Saturday, June 26, 2010

More growing

Here's the latest COOP photo. This is 11 days after she came here as a fully downy baby. She's even trying to fly. I found her on a piece of the framing near the ground just now. She's really growing into a very nice looking female kestrel. Unfortunately the adult female I put her in with is not doing anything to teach COOP how to be a bird of prey so hopefully this young falcon will learn enough on her own to become a wild bird.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Non-stop day

This morning started early with an 8a.m. phone call about an injured hawk up the Belfry Highway near Cottonwood Creek. Thanks to Patty O'Mara and a young man who works with her the bird was rescued. It wasn't a hawk but a falcon, an adult female kestrel. She has a broken humerus in her left wing that appears to have been there for some time. Then after stopping at Dr. Blessings to have the wing x-rayed it was back home so I could clean my rodents. Another phone call had me heading east to meet Bill Robertson, WGF warden from Greybull. He brought me yet another starving GHO. Before I got home I received another phone call about a baby crow on the ground in town. Mom was there but this silly baby wouldn't stay in the tree.

Another quick stop at home then it was out to Oregon Basin to gather up a baby golden eagle. The bird had other ideas and with the wind blowing at a pretty good lick we were unable to capture the bird. Every time I got close enough he just spread his wings and the wind took him aloft. With the heat I figured that by making him fly it might kill him so the field staff is going to keep an eye out for him. He's not strong but enough so to keep out of my clutches today.

While I was in and out of service range in OB I got a call about some baby songbirds, 3 robins, that had been taken out of their nest in a low tree. One of them didn't make it but the other two may do so. I finally got home and sat down for a bit but not for long. The next phone call was to go to KMart and pick up a baby bird that had fallen out of a nest in their roof structure. It's a starling and he's now in the box with the robins as they eat pretty much the same things.

Hopefully that's the end of the calls for the day as I have to be at the museum tomorrow morning at 5a.m. to go out on a field trip about golden eagles. Whew! I'm sure ready to hit the sack early tonight.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Flower power

My friend Susan gave me a bunch of her iris when she was dividing the plants. I put them in a very large box in front of my cage room and hoped for the best. Today the best showed its face. Isn't it beautiful? I have two varieties and thought it would take a couple years for them to be established enough to bloom. NOT! The others may not put any flowers out this year but this one makes up for that. Thanks Susan O for your gift.

and growing...........

Here are the latest photos of COOP, the baby kestrel that came in on June 15th. Most baby raptors grow at a very fast rate and as you compare the earlier post photos, this wonderful little girl is no exception. You will also note that in both pictures her mouth is wide open. She is food begging even tho she has some just out of camera range. She's a voracious eater. I don't think the adult female in with her is doing caretaking but at least COOP has a role model to copy.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Gosh darn it !

Very sad day today, LARRY was euthanized this afternoon. He is the very handsome bald eagle in an earlier post. Unfortunately his injuries turned out to be from an electrocution. He has been at this facility for exactly three weeks, about the length of time it takes for that type of wound to do its damage. His body was turned over to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service agent here in Cody so he can contact the power company that takes care of the area where this bird was found. Hopefully they will retrofit all the poles in the immediate area so this won't happen again.

There is no way of knowing if LARRY had a clutch of babies with the mate who has been seen hanging around where he was found. I can only hope that this was their first year together and they hadn't set up housekeeping yet. One adult wouldn't be able to provide enough food for the two to three babies that bald eagles usually produce.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Ouch ! ! ! !

Some days are more difficult than others. This afternoon, while I was putting food out for the birds, one of them struck back. It wasn't meant as an attack, I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. When I tossed some rats up on a wall perch in the hawk barn, the swainson's that likes to sit up high on the side wall took off. She went to the opposite side of the barn then turned back in my direction. She's done that before but usually went off to the side not coming close to me. This time she hit me smack dab in the face with a foot. The one with the sharp pointy toes..... Felt like someone sucker punched me and boy did I bleed. A friend was here picking up eggs so followed me as I hurried to the cage room for some paper towels to soak up the blood. As you can see, I now have a few holes punched in my face and some scratches.

After I wiped off my face and got cleaned up I went back to retrieve the remaining rats and finished feeding the rest of the birds. Then I went to the house and put some betadine on the wounds, took an Aleve because it was aching and ate some chocolate, the cure for all ills. Sure hope I don't get a black eye from it. Now that would be a sight to scare people.

Growing up

My little girl is getting bigger. COOP has only been here a few days but she's already making great strides in getting in her hard feathers. As you can see, she's now standing tall. She's also eating everything in sight, loves her mice. I can open one up and she's able to eat some on her own but most of the time I have to cut it up into small pieces. She is in my face when she sees the little bowl. I don't know how she can eat so fast while constantly "kee kee keeing", her food begging noise. I didn't weigh her today but I'm sure she gained quite a bit of it since coming here. More photos later.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Ms. Frizz, honorary owl?

A friend of mine, Jenny, in CA has received four raptors from me in the past few years for use in her educational programs all over the state. Amazingly she also uses domestic animals in her shows too, including this little lady. This is Ms. FRIZZ, a half grown bantam chicken of the Frizzle variety. They come in lots of colors, I tried red but they all turned out to be roosters. I think Jenny lucked out and got a hen. As you can see, she's not in an outside, dirt floored, pen. She's sharing the house with Jenny and her wonderful old Golden Retriever, SPIRIT. The dog puts up with some hair pulling and pecking probably wondering just how yummy a bit of chicken would taste but is much too good natured to do anything about it as you can see in the other photo. I wonder just what SPIRIT is thinking? Or Ms.FRIZZ?

If you ever get in the San Francisco area be sure to try and see any program done by the Native Bird Connections (see links), they are very informative and entertaining.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Young man of the lake

Today I got a call from Guy Highland who works for North Fork Anglers. He had some people from Minnesota out north of Cody on 2AB trying to catch the elusive fish. They didn't witness it but heard an osprey hit an overhead wire and saw it spiral down to the water. When Guy called me the bird had been making his way to shore and when close enough was taken out of the water and put in a jacket. I took this very chilled bird, named TIMMY, to Drs. Blessing and Pedersen for x-rays as his right wing was badly broken. Unfortunately the breaks were many and too close to his shoulder joint. Because osprey are very difficult to keep in captivity and because this was such a bad fracture, the decision was made to euthanize him. Very sad when this happens but at least there was someone nearby who cared enough to call for help. Thanks Timmy for finding the bird and to Guy for making the call.

Hey pardner....

I was stumped when I got the call on a baby raptor in Basin but when I got there it was an even bigger surprise. Most baby birds of prey are already well on their way to having hard feathers and getting ready to fledge. This is a very late hatch of an American Kestrel, the smallest falcon they make. COOP was found out back of the Big Horn Co-Op in Basin and hard as we looked no nest site was seen. She's so young you can see she isn't even standing. She can, however, make it up on her feet to snatch food off the end of the forceps at feeding time, she's an enthusiastic eater. I'll post more photos as she gains feathers so you can see how fast she becomes a "real bird"

Great improvement

His right eye is still a bit droopy but DITCH has made great strides in recovering from whatever had put him on the ground. He can now see, can find his own food and loves his rats and has enough balance to be able to perch and even fly a bit. I'll never know what brought him down but his improvement has been amazing to watch.

The second photo is of BUDDY. I believe he's a baby of this year that was hatched very early in the season because as you can see he has "ears". He also was on the ground for an unknown reason altho he does have a wound on his right foot. He can use it and the swelling is going down so he may be alright in the end. He was very starved, probably because the hurt foot kept him from catching all the food he needed to maintain his weight. As I've mentioned before, 80% of baby birds don't make it through their first year for many reasons and injury is one of them.

I certainly hope these two baby owls defeat the odds and become old and wise as they are depicted in history.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Shot heard around the world

Yesterday I got in a wonderful little crow, probably one of this years hatch, that had a broken wing. She came from some very caring people, Kris & Scott Prinzing (see links) in Billings. They'd found her in their neighborhood, called Jeff Ewelt at the Beartooth Nature Center in Red Lodge who then called me to see if I would take the bird. Of course I said yes, I really like corvids, so Jeff drove her down here. I'd made an advance appointment with Dr. Blessing so she would be seen right away. What we saw on the x-ray was very upsetting. This amazingly bright, beautiful bird had been shot with a pellet gun, one was still in her chest. In traveling through her body it had shattered the humerus at her shoulder joint and also about a half inch from the elbow. As neither of these breaks were repairable, SHOLA was euthanized.

I often wonder just what is in the mind of someone that takes a weapon out for the express purpose of killing something just to be killing something. I am a hunter and am not talking about putting food on the table, this was pure murder. This young bird was just starting out a life that would have been filled with blazing intelligence, devotion to her future family and a joy of life that only corvids can exhibit. I am so sad.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Punk has arrived

It certainly has but in very small packages. These two baby cockatiels are less than two weeks old but are very active and demanding. Don't you just love their yellow hairdo? Each baby will be the color of one of the parents, one a "normal" and one a "lutino". Dad is the lutino which is white and yellow with the distinctive orange cheek spots and some dark spots on his wings. Mom is the normal grey color also with the cheek spots. This is not their first batch of babies. The first three were born a few years ago and are also living in the aviary. The second baby was hatched but at eight days old one of the other birds living there took him out of his nest and killed him. A total of four eggs in this batch were fertile but only these two have gained any age. One never made it out of the egg and for some reason the first to hatch died a week ago. These babies, if not sold as pets, will join with the other eight 'tiels living in the aviary.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Warm and fuzzy?

Well fuzzy anyway. This group shot is of the Foster Dad of the Year, SEEDY (back), his foster dad in training, SMIDGE (center) and in front is the newest fuzzy addition to the owl barn, BUSHY. This is the second time I've rescued this baby great horned owl. The first was last week when he came down on the ground near the Presbeterian Church in Cody. His mom was in the tree very upset with me but after a couple tries I finally got him back into the tree near where she was making such a fuss.

Today he was about a block away hiding under a lilac bush after being spotted both in a nearby aspen tree and then walking across the street to the lilac. I went back to the church grounds to see if I could spot his parent but to no avail. As he's still dependent on adults for meals I couldn't leave him there in hopes they would show up. He's now sharing the owl barn with these two old men and HAIRY. The two kids can just hang out together while gaining some knowledge on being mean, tough, capable birds.

Eagle nest monitoring

I know I mentioned that I've joined the Eagle Posse at the Draper Natural History Museum at the BBHC here in Cody. My teammate Nicole and I have been assigned a wonderful nest that is now home to two adult golden eagles and two babies. This has been a very successful pair so far, both babies seem very healthy, well fed and energetic. This is a photo of the nest site from where we do our monitoring. We are 580 yards from it so needless to say we're using a very good Zeiss scope for our observations.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

He rides again

d'ARTAGNAN is eating on his own. He ate the mouse in the photo below all by himself, not a whisker was left in the morning. Then last night I gave him another one, bigger this time and he gobbled down all but a few scraps. Tonight he gets another chance to prove he's finally recovering from his horrible fall.

The baby GHO is also greatly improved. He's managing to get up on his floor perch so this evening I'm giving him a chance to find the mice I left on it. I know he's seeing much better and his eyes are more matching in looks so perhaps the trauma to his brain is repairing itself. These babies have come through some really traumatic times but they have turned a corner and hopefully the light is at the end of the tunnel.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The surviving Musketeer

He now has a name....This is d'ARTAGNAN. ATHOS, PORTHOS and ARAMIS didn't make it. He seems to be feeling better altho he's still not eating on his own. You'll notice a mouse on his foot, I'm hoping he'll actually eat it after dark as they are totally nocturnal owls. Think of someone hitting the drivers side of your car. Your head snaps to the left and hits the window very hard. That is what happened to this tiny baby. His nest cavity was about 30' above the ground in the top of an old cottonwood tree. When the logger cut the tree down the top slammed into the hard earth with four of these young birds inside. Because this person waited until the next day to call me about them, and by the time I got to the site, only one little owl, d'ARTAGNAN, was there. The rest were probably taken by marauding cats, dogs or wildlife during the night.

You'll notice that d'ARTAGNAN has his eyes closed, is very thin looking and has his tiny ears standing up. That's so you can't see him. Of course it loses something in the fact that he's not up against the grey bark of a tree but you get the idea.

I was called back to Burlington on Wednesday night because it was thought that maybe there were other babies still alive. Alas when I drove the 37 miles to the site I found it was just the adults calling for their missing babies. I certainly hope this strong little fellow will survive and be able to return to the wild.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Morning after the night before????

Okay, here's a photo of DITCH. Not looking particulary happy at the moment I took the photo but he's a bit better health wise this morning. I managed to get two mice down him last night before bed and again about an hour ago. He's a fiesty little bird so hopefully that will bring him back from whatever bad place he'd been before being found on the road.

Another note: BABY SCREECH is still with me, made it through the night but not in his little tree hole box. He was hiding behind it so that's where I put him after also feeding him two very small cut up mice this morning.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Busy day

Wow, this has been a long day. This morning was sad, see below, then it got a bit better after a 184 mile round trip to get not only the baby screech owl but also six donated rabbits. Now I just got back from picking up another baby GHO, this one not far from home, thank goodness. DITCH was found on the ground in a very starved condition and so weak he can't stand for long. Yes, he can stand. I fed him some cut up mice (yum) and fluids so he has something in his tummy for the time being. He feels very warm but then he had been sitting out in the sun for most of the day, spent about 15 minutes being poured on by a quicky rain, and then back into the blazing sun. I just hope he's not so far down he can't come back. He was standing, albeit leaning on the side of his cage, when I left him. I certainly hope he's up and glaring at me in the morning. I'll add his photo tomorrow.

Tiny baby

This is a very young Western Screech Owl, the smallest eared owl we have in these parts. He weighs a whopping 4.125oz. This nestling was one of four that fell out of their nest cavity after the tree they were living in was cut down. After slamming into the ground from about 30' high, the logger then cut the trunck into 6-8' pieces. Not knowing there was a nest in the tree he was very surprised when he made one cut and had four babies tumble out. He said they hurried back into the cavity so he didn't do anything about them. Unfortunately that was yesterday, he didn't call me until this morning. I didn't know the timing so when I got there I expected to just find all four sitting around waiting for help. After a friend who lives in Burlington came over to help look we managed to find just this one baby. Because of the lag time between his cutting into the nest cavity and my arriving on the scene the chances of the other three surviving the night were very poor. My friend said she'd go back tonight to listen and hope to hear the babies begging for food so they can be found. Thanks B.J. for trying. This baby is very depressed so his prognosis is guarded right now.

"I am smiling"

Here's LARRY after his visit to the vet. Good news in that he doesn't have a broken wing. Bad news is we don't know what's wrong with it but he does have two wounds on the underside near his elbow and wrist. Now it's a matter of waiting and seeing just what may happen with them. As you have read in previous posts, electrocution wounds are horrible so I have my fingers crossed that these are just run-of-the-mill kind of wounds. Isn't he a handsome devil?

Not a good day

This might have been a Monday it's turning out so bad. This morning I found one of my golden eagles dead in her cage. RIO came to me a few weeks ago from Green River with undiagnosed problems. She's a three year old female that was very thin and wouldn't fly. We took x-rays and did blood tests but nothing showed up as abnormal. She wouldn't eat on her own but did not fight me when I gathered her up to give her fluids and hand feed her meat and mice. She even went from 8.5# when I got her to 9.25# today. Her body will go to the state lab for an autopsy and further tests of the tissue.

The second bad thing today is that I have to euthanize two of my great horned owls. BEAKER had his lower beak repaired after being hit by a car and having it split in two. That was a complete success. The bad thing is he came to me blind. Altho he now has some sight, can see my movements if I'm in front of his cage, he can't see well enough to find his food by himself. Having to force feed him twice a day is very stressful and doesn't make for a good quality of life. The second to be put down is the most hurtful. It's BOUNCE, the baby owl that came in not able to stand. He too has made some progress but it stopped a week ago and there is no improvement at all. He too has to be force fed as he can't stand well enough to find food. Force feeding sounds harsh but it means I have to open their beak, put the food in the back of their mouth and wait for them to swallow. And that is for every piece of food they take in.

The bright spot today is taking my new adult bald eagle (see below) in for x-rays to see if his left wing is broken and how best to repair the damage. He's a very handsome male in feather perfect condition and altho very cranky, as are most all balds, he will hopefully be repaired enough for release back to the wild.