Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The quads

And then there were four all together. These four GHO babies are all about the same age. The two in the back are SPRUCE and PINEY from Gillette. The others came in yesterday, PICKLE and SPARKY. In a few days they will join foster mom, SMIDGE and another baby a bit older, TINKER TOY. They should all be flying in a week or so and then their training begins. Now to find the perfect place for them to be released.....

Monday, May 23, 2016

Eleven and twelve

LITTLE PICKLE on the left weighs 37 ounces, SPARKY on the right comes in at 30 ounces even tho he looks larger.
Yes, more baby GHOs have arrived at Ironside. These were a rescue in the sense that mom used an old raven nest and it was in a very dangerous place. It was up on a tower at a WAP substation in between lines that carried 150,000 and 69,000 volts of electricity. I got a call from their environmental person, Andrea, last week but it wasn't until today that the babies could be removed from the nest.

Mommy was very upset but had the chicks stayed in the nest they would probably not have survived their branching stage. The only place they could have tried to land would have killed them. For that reason they were removed from the nest and that was knocked down so neither the ravens or the owl would have it to use next year.

Thanks to Paul Davis and Chad Rausch for the rescue. Chad went up in a bucket truck, Paul climbed the structure so they could come at the nest from both sides to keep the babies from jumping out. It worked just perfectly. I should be getting photos from Paul and will add them to this post when I do.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Well hail!

As you can see by this photo, we had a heck of a hail storm about 15 minutes ago. I found out I'd left one of my truck windows down, on the side the wind was coming from. Luckily it was only a couple inches but there were hail stones inside. And the bunny barn is now wet in a few places. And my poor trees, all those little green spots are shredded leaves. I hope they can overcome this damage.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Permitted killing of eagles

Today I read in our Cody Enterprise that the federal government is backing down and allowing the killing of two Bald Eagles by the Northern Arapaho tribe on the Wind River reservation. Here is my letter to the editor.

To the Editor:

I was absolutely horrified to read that our federal government is going ahead and allowing one Indian tribe permission to kill two Bald Eagles “for religious purposes”. They say the birds are important to their way of life. They can be more important as a live bird flying free than a dead carcass.

Everyone in this country is up in arms when they read about terrorists killing people “in the name of religion”. Why is it okay to kill these magnificent animals just because they’re birds. No ceremony makes it okay to destroy our National symbol. The Northern Arapaho tribe should move into the 21st century and learn to live with our wildlife and not just go out and kill them. There are too many eagles already killed by humans, by wind farms, vehicles, poisons, etc.

The tribes can get bodies and feathers from the federal feather depository, they don’t have to destroy live birds. By killing these two bald eagles they are also killing two pairs, not just two birds as they mate for life and may not find another. Also destroyed are any chicks that those two pair would produce in their lifetimes. That could total into dozens of bald eagles not allowed to live.

When I saw that the government had denied the permit I was overjoyed. Now I am saddened that our people in Washington are backing down and giving in and allowing this barbaric practice by one tribe. (NOTE: they also allow the Hopi tribe to steal baby goldens out of their nests and kill them in religious ceremonies. Not just two but dozens) They should be ashamed for their weakness and backing down in providing protection for these awesome Bald Eagles. I applaud the Eastern Shoshone tribe for opposing the killing.

Susan Ahalt
Ironside Bird Rescue, Inc., Cody

Saturday, May 14, 2016

CAT is back with mom

Another installment in the saga of the baby GHOs. I received a call from the dispatcher that there was yet another baby owl on the highway. From the same nest as CAT, the one who came out again after being replaced once. By the time I got to the site that new baby had already dodged all the vehicles and made it safely to the other side of the highway. His mom was right there and he was up in a tree.

I thought, AHA! I can bring CAT back and place him in that tree and all would be okay. By the time I dashed home, gathered up CAT and got back to the tree the other baby was gone. I put my little guy on the highest branch I could reach and sat there for a long time just watching him. He never moved, just scanned all around.

Because I knew which way the mom had flown I decided to take him that direction. He let me catch him but started hissing and clacking the whole time I crawled my way up the shale on the hillside. I got almost halfway up when I saw mom fly back and land in the tree I was aiming for. And even with my deafness I could hear awful sounds coming from her. I tossed CAT into a clear area under the tree and beat a hasty retreat. Going down was quicker but I did part of it sitting down and sliding.

I am so thrilled that this chance came along and my baby is where he belongs.

Just when you think.....

you've seen it all as far as rescue, along comes a new one. I got a call about a great horned owl up in a tree with a broken wing. It was sticking straight up! And it was in Worland, more than an hours drive from here. I was told the owl was also over the water of a small pond. Well that made for an interesting rescue.

Jim Hill had a small flat bottomed skiff so we got in and headed out for the bird. As it was in an olive tree I thought maybe he'd caught his wing on one of the long thorns. I had my long handled net and was able to get it around him but my pulling didn't free the bird. What it did was lower him a bit so I could see his wing was caught in some fishing line.

What's the first thing they say about being in a small boat? Don't stand up!. Of course I stood up. Luckily Jim is an excellent navigator and kept the boat right under the owl. I was able to grab his legs and pull him down low enough to get my hand on the line. I gave a pull and it slipped off the end of his wing.

How this could have happened is anyone's guess. He was dangling up there like a Christmas tree ornament twisting in the wind. There was no damage to his wing tip or feathers so after we got back to shore and I managed to get myself out of the boat, we took a couple photos and I released him. He flew off the opposite direction of the pond.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Another first

Today I received a species of bird I've never had. This is an adult male Lazuli Bunting, one of the most colorful of our songbirds. He was found about seven miles up the Southfork Road unable to fly far or high. I can't see anything wrong with his wings so he'll stay here until he has enough strength to make it back in the wild.

It's a lousy photo because just as he got in a good position, and I pressed the button on the camera, he'd move or the camera would hesitate before clicking the shutter. I'll include a good photo of this type of bunting for you to see what how beautiful they are.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

New roomies

His name is TINKER TOY and he's about five weeks old. He's the eighth baby GHO I've received in the last few weeks. As you've seen in earlier posts, the fifth and sixth are younger so I still have to hand them their whole mice to swallow. Number seven, CAT, is in this photo to the right and I think he's probably coming eight weeks old. Almost old enough to go out with my foster mom as he's picking up and eating his meals without my help.

The new little fellow, on the left, altho older, is very starved and would not have made it if the finders hadn't spotted him alongside the road. I got him to eat three mice, cut up and soaked in water, and will give him more before nightfall. I don't want to stuff him in his condition as his system may shut down.

With the prey base of rabbits so high this year there has been a bumper crop of baby GHOs. Hopefully the need to rescue them will slow down as they get old enough to branch and then fly with the support of their parents.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Goodbye beautiful lady

Around the middle of August, in 1997, I was handed two wee kittens. They had been stuffed in a paper bag and left next to my neighbors car when they were at the local ball fields. The kittens were about 3 1/2 weeks old, barely crawling around, not eating or using a kitty box. I set up a large crate in the living room and started their education.

These sisters, MUFFIN and SISTER, have brought such joy into my life but the day is a bit dimmer now. At age 18 years, 10 months, I had to put MUFFIN to sleep today. About three weeks ago she started acting a bit weak and wasn't eating well. She was on a special diet for her kidneys but they apparently were going into complete failure. We tried medications but the disease moved very fast.

Today I decided to opt for quality and not quantity. To let her go and not keep her alive just to keep her alive. Her sister, SISTER, is just fine altho she is also starting to show her advanced age.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Little stinker

Last night I got a call from Nathan saying a friend was driving down the west strip and saw a baby owl in the middle of the road. You guessed it, the same one I put back in the sign nest yesterday morning. The police were on hand to protect him til Nathan got there. He's now in my cage room and will not be returned to the nest for a second time.

Darn those teenagers, they think they're nine feet tall and bulletproof. Because he's used up two lives I'm calling him CAT. I'll keep him here, put him in with my foster mom, SMIDGE, when he's ready and then release him as soon as possible. Not where he came from but on a large ranch where he can keep the mouse and rabbit population under control

Thursday, May 5, 2016

OMG! Success

This is a series of photos taken a short time ago and only about three hours after this baby GHO was rescued from the highway. I called Rocky Mount Power and, as usual, they immediately came to help. Thanks to Matthew Gallaway running the bucket, I was able to return the chick to the "nest". I was also surprised to find not one but two others there. Mom had flown off to a distant tree and watched closely to what was happening.

Matthew pointing out the best way to the nest site. It was on top of the billboard support pole in between the sides.
Susan & baby before climbing into the bucket.
Almost there.
Ready for placing into the nest.
The three babies. See why it can hardly be called a "nest"? I don't know how she managed to keep the eggs from falling off let alone have the babies manage to stay there too.
Photos thanks to Matthew, Rick and Ron Blanchard

Number six

I was on the road at 6:30 this morning to pick up the sixth baby great horned owl of the year. This one is a bit older than the other five, he's what's known as a "brancher". That means he's almost ready to fly but not quite. You'll note he has a lot of hard feathers on his wings and he's in a threatening posture.

The good news is that I found the nest with mom and a sibling in it. The bad news is that it's up on an advertising sign on a four lane highway. There are no branches for these two babies to head for when they decide to take off. I think this one either tried that or sort of fell off the platform. He was found in the middle of the road but luckily it was early and a caring person got him to a safe place and called me.

Now to get him back to the nest. I could probably do it with my extension ladder but will call Rocky Mountain Power to see if they have a small bucket truck available. They're the best when I need help in this manner. In the meantime, the baby is in a safe place.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

New digs

As I'm not able to put my two new GHO babies, SPRUCE and PINEY, in a foster nest, they needed a place to stay here where my foster mom, SMIDGE, can see to mentoring them. Thank goodness for Nathan, he's awesome and can build anything. When I called and explained what I wanted he arrived with his tools and immediately started in.

Here are the babies in their new place. It's in one of my 6x6 foot mews so they aren't that far away and I can also keep SMIDGE happy. She is not trained in any way but had fostered babies in the past. The best thing is this mew is on my camera monitoring system so I can check on everyone without disturbing them.
When S&P are old enough they'll all go out into my owl flight area so they can stretch their wings and become ready for release.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Four and five

Last year I only got in one baby GHO, this year is way different. As you saw in previous posts, I made a new nest for two babies and then fostered in another when mom was offside chewing me out. Everyone settled in just fine.

Today I got a call from a G&F Biologist, Erika Peckham. She had to go and pick up two more babies, these about three weeks old. The nest was so buried in a large evergreen that she couldn't get them back to it. Even with a tall ladder, the nest was about 25' high, it was another 10' to the center of the tree to the nest.

I now have the fourth and fifth baby GHO but at this point they'll have to stay here. I don't have any other nests available with only one or two chicks and the adults would have a hard time raising more than three.

They were found in the Mt. Pisgah Cemetery in down town Gillette. Now to think up some names.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

All together now

Human Spencer, Susan with feathered SPENCER, Tyler and Ryan before the big event.

Mom heading out.

Up the ladder one more time. Both parents were doing a lot of hooting the whole time I was near the nest.

Another first for me. Today I took little SPENCER out to where I'd replaced a horrible nest with a large basket. The goal was to put this new baby owl in with the two already at home there. I'd checked with the experts at The Owl Foundation in Vineland, ON, Canada to see if they thought it would work and got a green light.

Mom was on the nest when we got there so I wasn't sure if I'd have to do a lot of ducking but she did fly off when I'd reached about half way up the ladder. I popped SPENCER into the nest and about two seconds later he'd hopped out the other side and pin balled his way down to the ground. He was caught up again, put back in the nest along with a half of a rabbit for mom to feed the kids.

I got a call from Betsy that just minutes after we all left the area the mom was back on the nest and all three chicks were there too. As of now it looks like this will work. Keep your fingers crossed.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Number four

Nathan holding little SPENCER after his rescue.

YUM! Mouse pieces are great food for the baby.
Nathan called me this evening to tell me that a friend called him with yet another baby GHO on the ground under the nest. We drove out there and picked up a four week old owlet. Again, the nest was an old magpie nest and it was in horrible shape. The baby apparently rolled out of it and fell about 20 feet.

Because we couldn't put this little fellow back, he's now in a cage with a mirror for a "sibling". I'll keep him until he's ready for release and he'll be mentored by my foster GHO, SMIDGE.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

It worked!

Steve and Betsy sent me these photos of our successful nest transfer.

Putting one of the babies into the nest nest.

You have to look very closely but mom is in the new nest on the right side. You can barely see her ears sticking up over the rim.

First time ever

Yesterday was so exciting. Betsy and Steve called to say that there wasn't a third baby GHO in the nest and the adults were very upset. I had recovered the second one on Friday after it too fell from the nest.

We all decided to try something that's been done before but not by me. I took my extension ladder and a large wicker basket to the nest site. It was only about 25' up and in a good spot to reach with the ladder. With Steve holding the bottom I made the climb up and found out why the babies had fallen. It was a very old magpie nest, totally flat on top and leaning at an angle. So much so I don't see how the eggs stayed there for brooding.

I removed the old one and then wired the basket right next to the site. Betsy had gathered various sized sticks and twigs so the babies would have something to hold on to when in the nest. Then came the babies. I put both of them in the basket along with the remains of a baby rabbit that the adult had been feeding them.

This photo shows me hauling the nest wicker nest to the site. I got word this morning that an adult is in the new nest with the other one sitting in a nearby tree. So far so good.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Foster babies

Today I picked up two kittens at our animal shelter. Mom had been killed and I had told the shelter that if they ever got in any wee baby puppies or kittens that I would foster them. The two little orange kittens are one female and one male. The little one is the boy. I believe they're about three to three and a half weeks old. They aren't nursing very well so I'll start them on some baby solid food. Now for some names.............

Friday, April 22, 2016

Oh my, now there are two

I had to drive out the Southfork to pick up a second baby GHO. I was afraid this would happen as the nest is so small and with three babies and an adult there just isn't room to move around.

That's RYAN on the left and TYLER on the right. I haven't introduced them to my foster mom yet, I want to make sure they're eating first. These two babies are about three weeks old.

Happy Earth Day, 2016

Nathan came by this morning on his way to Sheridan. He was wearing one of my favorite t-shirts and I had on my yearly Earth Day shirt so he took a selfie.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

First baby

This little three week old cutie, TYLER, fell out of his nest late this afternoon. It was a bit crowded up there with three babies and mom. Because owls don't build their own nests, they borrow, the one they choose may not be large enough when the babies are growing. That was the case here as mom chose an old magpie nest. GHO's usually have a couple babies, this mom outdid herself with three.

Luckily the home owner has been keeping a good watch on the family and found the baby right away. Because there wasn't a way to get the chick back to the nest I brought him home and will hand him over to SMIDGE, my GHO foster mom. For now he can see his "sibling" in the mirror.

I am honored

Last February I was told by Zach Hutchinson, the President of the Murie Audubon Society in Casper, that I had won an award given by them. Because I was unable to attend their banquet, Zach said he would bring it to me. That happened last Thursday. Today I received his photo of that event.

It is for their 2016 Conservation Award "In Appreciation Of Your Contribution To The Protection and Conservation of Wyoming's Wildlife". I hadn't even known I was nominated and am so honored to have won.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Three are gone


Today is the start of a new life for three of my baby Swainson's Hawks. They've been here all winter because they weren't ready to handle a 12,000 mile migration to Argentina for the winter. They required a leader, even better, a large group of swainson's to lead them to their wintering grounds. Because the adults had already left it was necessary to keep them here until the older birds returned to the area.

That happened this past week so my friend, Julie, and I drove them to a wonderful release site and opened crate doors. The most exciting part was getting to that area. With all the rain we've been having, the two track alongside the canal was extremely muddy. And the side road to the area I wanted was so bad that I parked the truck and we walked downhill for a bit carrying the crates. I only fell twice when my feet slipped out from under me. So much for my clean jeans.

HUDSON took off wonderfully, heading left, and landed in a far tree. That was after WILSON finally decided to leave her crate. She also flew left to a far tree. Then it was PATTISON's turn. She walked out of the crate, stood for a couple moments and then flew off to the right and flew and flew. She finally landed on a far rock outcrop where some small birds let her know they weren't pleased at her choice of perches.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Surprise, surprise!

I woke up to this lovely sight this morning at 6 o'clock. I knew it was trying to snow when I went to bed but it managed to figure it out. We're lucky compared to the southeast corner of the state and the Denver area. And we, of course, need the moisture for the upcoming harvest seasons, but it was still a shock.

Most of the trees and bushes are already leafed out so don't know what they're thinking. I don't think this will last long as the ground is very warm.