Sunday, November 22, 2015

She's gone

Yesterday I drove on very treacherous roads to Joyce and Nic Patrick's place out on the Southfork Road to release JACKSON. She's been here since August repairing wing feathers and getting over a head tilt from not liking the mews she was in at another facility. She wasn't happy here, at first, but got the hang of how long my flight barn is and started improving.

The weather was horrible, gale force winds and only in the teens. In fact it was only three degrees when I got up at six o'clock that morning. Luckily the sun came out to make it seem better.

A whole bunch of Patrick's were there for the momentous event, all bundled up in many layers. At first JACKSON didn't want to come out of the crate. Then she tried to rush and got twisted around, catching one talon in the door. Luckily Nic was quick and reached down to free the toe. He tossed her in the air and the rest was just watching this beautiful bird find her way.

She made one circle around us and then headed out helped by those strong winds. You can see she's still missing a couple feathers but they will molt in later.

Thanks to the people at the Teton Raptor Center for trusting me with her care and the Idaho Fish & Game for letting her be released here instead of back in ID. That trip there would have been too much for her to handle now.

Thursday, November 19, 2015


I picked this bird up this morning in a yard near the old Sunset School property. What in the world an adult Western Grebe is doing in Cody at this time of year is a mystery. They all left here quite some time ago.

They can't take off unless on water so I usually just drive them to Beck Lake and release them. It's what I did this time but unfortunately this bird didn't do as they usually do, flap their wings and then dive. He landed in the water, rolled to his back and just floated. I netted him up and brought him to the vet for xrays.

They showed no breaks and no bullets, I have no idea why this bird can't use his legs or feet. Right now he's sitting as you see, in a pan of water while waiting for some small suckers to thaw. Perhaps due to frost on the ground he came down thinking it was water. That still doesn't explain why he's still hanging around this area of the country, he should be long into his migration.

I'll give him some time to see if it's just bruising and he'll recover.

UPDATE: He did not improve and died on Friday night.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Awesome sight

This photo was taken by a friend, Leon Jenson. He's a gifted photographer of many subjects but when I met him in the store today he told me about seeing the aurora borealis at various places near here. I have only seen it once many years ago and only a green ribbon. This shot is extraordinary with all the various colors of the rainbow showing. You can see other photos by Leon on his site:

A pox upon you

Unfortunately that's what has happened to this amazingly beautiful, large, seven month old female Red-tailed Hawk. PUFF was found down in Worland alongside the road. I was told she had a broken wing but that doesn't appear to be the case. She does have a wound on the wrist of her left wing but it looks to be superficial.

Her biggest problem, and it is huge, is the fact that she has avian pox lesions on her feet. There are two varieties of pox, dry and wet. The wet type affects their throat and esophagus, the dry is on their body where feathers are lacking, i.e. their feet and face. The wet kind will kill the bird.

PUFF has the dry kind and so far the lesions aren't horrible. The bad news is that there is no treatment other than supportive care for avian pox. I had one roughie many years ago who had the dry variety and it took months for his body to recover. That will be the case here too. The only thing I can do is spray her bumps, perches and cage with 10% bleach solution. Because this is a very contagious disease she will be kept in this cage which is easy to clean.

To the good is the fact that PUFF is in excellent condition, she's fat, alert and as you can see from the photo, a bit confrontational. Her attitude will carry her far and hopefully beat this disease in short order.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Mystery death

I got a call yesterday from a friend who had received a call about a dead owl in a tree in Powell. As it was almost dark I decided to wait until today because it would probably require climbing to get the body.

My super friend, Nathan, came along as he's young and agile and could probably scamper up the tree with ease. When we got to the house it was apparent that climbing was out of the question. The bird was on a small limb without any others nearby to stand on.

Luckily the home owner had a long handled branch saw and another piece of PVC pipe we taped on it to extend the reach. Nathan got on top of the garage and managed to push the owls body off the branch.

At this time I have no idea what would cause the 7-8 month old GHO to end up there. He is in excellent condition, there are no wounds that I can see and his feathers are perfect. I am sending him off to our state lab for testing. Hopefully they can find a reason for this beautiful bird to die.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Two more flying away

JESSIE (top) MINER (bottom)

Today two more of my rehabilitated birds have flown away. MINER came to me from the Belle Ayr coal mine near Gillette. His nest was on the top of a coal conveyor and he fell off before he was old enough to fledge. Because the rules of the mine forbid the operator to climb the belt and replace him in the nest, he came to IBR.

The other redtail baby, JESSIE, was found on Paradise Valley Road near Riverton. He was unwilling to fly, probably due to a wound near his right elbow. It took a long time to heal but eventually he was flying with strength.

Once both of these young hawks proved they could make live kills it was time for them to be released. That happened on the Pfister Ranch about 20 miles south of Meeteetse. The abundant voles and rabbits will make for a wonderful place for them to return to the wild.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


Happy Veterans Day to the members of my family who served in a few wars. Uncle Roy (Air Force), Cousin Roy (Air Force), Cousin Pete (Army), Uncle Tom (Coast Guard) and Cousin Mike (Navy). I still fly flags in my yard for them and will continue to do so. Every year I get new ones during our Field of Honor ceremony here in Cody. They are true heroes to me.

Happy Veterans Day to all of us in the USA
Happy Remembrance Day to my family in Canada

Monday, November 9, 2015

Flown away

DINO wasn't here long, just enough time to get over some bruising from being hit by a truck. He was stuck in the grill for a while but amazingly wasn't broken.

He spent a few days inside one of my new mews recovering his balance then joined SMIDGE in the owl barn for some flight conditioning. Thanks to my friend Julie for accompanying me to the release sight up the Northfork. After the release we had some Breadboard sandwiches while sitting and looking at a very beautiful day.

This photo was taken after only a couple flaps from the crate so his landing gear isn't all the way up and locked. He ended up on a far tree then flew off again to farther reaches.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

The Gambler

He was found at the entrance to the Indian casino on the reservation south of Riverton. Hence his name is KENNY ROGERS. An adult male Bald Eagle, at just a couple ounces over five pounds, he is severely starved. The reason may be that he appears to be totally blind. After having gone through this recently with a baby Golden Eagle, I hope it's not true and this bird will recover.

He goes in for tests on Monday and I'll make an appointment for my own eye doctor to examine him.

UPDATE: He lost his fight, he died around noon today. His body will be sent to the state vet lab for testing to see why an adult eagle was starving to death when his age and experience should not have let that happen.

UPDATE: The test results just came back from our state lab. This adult eagle died of West Nile Virus. It is a terrible disease and I mourn the loss of a wonderful bird.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Another first

Of this winter season at any rate. Enough snow came down last night to make a print of my MADDIE's foot this morning. It's very sunny out now so melting will happen quickly.

Thursday, November 5, 2015


This is an awesome photo of best friends. RICHIE is wearing the new jammies I made for him with an Olaf (from Frozen) pattern. He's sharing with his best bud, TOUGH. Altho the old one is blind he can still feel the soft fleece and enjoy the closeness. All the other jammies I made are now toast as RITA, a pit bull, loves to haul RICHIE around by his clothes.

As a Chinese Crested dog, RICHIE has hair only on his legs, head and tail tip. Hence the winter clothes.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

First one

This morning, when I was returning from taking a bird to the vet, I spotted what is a harbinger of winter. I saw my first Rough-legged Hawk. They only come this far south in the winter when conditions are getting bad above the Arctic Circle where they breed and live all summer. This is a bit early so either the food supply is low up there or the weather has turned beastly.

Now these beautiful birds will be sitting on power poles or fence posts along the highway until about March. You can't miss them, they have a very large dark square at their wrists on the undersides of their wings. And they have a wide white band on the base of their tail. When sitting they don't appear to have a neck, are light colored, for the most part, and have a dark belly band either solid or with some white spotting in it. They do come in a dark morph so don't think it's an eagle sitting there, it may just be a roughie.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Work day

Three really great friends came by today to help around the place. Nathan and Mike worked on putting up a fence around the yard to keep bunnies from entering. I'm very protective of my rabbits and don't want the dogs catching any of them. I had chicken wire up around the fence but between the dogs jumping on it to greet people and the weather, it began to sag enough the rabbits would just hop over it.

Now there's a sturdy welded wire fence around the lower half that will hopefully keep everyone apart. Of course if the snow gets to be a couple feet deep that may not work.

Julie helped me clean pens, put water in the pool in the eagle barn so I was able to stock it with a fish for JACKSON to "catch". Then we both cleaned up the bunny barn. I had already stacked the two cords of wood so they didn't have to help there.

This coming Spring both Julie and Nathan will be pruning my trees to help them along. I'm not knowledgeable enough to do that work but they are both good at it. Nathan has been after me to prune for a couple years, guess it's about time it was done.

Sara was going to come help on the crew but she got the flu and wasn't able to get here. She was in spirit tho. Thanks to the super people for volunteering for the hard stuff.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Winter is coming

And this year I'm ready. I just got the last two cords of wood stacked in my sunroom, the most expensive woodbox in the state. I now have almost four cords in there, that should last me until Spring.

You'll notice that this leaves me with just a narrow tunnel to walk through to the front door. It sure makes me glad I'm prepared.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

It's fishy

I spent three hours this morning following members of Trout Unlimited and volunteers as they worked to save trout trapped in the local canals after the water had been turned off. To do this two guys lugged around a very heavy backpack with a large battery in it. They then lowered a yellow wand and sent a low voltage pulse into the water. It's not enough to kill fish but it does stun them for a few seconds. Long enough for all the volunteers to scoop them up in a net.

The fish are then transferred to a holding tank with oxygen pumped into it. Today's first run was very small. Instead of getting hundreds of trout they only had 15 by the time I left. What I was after, and what they provided, were non-trout fish to feed my bald eagle. I came home with 18 from medium to large. I put four in the eagles pond, hopefully she'll like them.

TU will be shocking again tomorrow and twice the beginning of November so I'll have a supply of fish in my freezer that will last a few weeks. With the high cost of whole trout in the grocery store, this has been a wonderful windfall.

NOTE: She like them! She really liked them!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

New babies

These babies are only three months old, two girls and a boy. They are reticulated pythons that belong to my friends Sara and Mike.

I stopped by their shop to see about getting some rats for my birds and they had the kids out while cleaning. This species will grow to be one of the largest snakes on the planet and are very beautiful. Warm and soft to the touch, they had fun climbing all over me and exploring a new person.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Amazing release!

Back on July 22 I received a call from Bob Divaccaro about a downed raven in his yard on Sage Drive. The bird was unable to fly because his right hand was broken so I gathered him up and brought him here. I didn't think there was a chance of the raven flying again but he was such a character and a super eater I just gave him time.

And that time was worth it, I released the raven on a ranch outside of Cody where there are lots of ravens living and a good prey base. His first flight wasn't a long one but when I approached him he took off and this was the resulting photo. He made a few other flights while I was there as if he couldn't believe he was actually out in the wild again without a wall to stop him.

NOTE: You'll notice his mouth is open. As with most ravens, they talk constantly and this one certainly had a lot to tell his friends.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Same but different

These three birds are all the same species, namely Swainson's Hawks, tho they are very different in their markings. I believe them to be two males and one female and all will be wintering over here. These birds are also all the same age, approximately six months old. The swainson's in the rest of the U.S. are already on their migration and these three youngsters just aren't ready for such a long trek. They will be released in the Spring when the travelers return to this area.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Not a baby anymore

This is DANCER today, a far cry from the teeny baby fawn I got back on June 20th. She's now in a bigger place and will be completely released in a matter of days if all goes well. She looks like a deer, walks like a deer and pronks like a deer, all four feet in the air at the same time with an arch in her back.

She's been such fun to raise and it's all thanks to Laura, who sold me the wonderful nubian goat milk, and Julie who is providing a half-way house for her.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

My third Swainson's

Thanks to Jessica Beecham, WGF and Greg Aldrich, Duke Energy, this beautiful little hawk was saved. He was found on a ranch near Riverton, unable to fly, or unwilling to do so. Because Greg was coming to Cody from Glenrock, he agreed to meet Jessica in Shoshoni and carry the bird the rest of the distance.

This is a dark marked Swainson's Hawk. He only weighs 24 ounces and altho thin isn't starving. He believes he is, scarfs up anything handed to him. At this time of year they are usually well on their 12,000 mile migration to Argentina. He waited too long but I don't think it was his idea.

The really strange thing about this hawk is that the first three primary feathers on each wing have been trimmed off about 3-4 inches from their tips. And his beak has been coped (the tip filed off). The beak trimming is usually done by falconers or rehabbers when the tip gets too long. There is no reason to clip those six feathers.

He even exhibits imprint behaviour which means someone had him illegally and then either lost him or turned him loose. There are no bands on the bird and because of his probable young age, he has no hunting skills either. A mystery that I hope is solved in the near future.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Two more

This is the year of the Short-eared Owl. Pictured is the latest, number seven so far. He came from a ranch in Joliet, MT after being found in a cow pasture with a broken left wing. I made yet another trip north, this time to Belfry to meet Jody for the handoff. Note: That was right after I got home from picking up SKEETER in Thermopolis. 85 miles south then 50 miles north.

Hopefully this wing can be saved, he goes in tomorrow for xrays and an examination to see just what can be done.

This adult male Ferruginous Hawk is the 100th patient so far this year. He was found near Casper alongside the road. His left wing is badly broken and may not be fixable for flight. If not, assuming he will survive, he will be placed as an education bird. These are the largest hawks with females weighing in at 4.0 pounds. Males, naturally smaller, come in at 2.2 to 3.0 pounds. SKEETER weighs only 1.5 pounds, he's severely starved probably because he's been on the ground for quite some time. Thanks to Greg from Duke Energy for calling me and Randy for meeting me in Thermopolis so I didn't have to drive the four hours south.

Right now he's not getting solid food but a high calorie, critical care liquid diet. I tube him every few hours in hopes that he gains enough to endure the needed surgery. He's a very handsome little fellow, isn't he?

SKEETER was originally thought to be a red-tailed hawk. Another person thought perhaps a rough-legged hawk but they don't come to this area of the country from above the Arctic Circle until November. I didn't know what his species was until I saw him in person.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Short again...

As in another Short-eared Owl. This one came from the Antelope Coal Mine near Gillette and was found caught in a barb wire fence. LORETTA doesn't have any broken bones but she has a very bad cut on her left wing. That has now been sutured but I'm afraid she won't fly again as the tendon along the leading edge is too damaged. She does still have the wing and if all goes well, it will heal without any problems. She will then be placed as an educational bird.

Short-ears are very much wanted and make excellent ambassadors when shown to the public. They are not a rare bird but not often seen in facilities that do school programs. She will be prized.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Another release

This time it's TRAINER, a young male Short-eared Owl found near railroad tracks in Casper. When he got here I couldn't figure out what was wrong but there didn't seem to be any physical damage. I questioned his eyesight but if there was a problem it corrected itself. I started giving him live prey a few days ago and he immediately caught them and had a good meal.

With help from friend Julie Kenney, TRAINER was released at the same spot I let two other baby short-ears go, it's a super habitat for these day hunters. The first photo was as he left the crate, the second was moments later and a good distance away and high. Thanks to Heather O'Brien, WGF in Casper, for meeting me half way for the handoff. She's done this more than once for me and it helps considerably when the drive would have been more than six hours total.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Good bye old friend

I knew her for 34 of her 50+ years. Anyone who went to The Barn Feed and Pet also knew her. BARNEY is a sulfur crested cockatoo and she greeted most every one with the words, "pretty bird" or "pretty, pretty bird". I was shocked when one day I drove up to the store and saw her cage outside. They told me that she was fine one day and died the next. She had been having problems with her hormones which caused feather picking, but no one thought she was in danger.

I will miss her talking and even barking when she saw a dog come into the store. Fly fast old one, you were very loved while here.