Sunday, August 30, 2015

Babies away !

Another momentous occasion today, the four surviving baby Northern Harriers were returned to their nest site and released. Barb Love of the LU Ranch south of Meeteetse took me to the exact spot and we were amazed to see an adult female harrier floating around. She was being harassed by a bunch of ravens but they went off before I opened the crates.

These babies were banded by Chuck Preston on Friday so we can keep track of them in case anything happens. They all flew off in almost the same direction but then dispersed. Barb and I were able to catch sight of a couple after they settled on the ground but the others were out of view.

Thanks to Barb these awesome baby raptors have been given another chance to live life as they should, wild and free.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Amazing recovery

KESWICK arrived here on July 9th after being found on the road to Valley Ranch almost at the end of the Southfork Road. He had a fractured right hand and was almost starved to death. I thought surgery would be needed to remove the tip of his wing but he was so thin I knew he wouldn't survive surgery right then. I decided to feed him up, gain strength, and then tackle the surgery.

A couple weeks ago I weighed him again and he'd gained a much needed ounce but I also noticed his wing was stronger. I put him into a small flight area to see what would happen. He never looked back, was flying in the 8'x 20' mew with no problems.

Yesterday I took him out to an area known to be a great kestrel habitat and released him. As you can see by this photo, he again, never looked back. Instead of landing on a nearby tree, he turned away and left us in the dust. Thanks to my friend Susan Osborne for getting this shot of him flying off.

Just proved to me that I should never take things at first face value.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Mistaken identies

The phone rang this morning with a call from a Devil's Tower Monument person. Amy said they had a young Peregrine Falcon that had fledged a couple weeks ago but was found on the ground this morning unable/unwilling to fly. I was fortunate when Amy agreed to meet me in Buffalo, a three hour drive from Cody, so I wouldn't have to go all the way to the Tower. the time we met, the bird turned into a young female Prairie Falcon. They believe she fledged off a nest on a bluff near the Tower but not on it. I was told she had a dragging wing but I can't find anything wrong. MAGIC is a bit thin but not starving. She also has a nasty temperament but then most Prairie's are insane. She goes in tomorrow morning for an xray just to see if there is something wrong that doesn't stand out.

She will be going to master falconer, and my subpermittee, Chris Pfister for training as soon as she passes her physical.

UPDATE: Even with a tummy full of quail her attitude isn't any better this morning. Xrays showed something going on in her left shoulder joint but she seems to be able to flap the wing and holds it in perfect position when perched. More xrays later after some cage rest.

About a week ago I got a call from a lady in Thermop who said she had a "baby grey owl" in her yard and it couldn't fly. Well, having a Great Grey Owl is something so I asked her to send me a photo. I was amazed, not only was it NOT an owl, there wasn't any grey on it. It is a baby female Kestrel, brown with dark brown spots and not as big as a robin. I sent five emails to her explaining that it's a falcon. She kept saying baby grey owl. I also called a couple times and left messages.

Then yesterday I got an email saying a fellow was driving to Cody and bringing the falcon (she got it right that time) to me. I met Bob near the airport and asked what she had been feeding this baby for all that time. The dreaded answer was "hamburger'. That is a huge no-no for raptors but nothing I could do now. I can't find anything wrong, she should have been left in that area to be cared for by her parents. There were apparently four or five more baby kestrels too, they were okay.

Now this baby will have to be trained to catch live food here. She would have been so much better in the care of the adults but we will deal with it. Her name is GREY.

UPDATE: This beautiful baby bird has proved herself. She's caught many mice on her own and will be released this week in a wonderful habitat for kestrels.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

In with the big kids now

My newest baby Golden Eagle is now in the flight barn. She is huge and was beginning to try flying in her smaller mew. She's sitting in the middle of this group with her adult mentor, DOVE, on the right and a two year old Bald Eagle on the left. I would love to know just what's being said between the two younger birds. So far everyone is getting along. The one photo is of DOVE taking off to the other end of the barn. She's had enough of the teeny boppers for the moment.

Today I moved some baby birds in with the older ones. This is the baby Swainson's Hawk, PEABODY, down below, with the slightly older Swainson's , HUDSON, flying toward the perch where the young Red-tailed Hawk, MINER, is sitting. Note how PEABODY is gazing skyward as HUDSON flys overhead. They are all flying just great and getting stronger by the day. I don't think the youngest will be ready for the long migration they make to Argentina but the others may just be ready. Not the redtail of course, he'll be released around here.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The saga continues....

So far this year I've released many babies. Mallards, Golden Eagles, Horned Larks, Mourning Doves, Robins, Great Horned Owls. Today was a most exciting release, that of my two baby Short-eared Owls. They came to me from Absarokee, MT at only a couple days old after their mom was killed by a hay swather.

After many weeks of hiding behind a mask when feeding them. And then moving them to a flight area where they could build up muscles and learn how to make live kills, today they left to begin the next phase of their lives.

They took off so quickly that these are the only photos I got of them. The area was recommended by my friend, Nathan Horton, and it is perfect for these ground nesters, day hunters. It looks as if there are only huge rocks and hills but below and surrounding them are open sagebrush flats, just what these birds need. I wish them well.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Severe damage

They are large and unfortunately not very fast when flying. White Pelicans are here in the summer for breeding and then leave for parts south. Unfortunately this bird won't be able to make that trip. For some reason it was on the Powell hiway and was hit by a car. As you can see, his lower beak was broken off, the only thing holding the bone is the skin. He was humanely euthanized.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Deja vu all over again

You can see how high the nest platform is. That's mom standing above her.
Remember GRUMPY? Well, it's happened again. This is BREEZE, a fledgling Osprey who was found hanging upside down below her nest platform. She was caught up in fishing line and it had wound around her right leg above her hock. Sort of like an embedded collar on a dog, the line cut in around the entire leg. Thanks to Game Warden, Bill Robertson, she was rescued and brought here. He also did a good job of holding her while I removed all the line, applied an antiseptic spray and bandaged her leg.

At first glance I was sure the foot was dead but she is standing on it, can move the toes, and has a super attitude. I don't know how long she hung there but I have my fingers crossed that this will all heal and she'll be releasable. She was found on the Torchlight Oil Field near Basin.

SAD UPDATE: After having her bandage changed this morning this amazing young bird decided it was too much. She died shortly after I brought her home. I hope this is the last of the osprey I get in with this type of damage.

Temporary visitor

This is a two year old Bald Eagle, JACKSON, who came here today from the Teton Raptor Center in Wilson, WY. They don't have a flite barn and she's been very unhappy in the mews they've been keeping her in. She was caught in a snare back in January which damaged the secondary feathers on her right wing. They still haven't molted back in. She also has a bit of a tilt to her head which has no explanation. It was thought that by being in a larger, free flight area, she may calm down and work out the kinks that bother her. Only time will tell.

This is a fuzzy photo, I'll try to get a better one after she gets used to me.

Much better now.

A great deal of improvement in the newest Golden Eagle arriving at IBR. Her name is SHERRY and she's huge altho needs a great deal more weight on her body. She's eating a half a rabbit a day, domestic, not wild, so should catch up to normal in a hurry. She's also strong enough to now get up on a taller floor perch.

I have had some blood work done and she's a bit aenemic so the emphasis will be on red meat and supplements if needed. Her lice problem has been taken care of, that should really help. Having a thousand lice sucking blood will certainly cause major problems.

As soon as she's up to it she'll go out in the eagle flight barn with DOVE.
He now has a name, it's PEABODY. He has improved by leaps and bounds from when he arrived one one week ago today. He's now ripping and tearing his own mice and demands them quite often. He's also finishing up the remaining venison steak in between furry meals. I have high hopes that this enchanting little male Swainson's Hawk will be releasable. Just not sure if he'll be strong enough for the 12,000 mile migration to Argentina in about a month. If not he'll winter over here until they return in the Spring.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Big kids now

I moved the baby harriers to their new, larger, mew. This one will allow them to fly around and gain strength in their muscles. I believe there are three females and two males but will have to keep checking their eye color to make sure.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

New BFF's

MINER is on the left, HUDSON on the right.

About the time I think I have enough flight barns, I need another one. Today I put the young Swainson's Hawk from Hudson in with the young Red-tailed Hawk from south of Gillette. They are about the same age altho not the same size. So far they are getting along which is a good sign. I'll know tomorrow when I disperse their rats to see if it lasts. Don't worry, there will be enough food for all.

The reason they're now together is because I have to put THE WILD BUNCH into the flight area that HUDSON was occupying. The baby harriers are now all flying and need more space to practice.

Number eight so far

Not the most golden eagles I've had in one year, that was a few years ago and came to 18. This is the eighth one this year and most of them have been babies. This beautiful little female, SHERRY, came from over in Sheridan and was found unwilling to fly. I can't find any injuries but she is very starved. When I gave her this piece of rabbit she jumped right on it. This photo shows her daring me to try and take it back.

Hopefully she'll recover quickly and then will go into the flight barn with DOVE for some training. Because she is only about three to four months old I won't have to make yet another long drive over the mountain to release her. I'll find the perfect place within a short drive from Cody.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Road work

And I don't mean my running down the road or repairing it. This has been my driving schedule since July 31st and the total round trip miles for each one, almost 1200 total miles in nine days.

7/31 - to Thermopolis to pick up a Swainson's Hawk and a Silver-haired bat, 166 miles

8/3 - to Thermop to pick up two young Great Horned Owls, 166 miles

8/5 - to south of Wright to release two young Golden Eagles and pick up a baby Swainson's Hawk, 627 miles

8/8 - to Red Lodge, MT to pick up a young Great Horned Owl, 130 miles

8/9 - to Sheridan to pick up the immature Golden Eagle shown in the above post, 294 miles

My poor truck is a couple hundred miles overdue for an oil change. Hopefully by the first of the week I can get that scheduled in and done.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

It worked ! ! ! ! !

Every time I think I've seen it all, something new comes along. I've rescued birds in chimneys before but the call from John and Lela Lawler took the cake. John said it was a great horned owl and he couldn't reach it at all. He tried from the stove end and from the top, no such luck. When I got there he had the extension ladder in place so we climbed up, walked across a few different roofs and looked down the chimney.

Just for the heck of it I had cut a piece of netting off a roll, about 1'x 12' and took it along. I'd used a soft net to retrieve a flicker out of a square post and thought this might work. John had a couple very long poles to push the net to the owl. What happened next should have been caught on video. I used the pole and got the netting down to the bird and then just kept moving it up and down. The owl was mad and did what I hoped he'd do, he grabbed on to the netting.

Then things moved very fast. I told John that the bird was coming up. By the time I said "he's coming up" the second time the owl was at the top and spitting mad. I grabbed him by the shoulder, John got his gloves on and grabbed the other wing to give me a chance to get ahold of the owls legs.

As you can see, SOOTY is very black with those huge yellow eyes showing just how upset he was. John and I were both wearing black soot but by the time we walked back to the ladder and got off the roof we were realizing just how lucky everyone was. Not only was the bird not hurt, he was in excellent condition. I believe it's a baby of this year so only about five months old. After we congratulated each other for a job well done I released the bird. He flew off and landed in one of the trees in the yard.

I got a call this afternoon from John saying that a GHO had landed on his neighbors chimney, hopefully it wasn't the same bird and this one will not fall in. If so we know how to rescue the darn thing.

Caught them.....

all in their nest. Usually it's one or two in the nest and the others scattered around the pen. The moment I took the shot they dispersed. As you can see, the WILD BUNCH is growing and looking more like adults. They still have a ways to go, especially the two youngest ones. I'm still cutting up a dozen mice three times a day for them. I've tried whole mice but they just can't seem to get them down in one piece.

Today, when I went in to give them their lunch, the oldest one chased me around trying to foot my leg. The little stinker but then he's just showing me how much he's grown in size and attitude.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

An awesome day

Today has been anticipated for many weeks. I drove six hours to Gillette and the release site so my two baby golden eagles, TUMBLER and HOBBIT, could begin the rest of their lives. Thanks to Nichole of ICFI, little TUMBLER was saved. And to James Hobbs, WGF, who brought me HOBBIT after she came out of her nest a bit early.

The Cloud Peak crew was also there as they own the coal mine where TUMBLER was found. Neither bird was anxious to come out of their crates but with some encouragement they finally made that leap of faith. Naturally they went two different directions. Nichole assured me there are lots of rabbits and prairie dogs living there. Even an active eagle nest in some distant trees so these two will have company.

HOBBIT making a break for freedom. The photographer wasn't quite sure about being so close to that huge flying bird, everyone else was cheering.
TUMBLER flying off as quickly as he could. This is the sight all rehabbers hope for.
As a sort of a trade off, I drove two baby golden eagles over to Gillette for release. As a fluke, Erika Peckham, WGF, picked up a very thin baby swainson's hawk the night before. It is so rare for me to be at the right place at the right time but that's what happened. After the eagle release (see above) I met Erika and took possession of this young bird. Very weak but anxious for some groceries. He had fluids last night and some small pieces of meat today along with more fluids when I got back to Cody.

THURSDAY: He's still alive but very, very weak. I've started tubing him with a high calorie, critical care diet. Hopefully it will help him gain some strength so he can get better. It's the same thing I used for MUNCHIE, the severely starved golden eagle and he ended up being released. Hopefully the same outcome will happen here.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Less than a day

That's how long it'll be before my two baby Golden Eagles are released after a long six hour drive to the release area south of Gillette. TUMBLER came from there, HOBBIT is from Deaver. As they have been together for many weeks now, and are about the same age, I made the decision to release them at the same time in the same place.

The photo was taken today, the babies are on the high wall perches, their mentor, DOVE, is on the floor perch. I'm sure there will be lots of pictures taken tomorrow so look for a new post very soon showing the momentous event.

Getting higher

My two baby Short-eared Owls are now flying wonderfully. Here they are in two different places but both well above my head. They will be released as soon as they are ready and that won't be long now.

Sunday, August 2, 2015


My friends Kimber and Alan said I could come by their place for some straw. I have three rabbits due to have their babies this coming week and had none to put in their nest boxes. I stopped by today, chatted a while, then backed up to the stack. I got the first bale in my truck and was moving the second when all of a sudden I was being attacked! After originally thinking it was flys I quickly realized it was bees and they were spitting mad.

I got away, went back to move my truck and then borrowed some ice from Kimber to keep the swelling down. The bees got me on my left hand, the right side of my neck and my right shoulder. And it all happened in the blink of an eye. Their nest was between bales and my moving the second one disturbed it. Ouch, ouch, ouch.