Thursday, October 30, 2014

Uncommon disease

These photos are difficult to look at. This is an immature male Golden Eagle, about seven months old, with a disease I've rarely seen. And that was only in hawks.. It's called avian pox and is very contagious. He was found just outside of Cody and I originally thought it was pox but because it didn't look the same as other's I'd seen, I changed my mind to think they were some kind of chemical burns.

The first thing that came to mind was lime. It's very caustic and is sometimes used on a carcass to speed up decomposition. He was found on BLM land and as people tend to just dump whatever they don't want there, it was possible. I reported him to our local USFWS and BLM enforcement agents so they went out to scan the area but found nothing.

I also sent photos to the University of MN Raptor Center for their opinion. The USFWS agent sent them to one of his pathologists for her opinion. Both of them came back saying that it is pox. Our state lab is now doing tests on some tissues to make a definitive answer but I'm sure it is avian pox. NOTE: the report came back as positive for avian pox.

Unfortunately, at only 4# 10oz, half of what he should weigh, he didn't make it, he died last night. Another problem is that if he had siblings in the nest then they too have the disease and will also probably die from it as they are too young to have built up an immunity to the virus. I have gone through a lot of bleach water on the area where this baby eagle stayed and will continue to disinfect for some time to come.

He's growing up

SAM is about three weeks old in this photo sitting on Susan's shoulder.
Here he is today on my lazyboy with MADDIE. He was just about to climb down off the chair, I was lucky to get this shot. MADDIE is recovering from foot surgery hence the pretty collar.
SAM is getting cuter by the day and becoming very adventuresome. He's now able to climb up and down to get on my lazyboy. He also made a climb up to my bedroom which is a good sized step. He made a huge leap, caught his claws on the moulding and kept coming.

As cute as he is I won't keep him forever as my two resident cats are quite elderly and don't need the competition for my attention. They are getting better about his tagging along behind them but two cats are enough. If anyone would like to adopt this beautiful baby boy he will be ready in a few weeks. He's already had his first worming and will get the second next week. He'll also have his first shot. He uses his kitty box too.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A very sad loss

Lois and a Short-eared Owl in her care.

Back in 1987 I decided I wanted to become a bird rehabilitator. At the time there weren't any around so I went searching for anyone who would help me in my quest. I found a gem in the form of Lois Layton and her husband Frank. They lived in Casper which is almost a four hour drive from here. In my first years doing this work whenever I had a problem or question I could count on the Laytons for help and answers. Frank died a few years ago but Lois kept up with the birds even with failing eyesight.

I got a call this morning from friend Diane Morse telling me that Lois died last night. She had not been well but at age 92 was full of spunk. It's been many years since I saw her and now wish I'd made more of an effort to get to that part of the state. Lois was a mentor to me and also to Diane who lives in Gillette. Diane was with her when she died and right afterwards Diane walked to the front door of the house and stood there looking out. Amazingly enough the front gate of the yard quickly opened by itself. I have no doubt it was Lois leaving this physical world and joining Frank.

This amazing lady will be missed by all who knew her, especially Diane and myself who valued her friendship and guidance.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Different look

This is a photo of two pigeons (rock doves) who have decided to take up roosting in an odd place. The one on the left is sitting on top of an abandoned robins nest, way too small for her to fit in it. There isn't even enough room to share the space with the male.

These are unusually marked pigeons, aren't they pretty? I know, just another messy bird but I do have a variety of color patterns on my resident birds but rarely get photos of them.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

More successes

The past two weeks have been just amazing in that the three golden eagles who were patients for many months are now flying free. The first to go was DEUCE, his story is in a previous post. I've added his release photo to that post.

Second was MUNCHIE, the really mean baby I had in with the throat bacteria making it impossible for him to eat. His story is also in an earlier post along with a photo of the big event.

The third happened today when for only the second time I was able to release a golden eagle who had suffered from severe lead poisoning. Her name is ROSE and this photo shows her right after she left the crate and the great habitat where she came from back in April. As she is an adult she had to be taken back to the same territory.

I know, most of the pictures look alike but I can assure you each release was miles away from the others; Lander (DEUCE), Meeteetse (MUNCHIE) and Powell (ROSE).

Thursday, October 9, 2014

New family member......maybe

He arrived after a phone call from a neighbor. Gerald said that he found an injured deer in his place who had apparently been hit by a vehicle. She couldn't walk so he called the WGF to come and euthanize her. At the same time a feral mom cat ran by and left this kitten in the grass. Gerald didn't know if there were others but the mom didn't come back so he called me. Remember what I said about "if they don't know what to do....."

I am now feeding this approximately two week old boy kitten on about the same schedule I used for Ms. PIGGY, the squirrel. This time it's a diet for kittens but the feeding equipment is the same. His eyes are open but he's very small. Oh yes, his name is SAM and he's sleeping in one of Ms. PIGGY's coonskin caps.

Sunday, October 5, 2014


Yes he is and in good form. This magnificent baby Golden Eagle arrived in July unable to swallow due to a bacterial infection in his throat. By perservering I managed to tube feed him four times a day, every six hours, along with medications and cured his problem. Then it was getting stronger every day, enough for release back to the wild.

That happened today on the Pitchfork Ranch west of Meeteetse. I drove to the Stone House and met Darcy Morris along with the ranch owners Frances and Lenox Baker and their daughter Margaret. We then drove in caravan out to a far pasture overlooking a prairie dog town which is an excellent food source for an eagle.

MUNCHIE took off right away but landed on a hillside to scope out the area. As soon as I started walking in his direction he decided he had to check it out from farther away. He wasn't taking any chances of my catching him again.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Another young visitor

I was waiting for the USFWS person to arrive yesterday when I got a call from a WYDOT worker about a young vulture he found alongside the road. After all the driving I've done for the past week the good news is it was just the other side of my eagle flight barn so he brought the baby here right away.

I don't find anything broken other than perhaps his spirit. He hasn't eaten yet even tho tonight's meal is a yummy half quail. He is a bit sore on his right side, hopefully it's only bruising. I'll put him out in a larger area to see if he can fly and then if he's strong enough I'll release him.

UPDATE: Unfortunately there must have been internal injuries, baby vulture died on his third day here.

The word is out....

When an injured bird comes to this facility it's either driven here by the finder or I go out to rescue it. Not this time. This time it came by itself for help.

I had a TV repairman here and when we were leaving the house it was an amazing sight! Sitting on my picket fence front gate was this beautiful Yellow Rumped Warbler. I've never seen one before and have no idea where it came from. The repairman said he thought he'd heard a bird hit one of my windows so perhaps that accounts for it.

He's inside a cage right now taking it easy and hopefully will be releasable in a short time. Usually if they're not killed or broken it only takes some quiet time for a bird to recover from a window strike.

UPDATE: It's been three hours and the little warbler is flying in the cage so I immediately took him outside and opened my hand. He flew off to the elm tree outside my yard, all is okay now.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Rare event

Today was an amazing day after all the sadness of the past few days. Pat Hnilicka of the USFWS in Lander drove all the way up here to transport DEUCE back to where he was found in April. What's so mind boggling is that this wonderful adult Golden Eagle's injuries resulted from electrocution. Because that is such a devastating thing to happen, the bird rarely survives.

In this case he not only survived but today flew off in superb form to join his mate. When DEUCE arrived he was very starved and there were burn marks on his right wing at the elbow. It took some special hands on care to get him past the worst part but then he never looked back. Today he weighed 8.4 pounds, a very healthy size for him.

Unfortunately the still shots of the release didn't work out but Pat did manage to take some video of it. My friend Susan Osborne was able to isolate one of the frames to add them to this post.