Wednesday, October 28, 2015

First one

This morning, when I was returning from taking a bird to the vet, I spotted what is a harbinger of winter. I saw my first Rough-legged Hawk. They only come this far south in the winter when conditions are getting bad above the Arctic Circle where they breed and live all summer. This is a bit early so either the food supply is low up there or the weather has turned beastly.

Now these beautiful birds will be sitting on power poles or fence posts along the highway until about March. You can't miss them, they have a very large dark square at their wrists on the undersides of their wings. And they have a wide white band on the base of their tail. When sitting they don't appear to have a neck, are light colored, for the most part, and have a dark belly band either solid or with some white spotting in it. They do come in a dark morph so don't think it's an eagle sitting there, it may just be a roughie.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Work day

Three really great friends came by today to help around the place. Nathan and Mike worked on putting up a fence around the yard to keep bunnies from entering. I'm very protective of my rabbits and don't want the dogs catching any of them. I had chicken wire up around the fence but between the dogs jumping on it to greet people and the weather, it began to sag enough the rabbits would just hop over it.

Now there's a sturdy welded wire fence around the lower half that will hopefully keep everyone apart. Of course if the snow gets to be a couple feet deep that may not work.

Julie helped me clean pens, put water in the pool in the eagle barn so I was able to stock it with a fish for JACKSON to "catch". Then we both cleaned up the bunny barn. I had already stacked the two cords of wood so they didn't have to help there.

This coming Spring both Julie and Nathan will be pruning my trees to help them along. I'm not knowledgeable enough to do that work but they are both good at it. Nathan has been after me to prune for a couple years, guess it's about time it was done.

Sara was going to come help on the crew but she got the flu and wasn't able to get here. She was in spirit tho. Thanks to the super people for volunteering for the hard stuff.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Winter is coming

And this year I'm ready. I just got the last two cords of wood stacked in my sunroom, the most expensive woodbox in the state. I now have almost four cords in there, that should last me until Spring.

You'll notice that this leaves me with just a narrow tunnel to walk through to the front door. It sure makes me glad I'm prepared.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

It's fishy

I spent three hours this morning following members of Trout Unlimited and volunteers as they worked to save trout trapped in the local canals after the water had been turned off. To do this two guys lugged around a very heavy backpack with a large battery in it. They then lowered a yellow wand and sent a low voltage pulse into the water. It's not enough to kill fish but it does stun them for a few seconds. Long enough for all the volunteers to scoop them up in a net.

The fish are then transferred to a holding tank with oxygen pumped into it. Today's first run was very small. Instead of getting hundreds of trout they only had 15 by the time I left. What I was after, and what they provided, were non-trout fish to feed my bald eagle. I came home with 18 from medium to large. I put four in the eagles pond, hopefully she'll like them.

TU will be shocking again tomorrow and twice the beginning of November so I'll have a supply of fish in my freezer that will last a few weeks. With the high cost of whole trout in the grocery store, this has been a wonderful windfall.

NOTE: She like them! She really liked them!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

New babies

These babies are only three months old, two girls and a boy. They are reticulated pythons that belong to my friends Sara and Mike.

I stopped by their shop to see about getting some rats for my birds and they had the kids out while cleaning. This species will grow to be one of the largest snakes on the planet and are very beautiful. Warm and soft to the touch, they had fun climbing all over me and exploring a new person.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Amazing release!

Back on July 22 I received a call from Bob Divaccaro about a downed raven in his yard on Sage Drive. The bird was unable to fly because his right hand was broken so I gathered him up and brought him here. I didn't think there was a chance of the raven flying again but he was such a character and a super eater I just gave him time.

And that time was worth it, I released the raven on a ranch outside of Cody where there are lots of ravens living and a good prey base. His first flight wasn't a long one but when I approached him he took off and this was the resulting photo. He made a few other flights while I was there as if he couldn't believe he was actually out in the wild again without a wall to stop him.

NOTE: You'll notice his mouth is open. As with most ravens, they talk constantly and this one certainly had a lot to tell his friends.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Same but different

These three birds are all the same species, namely Swainson's Hawks, tho they are very different in their markings. I believe them to be two males and one female and all will be wintering over here. These birds are also all the same age, approximately six months old. The swainson's in the rest of the U.S. are already on their migration and these three youngsters just aren't ready for such a long trek. They will be released in the Spring when the travelers return to this area.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Not a baby anymore

This is DANCER today, a far cry from the teeny baby fawn I got back on June 20th. She's now in a bigger place and will be completely released in a matter of days if all goes well. She looks like a deer, walks like a deer and pronks like a deer, all four feet in the air at the same time with an arch in her back.

She's been such fun to raise and it's all thanks to Laura, who sold me the wonderful nubian goat milk, and Julie who is providing a half-way house for her.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

My third Swainson's

Thanks to Jessica Beecham, WGF and Greg Aldrich, Duke Energy, this beautiful little hawk was saved. He was found on a ranch near Riverton, unable to fly, or unwilling to do so. Because Greg was coming to Cody from Glenrock, he agreed to meet Jessica in Shoshoni and carry the bird the rest of the distance.

This is a dark marked Swainson's Hawk. He only weighs 24 ounces and altho thin isn't starving. He believes he is, scarfs up anything handed to him. At this time of year they are usually well on their 12,000 mile migration to Argentina. He waited too long but I don't think it was his idea.

The really strange thing about this hawk is that the first three primary feathers on each wing have been trimmed off about 3-4 inches from their tips. And his beak has been coped (the tip filed off). The beak trimming is usually done by falconers or rehabbers when the tip gets too long. There is no reason to clip those six feathers.

He even exhibits imprint behaviour which means someone had him illegally and then either lost him or turned him loose. There are no bands on the bird and because of his probable young age, he has no hunting skills either. A mystery that I hope is solved in the near future.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Two more

This is the year of the Short-eared Owl. Pictured is the latest, number seven so far. He came from a ranch in Joliet, MT after being found in a cow pasture with a broken left wing. I made yet another trip north, this time to Belfry to meet Jody for the handoff. Note: That was right after I got home from picking up SKEETER in Thermopolis. 85 miles south then 50 miles north.

Hopefully this wing can be saved, he goes in tomorrow for xrays and an examination to see just what can be done.

This adult male Ferruginous Hawk is the 100th patient so far this year. He was found near Casper alongside the road. His left wing is badly broken and may not be fixable for flight. If not, assuming he will survive, he will be placed as an education bird. These are the largest hawks with females weighing in at 4.0 pounds. Males, naturally smaller, come in at 2.2 to 3.0 pounds. SKEETER weighs only 1.5 pounds, he's severely starved probably because he's been on the ground for quite some time. Thanks to Greg from Duke Energy for calling me and Randy for meeting me in Thermopolis so I didn't have to drive the four hours south.

Right now he's not getting solid food but a high calorie, critical care liquid diet. I tube him every few hours in hopes that he gains enough to endure the needed surgery. He's a very handsome little fellow, isn't he?

SKEETER was originally thought to be a red-tailed hawk. Another person thought perhaps a rough-legged hawk but they don't come to this area of the country from above the Arctic Circle until November. I didn't know what his species was until I saw him in person.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Short again...

As in another Short-eared Owl. This one came from the Antelope Coal Mine near Gillette and was found caught in a barb wire fence. LORETTA doesn't have any broken bones but she has a very bad cut on her left wing. That has now been sutured but I'm afraid she won't fly again as the tendon along the leading edge is too damaged. She does still have the wing and if all goes well, it will heal without any problems. She will then be placed as an educational bird.

Short-ears are very much wanted and make excellent ambassadors when shown to the public. They are not a rare bird but not often seen in facilities that do school programs. She will be prized.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Another release

This time it's TRAINER, a young male Short-eared Owl found near railroad tracks in Casper. When he got here I couldn't figure out what was wrong but there didn't seem to be any physical damage. I questioned his eyesight but if there was a problem it corrected itself. I started giving him live prey a few days ago and he immediately caught them and had a good meal.

With help from friend Julie Kenney, TRAINER was released at the same spot I let two other baby short-ears go, it's a super habitat for these day hunters. The first photo was as he left the crate, the second was moments later and a good distance away and high. Thanks to Heather O'Brien, WGF in Casper, for meeting me half way for the handoff. She's done this more than once for me and it helps considerably when the drive would have been more than six hours total.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Good bye old friend

I knew her for 34 of her 50+ years. Anyone who went to The Barn Feed and Pet also knew her. BARNEY is a sulfur crested cockatoo and she greeted most every one with the words, "pretty bird" or "pretty, pretty bird". I was shocked when one day I drove up to the store and saw her cage outside. They told me that she was fine one day and died the next. She had been having problems with her hormones which caused feather picking, but no one thought she was in danger.

I will miss her talking and even barking when she saw a dog come into the store. Fly fast old one, you were very loved while here.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

My trip

For the first time in three years I took a vacation. This time it was to Alaska, a place I've wanted to visit for a long time. My friend Jenny, of Native Bird Connections, and I flew to Juneau on September 20th to spend 10 days covering a lot of ground. In that time we were in six airplanes, two ferries, one excursion boat to see glaciers and had to rent three cars. It's difficult to get around in that state, they have roads but in order to go many places it requires air or water.

Here are a few of the photos I took while exploring a most fascinating place.

Visiting the Juneau Raptor Center on top of the tram ride. Ann Marie introduced us to LADY BALTIMORE, their resident bald eagle.
A shot of two enormous cruise ships after arriving in Juneau. This photo was taken from the tram as we came down, too foggy to see earlier.
The view from our first ferry ride to Sitka
Visiting the Alaska Raptor Center in Sitka, the largest rehab facility in AK. Susan, new Director Peter Colson, and Jenny.
Some of their non-releasable birds. As it rains there a lot each bird has an umbrella for when a downpour comes along.
We were hoping to see hundreds of bald eagles congregating here but unfortunately that happens next month so we only saw five.
One of the plane rides, this one a small eight passenger on a trip that eventually stopped in Haines.
If you get Nat Geo or Nat Geo Wild on TV you've probably seen this guy. It's Steve Kroschel who works with wolverines. We visited his place one day and saw lots of the animals he keeps there including his wolverine, grey fox, caribou and a very huge lynx.
Some more photos. We visited a musk oxen farm, saw some very large glaciers (I missed one calving), moose, bears at a facility near Girdwood, and hoped to see beluga whales but the closest we got was some sculptures at a visitor center.

In front of one of the very large glaciers.
And one picture that's worth a thousand words. When we parked at a turnout in the bald eagle preserve we were right next to this pile of bear scat. You'll notice that besides seeds there are three pieces of plastic. From someone's lunch perhaps?

Number six

I started out the month of October by getting in the sixth baby golden eagle of the year. This one came from Duke Energy in Glenrock. He was found unable to fly and so far I can't find a reason for that. He moves very little but at least now he's standing whereas when he arrived he was so weak that didn't happen very often.

At this point I believe there are two possible reasons. Either WNV or poison. He's not eating on his own so I'm tubing him with Carnivore Care, a high calorie, critical care oral food. I've also started him on some solid food, right now it's venison steak. He readily swallows when I put the meat in his mouth but won't take it on his own.

You'll notice in the photo that he appears to have a white eye. That's because his lower eyelid is closed. The only time he opens them is when I pick him up or otherwise make him move. And now I'm not sure he can see. I'll check with my eye doctor, Dr. Barry Welch, to see when I can take him in for a check of his vision.

He's a beautiful baby, about six months old, so I hope I can find the problem and fix it. His name is DEVON.

UPDATE: He doesn't have WNV, he has a bacterial infection that worked its way to his eyes. One has a cataract and the other has the beginnings of glaucoma. He is totally blind and because the quality of life would not be good, he was humanely euthanized.