Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Disaster week

In less than a week there have been five birds come in to this facility and only one came out alive. And that was the Rosella, BLAZE. The other four are two baby redtails, six months old, one sharpie, also six months old, and one possibly adult great horned owl.

One baby redtail came from Red Lodge, MT after being found alongside the road. He was unable to move his legs and xrays showed a fractured left wing. The gentleman who found him said he thought a dump truck hit him. I drove up to get this beautiful young bird this morning and as I was standing in my vets office here in town waiting to have him xrayed I received a call about the other baby just outside of town off Diamond Basin Road. He had been electrocuted and his left foot was burned, skin peeling off and about dead. Both of them were euthanized

The sharpie From Lander also suffered a fractured wing right into the elbow joint, again he was euthanized as he would not be capable of being released or placed.

The great horned owl was also hit by a car in Casper and in his case it's the eyes. His right eye is toast, nothing can be done to fix the damage. He goes in to Dr. Barry Welch tomorrow to have his left eye examined but I don't think he can see out of that one either. He's a good eater, snaps the rat off my forceps the minute I touch him with it. But he can't find it on his own.

After driving to Thermopolis, Shoshoni and Red Lodge in four days I'm ready for it to end. My body isn't exhausted but my heart is sad.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Sucessful trap

His name is BLAZE and he's an adult male Eastern Rosella. The species come from Australia but this handsome bird has been with his present owner for three years. Almost a month ago, when moving into a new place, BLAZE escaped. I only found out about it last week when a guy here in town called to say he had "an exotic bird in his tree" and he didn't know what to do. When I got there I was dumbfounded as I'd never seen one of these birds.

I tried my spray-them-with-water trick because when they get too wet they can't fly. Then they fall down so I can catch them before they hit the ground. Well.....the minute one drop hit him old BLAZE flew off. The tree he'd been coming back to is a crab apple, he apparently loves them. After our first attempt he just left the minute we came into view.

The next try involved a parrot cage I had but he didn't like that one, wouldn't come near it. I finally got his own personal cage from the owner and put that out. The next morning, sure enough, he was inside it. But the minute he saw me he took off. On to plan D. I bought some red dish towels and put all around the bottom of the cage with clothes pins so he couldn't see me. I lowered the perch inside and went away.

This morning Mike called me to say that "BLAZE is behind bars". The first time Mike tried to toss the towel over the opening he failed as the bird was peeking under the towel, it didn't go all the way to the bottom. Mike went away but kept watch and when he saw the bird go back inside the cage he "quick-like-a-bunny" dashed around and got the towel over the opening in time.

I really appreciate the Riley's sticking with this mission and am happy the bird is now safe. Our weather had turned very chilly, in the low 40s, with rain so I know it would only have been a matter of time before BLAZE was sick.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Absolutely amazing!

Back in 1984 I was looking for a Harlequin Duck to photograph to use in my entry to the Federal Duck Stamp contest that year. In a roundabout way I found Bill Hancock in Billings, MT who had a facility breeding rare and endangered waterfowl of all species. I went up in July and altho most of the ducks were in eclipse (molting) the Harlequin males were still looking great. At the time it was at his home but then moved to a much larger facility between Billings and Laurel.

On subsequent visits to the new place I was given a tour and came upon one of my favorite birds, a Canada Goose. His name is CHARLIE and he's a Giant Canada Goose, very large as the name indicates. All of you who get my newsletter will recognize him from the cover of every issue for the past 25 years. The top photo is that bird way back then.

Just this past week I took my baby squirrel, Ms. PIGGY, up to that same facility for a soft release in their tree laden property where other squirrels live. Sheila had raised a baby squirrel and released it there so Ms. PIGGY will have company of others of her kind. Sheila also gave me a tour and when I showed her copies of my newsletter I was in for a huge surprise. She walked me over to one of the pens and there he was, CHARLIE is still alive! That's him in the lower photo, still as handsome as ever but just like me, a bit grey around the edges and hanging in there.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

New home bound

Tomorrow I'm taking Ms. PIGGY up to Billings to her new home. Thanks to Dave Pauli of the HSUS and Sheila at WJH Bird Resources, she will be living with other squirrels in a wonderful habitat. She is now almost eight weeks old and is very active. She still likes her formula but is also eating various nuts. I've offered zucchini, banana, apple and avocado but don't know how much she's eating of those.

I will miss her terribly, she's been such a fun animal to raise and has taught me a lot about such an amazing species. I grew up in Illinois for my first 25 years and just took squirrels for granted. Now I know there is much more to them than just pests on a bird feeder.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Mystery death

Yesterday afternoon I received a call about a downed Golden Eagle near the Powell airport. James gave me excellent directions so I found her as soon as I arrived at mile post 23. She couldn't fly so I easily walked faster and caught her. There didn't appear to be any fractures but her crop was very extended. It felt as if it was air and fluids with some meat pieces.

That does happen from time to time, usually when they dine on a carcass that's a bit "ripe". One method to overcome the problem is to introduce fluids and then massage the crop to get things moving. I did that but after a few hours it hadn't helped. Then my volunteers, Sara and Mike, helped me to physically remove meat from her crop. Not a pleasant job at all but they were super.

What very much surprised me was that the meat pieces were small and very fresh. Not rotten at all. I rechecked her again before bed and she'd vomited more meat but was sitting on her perch and seemed bright and alert. Unfortunately when I went out at 6:15 this morning to see about how she was doing I found her dead.

At this point the only thing I can think caused her death is poison of some kind. Even with sour crop the birds are able to fly and she couldn't. I'm getting together with our USFWS person on Monday to see about having both her body and the meat pieces tested at their Washington state office. As this is probably the female of a pair nesting near the airport James said he'd be on the lookout for any other eagles who appear distressed.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The first one

As it was only 27 this morning when I got up I started the first fire of the season in my wood stove. Yesterday it was six inches of snow and today it's going to be almost 60 degrees by this afternoon. Living in Wyoming certainly ensures a variety of weather and a large wardrobe.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Ahhhhhhhhhhh Fall

This is the view outside my front door this beautiful September morning here in Cody, Wyoming. I knew it was predicted but never thought we'd get this much snow on the ground. It's 32 degrees outside but by tomorrow a lot of this snow will be melted away as they say we will have sunny and bright weather again.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

More devastating injuries

Yesterday I drove an hour and a half to Worland to find an injured baby Golden Eagle. By the time I got there the bird had disappeared but the man who called me had a photo. It was of a baby Red-tailed Hawk and from the photos it appeared to be very weak and unable to stand. Unfortunately it was a very windy day and as this beautiful young bird was probably very thin and light, he managed to blow away. We spent an hour walking all over the place he was last seen but to no avail. I don't have a picture of him.

Then today I again drove an hour and a half but this time to Fromberg, MT to pick up an injured Cooper's or Swainson's Hawk. Again, it was a baby Red-tailed Hawk. He was still alongside the road where found. From the top he looks just gorgeous but when I turned him over I almost cried. His right humerus, altho not broken, is completely exposed elbow to shoulder. The front of both lower legs are open with bone and torn tendons showing. There appears to be a burn mark on his left wrist and both feet are dead. And he weighs 24 ounces (half normal weight). My guess is that he was was electrocuted days ago and because his wings were still functioning he managed to travel a bit.

Needless to say I immediately euthanized him.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Becoming more inquisitive

Little Ms. PIGGY has become quite adventuresome since her eyes opened just last week. She's about six weeks old now and trying new things. She ventures out from her coonskin cap nest, has even tried nibbling on a bit of sweet corn. She also has a chunk of zucchini and apple in case she wants to sample them too. I put her on top of her climbing log for the photo right after she finished her meal which is why she looks so full.

She has a few weeks to go before being old enough to return to the big wild world but until then she's been such a joy to watch grow up.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Mine, all mine

MUNCHIE has become much better so I gave him a small rabbit today. He quickly grabbed it up and when I checked him later he had his back to me, was partially mantleing the meal and looking at me as if he would take me apart if I tried to touch his food. He had no worries I would try that, he's so aggressive it would be foolish to even make the attempt.