Wednesday, April 28, 2010

High flying rescue

It's hard to believe just what some caring people will do to help a bird in trouble. Lisa Kemmerer called me last Sunday about a wild turkey that she'd seen caught by its leg in a tree. As you can see from the photos above, it was very high and very trapped. I suggested that Lisa try to find a tree service with a cherry picker but of course it was the weekend so none were available. This gutsy lady climbed up about 30' and after putting on some sort of safety rope, she worked her way out on the branch to free the bird. Her friend Jennifer Gross was at the end of that rope to make sure both the bird and human made it safely back to earth.

I was amazed when Lisa called to tell me she not only had the bird but there were no broken bones. The turkey couldn't fly and wasn't able to use the bad leg but her foot was warm so the blood supply hadn't been compromised. Only time would tell if she would ever walk again. It happened, she is now able to stand and hobble around and will be released back to the wild at the ranch where she was found.

Thank you Lisa and Jennifer for all your help, I'm sure this beautiful hen thanks you too.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Great friend

Just a couple weeks ago I signed up for the Eagle Posse with Chuck Preston of the Draper Museum of Natural History here in Cody. That entails monitoring of known golden eagle nests in the area that are being used this year to raise babies. For me, the only thing missing was a good scope so the birds could be seen but not close enough to stress them.

Those of you who receive my newsletter know about Jonathan & Susan Wood, The Raptor Project, in Roxbury, NY (see Links). He got an adult golden eagle, CODY, from me back in 1993 and had her for 16 years. Three weeks before she died he received another from me, a female he named MORIAH. Jonathan does hundreds of programs every year in dozens of states and one of his sponsors is Nikon. I contacted him about which of their scopes would work best for what I wanted it to do. He said, I'll send you one. Oh yes, and a window mount too.

Today I received his wonderful gifts along with a CD of him and CODY leading the procession of the Blessing of the Animals at St. John the Divine Cathedral in NYC. He and CODY had that honor for 10 years. Thanks Jon for all your help and being a great friend. Someday we'll meet face to face so I can give you a big hug.


Yesterday was my getting to know the earth day. I lost my horse about 12 years ago but the fencing around her pasture was still there. The fencing was sagging so I decided to take down the whole thing. I could then do some sort of clearing up. I borrowed a handyman jack from Ted Roes, Midwest Fence, and got to work. And work it was.... There were about a bazillion of the t-posts, okay not quite that many, but lots, and they had been in there for a couple dozen years. Plus a few wooden posts too.

The first few metal posts came out with a bit of a struggle but nothing compared to four that had been partially buried after some work on the driveway. Those took a combination of digging out and using the jack. The wooden posts that I put in all those many years ago were not about to give up the ghost easily. Guess I did a really good job putting them in. At least I never thought of using cement. I did leave the large ones that I'd put in as corner and gate posts as there are lots of birds who use them for lookouts.

Of course now this means I'll have to get to work raking up the old fenceline and moving "stuff". I did find a home for most of the old metal posts so they won't end up on my hilltop along with other materials. Thanks Joyce.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Three in a row

This appears to be a plain jane sort of photo but there is a story behind each bird. The one on the top came from Kathy, a rehabber in Lander. A Swainson's hawk, the bird was found unable to fly and in horrible feather condition. The one in the middle also came from another rehabber, Janet in Riverton. This bird, also a Swainson's hawk, was found barely able to stand and had neurological problems besides missing a whole bunch of wing and almost all tail feathers. The bottom one is a Rough-legged hawk that came in here last year with a badly fractured wing. Dr. Blessing repaired it but the prognosis was very poor. Usually birds spend about four weeks in a small cage then are put into larger quarters so they can begin to exercise. The pin is taken out at six weeks and then they go into a flight barn.

This young lady was in a small cage for 12 weeks and then went into one of the new mews, 8'x20'. She absolutely amazed me when she was up on the tall wall perch in just a couple days. She went into this large 32'x48' flight barn a couple weeks ago and has never looked back. She is now flying from one end to the other and up to the high wall perches. As this species won't be back in WY until this coming November, she'll stay here gaining flight hours until the others arrive for the winter. Then she will be released to join the migration back to the Arctic Circle in the Spring. If she was released now she would automatically head north but get there about the time the others are thinking of coming here. At that point she wouldn't be strong enough to make the return flight and would probably die in Northern Canada.

The wild birds constantly amaze me in their ability to overcome such great odds. Makes a person think about the trials and tribulations in their lives and to not give up, no matter what.

Friday, April 16, 2010


This photo is one taken just yesterday by Lee Hermann as he flew over IBR. Thanks to his talent as both a pilot and photographer you can see just what encompasses the entire facility. The main house has had four additions to the original 17'x35' old log cabin; a north room, bedroom, free flight aviary and sunroom. There are also the blue eagle and hawk flight barns with their open netting on top. The red roofs peeking out from the top of those barns are the new mews. No pond exists anymore but on the left you can see the chicken house with some of the hens out pecking around. The small pointed fenced area on the far right is my little cemetary. The single building in the middle houses the cage room for recovering birds and the rodent house where I raise mice and cavys. The bunny barn is the small red roof at one end of the blue hawk barn.

This looks a bit desolate due to the fact that Spring has barely sprung so all the trees are bare and the grass is just starting to turn green. When I bought this place about 25 years ago it looked like Little House on the Prairie with only three cottonwoods and some bushes. I love trees so at every oportunity I added whatever came my way. I won two during the Audubon tree giveaway in town plus bought dozens from the tree sales held every year. After I put in a lawn a few years ago all the trees bordering the yard started to take off and are now very lush due to the extra watering.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Not a good day

It's been about six hours since I had to put down the baby eagle shown below. I just got back from the vet having to euthanize another young golden eagle. She had been hit by a car but the break to her humerus was right into the elbow joint and not fixable. This poor three year old had led a hard life. The radius in her right wing had been broken at some point in her earlier life and healed on its own. And she was missing the center talon on her left foot. In spite of all that she was in rather good shape and had it not been for the vehicle she might have lived a long life. Thanks to WGF Warden Bill Robertson for transporting her half way here and to Dr. Erin Pedersen for taking care of her. It's never easy to euthanize any bird but as golden eagles are my favorites it's doubly hard.


Let me begin by saying I HATE ELECTROCUTIONS... This photo of a beautiful baby of last year was taken just a couple weeks ago shortly after he came to IBR. He had been found in a oil field unable to fly. As there were burns to both wrists it was obvious that he'd been electrocuted on one of the many power poles in the field. These kinds of injuries are horrible in that it takes some time for them to become apparent. In his case, he went from just two small wounds to seven, one large enough to damage the main blood vessel in his right wing. And to destroy the tendons near his left wrist. He was euthanized today and his body turned over to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as evidence.

I know that the power company is doing a lot to make these poles safer for the birds but obviously it can't be done all at the same time so until the job is completed there will be further electrocutions of these amazing raptors.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Life goes on

In the face of death there springs life. Two days ago I discovered that my pair of cockatiels had produced a baby. Dad is a lutino color phase, mom is a "normal". I have no idea what this baby will be as you can see it's just covered with down right now. They had three eggs but only one was fertile. I certainly don't need any more 'tiels as I have eight already. They are either rescues or donations to the free flight area I have off my bedroom. Needless to say with all the varieties of small birds; 'tiels, parakeets, budgies, finches, doves and canaries, I awake to many songs in the mornings.

Elvis has left the building.

It is a sad day here as much loved ELVIS is gone. He has lived at IBR for many, many years and produced dozens of baby cavys until just recently. I believe it was his kidneys that failed, a common problem with the elderly. He has a son and granddaughter still here and they are carrying on the family name. ELVIS has been buried in my little cemetary along with my horse, various birds, a cat and a dog so he is in good company. He will be missed but the memory of his perky personality will live long in my heart.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Amazing release

Wow, today I released two Swainson's Hawks, an adult, BUNNY, and an immature of last year, DEE. This was probably one of the best releases of all those I've put back into the wild. My friend Joyce, holding BUNNY, and I were joined by Matthew Riebel, a man I met at our local Audubon meeting on Thursday night. He had asked if he could come along and watch the release.

As usual, I took along my Nikon D80 to record the event and asked Matt if he would do the honors while Joyce and I tossed the birds in the air. At that time I didn't know of his profession. He pulled out a larger camera so mine went back into the truck. After the release I was watching the birds fly around in circles above us when I turned around and was amazed to see Matt holding the same camera but with a lens attached that must have been three feet long. He is a professional wildlife photographer and it was with the greatest of luck we met at the meeting.

Some of his photos were taken with the birds soaring so high that to look away meant you couldn't find them in the sky again. In the shot with the two birds together, BUNNY was much higher so she's out of focus. The bird below her is actually a redtail that happened to soar overhead and joined the group.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Owl barn finished

Well the final work was completed today on the owl barn. Now all the mews and flight areas match except for their doors. As they are all used I have to get busy with my paint brush. The top photo shows the barn as it was before John and Alan did their magic. The bottom one was taken today. Now the two resident Great Horned Owls, SEEDY and SMIDGE have a fancy place to live along with any baby GHOs that come in for fostering.

I still have to do a bunch of raking up to clean the area and make a run to the dump. I think this will be the end of large construction projects but there are always small things that need to be tweaked. One is replacing the outside door to the hawk flight barn. Another one of the used doors will be used for that after John makes an adjustment in the opening. I still want to put a 6'x6' pen inside the cage room for the larger birds where I don't have to crawl into a small cage to treat them. It's always something.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Maddie's home

Just to catch up, Maddie is back living here. Now that my chickens are all behind their fencing I don't have to worry about her killing any more of them. The ones that were silly enough to fly over into the house yard were unfortunately too much of a temptation for her and she gave in to it. Her daughter, Sophie, is thrilled to have her back so she has another tug-of-war playmate.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

WOW !, WOW !, WOW !

I was absolutely blown away with the "Walking With Dinosaurs" program I saw today up in Billings. I had a front row seat at the Metra and sat on the edge of it the whole time. I can't imagine how it was put together but the minds that thought it up are amazing. They were all life size, including the one with a long neck that is 35' tall and there were two of them in the center arena at the same time. The roars were earth shaking. I know if I heard that noise coming from a forest I'd turn tail and quick as a bunny run the other direction.

I did get a t-shirt, not the one I wanted because they only came in kids sizes, but here's a photo of it. Is that a huge eyeball or what? Again, this was the most awesome thing I've been to see in, well, forever, and I highly urge anyone who can get there in the next couple days make the effort. It's there until the 3rd and has two shows a day. Google, in quotes, "walking with dinosaurs" and check out their website.