Friday, July 31, 2015

Another first

As you know, I like bats and have taken care of a few over the years. This time it's an almost fledged Silver-haired Bat, a little girl. She was found on the ground in Riverton so was gathered up and taken to the WGF bat person in Lander. As I was picking up the Swainson's Hawk from the WGF I got this bat too. Not a very good photo, I'll try for better ones when I have some help. At the moment she's munching on a mealworm. Hopefully she'll be ready for release in a very short time.

And another.....

Different species but still a youngster. This time it's HUDSON, a recently fledged Swainson's Hawk. He came from the town of Hudson which is between Riverton and Lander and famous for its steak houses. The baby is very thin and I feel it's because he may have been illegally held and then when he was flying was released. Unfortunately he has no clue about hunting for food.

The reason for my thoughts is because the whole time he was beside me driving back to Cody he was food begging. And every time he sees me while in his cage he begins again. Right now he's packing away mice and will soon be at an ideal weight. But.....as an imprint he can't be released back to the wild. He may be able to hunt and survive but won't recognize his own species when it comes time for him to join other swainson's for their long migration to South America for the winter.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Two sad losses

Last week I went out to a place on Road 12 near Powell to pick up a red-tailed hawk that wouldn't/couldn't fly. I originally thought that one wing was damaged but xrays proved they were both okay. I started with fluids and then gave him some cut up mice. He readily ate what was handed to him so I figured it was just starvation. That happens a lot with baby birds and he was just about three months old.

Then two days later when I went to feed him he couldn't see. I took him to the vet and the exam showed he was totally blind in his left eye and could see very little with his right. And he had some head twitching. At that point I was convinced he had WNV so he was humanely euthanized and his body sent to the state lab for testing.

I got the results today, he was strongly positive for West Nile Virus. It is a horrible disease because the symptoms vary from bird to bird and in severity. I have already warned the home owners that the test was being done and now will contact them again and make sure the whole family uses a repellent with DEET whenever they're outside.

WNV is here so everyone be cautious and take preventative measures when outside.
I went out to a local ranch on Monday to pick up a downed golden eagle. Matt said he'd seen the bird the day before but it was moving. He said he had some hamburger thawed and would it be okay to give it to the bird. I told him that hamburger is NEVER okay to give to a raptor, they can't handle the suet in it. He said how about a steak, I said okay.

When I got there this amazing baby eagle was beside the drive not moving but had finished off the t-bone steak. I gathered him up, was aghast at the hundreds of lice crawling all over him and realized that the bird was also severely starved. I brought him home, gave him fluids but he started having seizures and died.

Had I known how thin he was I would have told Matt not to feed him as his body was so unused to food it was shutting down. Similar to what happens with an anorexic person, their system cannot handle much food of any kind.

Matt showed me the nest, a very poorly built one in a huge evergreen tree. He also said the same thing happened to last years chick. We now know that starting in April of next year we will be monitoring the nest a few times a week so this doesn't happen again.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Stair steps

It's been five days since the WILD BUNCH came to live here and they are growing quickly. The oldest one can now stand for a few minutes, the youngest for a few seconds. They are eating at least 15 mice a day divided into three meals but that will increase as their size does.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Birthday girls

One day my neighbor came quickly down my road with two kittens she'd found in a paper bag next to her car at the local ball field. She said her cats would kill them and would I give them a home. I said certainly. I was surprised when I opened the bag to find the babies were only about three and a half weeks old. They didn't know how to eat solid food or use a kitty box. I set them up in a large dog crate in my living room and they became a part of my family.

Today those two "bag ladies", MUFFIN and SISTER, are celebrating their 18th birthday! I can't imagine life without them, they bring joy to my life, and sometimes frustration, every day. Other than being on a special diet food for their kidneys, they have been healthy and happy cats.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Groundlings

This appears to be a group of singing baby birds but it's not. These are Northern Harrier chicks ranging in age from about eight to 16 days old. And they are all threatening me as I got close. They also range in weight from 6.9 to 14.1 ounces. This is because they hatch in the order the eggs were laid and that was two or more days apart.

Unfortunately their ground nest was destroyed by a swather and altho their parents were in the area, the babies would have to have been moved about 100 yards away from the original nest site. At that distance I wasn't sure if the adults would continue to take care of them because they would be disturbed again when the ranchers started baling the cut hay.

These birds are amazing to watch as they hunt small rodents. They fly close to the ground floating back and forth looking for a meal. And they are also not hawks but a group all their own. The adult females and young birds are brown, the adult males are grey.

These babies will be taken back to the LU Ranch south of Meeteetse for release as that is obviously a wonderful habitat for them. Thanks to Barb Love for meeting me at the rest area last night to save me some driving.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Pantaloons anyone?

They're beginning to look more like short-eared owls. Well, except for the fluffy pants they're now wearing. Hard feathers are coming in and they are beginning to try flying in their large mew. Major cuteness here.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Another baby

She's just beautiful but starving. PICKLE was found near Powell unable to fly. At first I thought her left wing was broken but xrays show it is okay, as is her right wing. She's very thin and if she hadn't been found would probably already be dead.

I've tubed her with Lactated Ringer's solution plus Carnivore Care. And she's also eaten two mice I handed her in small pieces. Right now I'm also considering that she may have WNV as she's not exactly all right. I'll have to see how it plays out after time passes.

UPDATE: Another sad event. She came to me on Saturday, ate well both that day and Sunday and by Monday she was almost totally blind. She could see some movement in her right eye but she could not see food that was presented to her. I had her humanely euthanized and her body sent to the state lab for testing. I believe she has WNV and have since warned the home owners where she was found to be sure to use repellent with DEET.

Visitors

Ever since I had the power company remove a raven nest from one of my power poles I've been stalked by them. They fly over at least once a day, land on poles and caw at me. This time I found them sitting on my front gate. Just couldn't pass up this photo.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Wish fulfilled























I just got something I've wanted for a long time, a farmer's sink. Or it's sometimes called an apron front sink. Thanks to John McGee and the guys from Kincheloe Plumbing, my wish came true.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

New digs

My baby short-eared owls have now moved outside into a large enough area for them to start flapping their wings. According to the books they should just about be fledged in one week and I wanted them to have the room to do so.

They are thriving, eating all on their own now so I don't have to spend time cutting up mice and handing them the pieces one by one. They now weigh 11.27 and 13.59 ounces and getting in hard feathers.

As you can see, they're cuter than most anything and my mask worked, they hiss and clack whenever I get near.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Young and old

Here are all three golden eagles in the flight barn. The center bird is DOVE, an adult who's been here since the end of February. She had a partially dislocated elbow and altho it's been repaired she still isn't flying well enough for release.

The other two are babies. HOBBIT is from Deaver and was found unable to fly very well. That's because she was too young to leave the nest but didn't realize it so baled out. She was a bit thin but has been eating well and has now proven she can make live kills. She'll either be returned to where she came from or accompany the other baby to a different release site.

On the right is TUMBLER, the wee baby who came here at only about three weeks old. He'd fallen, along with his nest, down a very high wall at a coal mine. He is all grown up now and even flying almost as high as the walls in this barn. He is learning about live prey but not quite there.

As you can see, baby means young, not small. HOBBIT is about the size of DOVE while TUMBLER, as a male, is smaller. I will miss all of them when they're finally free.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

A beautiful young man

Kestrels are one of the prettiest birds and are the smallest falcon there is. Previously called a Sparrow Hawk, they are aggressive hunters of mice, grasshoppers and, of course, small birds. This little fellow was found on the road to Valley Ranch up the Southfork, probably has been hit by a car. The very bad news is that the damage is to the tip of his wing and it's not repairable. It's also of long duration so the only solution is probably to remove that tip.

Of course he won't be able to fly again but these awesome birds are very excellent ambassadors in educational programs. They are sometimes rare to find so placing him shouldn't be a problem. Right now he's very thin so the goal is to give him enough groceries and gain strength to handle the surgery.

Yet another redtail























He looks pretty beat up and he should. He was found hanging in a barbwire fence, who knows how long he'd been there. His name is BOBBY and amazingly enough his right wing isn't broken but it is very traumatized at this point. It doesn't appear that the muscle is damaged, just skin, so it should, given enough time, heal so he can fly again.

UPDATE: Even with medication his wounds became much worse. He was humanely euthanized.

All gone

As in released. I took my six mallard ducklings out to Alkali Lake this morning and released them. There are scads of different species on this small lake and lots of cattails to hide in. They weren't quite sure what to do with all the space as their kiddie pool is much smaller. They came here at only about a day or so old and are now ready for the big wild world.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

ADAM update

Another first for my vet, me and one of the birds in my care. ADAM came in yesterday from Casper after being removed from his nest. Both his siblings had fledged over the weekend but this young bird was way behind them. The parents were upset with his being taken but it turns out he would have surely died staying there.

Xrays this morning revealed that the epiphyseal line in the femur of both legs were out of alignment. Probably from his hitting the ground after falling 18' from the nest. Dr. Becky Prior at Lifetime Small Animal Hospital put both legs where they belong and he's now sporting rigid casts from his toes to his hip. Because he can't stand or move around he's in a sling on a plastic container to maintain a normal standing position. It looks awkward but the sling is soft and he's well supported.
Feeding him is easy altho time consuming because the mice have to be cut into small bite sized pieces. He readily takes them from my forceps and even squeeks as he's eating. Probably not a "thank you" but "more please".

He'll wear these braces for at least three weeks, having them changed every week. Because of his young age it is hoped he'll make a full recovery and be returned to the wild. That will take some time but my fingers are crossed. Ferruginous hawks are the largest hawk and extremely impressive when adults.

UPDATE: Very sad, after his casts came off he was still unable to use his legs altho he tried, as did we all. He was humanely euthanized yesterday. (the 15th)

Monday, July 6, 2015

My little reptile

Ferruginous hawks have one thing that other hawks don't have. The gape of their mouth stretches back much farther than normal giving them a reptilian appearance. This little fellow was found under a very poorly constructed nest in Casper. He had fallen or was pushed out and wasn't ready to fly. Unfortunately he must have hit the ground pretty hard as there's something wrong with both legs. He can move them and open and close his feet but his left leg seems a bit twisted and he's limping on his right.

He was first sighted the end of last week but was returned to the nest where two siblings were staying. They both baled out when this guy was returned so Heather and Adam of the WG&F department rounded everyone up and replaced them. Today, after rechecking the nest, Heather called and we made the decision to meet in Shoshoni and for me to take this baby as the other two, very much larger, had fledged over the weekend.

The parents were apparently still willing to feed this one and were quite upset to have him removed from their care. They would eventually stop carrying food back to the nest because in the scheme of things all babies should be on their own by a certain time in their life. Heather also said that there was practically nothing left of the nest on the old pole so it wouldn't have supported this baby at all and he'd have fallen again.

He ate every morsel of the mice I cut up for him tonight, he's a hungry baby. He goes in tomorrow morning for xrays to see just what's wrong.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Making strides

The two remaining baby Short-eared Owls are growing by leaps and bounds. They are still much different in size as they are at least four days apart in age, probably 10 and 13 days old. Both are eating their mouse pieces as soon as I can hand them over. I do wear my SEO mask but I'm afraid they've figured out that when the door opens and shuts they might just be fed so start squeeking for food. Hopefully I'll soon be able to put the food on a disc in front of them and they can help themselves.

One-eyed-jack

Actually I named him WILLY. He was found by two young men out walking near the river off the Willwood Road south of Powell. This is an adult male Red-tailed Hawk who is very starved and has a cloudy right pupil. Because of the holiday weekend I will not be able to have him checked over until this coming week if I can get an appointment with Dr. Barry Welch, my eye doctor.

Perhaps, if it's a cataract, it can be removed and the bird will recover enough for release. In the meantime he's enjoying unlimited meals to help bring his weight up to where it should be.

UPDATE: Sad news. Dr. Welch examined his eyes today and found him completely blind in his right eye from a cataract. He also has one started in his left eye which would eventually render him completely blind. He was euthanized today.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Yet another baby























This one isn't as young as TUMBLER but not very long out of her nest. Her name is HOBBIT and she appears to be about almost three months old. She was found west of Deaver unwilling to fly very far or high. At this time I can't see anything wrong, she weighs 7# 11oz which is a good weight for this age golden eagle.

She does appear to be a bit pale so I'll take her in for a blood test on Monday to see if all is okay in her system. She can stand up but was a bit intimidated with the new surroundings.

UPDATE: This baby came from a monitored nest near Deaver so much of her short life history is known. She's now proven to be able to make live kills so her stay here should be a short one. I may actually put TUMBLER in with her so he can also learn how to catch prey. Then they could both be released at the same time in the same area.

Friday, June 26, 2015

New mom

Not her first time but it is since she moved here as a foster. This baby redtail came from a nest at the top of a coal conveyor at a mine south of Gillette. Unfortunately his wing flapping sent him over the edge and there was no way for the crew to get him back up there. There's one more chick in the nest, hopefully it will stay until ready to fly.

Thanks to Nichole and Roy of ICFI, the same people who transported TUMBLER over here, the baby arrived in good shape. He will be fostered by BONNIE 3 until ready for release. Depending on the timing, both the golden eagle and this redtail may go back over the mountain to where they were found before being released. A good prey base is there and it's a wonderful habitat.

Baby update

I've heard back from my friends at The Owl Foundation in Vineland, ON, Canada. These babies are younger than I thought. The tiniest one is now two days old, the next three days and the largest five days old. As short-eared owls can lay up to 10 eggs this is a small clutch. They also hatch as they were laid which accounts for the difference in size and age. Amazingly enough, most of the babies are fed enough so they all reach fledging age if all goes right. So far everyone here is doing just fine. The youngest is still weak but eating everything I give him.

Annick said that this species will imprint quickly so I'm using a short-eared owl mask the way I did with the baby golden eagle. Here it is. It worked wonderfully with TUMBLER, hopefully will do the same for these three wee ones.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

More wee babies

This has been an extraordinary year so far and today made it more so. I got a call this afternoon from a rancher near Absarokee, MT. They are putting up hay and unfortunately the swather hit and killed a female short-eared owl. They rescued the three babies before calling. When I got there I was expecting branchers at this time of year.

Imagine my surprise when I opened the box and found these teeny chicks. I would estimate them to be 2-4 days old, I'll check with my owl expert in Canada to be sure. One is rather weak altho he's not the smallest by weight. He comes in at 40 grams, the other small one is 25 grams and the Hulk is 75 grams.

Now I'll have to print out a picture of an adult short-ear to make a mask as I did with the baby golden eagle. Their eyes aren't open yet so I'm safe for a few days. They're also eating well, mouse pieces handed to them on the end of forceps. Hopefully the weakest one will soon catch up.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Release pics

I now have a couple more release photos of GRUMPY, the osprey I took over east of Buffalo. These came from Tracy Jones, the Powder River Energy person who made the arrangements with ranch owner Phil Little. He and I were discussing the whole process after she flew away. Thanks to these two gentlemen this was an extraordinary release.