Sunday, March 30, 2014


Not mine but from a friend in NY. Dr. John Eliot Parks of Cornell University received an adult male Golden Eagle from me a couple years ago. That bird, BURL, has been a challenge from day one. John planned on using him on his fist for educational work but the bird had other ideas. He refused to be tamed, wouldn't eat on his fist, wouldn't even sit on it. He pouted up a lot but on a recent Saturday, when John gathered him up for routine beak trimming, BURL decided to cooperate. After the exam he sat on John's fist for a few minutes. He did bate (jump off) but got up right away and again sat quietly.

Hopefully all the trying times are over altho I believe this beautiful eagle will always be a handful (pardon the pun) This is a selfie photo John took of the two of them in a calm time.

Saturday, March 29, 2014


My volunteer Sara took her dogs for a walk today and found out it was very windy. This is Rita, her female pit bull, facing into that strong wind, so strong her lips were blown wide.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Unusual color

I've only seen this pigeon a couple times and this is a very out-of-focus photo but I wanted to show you a very unusual color phase. This bird is a light rusty red from his chest to his tail and iridescent purple on his top half. I say he but I'm not sure what it is. Hopefully he'll land again at the water pan and I'll be able to take a much better photo of him.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Training ground

I was racking my brain to think of a way to train HIGGINS to catch live prey so he would be ready for release. He's been here since October recovering from a broken leg that required extensive surgery to repair. It took many weeks before four of the pins were removed but he had to continue wearing a "sandal" to keep the toes open. When the final pin was removed he also was able to go without the sandal. Within a week his left foot was working wonderfully.

Then he went into the hawk flight barn to strengthen the long unused muscles to power his wings and sustain flight. He's been flying all over the 32' x 48' barn for a few weeks but I had no idea if he'd remember to make his own kills so he would be releasable.

Because anything I put out for him would just run away, My friend Jenny came up with the idea of using a large kiddie wading pool. Then I thought of painting the inside the color of dirt. I didn't think the bright blue with cute fishies on the bottom would be the most natural of settings. Thanks to the guys at Sherwin Williams here in Cody, I have the perfect color paint to do the job.

And today he made his first live kill. A few more in the coming days and then I'll take him to an excellent release site not far from Cody. This area has trees, a creek, horses and their feed, which will attract mice and other rodents, and seclusion. It's been a long time coming and I'll add a release photo after he successfully begins the next chapter in his life.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

He did it ! ! ! !

Finally, LOKI figured out how to fly to the highest wall perch in the flight barn. He came here on December 13th from Buffalo. Thanks to Dan Thiele, WGF, who drove him over after rescuing him on the Buffalo Wetland Habitat Area. He was only 7.75 pounds at the time and had a broken ulna, the largest bone between his wrist and elbow.

Surgery was done on December 16th and after the pin was pulled out on January 28th of this year he was put in the eagle flight barn. He didn't waste much time practicing his flying and today made a huge break through. For a couple weeks he's been flying high enough to make it to the lower wall perch but never landed on it. Today he bypassed that goal and went for the big one.

Here he is proudly on the high wall perch which is about 20' from the ground. He seems a bit stunned to look down on me but now he will hopefully visit this place often. He is gaining strength in his flying and will one day be released.

Monday, March 17, 2014

First one!

Isn't he handsome? And you'll notice he's standing in the snow. We had a very short mini-blizzard just a bit before this wonderful adult male robin stopped by for a drink of water. It's the first one I've seen this year so Spring must surely be on the way.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Super release

Thanks to Christine Smith, the Editor of the Dubois Frontier newspaper, I have a photo of beautiful ISIS at the moment of her release back in her home territory. Thanks again to USFWS biologist, Pat Hnilicka, and the original bird finders for making this possible. Below is the article written by Christine for her paper.

Bald eagle released to territory east of town
By Christine Smith
Dubois Frontier Editor

A week after being found beside the road east of Dubois, a bald eagle was released back to her flying grounds last Thursday. The female bald eagle was found Thursday, Feb. 27 by residents who were driving by the Red Rocks area. In the midst of the sagebrush, a distinct “white blob” was spotted. The couple, who have chosen to remain anonymous, drove back and saw the wind ruffling feathers on the head of a bald eagle.

Believing the bird to be dead, they reported it to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The next morning, they went back to check and walked over to the bird, which startled them by jumping up, flying a short distance and then landing in the river. When Pat Hnilicka, a wildlife biologist with the USFWS arrived, they went to the site, where they had to cross the river to find her.

She came out of some shrubs and then flew back into the river where Hnilicka was able to catch her as she floated down toward him.
“She was a healthy eagle– she weighed over 12 pounds,” Hnilicka said, but he was unable to determine what happened to her.
The eagle had no signs of disease or broken bones, but she was visually nonresponsive, he said. “Whether she couldn’t see or was in shock, I don’t know. Something acute had happened.” Hnilicka put her in a box on a jacket to help absorb some of the water she took on in the river. Then they headed to Cody where Susan Ahalt at Ironside Bird Rescue was waiting.

“Bald eagles are born with a bad attitude and it never improves,” Ahalt said, explaining the abnormal behavior of the bird, which, upon arrival, “just laid there” instead of reacting to movement near her. “I’d put my hand near her face and she didn’t move, didn’t bite, didn’t do anything,” Ahalt said. “I couldn’t figure out why because I couldn’t see anything wrong.” Isis, as Ahalt named the eagle, spent the first night in a crate in a warm room, and by the next morning, she appeared to be able to see.

“She saw me coming in and when I moved across the room, she saw the movement,” Ahalt said. The eagle was moved to a small mew with a wall perch where Ahalt found her perched a few hours later. A move to a larger mew allowed Isis to fly around– and to try to get out. “I called Pat and told him, ‘I think she’s ready,’” Ahalt said.

Isis hadn’t eaten while at Ironside, but on that last day, Ahalt gathered her up– which was a process in itself– and, using long forceps, handed her six mice and venison scraps. “At least she went out of here with some groceries in her,” Ahalt said. “I’m amazed how quickly she got over whatever happened.”

This time of year, Ahalt explained, bald eagles, which mate for life, begin nesting and commence breeding. Their offspring are usually hatched in April, which is why it was so important that Isis be returned to the wild. Last Thursday, a week after first being found, Hnilicka brought Isis back to Red Rocks to release her back into the habitat– and to the probable mate– with which she was familiar. Transported in a standard animal crate in Hnilicka’s truck, once at the area, he faced the crate into the wind, tilting it back slightly.

The release took merely seconds, as Isis left the crate, let her feet touch the ground for the briefest of all possible time, took flight into the wind, banked left and disappeared down river.

Hnilicka encourages people who find injured wildlife to report it to the Game and Fish or the USFWS. He said it’s better to make a call to the proper officials instead of trying to handle the animals themselves because it is dangerous. Injured wildlife could have beeen poisoned or rabid. “It’s a consideration of both human and animal safety,” Hnilicka said.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


She looks terrifying but this Long-eared Owl isn't much bigger than a pigeon. This is her threat pose, she's hoping to look fierce enough to scare off anyone. I'm a little late in posting her photo, she came to me the very end of December with a fractured right wing. Right now she's still wearing a pin in the bone but that should come out in a week or so.

She is non-flighted because the tendon at the leading edge of her wing was also damaged and couldn't be repaired enough for flight. At this time I'm working at having her placed as an educational bird in a facility permitted for that purpose. Are you just a little scared?

Saturday, March 1, 2014

And another...

ISIS arrived yesterday afternoon thanks to Pat Hnilicka, USFWS biologist in Lander. He drove to between Riverton and Dubois, near Crowheart, when he got the call there was an adult bald eagle on the side of the road. He couldn't find anything broken but called me and said he'd drive her up to IBR. About four hours later he arrived here.

We've had some pretty bad snowfall the past few days but he made it down my road. I also can't find anything broken on this amazingly beautiful female except for one thing. ISIS appeared, yesterday, to be totally blind. She had also fallen into the nearby river and was soaking wet. Pat put her in a box on a jacket and with the heat pouring out in the truck cab she was almost dry by the time they arrived.

I had an appointment this morning to have her checked out with Dr. Blessing but unfortunately the wind, combined with all the snow, has my road impassable. I only got about 100' before the crusty drifts were too much. I tried shoveling but decided I would have to do the whole half mile to the county road. I'm now trying to find someone with a plow or front loader.

She seems as if she sees something this morning so perhaps her eyesight will improve. In the meantime it's more hand feeding altho at almost 13 pounds she's in excellent condition. Oh yes, the blue thing is a tail protector made out of a feed sack. It's to keep the tip of her white tail, well, white.

UPDATE: I never made it to the vet, snow is so deep and crusty I was only able to make it about 100' from my house. It's now been plowed so I can drive out but can't get to the vet until Monday. The really good news is that when I tossed a rat down in front of ISIS she bent down and looked at it. Hopefully this means she'll be back in her home territory in time for breeding.