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 baby 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 3 to 3.5 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.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

My trip

For the first time in three years I took a vacation. This time it was to Alaska, a place I've wanted to visit for a long time. My friend Jenny, of Native Bird Connections, and I flew to Juneau on September 20th to spend 10 days covering a lot of ground. In that time we were in six airplanes, two ferries, one excursion boat to see glaciers and had to rent three cars. It's difficult to get around in that state, they have roads but in order to go many places it requires air or water.

Here are a few of the photos I took while exploring a most fascinating place.

Visiting the Juneau Raptor Center on top of the tram ride. Ann Marie introduced us to LADY BALTIMORE, their resident bald eagle.
A shot of two enormous cruise ships after arriving in Juneau. This photo was taken from the tram as we came down, too foggy to see earlier.
The view from our first ferry ride to Sitka
Visiting the Alaska Raptor Center in Sitka, the largest rehab facility in AK. Susan, new Director Peter Colson, and Jenny.
Some of their non-releasable birds. As it rains there a lot each bird has an umbrella for when a downpour comes along.
We were hoping to see hundreds of bald eagles congregating here but unfortunately that happens next month so we only saw five.
One of the plane rides, this one a small eight passenger on a trip that eventually stopped in Haines.
If you get Nat Geo or Nat Geo Wild on TV you've probably seen this guy. It's Steve Kroschel who works with wolverines. We visited his place one day and saw lots of the animals he keeps there including his wolverine, grey fox, caribou and a very huge lynx.
Some more photos. We visited a musk oxen farm, saw some very large glaciers (I missed one calving), moose, bears at a facility near Girdwood, and hoped to see beluga whales but the closest we got was some sculptures at a visitor center.

In front of one of the very large glaciers.
And one picture that's worth a thousand words. When we parked at a turnout in the bald eagle preserve we were right next to this pile of bear scat. You'll notice that besides seeds there are three pieces of plastic. From someone's lunch perhaps?

Number six

I started out the month of October by getting in the sixth baby golden eagle of the year. This one came from Duke Energy in Glenrock. He was found unable to fly and so far I can't find a reason for that. He moves very little but at least now he's standing whereas when he arrived he was so weak that didn't happen very often.

At this point I believe there are two possible reasons. Either WNV or poison. He's not eating on his own so I'm tubing him with Carnivore Care, a high calorie, critical care oral food. I've also started him on some solid food, right now it's venison steak. He readily swallows when I put the meat in his mouth but won't take it on his own.

You'll notice in the photo that he appears to have a white eye. That's because his lower eyelid is closed. The only time he opens them is when I pick him up or otherwise make him move. And now I'm not sure he can see. I'll check with my eye doctor, Dr. Barry Welch, to see when I can take him in for a check of his vision.

He's a beautiful baby, about six months old, so I hope I can find the problem and fix it. His name is DEVON.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Another trip

Luckily this one was very short in comparison to those I've been taking. Only about 35 miles up to Clark to pick up this awesomely handsome five month old male Peregrine Falcon. Thanks to Kathy and Ken, who live there, he was rescued today. Kathy saw him yesterday morning in a tree next to the road. He was on the ground there this morning so she called me when she noticed he had a wound on his back.

CLARK is now in the hands of my master falconer, Chris Pfister, who will be seeing to his care until the wound is healed and he's ready for training. The cut was deep enough to require suturing but no underlying tissue was damaged. A round of antibiotics and he should be good as new in a few weeks.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Handsome baby

In the past 11 days I've made three trips to Thermop to meet people with injured birds.The first two were sad, both the Swainson's Hawk and the GHO were so badly injured they couldn't be saved.

This time it's a very handsome male Red-tailed Hawk, JESSIE. He's pudgy fat, apparently learned his hunting lessons well. Unfortunately at some point he met something sharp, he has a cut in the skin near his right elbow. That's now bandaged, he's going in tomorrow morning to have it sutured closed.

As this seems to be the only thing wrong with him, he will be here until the wound heals and then released back to the wild. Thanks to Jessica Peckham, WGF warden from Riverton, for meeting me in Thermopolis.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

LEVI leaving

This beautiful adult Long-eared Owl came to IBR on June 10 suffering from a dislocated right shoulder and a wound to his right wrist. Surgery was done to replace the dislocation on the same day but that type of injury is very iffy on an outcome.

In this case, all worked as it should and today LEVI was released in an area south of Cody where long-ears are known to live. It's always a thrill to see a bird fly off with strength after putting such time and energy into their recovery. It's what makes what I do all worthwhile.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015


This has been an exceptional year for taking in Short-eared Owls. Today I made yet another long drive to Thermop to pick up this gorgeous young short-ear. Thanks to WGF Biologist, Heather O'Brien, I didn't have to make the trip to Casper, she brought the bird to our usual meeting spot in the Quality Inn parking lot.

TRAINER was found near some railroad tracks but the only damage I can see is perhaps in his sight. Heather said he was also a bit sensitive when his right wrist was touched. Right now it's a wait and see procedure, hopefully this extraordinary young bird will fly free in the near future.

Another away

I posted a photo and story about what was called a "baby grey owl" and showed you that it is, in fact, a baby female Kestrel. Her name is GREY and yesterday she flew away on her second big adventure. I released her just outside my front gate as I have kestrels in the area so know it's a good placement. You can just barely see her to the left of the power pole, even with the top of it. She was so quick in flying off this is the best picture I could get. She circled a few times and then landed in one of my trees. I never saw her take off again.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Another wrong ID

I made yet another drive to Thermop this morning to pick up what was called a Cooper's Hawk by the people who found him. This is, in fact, an immature male Swainson's Hawk. They are quite different in size and coloring. The Swainson's, a buteo, has dark eyes, heavily barred chest, a white bib and their tail is not longer than the tips of their folded wings. The Cooper's, an accipter, has yellow green eyes and a a very long tail extending way beyond the tip of the folded wings. You can see the difference in the two photos above. The Swainson's is on top resting in a sling to keep him in a normal position without putting strain on his bad leg. The immature Cooper's below.

This Swainson's didn't get to me for a week after being probably hit by a car, not good if there can be repair to the damaged wing. He goes in on Wednesday morning for xrays and exam. The worst problem is his right leg, he can't stand at all and only has limited movement in the toes.

I learned a long time ago that I can't, and shouldn't, save them all just because I can. The quality of life is very important when dealing with a wild bird. Therefore, the prognosis for this beautiful bird is very questionable.

UPDATE: Sadly this wonderful baby bird was euthanized this morning. His xrays showed that the right shoulder joint is nothing but crumbs, totally destroyed by the car strike. I'm just sorry it took so long to get him to me as I'm sure that damage was very painful. Not any more, he's at peace now.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Flying high

I got this Long-eared Owl back in June. LEVI was suffering from a dislocated right shoulder and a wound near his wrist. He spent a month in a small cage, then was moved to an 8'x 12' area to see if he could fly. He was doing so well that he was again moved to a 13'x 20' flight area. He immediately started flying around and has found the highest spot to roost.

Just as I took the top photo he turned his head around looking for a place to get away from me. He landed on the framing of his pen almost to the top. He will spend some time in this area to gain strength and then be released. Yay LEVI!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Another first for me

Yesterday was a busy one for me. I got a call from a lady who had been walking around the reservoir above Beck Lake and spotted what she thought was a seagull. It wasn't trying to fly or get in the water.

I drove up and finally found it thanks to another walker. The bird wasn't hard to catch, never tried to fly, so I brought it home. Then I had to figure out what species it was. After going through bird books and sending photos to friends, it was decided the bird is a Caspian Tern. I thought it was a very rare sighting but not so, they've been documented around the Cody area before.

Now for the bad news. I couldn't find anything wrong and after buying 20 goldfish at Walmart and him eating half of them I thought all was going to be okay. It was not, the bird died last night. Just as a precaution, the body is on its way to the state lab for testing. They will check for WNV and avian flu among others.

My hairy baby girl

DANCER on June 20th.

Here she is on September 1st.
The dog crate behind her is what she was transported in to her half-way home. Amazingly she fit in there yesterday.

Now that she's in her half-way home preparing for release to the wild, I can share these photos with you. Her name is DANCER and she was found on June 20th running the streets in Cody without a mom. She tried to join one of the town herds but the does would have nothing to do with her. She ended up laying down next to a house and crying all night.

The owner and a friend called me the next morning, I went right over, gathered up this tiny fawn and brought her home. I was very fortunate in contacting a fawn rescue in CA for instructions on saving the baby. They said to feed her Nubian goat milk, and only that, it's the best. The second piece of luck was when friend told me about a lady near Cody who raised Nubians and sold milk.

At $10 per gallon it's not cheap but little DANCER has thrived on it. She was only a week or two old when I got her and very tiny. I put her in a small mew with a couple mirrors for company. Sara donated a dog bed which was used constantly. Three meals a day for almost two months then two and now she's down to one bottle of milk a day. She loves Siberian elm leaves and fresh alfalfa, which she gets every day. She'll also eat lilac leaves if there's nothing else.

The plan is to gradually give her more space with views of the nearby fields. There's a resident deer herd for her to look at too. Then in a couple weeks I'll open the final gate to freedom. This is the first fawn I've raised and it's been such a treat.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Babies away !

Another momentous occasion today, the four surviving baby Northern Harriers were returned to their nest site and released. Barb Love of the LU Ranch south of Meeteetse took me to the exact spot and we were amazed to see an adult female harrier floating around. She was being harassed by a bunch of ravens but they went off before I opened the crates.

These babies were banded by Chuck Preston on Friday so we can keep track of them in case anything happens. They all flew off in almost the same direction but then dispersed. Barb and I were able to catch sight of a couple after they settled on the ground but the others were out of view.

Thanks to Barb these awesome baby raptors have been given another chance to live life as they should, wild and free.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Amazing recovery

KESWICK arrived here on July 9th after being found on the road to Valley Ranch almost at the end of the Southfork Road. He had a fractured right hand and was almost starved to death. I thought surgery would be needed to remove the tip of his wing but he was so thin I knew he wouldn't survive surgery right then. I decided to feed him up, gain strength, and then tackle the surgery.

A couple weeks ago I weighed him again and he'd gained a much needed ounce but I also noticed his wing was stronger. I put him into a small flight area to see what would happen. He never looked back, was flying in the 8'x 20' mew with no problems.

Yesterday I took him out to an area known to be a great kestrel habitat and released him. As you can see by this photo, he again, never looked back. Instead of landing on a nearby tree, he turned away and left us in the dust. Thanks to my friend Susan Osborne for getting this shot of him flying off.

Just proved to me that I should never take things at first face value.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Mistaken identies

The phone rang this morning with a call from a Devil's Tower Monument person. Amy said they had a young Peregrine Falcon that had fledged a couple weeks ago but was found on the ground this morning unable/unwilling to fly. I was fortunate when Amy agreed to meet me in Buffalo, a three hour drive from Cody, so I wouldn't have to go all the way to the Tower. the time we met, the bird turned into a young female Prairie Falcon. They believe she fledged off a nest on a bluff near the Tower but not on it. I was told she had a dragging wing but I can't find anything wrong. MAGIC is a bit thin but not starving. She also has a nasty temperament but then most Prairie's are insane. She goes in tomorrow morning for an xray just to see if there is something wrong that doesn't stand out.

She will be going to master falconer, and my subpermittee, Chris Pfister for training as soon as she passes her physical.

UPDATE: Even with a tummy full of quail her attitude isn't any better this morning. Xrays showed something going on in her left shoulder joint but she seems to be able to flap the wing and holds it in perfect position when perched. More xrays later after some cage rest.

About a week ago I got a call from a lady in Thermop who said she had a "baby grey owl" in her yard and it couldn't fly. Well, having a Great Grey Owl is something so I asked her to send me a photo. I was amazed, not only was it NOT an owl, there wasn't any grey on it. It is a baby female Kestrel, brown with dark brown spots and not as big as a robin. I sent five emails to her explaining that it's a falcon. She kept saying baby grey owl. I also called a couple times and left messages.

Then yesterday I got an email saying a fellow was driving to Cody and bringing the falcon (she got it right that time) to me. I met Bob near the airport and asked what she had been feeding this baby for all that time. The dreaded answer was "hamburger'. That is a huge no-no for raptors but nothing I could do now. I can't find anything wrong, she should have been left in that area to be cared for by her parents. There were apparently four or five more baby kestrels too, they were okay.

Now this baby will have to be trained to catch live food here. She would have been so much better in the care of the adults but we will deal with it. Her name is GREY.

UPDATE: This beautiful baby bird has proved herself. She's caught many mice on her own and will be released this week in a wonderful habitat for kestrels.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

In with the big kids now

My newest baby Golden Eagle is now in the flight barn. She is huge and was beginning to try flying in her smaller mew. She's sitting in the middle of this group with her adult mentor, DOVE, on the right and a two year old Bald Eagle on the left. I would love to know just what's being said between the two younger birds. So far everyone is getting along. The one photo is of DOVE taking off to the other end of the barn. She's had enough of the teeny boppers for the moment.

Today I moved some baby birds in with the older ones. This is the baby Swainson's Hawk, PEABODY, down below, with the slightly older Swainson's , HUDSON, flying toward the perch where the young Red-tailed Hawk, MINER, is sitting. Note how PEABODY is gazing skyward as HUDSON flys overhead. They are all flying just great and getting stronger by the day. I don't think the youngest will be ready for the long migration they make to Argentina but the others may just be ready. Not the redtail of course, he'll be released around here.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The saga continues....

So far this year I've released many babies. Mallards, Golden Eagles, Horned Larks, Mourning Doves, Robins, Great Horned Owls. Today was a most exciting release, that of my two baby Short-eared Owls. They came to me from Absarokee, MT at only a couple days old after their mom was killed by a hay swather.

After many weeks of hiding behind a mask when feeding them. And then moving them to a flight area where they could build up muscles and learn how to make live kills, today they left to begin the next phase of their lives.

They took off so quickly that these are the only photos I got of them. The area was recommended by my friend, Nathan Horton, and it is perfect for these ground nesters, day hunters. It looks as if there are only huge rocks and hills but below and surrounding them are open sagebrush flats, just what these birds need. I wish them well.