Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Happy & sad

Tonight Nicole and I went out for a last view of the golden eagle nest we've been monitoring since May 15th. Both babies finally left the nest, the last one just last Friday. We have been watching them on the ground and making their way from one spot to another by mostly walking. We finally got to see one of them soar on extended wings to a beautiful soft landing below where one of the adults was perched. The parents will keep track of them and supply both with food until they can learn enough to make it on their own. '

This time we saw only one adult soaring above the favorite ridge perch but it wasn't in sight for very long. We set up our chairs after a lengthly battle with the local deer flys for our right to be there. Thank goodness for Skin So Soft, it works on those demons too as well as mosquitos. Altho we never saw either of the babies we could hear one of them calling for either the sibling or parents. We didn't stay a long time as the calls stopped so we would like to assume that all four eagles were off on new adventures. The babies starting what could be lives that last for decades.

It was an awesome experience watching these magnificent birds of prey go from very tiny white fluffs to the incredible huge birds they became. I certainly hope they both make it through this very difficult first year and come back stronger than ever.

Ducks aweigh !

All nine mallard ducklings shown in an earlier post are now floating away from me. I took them to Beck Lake here in Cody and tossed each one in. My concern about them taking to the water was unfounded as they immediately headed for the far reaches of the lake. There are other waterfowl there including other ducks, Canada geese and even a lone pelican.

Finally again.............

Today I released the last of my swainson's hawks at the same ranch area as the other one. This one was a bit reluctant to come out of the crate too but once on the ground she sat back and said "bring it on". She also came towards me when I tried to convince her she could fly free. It finally took a long wooden rod to get her upright. I got her to grab it with her feet then tossed her into the air. You can see both photos above. Now all she and the other swainson's hawks have to be is strong enough to make the long migration this Fall to South America for the winter.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Finally ! ! ! !

Today one of the swainson's hawks that has been here since mid November is finally flying free. I took her out to a nearby ranch, way back off the road, and released her. She wouldn't come out of the crate, when I looked in she was sitting on her butt daring me to touch her. I had my camera all ready to catch a release photo so put that down, got on my leather glove, and hauled her out. Unfortunately they never head the direction I aim them for or expect them to go. She zoomed around the opposite side of the truck and took off. By the time I got the camera lens on her the result is the photo above. You can't tell what kind of bird but you can see just how strong her wings are. She came here with all her flight and tail feathers either broken off or missing so she had to stay for a molt. Today, with the exception of one tail feather, she is feather perfect.

I have yet another swainson's to release but her feathers aren't quite there yet so she'll go in a few weeks. These birds came from Riverton and Lander but as they are only a year old I didn't have to return them to where they came from. I certainly hope they survive to old age.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Growing up

Here's a recent photo of two owl babies here at the facility. Both birds are fully flighted but BUDDY on the left has stiff toes on his right foot so can't close them for grasping prey. DITCH on the right came in unable to stand or see but is now all better but for his vision. The eyes aren't quite talking to each other so there may be a bit of limited vision in one eye. It will take some time to find out if they can be released.

Note: Unfortunately little BUDDY's foot deteriorated to the point he had to be euthanized but DITCH is doing fine.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Here and there

It's been a while so thought I'd just post what's been happening here at IBR. Little kestrel, COOP, has not been seen for three days now. I assume she finally connected with the local kestrels and is now a wild and free bird. I worry but then I can't hold her little foot forever so hope she's doing okay.

I'm planning on releasing one of my swainson's hawks this Sunday. I tried to do that a couple weeks ago but she decided she couldn't fly anymore. She's now in the air so will be set free. The other swainson's still has some feathers to replace before she leaves.

The baby ferruginous hawk, WHIT, is still here. He's eating great but hasn't managed to make a live kill so I won't take him back to Meeteetse until he does that. In the meantime, he's flying quite strongly now so when he passes the prey hurdle he'll be ready for release.

The eagle nest that Nicole and I have been sharing monitoring duties with another couple has not had much happen in the past week or so. One of the babies fledged over a week ago but the other one, I call him SLUG because that's what he looks like when he lays in the nest, is still there. He's made a couple hops around the nest but never out into thin air. We will do one of our twice weekly visit to the nest this Sunday morning and hopefully will be able to watch this very large baby take to the sky. His parents and sibling have been seen so are still in the area.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Nine little Indians........

On June 16th I received a call from the Cody Rec Center about a duck that had put her nest under a bush by their front door. Seemed a bad choice considering there is a pond and island just a short distance away near the back of the library. When I got there I found some little girls about to pick the eggs up. I gathered them all into a box, brought them home and put them in my incubator.

It takes 28 days for mallard eggs to hatch. On July 10th all nine eggs hatched so I apparently got them just a few days after she'd finished laying. One of the babies appeared to have some sort of neurological problem, couldn't keep its head from flopping backwards. I put them in a brooder with a water bottle and food and kept an eye on them.

As you can see by the photo, they are all doing just fine and the baby with the problem? It's corrected itself and there's no difference between that one and the others. Unfortunately because they weren't hatched in the normal manner, under mom, they don't have any natural oil on their down feathers so they're not waterproof. Because of that they can't be in water deeper than a couple inches for about a month. If it's too deep they can get waterlogged and drown. At this time they're having fun playing in their shallow water pan and growing bigger with each passing moment. When ready they'll be taken to a nearby pond for release to the wild.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

4th Musketeer is flying high

Today I hiked down a wonderful trail right near Cody to release d'ARTAGNAN, the little screech owl that came here after his nest tree had been cut down. I forgot my hat, it is almost 90 degrees outside, and water bottle but didn't think it would take me long. NOT ! It was about a half mile I guess, some downhill, some level, but the bird is tiny and the crate not very heavy. I found the perfect place, lots of tree branches, shade and even a bit of a trickle of water underneath the space. I opened the crate door and whoosh! out he flew, past all those wonderful branches and off to the right. By the time I got in the clear I had no idea where he landed. I wished him well in his coming life and thanked him for being a part of mine. Then came the hike back to the truck. Seems to me a lot of it was uphill and a bit level......

Friday, July 16, 2010

WHIT update

Today I went out with Chuck, Richard and Alex to see if we could find the nest that this baby ferruginous hawk fell out of. We walked all along the row of cottonwood trees where he was found but no luck in spotting it. And, of course, no adult bird flew over either. At this point WHIT will be staying here until he's old enough to fly and also prove he can catch live prey. As you can see by these photos, he's trying his wings out. Then he'll be taken back to the Turnell ranch in Meeteetse for release as that's obviously a great habitat for this type of hawk. Ferruginous hawks are rather rare in this area so we want him to have the best chance of survival.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Flew the COOP

Okay, that's not gramati-cally correct but the baby kestrel, COOP, is now out of her pen. She's seen sitting on top of the hawk flite barn looking at her new home, the big wide world. I'm still planning on feeding her mice, as I did this morning on top of the bunny barn. And will support her as long as she stays around here and begs for food. Just as any parent kestrel would do for a certain amount of time after their babies fledge.

Thanks again Kristy for saving that little white downy baby from a certain death. Now it's up to Mother Nature to provide the strength and knowledge so this wonderful little falcon lives a long a healthy life.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Morning view

This morning, when I was heading out to do chores, I heard my dogs barking a lot so went to investigate. This handsome fellow (look closely), in velvet, was slowly walking on the other side of my perimeter fence and they didn't like it. He sauntered while I rushed to get my camera. By then he was in nearer to his small herd and in front of the wonderful view I have from my front door.

Long day into night

Yesterday I spent a very long time behind the wheel of my little Ford Ranger. And drove 169 miles in the process. In the morning, Nicole and I headed up to visit the Beartooth Nature Center in Red Lodge, MT (not included in the mileage). When we were almost there I got a phone call from the state salix operator telling me about a downed turkey vulture in Greybull. Red Lodge is about 70 miles north of Cody, Greybull is 50 miles east. I stopped at home to let the dogs out and drop Nicole off at her car but when I was halfway to Greybull I got another phone call about a downed hawk in Meeteetse.....32 miles south of Cody.

After getting the Greybull police department to open their dog pound so I could get the vulture I headed further south to Basin to get the road to Burlington and then on to Meeteetse. Of course the hawk wasn't right in the town, it was on to Turnell's Whit Ranch which is west of Meeteetse about five miles then north a few more. The bird turned out to be a baby ferruginous hawk that had just come out of the nest a bit early. They are the largest hawks with the adult female weighing around four pounds. This baby isn't flying so he's now here at IBR. His photo shows a very good looking bird that just needs more time before being on his own.

Good news is that I think the vulture was just a bit overheated and had come down in town and was spotted in an alley. I took it out early this morning and released it near where our resident turkey vultures roost for the night. Some of them were still in bed so I tossed my bird in the air hoping he'd see them and join their ranks when they took off. As you can see from the above photos, he did great.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Big kid now

Here's a recent photo of d'ARTAGNAN almost all grown up. He's now in a much larger place so he can practice his flying and strengthen his muscles. As you can see, he's almost all feathered out but his "ears" are still a bit fluffy. He's been a great baby and hopefully when released back to the wild will live a long and prosperous life.

Monday, July 5, 2010

COOP scare

Last Thursday there was a bit of a scare concerning the baby kestrel, COOP. She'd been flying for a few days inside the 8'x 20' pen and doing well. Then that night, when I went out to put everything to bed I saw a baby kestrel sitting on top of the hawk barn. I don't have a clue as to how she managed to get out of her pen but there she was, kee keeing at me. I tried luring her within capture distance with a fresh mouse but she wouldn't come close enough. Then she flew to the owl barn roof and then the eagle barn roof. It was getting darker so I wished her safe for the night.

The next morning she was back on the owl barn roof but this time I got my extension ladder out and with mouse in hand, climbed up and walked towards her. She saw the food and immediately came rushing over for it. I wouldn't let go so I was able to drop a net over her. She's now back in the pen with some extra work done on making sure that doesn't happen again. I know I can't hold her little foot forever but she, and I, aren't quite ready for her to be flying free. I will hack her back from here in case she decides she needs some food support while she's learning how to feed herself. This photo was taken just a bit ago with her sitting up high and begging for her mouse. Is she cute or what?????

Black bird, black bird.....

Okay, they're not blackbirds but they are black birds. The top one is another of NOIR in a new pen and with his own tree to sit in. He's doing well and eating his meat mix. Hopefully he'll be releasable in the near future.

The second photo is of CRACKER, a young raven of this year that apparently fell out of her nest when she was very young and broke her left wing. As they are very intelligent and will eat most anything, she's survived for a few weeks without being able to fly. It took about 45 minutes of climbing up and down some pretty steep hills west of Cody to finally catch her. The adults were flying overhead and saying, in no uncertain terms, to "let their baby alone!" Luckily she tried to get away down a dry creek bed and I was able to move faster than she did and finally caught her with my net. There were a few people standing quite some distance away who saw just where she was going and kept giving me hand signals on directions to take. I know she'll never fly again but I do have a facility in KY that wants another raven to replace the one they got from me many years ago and had just died of a heart attack.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Birthday America ! !

Here's wishing everyone a very happy 4th of July. Especially all the folks in the military who have made this country what it is and keep it that way.

My parents almost had a couple fireworks in the family as my brother Tom and I were born the afternoon of the 3rd. Just missed by about 12 hours. With three babies in two years, my sister Dorf is a year older, I'm sure my mom thought she had as much excitement as she could stand. In those days doctors kept new moms in the hospital for days so she missed being able to celebrate the 4th by going to our hometown parade and watching fireworks.

I saw the Cody Stampede parade yesterday as this morning is a scheduled eagle nest monitoring day so will miss the big one. There were lots of great entries, color and pagentry. I especially love the pack strings from the Forest Service mules, my friends BJ and Mike Carlson and their Wayfaring Traveler llamas to the best, the string made up of baby donkeys and kids. They've never won the blue ribbon but they certainly deserve it.

Thanks everyone for making this the best country in the world and my home for 67 years.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Talked too soon

Well, baby crow NOIR is back at IBR. His mom wasn't there at the time I put him back in the nest tree but I assumed she was in the area. I got a call from the homeowner the next afternoon saying they'd not seen her at all. I drove back to town and the minute I got out of the truck, there was mom, yelling at me. She did, however, not seem that interested in her offsping, probably too busy with the other two who were already flying. So NOIR will stay here until he's ready for release, hopefully in a week or so.

BUNNY's Independence Day

Okay, it's a couple days early but my adult female kestrel, BUNNY, was just released near where she was found. I haven't the foggiest idea why she was found there as no trees are around, just open fields. Of course kestrels love mice and grasshoppers and both are found in hay fields. Holding her is Delia with her mom Heidi standing by. Dad Harley was at work and couldn't be there for this momentous occasion. The Morrells are the ones who found her and brought her to me.

Because she had been in a pen that was only 20' long her release was a bit jerky until she reailized there was no wall to stop her. She flew until out of sight and at this point we all hoped she lives a long and prosperous life.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Baby goes home

Last week I got a call from a friend about a baby crow that was down in their yard. I went over and altho I tried very hard, NOIR just wouldn't stay in the tree where his mom was perching. I brought him home and started feeding him a variety of foods which he thought were just fine. Yesterday I stopped by the house to see if his family is still there as this baby is ready to go back to them. The minute I stepped out of the truck his mom started screaming at me. She apparently either recognized my truck or myself as the one who "stole her offspring". I was glad to see her and will return NOIR to her care this morning.

Corvids are some of the smartest birds on the planet and this mom is no exception. I just hope this little guy learns the lessons she imparts to him.