Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day

This is a day to remember and at my age I have lots of memories. The only military person is my Uncle Roy who retired as a Colonel in the Air Force. But this day is not just for those in the armed forces, it's for all who have been lost over the years. My maternal grandparents on their IL farm and my dads mom in NC, my twin brother we lost at 16, my parents, aunts, uncles and cousins. This is the year for my 50th high school reunion back in IL and altho I doubt if I'll make it to the festivities I did order the booklet they're doing up with photos and stories. Those will certainly transport me back to the 60s when all things were possible.

I also have loads of new memories, new friends. Trips to Scotland to horseback ride in the Highlands with two ladies I've known for almost 50 years, a walk down the Grand Canyon with a relative from Canada I never knew I had, and of course all the many well loved pets, cats, dogs, horses and now various species of birds.

I hope everyone has a lovely day. Since it's rained here almost every day for the past three or four weeks, it'll be a bit of a soggy one here. Not much outside picnicing here in Cody. Enjoy

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Resounding success....infinite sadness

On Monday I received a beautiful Sandhill Crane from MT, brought down by Micsha from the Beartooth Nature Center in Red Lodge. I believe this may have been the bird that was seen about three weeks ago but they couldn't catch it. His left hock (think human ankle) had become dislocated and he'd managed to survive but barely.

Yesterday Dr. Blessing did repair surgery to put the joint back in place and it was an amazing job as he not only got it in place but the joint worked. The leg was then put into a fiberglass cast and I brought PALMER home. Because he apparently hadn't been able to find enough feed he was quite thin but his attitude was good. I tubed him with a special powdered diet, mixed with warm water, made just for carnivores. I know, but they are, they eat lots of bugs, mice, small mammals, so it was what he needed.

The sadness part came when I checked on him very early this morning and found out he'd died during the night. It was unfortunate that we weren't able to capture this wonderful bird much earlier, the outcome may have been much different.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Repeat performance

Again this year I've joined the Eagle Posse at the Draper Museum of Natural History in the Buffalo Bill Historical Center. Last year, my first, was spent with Nicole sitting 580 yards away from an awesome golden eagle nest east of Cody and documenting all the happenings from May 15th through the last baby fledging the end of July.

This year started out different in that we were each given six nests to check up on to see which ones were active. I only had the coordinates for five of mine but it appeared as all were not being used this year. I now have the location of the sixth nest but couldn't get to it this morning. I've been assigned one on the list and altho the first two checks revealed no adults in the vicinity, today I hit a jackpot. Not only was there an adult on the nest but her mate was around too.

I spent the first hour or so watching the female stand in one place, period. She never moved anything but her head. Then a bit after that she took off and flew to the top of the cliff. About 15 minutes later she landed back on the nest and began eating something, looked like a rabbit. Imagine my surprise when she slowly leaned over and delicately handed some food to a chick in the nest. She gave no hint that there was a baby but she fed him a lot of tiny morsels. I only got to see his head as the nest is deep and I was below it but it appears to be a strong little ball of white fluff. Only one so far and that may be all there is but I'll keep looking.

Our job is to monitor at least six hours a week at different times and record what's going on every 15 minutes plus making comments in a log book. There will be awards for the most hours, most miles (they'll probably both be won by Rose) and the best comment on our sightings. I may also share my monitoring with Melissa and her two interns as it's a long drive to this years nest.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Amazing assistants

There are two young men now interning at the Draper Museum of Natural History for the new live bird program. As the building of the mews has been held up by very rainy, cold weather they offered to help out at IBR for a couple days. They are Nathan (l) and Pat (r) working hard at making the bunny barn entrance much better. With the rain and even melting snow, the entrance would be flooded. Thanks to these great guys there is now a step into the building, a level field in front and a ditch dug that will be filled with rocks so water will be either allowed to soak into the ground or diverted around the side.

Both of these men are students at the University of Wyoming in Laramie. Nathan, a former Marine, is studing Wildlife and associated programs. Pat is majoring in Zoology. Having such willing help is a wonderful thing and very much appreciated by myself and the facility. Thanks guys.

NOTE: This is near the end of May and you'll notice they are wearing warm coats and gloves. The temperature was in the 40s but with the wind and rain it was a miserable day to be working outside.

M.A.S.H. ??????

Well, it's TRAPPER JOHN but not from M.A.S.H. fame. This adult Turkey Vulture was found in a yard in Greybull with a leghold trap attached above his right foot. I have no idea how long it was there but luckily he was found by some caring people who called Bill Robertson, the warden in that town. I drove over to Greybull, along with Pat and Nathan, to retrieve him. He was fiesty but at least didn't throw up when I put him in a carrier. Well, he did a little but that was probably because he hadn't eaten in a while.

As you can see in this photo, TJ has a bandage on his right leg after having surgery to repair the fracture near his foot. Only time will tell if this will work as the foot color wasn't the best. That may mean it's dead from lack of circulation. Maybe it's my wishing making it so but to me the toes on his right foot now appear pinkish, the normal color for TVs. He is totally flighted so if this works he will be headed back to the wild when ready. In the meantime he's realized this is a pretty good place to land as there are lots of mouse pieces to eat and they're tossed his direction, he didn't even have to hunt for them.

Monday, May 16, 2011

It's not just humans...

Saturday I got a call from Patty Perry of Wildlife & Environ-mental Conser-vation in Ojai, CA about an eagle I sent her a year ago for use in her educational programs. Patty spent quite a bit of each day sitting with TRONA, a very large and energetic female golden and was thrilled when she got this beautiful bird on her fist. Then the unthinkable happened, she collapsed and died as she was feeding her. As this wasn't an old bird, at least in my opinion maybe six to eight years, it was very unexpected. I suggested that Patty have an autopsy done which she did on Sunday.

Amazingly enough this very healthy appearing bird died of a heart attack. The post discovered a thickening of the wall in the left side of her heart and a roughening of one of the valves. I know that anything with a heart can have an attack but this was most unusual and left Patty, and myself, very sad at the outcome.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Foster dad is now on duty

Today I moved the two baby GHOs to a larger cage and added SEEDY to the mix. He's a super foster dad and altho he's not the absolute best at handing them their mice, he's very protective and by example shows them how to be a mean and big tough owl. SEEDY has been with me for 19 years now, the first dozen or so as a school bird and even posed for a famous artist at the Cody Art Show Quick Draw. That painting sold in a five figure amount.

When the babies are large enough to go outside they will all move to an 8'x 8' pen with branches and various perches. Then it's on to the owl flight area with lots of perch heights to aim for.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Owl nests

After the past two days rescuing the baby GHOs shown below, it seems to me that this would be a good time to mention owl nests. With the exception of the two ground nesters, Snowy and Short-eared, no owl builds a nest. They borrow either a cavity that is already in a tree, a hollow at the top of a broken off dead tree, or use an abandoned redtail hawk or magpie nest. Sometimes even a ledge in an old barn or cliff. The only one that may cause trouble is the magpie nest as they can only use it when the roof caves in which may take as long as a few years depending on how well it is made.

If you are a rancher or farmer with a rodent problem, the best bird to have on your place is a great horned owl as their diet is made up of lots of small furry things. The only way they will take up residence is if there is already a nest in one of the large old trees on the place. There is, however, a way to build one for them. They don't use nest boxes but open nests. Here are the directions....

Take a 4' square of 1/2" hardware cloth and the same size felt or tar paper. Find the exact center and cut a slit from there to one corner. Make a shallow cone shape by overlapping the cut edges, put the two together with the wire on the bottom and fasten the whole thing high up in the tree where a large branch comes off the trunk. Fill that cone with large bark pieces then a variety of branches doing your best to weave them into a solid base. Then sit back and hope the GHOs think you're a good nest builder and set up housekeeping.

For the smaller owls a nest box can be built and placed in the right place on a tree but be sure to put a few inches of pine shavings in the bottom. Remember, the owls won't bring nest material to the box, it has to be there ahead of them. Never, never use cedar shavings in a bird nest. You can use dried grass but never, never use straw or hay. Directions for these small owl boxes can be found on the internet by just Googling the owl species and add nest box in the search box. Use quotation marks around the request to narrow the search to just what you want.

Another loss

Long time resident, BLUE, died. When he became ill he went to the home of his original owner as she has others of his kind and wanted to try and nurse him back to health. He is an old fellow, I think he just wore out. He and his mate, PINK, who died a few months ago, came to live in my free-flight aviary about five years ago. They are grass parakeets from Australia known at Bourke's Parakeets. The third bird in the photo on the bottom is their first born offspring, PETE the TWEET. These are amazingly stunning birds and they will be missed.

What, again????

Yes, it happened again. Another 85 mile round trip to pick up DITTO (in front) who just had to follow BUMP down to the road. This smaller baby GHO weighs four ounces less which is a great deal when they are so small. He's also hurting a bit more, breathing hard this morning. I did find out that there is yet a third baby in the nest, hopefully that one now has enough room to stay put under mom.

In the meantime they are eating whole mice and both will be given to SEEDY when I know they're out of danger from any damage because of the nosedive and they're ready for fostering. Oh yes, the bald eagle in the background is fostering them right now so they have something soft to cuddle up to. As they already know they're owls it won't matter if that's a different species.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

What goes ________ in the night?

This baby GHO is the answer. Poor little BUMP fell out of a very old magpie nest that is disintegrating. The bad news is that it was about 15' high over the middle of a well packed dirt road. The good news is that he was spotted sitting there and rescued this morning. And luckily he wasn't broken. As the nest wasn't very high it would have been possible to get him back into it but I made the decision not to do that. His mom was sitting in it so it is assumed there is at least one more chick in the nest. Because it is so small the chances of BUMP falling out again would be high and the second time he might not be as lucky.

As you can see, he's right at home in his new "nest" made up of the top rings of a five gallon bucket filled with shavings and covered by long-leaf astroturf. Then I surrounded it with thick weeds and branches so he'd feel right at home. I don't know exactly how old this young bird is but he's probably at least two weeks from hatch. He'll stay here and live with the super foster dad, SEEDY, until ready for release back to the wild. He's in very good shape right now, you'll notice the mouse tail hanging out of his mouth. That was number two I fed him, he decided to wait on numbers three and four.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Can you see me now?

Good heavens, I can't believe I said that. Oh well, this is ALLEY, an adult male GHO who was found wandering the back streets in a subdivision near Cody. X-rays revealed nothing broken but his left wing doesn't stay close to his body so it may be just bruising from hitting perhaps an overhead wire. At any rate, his appetite wasn't affected, he ate his whole rat last night, and he's seen here up on a perch that's about shoulder high so apparently he can fly a bit.

ALLEY will spend some time in this mew until I know he's well and strong enough to be moved in with the other Great Horned Owls. Unfortunately right now the baby GHOs are branching and will be fledging soon. That means more food brought to them by their parents. If this male has a mate and offspring it will not bode well for them as both parents are needed to bring enough meals.

New residents

These two young birds came to live at IBR just a couple weeks ago, aren't the cute and so well behaved to just sit on the chair. Okay, they don't require much care but they will do their part in taking care of the baby redtails that arrive here. Or even help me find one if it's lost out of a nest.

Thanks to Vicki at Buffalo Billies here in Cody for finding them. I'd had one for quite a few years but the sound it makes when squeezed finally wore out. You see, this toy, when squeezed, make the sound of a screaming adult redtail and that's very important. When I get in babies of this species I use that sound to reassure them when I'm heading in their direction with their meal. And it also alerts them that food is on the way. Works a treat as they become anxious and will eat their food without hesitation because "mom" brought it.

The bottom photo shows the group of five baby redtails that were from two different nests but were comforted with the help of this amazing toy.