
Rosemary says the chicks sometimes have a better chance if they're hand raised." If we take them away you have almost a hundred percent chance of them surviving,if we leave them to their mothers,maybe ten percent might live,so that's why all of our birds here, there are not a lot of them in the wild, but here you see a lot of birds because we do a lot to keep them alive."
That's even more important with the birds of Gooseneck Hill, as many of them represent the last of their kind,explains Rosemary.
" Almost all of them are becoming endangered or extinct. The Red-Breasted will disappear for sure, the Eiders that I picked up in Alaska, that I collected in 1990,there's hardly any of them left, and now we have over 125 of them here, and some day we want to take some back to Alaska and repopulate it."
The Miners say that in spite of the constant challenges, Gooseneck Hill continues to flourish, and as long as they do, the birds will as well. " They can live here forever. We have a swan that's thirty seven years old, I have geese that are thirty years old, so it's almost like a nursing home sometimes."
Gooseneck Hill is a not for profit organization that relies heavily on donations to keep their brood healthy and happy. You'll have a chance to help them soon. " The Taste Of The Southtowns " is being held Sunday April 21, 2013 from 11am-5pm at the Springville Fire Hall in Springville NY. There will be several restaurants represented, with a lot of great food, live music and much more ! The proceeds go to help support the sanctuary, and you can find out more by visiting their website at http://www.gooseneckhillwaterfowlfarm.com/