Friday, March 18, 2011

Well, he's off into the wild blue yonder

Today my prairie falcon took off for a life of freedom. He's been flying in his larger mew just fine and I was going to put him into the 32'x 48' flight barn tomorrow. MIKHAIL had other ideas. When I went in to put his half quail on the feeding stump he was ready. As I opened the door he made a quick corner bank, tipped on his side and slipped through the small opening in the door. He was so fast that other than feeling a slight touch of wing tip to my head I wasn't sure what had happened. I looked around quickly, decided he really did fly out and stepped out the door to see where he went.

Wherever he went it was quick and fast as I never saw him again. That is until I returned from an eagle monitoring meeting at the museum. As I was driving down towards my house I spotted him sitting on top of the third power pole from my house. I was hoping he would stay there so I could get my camera and take his picture but he flew the minute I got under the pole.

You can't imagine how great I felt when seeing him launch away, both wings at full extension, with power and determination. He started soaring around and altho I was expecting him to just circle the area, he headed east. Hopefully he'll come back around tomorrow so I can toss out his uneaten half quail in case he's hungry. As he was hog fat when he left he is in good shape to continue on the rest of his life without my help. The photo is one I took of him in his first flight area.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Oh dear...

Today the old man died. Over 20 years ago I received a call from a woman who wanted to get rid of the pair of ring-necked doves she'd had for about five years. I took them and from that time, until today, the male has lived with me. I originally named them Nick & Nora Charles and of course their first hatchling was called Asta. You have to be either old enough or a fan of old movies to know these names. Nora died many years ago but with their offspring and other doves that came to live here, Nick never wanted for companionship. He and his various ladies produced many babies but today that all ended. He might have been old but he wasn't dead, his last baby was hatched in 2009. I will miss his beautiful cooing and seeing him flirting with the girls. Goodbye old friend.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day

I know I've told a lot of people about my Scottish ancestors but I'm also part Irish. The photos are of my grandfather, Thomas McDermott Stanton, his mother, Lucy McDermott and his father, Loren Stanton. My great-grandparents were born, as I have been told but haven't documented yet, in County Cork. They then immigrated to Canada where my grandfather was born in Raglan, Ontario.

After marrying my grandmother, Mary Burns Davidson on December 8, 1900, in Raglan, they moved to Illinois, ran Governor Lowden's farm, Sittyton Grove, then had a farm of their own in Glen Ellyn. They also raised Shorthorn Cattle, Berkshire hogs and Shropshire sheep. I have a most wonderful collection of photographs of his livestock along with the ribbons they won in expositions all over the US and Canada.

My mother is the fifth of six kids and I grew up spending every Sunday on the farm under the watchful eye of my grandfather and enjoying all things to do with the horses he had on the place. My grandparents both died before I was a teenager but my memories of the time with them will live forever in my mind and heart.

Happy wearing of the green, everyone.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Now you see it...

No one can say I'm overly observant. Yesterday I went out to see the power meter reader and spotted this lump in one of my trees. And it's not small either, probably at least 18-24 inches in diameter. Of course it's a magpie nest and I certainly hope that it was recently built and will have babies hatched in there this year. Magpies are very clever nest builders as they put a roof over it. Not rain proof by any means but does provide more protection to the chicks from weather and predators.

The last time I had nesting magpies was a few years ago and altho the roof has collapsed on it the nest is still in a different tree. I decided to just knock it out one day but it's very well lodged in place. Oh well, when the leaves come out it's hardly noticable.

The eagle has landed

It took quite some time as he missed the connection from Detroit to Syracuse but BURL has finally arrived at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY after starting the journey at the Cody airport about 5:00am yesterday. The top photo shows his new home, the bottom just a couple days before he left IBR. I don't know what happened but according to the airline in Detroit their cargo area was full so they bumped the eagle off. BURL's flight was changed to arrive in Ithaca or, as the clerk said, "we can send him tomorrow" ?????? The reservation was made last week after they carefully made sure there was room on all flights for his crate size. I can't imagine any instance where the airline would bump a live animal in favor of a piece of cargo. I got the call from Dr. Parks last night around 10:30, our time, after he picked BURL up and was headed home.

As a few of you know, this has been a long and difficult path in making sure that BURL was sent to Cornell. The okay for his transfer came from both the state of NY and the USFWS Region 5 office (NY) last November 3rd. On the 9th of that month the Region 6 (Denver) office denied his transfer because they decided they have to "honor our trust agreement with the Indian tribes and from this point forward ALL non-releasable eagles must be sent to their aviaries". There are three Indian facilites that already have, at last count, 56 of these birds between them. This is not supported by any of the regulations concerning who is allowed to receive eagles for educational programs, nor have I been able to find any documentation on any "trust agreement" supporting the Region 6 USFWS ruling.

I had the help of Senator Mike Enzi's office and a member of his staff, Karen McCreery, in fighting to put this right. It was a long four months and in this instance the battle was won but the war isn't over. I will continue to fight for the rights of all facilities to receive eagles for use in their programs. If this is allowed to stand then there will never be an eagle sent to any other facility but those run by Indian tribes. And their primary use for the birds...molting feathers to be used in their ceremonies and on costumes.

The eagle has landed but the fight goes on.....

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Old friend gone

Yesteday I found out that GARFIELD, one of the bobcats living at the Beartooth Nature Center in Red Lodge, MT has died. I met him in Ruth's office as a very young kitten and was thrilled to be able to meet such an endearing creature. This photo was taken when he was about grown but still an office cat with an outside run when he got to be too rambunctious. I don't have the particulars on what happened but I know everyone at the BNC is very sad now. As am I. Safe journey GARFIELD.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

It's about time

After a 4 1/2 month confinement because of a broken wing, and after a 46 mile one-way trip in a crate in the back of the IBR truck, PILGRIM is finally swimming away. He had only a water pan to play in but now this bird is in a most wonderful home. Because I don't believe he'll fly again, at least well enough for long distances, I drove him all that way to a ranch with year-around Canada geese living there, breeding there, and raising their families there. There are numerous ponds that have springs to keep them open even during the winter. As you can see from the photo, not all the snow and ice is gone. Moments after leaving the crate, this beautiful goose was honking constantly and eventually even got out of the water, on the side opposite from where I was parked, and seemed to be taking stock of the area. I wish him well.