Sunday, November 16, 2014

Gotcha!

Life can be harsh in the wild. I came across this scenario as I was doing chores this morning. It was -8 outside but very sunny. As you can clearly see the imprint of a large bird wing, you can also see the trail of a rabbit where they converge. The rabbit track is the thick line coming in from the top and ending at the wing print. Unfortunately I'd walked near before noticing it so don't know if the rabbit got away.

I've seen a very large Rough-legged Hawk in the area for a few weeks and there is also a Red-tailed Hawk pair who are local residents. Roughies don't usually go after such large prey but redtails most definitely have them on the menu.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Trojan horse ?????

Nope, Trojan Kitten. I hadn't seen SAM for a few minutes so called his name. He knows it and usually comes running. Imagine my surprise when this basket slowly made its way into the living room...... If you look close you'll see his face behind the end of it. I had cleaned out my old ice box and saved some things to take to the Bargain Box. This basket among them. He apparently couldn't resist trying to climb inside and it flipped over. I sure wish I had a video of the whole episode.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Ducks galore!

Our weather has had a dramatic change in the past few days. It went from 63 to -14 in one day. We did have some warning so full woodboxes and heavy clothing were in force. The horrible news is that all three lakes/ponds near Cody froze very quickly catching some waterfowl with their feathers down, so to speak.

I don't have any photos but in one day I took in two eared grebes, three coots, two shovelers, a pair of common goldeneyes and three lesser scaup. Thanks to Jeremy Gossert all but one coot, who died, were taken to the river and released. He is responsible for saving all but two of them, the two grebes came from different places. He found them partially frozen into Alkali Lake, three of them were also caked with alkali. He cleaned them up and kept them in his tub until I got there.

Unfortunately there are other ducks frozen into the lakes but there was no way for me to get them out as the ice wasn't thick enough to walk on. By the time I got there the ravens and one bald eagle had feasted. Life is just a bummer sometimes.

NOTE: Add one Lesser Scaup found on the ground at Stampede Trailer Sales near Cody. He was also taken to the river and released. He joined two Mallards and a Common Goldeneye male, probably not the one I released yesterday.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Small and large

SAM has found a way to keep his feet warm, shoot, his whole body. He's been fascinated with my fleece lined slippers once he found them. I ended up cutting off the leather ties, he wouldn't stop chewing on them.

And then came his thinking he's really a huge lion in a teeny kitten body. He also found one of the dogs bones and decided to taste it.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Uncommon disease

These photos are difficult to look at. This is an immature male Golden Eagle, about seven months old, with a disease I've rarely seen. And that was only in hawks.. It's called avian pox and is very contagious. He was found just outside of Cody and I originally thought it was pox but because it didn't look the same as other's I'd seen, I changed my mind to think they were some kind of chemical burns.

The first thing that came to mind was lime. It's very caustic and is sometimes used on a carcass to speed up decomposition. He was found on BLM land and as people tend to just dump whatever they don't want there, it was possible. I reported him to our local USFWS and BLM enforcement agents so they went out to scan the area but found nothing.

I also sent photos to the University of MN Raptor Center for their opinion. The USFWS agent sent them to one of his pathologists for her opinion. Both of them came back saying that it is pox. Our state lab is now doing tests on some tissues to make a definitive answer but I'm sure it is avian pox. NOTE: the report came back as positive for avian pox.

Unfortunately, at only 4# 10oz, half of what he should weigh, he didn't make it, he died last night. Another problem is that if he had siblings in the nest then they too have the disease and will also probably die from it as they are too young to have built up an immunity to the virus. I have gone through a lot of bleach water on the area where this baby eagle stayed and will continue to disinfect for some time to come.

He's growing up

SAM is about three weeks old in this photo sitting on Susan's shoulder.
Here he is today on my lazyboy with MADDIE. He was just about to climb down off the chair, I was lucky to get this shot. MADDIE is recovering from foot surgery hence the pretty collar.
SAM is getting cuter by the day and becoming very adventuresome. He's now able to climb up and down to get on my lazyboy. He also made a climb up to my bedroom which is a good sized step. He made a huge leap, caught his claws on the moulding and kept coming.

As cute as he is I won't keep him forever as my two resident cats are quite elderly and don't need the competition for my attention. They are getting better about his tagging along behind them but two cats are enough. If anyone would like to adopt this beautiful baby boy he will be ready in a few weeks. He's already had his first worming and will get the second next week. He'll also have his first shot. He uses his kitty box too.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A very sad loss

Lois and a Short-eared Owl in her care.






Back in 1987 I decided I wanted to become a bird rehabilitator. At the time there weren't any around so I went searching for anyone who would help me in my quest. I found a gem in the form of Lois Layton and her husband Frank. They lived in Casper which is almost a four hour drive from here. In my first years doing this work whenever I had a problem or question I could count on the Laytons for help and answers. Frank died a few years ago but Lois kept up with the birds even with failing eyesight.

I got a call this morning from friend Diane Morse telling me that Lois died last night. She had not been well but at age 92 was full of spunk. It's been many years since I saw her and now wish I'd made more of an effort to get to that part of the state. Lois was a mentor to me and also to Diane who lives in Gillette. Diane was with her when she died and right afterwards Diane walked to the front door of the house and stood there looking out. Amazingly enough the front gate of the yard quickly opened by itself. I have no doubt it was Lois leaving this physical world and joining Frank.

This amazing lady will be missed by all who knew her, especially Diane and myself who valued her friendship and guidance.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Different look

This is a photo of two pigeons (rock doves) who have decided to take up roosting in an odd place. The one on the left is sitting on top of an abandoned robins nest, way too small for her to fit in it. There isn't even enough room to share the space with the male.

These are unusually marked pigeons, aren't they pretty? I know, just another messy bird but I do have a variety of color patterns on my resident birds but rarely get photos of them.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

More successes

The past two weeks have been just amazing in that the three golden eagles who were patients for many months are now flying free. The first to go was DEUCE, his story is in a previous post. I've added his release photo to that post.

Second was MUNCHIE, the really mean baby I had in with the throat bacteria making it impossible for him to eat. His story is also in an earlier post along with a photo of the big event.

The third happened today when for only the second time I was able to release a golden eagle who had suffered from severe lead poisoning. Her name is ROSE and this photo shows her right after she left the crate and the great habitat where she came from back in April. As she is an adult she had to be taken back to the same territory.

I know, most of the pictures look alike but I can assure you each release was miles away from the others; Lander (DEUCE), Meeteetse (MUNCHIE) and Powell (ROSE).

Thursday, October 9, 2014

New family member......maybe

He arrived after a phone call from a neighbor. Gerald said that he found an injured deer in his place who had apparently been hit by a vehicle. She couldn't walk so he called the WGF to come and euthanize her. At the same time a feral mom cat ran by and left this kitten in the grass. Gerald didn't know if there were others but the mom didn't come back so he called me. Remember what I said about "if they don't know what to do....."

I am now feeding this approximately two week old boy kitten on about the same schedule I used for Ms. PIGGY, the squirrel. This time it's a diet for kittens but the feeding equipment is the same. His eyes are open but he's very small. Oh yes, his name is SAM and he's sleeping in one of Ms. PIGGY's coonskin caps.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

MUNCHIE away

Yes he is and in good form. This magnificent baby Golden Eagle arrived in July unable to swallow due to a bacterial infection in his throat. By perservering I managed to tube feed him four times a day, every six hours, along with medications and cured his problem. Then it was getting stronger every day, enough for release back to the wild.

That happened today on the Pitchfork Ranch west of Meeteetse. I drove to the Stone House and met Darcy Morris along with the ranch owners Frances and Lenox Baker and their daughter Margaret. We then drove in caravan out to a far pasture overlooking a prairie dog town which is an excellent food source for an eagle.

MUNCHIE took off right away but landed on a hillside to scope out the area. As soon as I started walking in his direction he decided he had to check it out from farther away. He wasn't taking any chances of my catching him again.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Another young visitor

I was waiting for the USFWS person to arrive yesterday when I got a call from a WYDOT worker about a young vulture he found alongside the road. After all the driving I've done for the past week the good news is it was just the other side of my eagle flight barn so he brought the baby here right away.

I don't find anything broken other than perhaps his spirit. He hasn't eaten yet even tho tonight's meal is a yummy half quail. He is a bit sore on his right side, hopefully it's only bruising. I'll put him out in a larger area to see if he can fly and then if he's strong enough I'll release him.

UPDATE: Unfortunately there must have been internal injuries, baby vulture died on his third day here.

The word is out....

When an injured bird comes to this facility it's either driven here by the finder or I go out to rescue it. Not this time. This time it came by itself for help.

I had a TV repairman here and when we were leaving the house it was an amazing sight! Sitting on my picket fence front gate was this beautiful Yellow Rumped Warbler. I've never seen one before and have no idea where it came from. The repairman said he thought he'd heard a bird hit one of my windows so perhaps that accounts for it.

He's inside a cage right now taking it easy and hopefully will be releasable in a short time. Usually if they're not killed or broken it only takes some quiet time for a bird to recover from a window strike.

UPDATE: It's been three hours and the little warbler is flying in the cage so I immediately took him outside and opened my hand. He flew off to the elm tree outside my yard, all is okay now.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Rare event

Today was an amazing day after all the sadness of the past few days. Pat Hnilicka of the USFWS in Lander drove all the way up here to transport DEUCE back to where he was found in April. What's so mind boggling is that this wonderful adult Golden Eagle's injuries resulted from electrocution. Because that is such a devastating thing to happen, the bird rarely survives.

In this case he not only survived but today flew off in superb form to join his mate. When DEUCE arrived he was very starved and there were burn marks on his right wing at the elbow. It took some special hands on care to get him past the worst part but then he never looked back. Today he weighed 8.4 pounds, a very healthy size for him.

Unfortunately the still shots of the release didn't work out but Pat did manage to take some video of it. My friend Susan Osborne was able to isolate one of the frames to add them to this post.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Disaster week

In less than a week there have been five birds come in to this facility and only one came out alive. And that was the Rosella, BLAZE. The other four are two baby redtails, six months old, one sharpie, also six months old, and one possibly adult great horned owl.

One baby redtail came from Red Lodge, MT after being found alongside the road. He was unable to move his legs and xrays showed a fractured left wing. The gentleman who found him said he thought a dump truck hit him. I drove up to get this beautiful young bird this morning and as I was standing in my vets office here in town waiting to have him xrayed I received a call about the other baby just outside of town off Diamond Basin Road. He had been electrocuted and his left foot was burned, skin peeling off and about dead. Both of them were euthanized

The sharpie From Lander also suffered a fractured wing right into the elbow joint, again he was euthanized as he would not be capable of being released or placed.

The great horned owl was also hit by a car in Casper and in his case it's the eyes. His right eye is toast, nothing can be done to fix the damage. He goes in to Dr. Barry Welch tomorrow to have his left eye examined but I don't think he can see out of that one either. He's a good eater, snaps the rat off my forceps the minute I touch him with it. But he can't find it on his own.

After driving to Thermopolis, Shoshoni and Red Lodge in four days I'm ready for it to end. My body isn't exhausted but my heart is sad.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Sucessful trap

His name is BLAZE and he's an adult male Eastern Rosella. The species come from Australia but this handsome bird has been with his present owner for three years. Almost a month ago, when moving into a new place, BLAZE escaped. I only found out about it last week when a guy here in town called to say he had "an exotic bird in his tree" and he didn't know what to do. When I got there I was dumbfounded as I'd never seen one of these birds.

I tried my spray-them-with-water trick because when they get too wet they can't fly. Then they fall down so I can catch them before they hit the ground. Well.....the minute one drop hit him old BLAZE flew off. The tree he'd been coming back to is a crab apple, he apparently loves them. After our first attempt he just left the minute we came into view.

The next try involved a parrot cage I had but he didn't like that one, wouldn't come near it. I finally got his own personal cage from the owner and put that out. The next morning, sure enough, he was inside it. But the minute he saw me he took off. On to plan D. I bought some red dish towels and put all around the bottom of the cage with clothes pins so he couldn't see me. I lowered the perch inside and went away.

This morning Mike called me to say that "BLAZE is behind bars". The first time Mike tried to toss the towel over the opening he failed as the bird was peeking under the towel, it didn't go all the way to the bottom. Mike went away but kept watch and when he saw the bird go back inside the cage he "quick-like-a-bunny" dashed around and got the towel over the opening in time.

I really appreciate the Riley's sticking with this mission and am happy the bird is now safe. Our weather had turned very chilly, in the low 40s, with rain so I know it would only have been a matter of time before BLAZE was sick.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Absolutely amazing!

CHARLIE, 1989
CHARLIE, 2014
Back in 1984 I was looking for a Harlequin Duck to photograph to use in my entry to the Federal Duck Stamp contest that year. In a roundabout way I found Bill Hancock in Billings, MT who had a facility breeding rare and endangered waterfowl of all species. I went up in July and altho most of the ducks were in eclipse (molting) the Harlequin males were still looking great. At the time it was at his home but then moved to a much larger facility between Billings and Laurel.

On subsequent visits to the new place I was given a tour and came upon one of my favorite birds, a Canada Goose. His name is CHARLIE and he's a Giant Canada Goose, very large as the name indicates. All of you who get my newsletter will recognize him from the cover of every issue for the past 25 years. The top photo is that bird way back then.

Just this past week I took my baby squirrel, Ms. PIGGY, up to that same facility for a soft release in their tree laden property where other squirrels live. Sheila had raised a baby squirrel and released it there so Ms. PIGGY will have company of others of her kind. Sheila also gave me a tour and when I showed her copies of my newsletter I was in for a huge surprise. She walked me over to one of the pens and there he was, CHARLIE is still alive! That's him in the lower photo, still as handsome as ever but just like me, a bit grey around the edges and hanging in there.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

New home bound

Tomorrow I'm taking Ms. PIGGY up to Billings to her new home. Thanks to Dave Pauli of the HSUS and Sheila at WJH Bird Resources, she will be living with other squirrels in a wonderful habitat. She is now almost eight weeks old and is very active. She still likes her formula but is also eating various nuts. I've offered zucchini, banana, apple and avocado but don't know how much she's eating of those.

I will miss her terribly, she's been such a fun animal to raise and has taught me a lot about such an amazing species. I grew up in Illinois for my first 25 years and just took squirrels for granted. Now I know there is much more to them than just pests on a bird feeder.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Mystery death

Yesterday afternoon I received a call about a downed Golden Eagle near the Powell airport. James gave me excellent directions so I found her as soon as I arrived at mile post 23. She couldn't fly so I easily walked faster and caught her. There didn't appear to be any fractures but her crop was very extended. It felt as if it was air and fluids with some meat pieces.

That does happen from time to time, usually when they dine on a carcass that's a bit "ripe". One method to overcome the problem is to introduce fluids and then massage the crop to get things moving. I did that but after a few hours it hadn't helped. Then my volunteers, Sara and Mike, helped me to physically remove meat from her crop. Not a pleasant job at all but they were super.

What very much surprised me was that the meat pieces were small and very fresh. Not rotten at all. I rechecked her again before bed and she'd vomited more meat but was sitting on her perch and seemed bright and alert. Unfortunately when I went out at 6:15 this morning to see about how she was doing I found her dead.

At this point the only thing I can think caused her death is poison of some kind. Even with sour crop the birds are able to fly and she couldn't. I'm getting together with our USFWS person on Monday to see about having both her body and the meat pieces tested at their Washington state office. As this is probably the female of a pair nesting near the airport James said he'd be on the lookout for any other eagles who appear distressed.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The first one

As it was only 27 this morning when I got up I started the first fire of the season in my wood stove. Yesterday it was six inches of snow and today it's going to be almost 60 degrees by this afternoon. Living in Wyoming certainly ensures a variety of weather and a large wardrobe.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Ahhhhhhhhhhh Fall

This is the view outside my front door this beautiful September morning here in Cody, Wyoming. I knew it was predicted but never thought we'd get this much snow on the ground. It's 32 degrees outside but by tomorrow a lot of this snow will be melted away as they say we will have sunny and bright weather again.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

More devastating injuries

Yesterday I drove an hour and a half to Worland to find an injured baby Golden Eagle. By the time I got there the bird had disappeared but the man who called me had a photo. It was of a baby Red-tailed Hawk and from the photos it appeared to be very weak and unable to stand. Unfortunately it was a very windy day and as this beautiful young bird was probably very thin and light, he managed to blow away. We spent an hour walking all over the place he was last seen but to no avail. I don't have a picture of him.

Then today I again drove an hour and a half but this time to Fromberg, MT to pick up an injured Cooper's or Swainson's Hawk. Again, it was a baby Red-tailed Hawk. He was still alongside the road where found. From the top he looks just gorgeous but when I turned him over I almost cried. His right humerus, altho not broken, is completely exposed elbow to shoulder. The front of both lower legs are open with bone and torn tendons showing. There appears to be a burn mark on his left wrist and both feet are dead. And he weighs 24 ounces (half normal weight). My guess is that he was was electrocuted days ago and because his wings were still functioning he managed to travel a bit.

Needless to say I immediately euthanized him.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Becoming more inquisitive

Little Ms. PIGGY has become quite adventuresome since her eyes opened just last week. She's about six weeks old now and trying new things. She ventures out from her coonskin cap nest, has even tried nibbling on a bit of sweet corn. She also has a chunk of zucchini and apple in case she wants to sample them too. I put her on top of her climbing log for the photo right after she finished her meal which is why she looks so full.

She has a few weeks to go before being old enough to return to the big wild world but until then she's been such a joy to watch grow up.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Mine, all mine

MUNCHIE has become much better so I gave him a small rabbit today. He quickly grabbed it up and when I checked him later he had his back to me, was partially mantleing the meal and looking at me as if he would take me apart if I tried to touch his food. He had no worries I would try that, he's so aggressive it would be foolish to even make the attempt.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Quick recovery

This is POTTER, an immature Swainson's Hawk found near death in Douglas. Thanks to Willow Hibbs, WGF, he was saved. Also thanks to Erika Peckham, another WGF biologist who volunteered to transport this baby to Diane Morse in Gillette. Diane performed her usual miracle and saved the young birds life. She not only gave him fluids every three hours, she took him along with her on a trip to Rapid City so he wouldn't miss his treatment.

I met Diane in Tensleep this morning to transfer POTTER to IBR for further treatment and a chance to be returned to the wild. He'll be here for some time just gaining needed weight and strength in my flight barn. In the meantime, he's eaten a half a skinned rat on his own and has a feisty attitude.

POTTER today after eating his rat, six days after the above photo. Note the glare in his eye, not sad any more.