First step to freedom. Loki, the human, opens the crate door for LOKI, the eagle.
Back on December 13th this beautiful almost two year old Bald Eagle arrived here with a broken left wing. Dr. Blessing inserted a pin into the ulna and then the wait began to see if the bone would repair itself and be strong enough for flight. The pin was removed on January 28th and after another two weeks he was put into the eagle flight barn.
It took him about six weeks to finally make it up to the high wall perch but after he found out it was possible he only came down to the ground for food.
Today he was set free at a perfect spot, on Joyce and Nic Patrick's place on the Southfork. With a mile of river front and a large bluff overlooking it, the site was all this eagle could have wished for. It was sunny, calm and beautiful in Cody when we started to drive the 22 miles to Patrick's. A half hour later it was gale force winds, trying to rain and cloudy.
The release went beautifully as you can see from the photos. Thanks to Dan Thiele, WGF, who drove LOKI over the mountain from Buffalo, Dr. Blessing for his usual excellent surgical work, Sara and Loki Sprung for assisting in the release and Joyce and Nic, their daughter, Becky and one grandchild as an enthusiastic cheering section and for volunteering their place as a release site.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
HALO came here in February after being flown over from Story via Gillette. He had a fractured wing and was very weak. Needless to say, this photo shows just how strong is is now. Thanks to Diane Morse in Gillette for arranging the charter flight, Bob and Ryan of Flightline for donating their services, Erika with the WGF who accompanied the owl here and Dr. Malcolm Blessing for the repair surgery on the broken wing bone.
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Sunday, April 13, 2014
Monday, April 7, 2014
Well.........that won't work as she doesn't have a mate and is not laying eggs. She didn't care, so she tried to "sit" on a chicken egg in the carton. To keep her from become too frustrated when she kept falling off that huge egg, I gave her a half dozen eggs I've been keeping from hens who, for some reason, laid very small ones.
The top photo shows her picking out the one she liked. Bottom shows her in her "nest" under a couch end table, completely happy having one of her own.
Friday, April 4, 2014
Yesterday I made yet another trip to Thermopolis to meet Pat Hnilicka of the USFWS. This time he brought me a Golden Eagle. The birds name is DEUCE and he's about as close to death as could be but still breathing. He only weighs 5.2 pounds which is about 3 pounds less than he should be.
I believe he's an electrocution, the most hideous thing to happen to such a magnificent raptor. DEUCE is, I belive, also very old, probably well into his teens. His right eye brow ridge is also damaged but the eye works. Even with all this against him he has spirit and so far so good.
I'm tubing him with lactated ringers and hand feeding him small pieces of venison steak. He's so pale and I wish I could give him a transfusion but that's not possible.
In the past weeks I've received way too many adult eagles who are starving. In some cases there doesn't seem to be a cause, in one he was hit by a vehicle and had internal injuries. And then there are the electrocutions, they account for two. DEUCE and I will put up a valiant fight and hope for an excellent outcome.
Thursday, April 3, 2014
His strong flight ended up on one of the ancient corral poles so he could just look around and enjoy freedom at last. He proved he was strong enough to make live kills so there was no reason for him to stay here any longer. HIGGINS was an amazing bird while here and I know he'll do well out where he belongs.
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Sunday, March 30, 2014
Hopefully all the trying times are over altho I believe this beautiful eagle will always be a handful (pardon the pun) This is a selfie photo John took of the two of them in a calm time.
Saturday, March 29, 2014
Friday, March 28, 2014
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Then he went into the hawk flight barn to strengthen the long unused muscles to power his wings and sustain flight. He's been flying all over the 32' x 48' barn for a few weeks but I had no idea if he'd remember to make his own kills so he would be releasable.
Because anything I put out for him would just run away, My friend Jenny came up with the idea of using a large kiddie wading pool. Then I thought of painting the inside the color of dirt. I didn't think the bright blue with cute fishies on the bottom would be the most natural of settings. Thanks to the guys at Sherwin Williams here in Cody, I have the perfect color paint to do the job.
And today he made his first live kill. A few more in the coming days and then I'll take him to an excellent release site not far from Cody. This area has trees, a creek, horses and their feed, which will attract mice and other rodents, and seclusion. It's been a long time coming and I'll add a release photo after he successfully begins the next chapter in his life.
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Surgery was done on December 16th and after the pin was pulled out on January 28th of this year he was put in the eagle flight barn. He didn't waste much time practicing his flying and today made a huge break through. For a couple weeks he's been flying high enough to make it to the lower wall perch but never landed on it. Today he bypassed that goal and went for the big one.
Here he is proudly on the high wall perch which is about 20' from the ground. He seems a bit stunned to look down on me but now he will hopefully visit this place often. He is gaining strength in his flying and will one day be released.
Monday, March 17, 2014
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Bald eagle released to territory east of town
By Christine Smith
Dubois Frontier Editor
A week after being found beside the road east of Dubois, a bald eagle was released back to her flying grounds last Thursday. The female bald eagle was found Thursday, Feb. 27 by residents who were driving by the Red Rocks area. In the midst of the sagebrush, a distinct “white blob” was spotted. The couple, who have chosen to remain anonymous, drove back and saw the wind ruffling feathers on the head of a bald eagle.
Believing the bird to be dead, they reported it to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The next morning, they went back to check and walked over to the bird, which startled them by jumping up, flying a short distance and then landing in the river. When Pat Hnilicka, a wildlife biologist with the USFWS arrived, they went to the site, where they had to cross the river to find her.
She came out of some shrubs and then flew back into the river where Hnilicka was able to catch her as she floated down toward him.
“She was a healthy eagle– she weighed over 12 pounds,” Hnilicka said, but he was unable to determine what happened to her.
The eagle had no signs of disease or broken bones, but she was visually nonresponsive, he said. “Whether she couldn’t see or was in shock, I don’t know. Something acute had happened.” Hnilicka put her in a box on a jacket to help absorb some of the water she took on in the river. Then they headed to Cody where Susan Ahalt at Ironside Bird Rescue was waiting.
“Bald eagles are born with a bad attitude and it never improves,” Ahalt said, explaining the abnormal behavior of the bird, which, upon arrival, “just laid there” instead of reacting to movement near her. “I’d put my hand near her face and she didn’t move, didn’t bite, didn’t do anything,” Ahalt said. “I couldn’t figure out why because I couldn’t see anything wrong.” Isis, as Ahalt named the eagle, spent the first night in a crate in a warm room, and by the next morning, she appeared to be able to see.
“She saw me coming in and when I moved across the room, she saw the movement,” Ahalt said. The eagle was moved to a small mew with a wall perch where Ahalt found her perched a few hours later. A move to a larger mew allowed Isis to fly around– and to try to get out. “I called Pat and told him, ‘I think she’s ready,’” Ahalt said.
Isis hadn’t eaten while at Ironside, but on that last day, Ahalt gathered her up– which was a process in itself– and, using long forceps, handed her six mice and venison scraps. “At least she went out of here with some groceries in her,” Ahalt said. “I’m amazed how quickly she got over whatever happened.”
This time of year, Ahalt explained, bald eagles, which mate for life, begin nesting and commence breeding. Their offspring are usually hatched in April, which is why it was so important that Isis be returned to the wild. Last Thursday, a week after first being found, Hnilicka brought Isis back to Red Rocks to release her back into the habitat– and to the probable mate– with which she was familiar. Transported in a standard animal crate in Hnilicka’s truck, once at the area, he faced the crate into the wind, tilting it back slightly.
The release took merely seconds, as Isis left the crate, let her feet touch the ground for the briefest of all possible time, took flight into the wind, banked left and disappeared down river.
Hnilicka encourages people who find injured wildlife to report it to the Game and Fish or the USFWS. He said it’s better to make a call to the proper officials instead of trying to handle the animals themselves because it is dangerous. Injured wildlife could have beeen poisoned or rabid. “It’s a consideration of both human and animal safety,” Hnilicka said.
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
She is non-flighted because the tendon at the leading edge of her wing was also damaged and couldn't be repaired enough for flight. At this time I'm working at having her placed as an educational bird in a facility permitted for that purpose. Are you just a little scared?
Saturday, March 1, 2014
We've had some pretty bad snowfall the past few days but he made it down my road. I also can't find anything broken on this amazingly beautiful female except for one thing. ISIS appeared, yesterday, to be totally blind. She had also fallen into the nearby river and was soaking wet. Pat put her in a box on a jacket and with the heat pouring out in the truck cab she was almost dry by the time they arrived.
I had an appointment this morning to have her checked out with Dr. Blessing but unfortunately the wind, combined with all the snow, has my road impassable. I only got about 100' before the crusty drifts were too much. I tried shoveling but decided I would have to do the whole half mile to the county road. I'm now trying to find someone with a plow or front loader.
She seems as if she sees something this morning so perhaps her eyesight will improve. In the meantime it's more hand feeding altho at almost 13 pounds she's in excellent condition. Oh yes, the blue thing is a tail protector made out of a feed sack. It's to keep the tip of her white tail, well, white.
UPDATE: I never made it to the vet, snow is so deep and crusty I was only able to make it about 100' from my house. It's now been plowed so I can drive out but can't get to the vet until Monday. The really good news is that when I tossed a rat down in front of ISIS she bent down and looked at it. Hopefully this means she'll be back in her home territory in time for breeding.
Sunday, February 23, 2014
The above photos were taken by the people at the ranch before he was gathered up. As you can see in the one picture, his eyes show how bad he feels. When disturbed he did open his eyes and assume a defensive posture but it didn't last long. Joyce Inchauspe and Richard Platt sent these photos and promised to keep an eye out for any other birds in trouble.
Saturday, February 22, 2014
UPDATE: It's one day later and we're now up to about 12" of snow. It's still coming down but barely so maybe it'll stop soon. Just when the chicken yards were drying out so they could come stand in the sun...... This is supposed to last for quite a few days, ick, I am so ready for winter to be over.
Thursday, February 20, 2014
There isn't anything physically wrong but for some reason the eagle is extremely starved weighing only 5.75 pounds when he should be at least eight. Xrays show no metal in him but as you can see, there is a bit of blood on his beak so he had apparently fed before being found.
Because there doesn't seem to be anything causing his condition and bad depression, a blood sample was taken today and sent to our state lab in Laramie for testing. He will also have a CBC. Tests will be made looking for mercury, lead and WNV just because of all the bald eagle deaths in Utah a couple months ago from that disease.
I've tubed him with a high calorie food and included some Lactated Ringers for hydration. Hopefully it will be enough to give him the will to keep fighting so he can live and be returned to the wild.
UPDATE: He's still alive but the prognosis is very poor. I got the results of two of his tests back. He doesn't have any internal parasites but his lead level is alarming. Anything above 0.6 is considered toxic. His count is 4.75! He has already started his EDTA treatment and will continue that for three days. If he is still alive he'll start another round after being off of it for three days. The treatment consists of six shots a day, three in the morning, three in the evening. And he'll continue to receive the high calorie food via a stomach tube for as long as it takes. Stressful for both of us but the only way to get nutrition into him.
Monday, February 17, 2014
As most of you know, Cody has experienced a winter this year, first one in about a dozen years. Lots of below temperatures, snow and ice. Well, it's not just in Wyoming. My cousins, Shirley and Pete Repp, who live in Wisconsin, have also had their fill of the white stuff and cold weather. Here's a photo of WALTER, their wonderful little dog, all ready for his walk outside. You'll note he is very fashionable in his plaid coat and black boots.
Sunday, February 16, 2014
He is now in a 13'x 20' mew with lots of perch choices. In this photo he's sitting on the window perch, probably enjoying being able to see distances and life going on around him. As to his future release, that may not happen. It all depends on how his damaged wing comes along after all the wounds are healed. And he still has to replace the covering on two of his left talons.
In this photo he's on the lower wall perch but it's still above my reach. Yesterday evening he was on the upper perch so he has obviously retained strong muscles while recuperating.
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
He has a broken right wing which made the transfer more urgent so it could be surgically repaired. Diane and I tried everything we could think of. She finally contacted a firm at the Campbell County airport for help and they certainly went way above and beyond. Flightline agreed to fly the bird here with WGF biologist Erika Peckham accompanying the transfer.
This turned out to be a one and a half hour flight from Gillette to Cody even with the strong winds in our area. Thanks to Ryan for doing such a super job. The other thing they did was to take beautiful PHOENIX, the burned Red-tailed Hawk, back to Diane so she (the bird, not Diane) could be driven to Sheridan for release where she was found.
And thanks to lird Flying Service of Ekalaka, MT, they run Flightline, for donating the cost of the trip to Cody. That saved us many, many hundreds of dollars and has given this beautiful owl a chance to return to the wild if the surgery on the broken wing is successful.
UPDATE: Surgery has been completed and now it's only time that will let me know if it worked out well enough for HALO to fly again. Fingers crossed everyone, okay!
Sunday, February 9, 2014
Luckily Sara prevailed and brought the bird to me. Xrays revealed not a broken wing but an air rifle pellet lodged in his chest but not known if it was in his digestive tract or in the muscle. A follow up xray proved it to be in his chest muscle and therefore ruled out his getting lead poisoning from it leaching into his body.
The other thing noticed in the xray was some inflammation to his left wing muscle between his shoulder and elbow. That will take time to repair itself. In the meantime he's doing well and will be released when ready to resume his life.
Oh yes, he's wearing a hawk hood to keep him from eating our fingers as he's being examined. Turns out they work for corvids too.