Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Really bad

Just starting the cleaning.
Partway through, you can see the feather colors now.
In his warm room.
I just got in number 11 baby GHO and this one is not the same pristine fluffy baby as the others. This one, SLICK, was found inside a small shed on a oil field near Worland. He and an adult were inside but this little fellow was inside a bucket partially filled with oil. The guys from the field drove him up here and stayed to help with the initial cleaning.

It took four of us, lots of Dawn soap and hot water to just get a start on what will be a long process. We got a lot off his head, wing and tail feathers but there's still a lot on his back and tummy. He'd had enough for one session, was shivering even with the warm water, so I called a halt.

He's now inside a crate in my north room. He has two heating pads around him and towels covering the crate. Also some insulation sheets to hold the heat inside. At first he wouldn't hold up his head but now, with a bit of help from a rolled up pad, he's almost standing on his own and is holding his head high.

This is an hour-by-hour process and if he's in good enough shape we'll do another washing tomorrow. His attitude and toughness will be the deciding factor. I just hope he makes it.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Pure gold

Her name is COTTON. This beautiful elderly female golden eagle came to me yesterday thanks to Bart Kroger, WGF Biologist from Worland. She was found in an oil field unable to fly. It is the same field where he'd found a dead golden under a transformer. I don't know if it was the male of this pair or not.

COTTON has a very severe wound to her right wing near her wrist. If it is from an electrocution there could be even more damage as time goes on because it kills from within. You'll note she's also wearing a sandal on her right foot as she doesn't have full use of it right now.

Thanks to help from Mike, and taking 20 minutes to remove them, all the maggots in the wound are gone. He held her while I picked, not a pleasant job for any of us but both bird and man came through with flying colors. I'm treating the wound with two meds and she's on antibiotics. Right now her attitude is excellent and she even ate a half of a rabbit yesterday after her wound treatment.

All together

So far this year I've received 16 great horned owls and 10 of them have been chicks under six weeks of age. After replacing some in their nests and fostering one to an existing nest, these are the last of them. They're being guarded by their foster mom SMIDGE. She's giving me that evil owl stare daring me to come close to her babies.

I have found excellent habitats for their release when the time comes. First they have to fly well and prove to me they can make live kills. The ranches where they will be going are huge, family owned and the those people treasure GHOs for their rodent control. This year there is an over abundance of rabbits everywhere, a great food source for these wonderful birds of prey.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The quads

And then there were four all together. These four GHO babies are all about the same age. The two in the back are SPRUCE and PINEY from Gillette. The others came in yesterday, PICKLE and SPARKY. In a few days they will join foster mom, SMIDGE and another baby a bit older, TINKER TOY. They should all be flying in a week or so and then their training begins. Now to find the perfect place for them to be released.....

Monday, May 23, 2016

Eleven and twelve

You can see the nest halfway up the one square metal frame.

Paul holding LITTLE PICKLE, Susan has SPARKY. The nest is in the middle of the left tower surrounded by very high voltage wires.

LITTLE PICKLE on the left weighs 37 ounces, SPARKY on the right comes in at 30 ounces even tho he looks larger.
Yes, more baby GHOs have arrived at Ironside. These were a rescue in the sense that mom used an old raven nest and it was in a very dangerous place. It was up on a tower at a WAP substation in between lines that carried 150,000 and 69,000 volts of electricity. I got a call from their environmental person, Andrea, last week but it wasn't until today that the babies could be removed from the nest.

Mommy was very upset but had the chicks stayed in the nest they would probably not have survived their branching stage. The only place they could have tried to land would have killed them. For that reason they were removed from the nest and that was knocked down so neither the ravens or the owl would have it to use next year.

Thanks to Paul Davis and Chad Rausch for the rescue. Chad went up in a bucket truck, Paul climbed the structure so they could come at the nest from both sides to keep the babies from jumping out. It worked just perfectly.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Well hail!

As you can see by this photo, we had a heck of a hail storm about 15 minutes ago. I found out I'd left one of my truck windows down, on the side the wind was coming from. Luckily it was only a couple inches but there were hail stones inside. And the bunny barn is now wet in a few places. And my poor trees, all those little green spots are shredded leaves. I hope they can overcome this damage.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Permitted killing of eagles

Today I read in our Cody Enterprise that the federal government is backing down and allowing the killing of two Bald Eagles by the Northern Arapaho tribe on the Wind River reservation. Here is my letter to the editor.

To the Editor:

I was absolutely horrified to read that our federal government is going ahead and allowing one Indian tribe permission to kill two Bald Eagles “for religious purposes”. They say the birds are important to their way of life. They can be more important as a live bird flying free than a dead carcass.

Everyone in this country is up in arms when they read about terrorists killing people “in the name of religion”. Why is it okay to kill these magnificent animals just because they’re birds. No ceremony makes it okay to destroy our National symbol. The Northern Arapaho tribe should move into the 21st century and learn to live with our wildlife and not just go out and kill them. There are too many eagles already killed by humans, by wind farms, vehicles, poisons, etc.

The tribes can get bodies and feathers from the federal feather depository, they don’t have to destroy live birds. By killing these two bald eagles they are also killing two pairs, not just two birds as they mate for life and may not find another. Also destroyed are any chicks that those two pair would produce in their lifetimes. That could total into dozens of bald eagles not allowed to live.

When I saw that the government had denied the permit I was overjoyed. Now I am saddened that our people in Washington are backing down and giving in and allowing this barbaric practice by one tribe. (NOTE: they also allow the Hopi tribe to steal baby goldens out of their nests and kill them in religious ceremonies. Not just two but dozens) They should be ashamed for their weakness and backing down in providing protection for these awesome Bald Eagles. I applaud the Eastern Shoshone tribe for opposing the killing.

Susan Ahalt
Ironside Bird Rescue, Inc., Cody

Saturday, May 14, 2016

CAT is back with mom

Another installment in the saga of the baby GHOs. I received a call from the dispatcher that there was yet another baby owl on the highway. From the same nest as CAT, the one who came out again after being replaced once. By the time I got to the site that new baby had already dodged all the vehicles and made it safely to the other side of the highway. His mom was right there and he was up in a tree.

I thought, AHA! I can bring CAT back and place him in that tree and all would be okay. By the time I dashed home, gathered up CAT and got back to the tree the other baby was gone. I put my little guy on the highest branch I could reach and sat there for a long time just watching him. He never moved, just scanned all around.

Because I knew which way the mom had flown I decided to take him that direction. He let me catch him but started hissing and clacking the whole time I crawled my way up the shale on the hillside. I got almost halfway up when I saw mom fly back and land in the tree I was aiming for. And even with my deafness I could hear awful sounds coming from her. I tossed CAT into a clear area under the tree and beat a hasty retreat. Going down was quicker but I did part of it sitting down and sliding.

I am so thrilled that this chance came along and my baby is where he belongs.

Just when you think.....

you've seen it all as far as rescue, along comes a new one. I got a call about a great horned owl up in a tree with a broken wing. It was sticking straight up! And it was in Worland, more than an hours drive from here. I was told the owl was also over the water of a small pond. Well that made for an interesting rescue.

Jim Hill had a small flat bottomed skiff so we got in and headed out for the bird. As it was in an olive tree I thought maybe he'd caught his wing on one of the long thorns. I had my long handled net and was able to get it around him but my pulling didn't free the bird. What it did was lower him a bit so I could see his wing was caught in some fishing line.

What's the first thing they say about being in a small boat? Don't stand up!. Of course I stood up. Luckily Jim is an excellent navigator and kept the boat right under the owl. I was able to grab his legs and pull him down low enough to get my hand on the line. I gave a pull and it slipped off the end of his wing.

How this could have happened is anyone's guess. He was dangling up there like a Christmas tree ornament twisting in the wind. There was no damage to his wing tip or feathers so after we got back to shore and I managed to get myself out of the boat, we took a couple photos and I released him. He flew off the opposite direction of the pond.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Another first

Today I received a species of bird I've never had. This is an adult male Lazuli Bunting, one of the most colorful of our songbirds. He was found about seven miles up the Southfork Road unable to fly far or high. I can't see anything wrong with his wings so he'll stay here until he has enough strength to make it back in the wild.

It's a lousy photo because just as he got in a good position, and I pressed the button on the camera, he'd move or the camera would hesitate before clicking the shutter. I'll include a good photo of this type of bunting for you to see what how beautiful they are.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

New roomies

His name is TINKER TOY and he's about five weeks old. He's the eighth baby GHO I've received in the last few weeks. As you've seen in earlier posts, the fifth and sixth are younger so I still have to hand them their whole mice to swallow. Number seven, CAT, is in this photo to the right and I think he's probably coming eight weeks old. Almost old enough to go out with my foster mom as he's picking up and eating his meals without my help.

The new little fellow, on the left, altho older, is very starved and would not have made it if the finders hadn't spotted him alongside the road. I got him to eat three mice, cut up and soaked in water, and will give him more before nightfall. I don't want to stuff him in his condition as his system may shut down.

With the prey base of rabbits so high this year there has been a bumper crop of baby GHOs. Hopefully the need to rescue them will slow down as they get old enough to branch and then fly with the support of their parents.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Goodbye beautiful lady

Around the middle of August, in 1997, I was handed two wee kittens. They had been stuffed in a paper bag and left next to my neighbors car when they were at the local ball fields. The kittens were about 3 1/2 weeks old, barely crawling around, not eating or using a kitty box. I set up a large crate in the living room and started their education.

These sisters, MUFFIN and SISTER, have brought such joy into my life but the day is a bit dimmer now. At age 18 years, 10 months, I had to put MUFFIN to sleep today. About three weeks ago she started acting a bit weak and wasn't eating well. She was on a special diet for her kidneys but they apparently were going into complete failure. We tried medications but the disease moved very fast.

Today I decided to opt for quality and not quantity. To let her go and not keep her alive just to keep her alive. Her sister, SISTER, is just fine altho she is also starting to show her advanced age.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Little stinker

Last night I got a call from Nathan saying a friend was driving down the west strip and saw a baby owl in the middle of the road. You guessed it, the same one I put back in the sign nest yesterday morning. The police were on hand to protect him til Nathan got there. He's now in my cage room and will not be returned to the nest for a second time.

Darn those teenagers, they think they're nine feet tall and bulletproof. Because he's used up two lives I'm calling him CAT. I'll keep him here, put him in with my foster mom, SMIDGE, when he's ready and then release him as soon as possible. Not where he came from but on a large ranch where he can keep the mouse and rabbit population under control

Thursday, May 5, 2016

OMG! Success

This is a series of photos taken a short time ago and only about three hours after this baby GHO was rescued from the highway. I called Rocky Mount Power and, as usual, they immediately came to help. Thanks to Matthew Gallaway running the bucket, I was able to return the chick to the "nest". I was also surprised to find not one but two others there. Mom had flown off to a distant tree and watched closely to what was happening.

Matthew pointing out the best way to the nest site. It was on top of the billboard support pole in between the sides.
Susan & baby before climbing into the bucket.
Almost there.
Ready for placing into the nest.
The three babies. See why it can hardly be called a "nest"? I don't know how she managed to keep the eggs from falling off let alone have the babies manage to stay there too.
Photos thanks to Matthew, Rick and Ron Blanchard

Number six

I was on the road at 6:30 this morning to pick up the sixth baby great horned owl of the year. This one is a bit older than the other five, he's what's known as a "brancher". That means he's almost ready to fly but not quite. You'll note he has a lot of hard feathers on his wings and he's in a threatening posture.

The good news is that I found the nest with mom and a sibling in it. The bad news is that it's up on an advertising sign on a four lane highway. There are no branches for these two babies to head for when they decide to take off. I think this one either tried that or sort of fell off the platform. He was found in the middle of the road but luckily it was early and a caring person got him to a safe place and called me.

Now to get him back to the nest. I could probably do it with my extension ladder but will call Rocky Mountain Power to see if they have a small bucket truck available. They're the best when I need help in this manner. In the meantime, the baby is in a safe place.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

New digs

As I'm not able to put my two new GHO babies, SPRUCE and PINEY, in a foster nest, they needed a place to stay here where my foster mom, SMIDGE, can see to mentoring them. Thank goodness for Nathan, he's awesome and can build anything. When I called and explained what I wanted he arrived with his tools and immediately started in.

Here are the babies in their new place. It's in one of my 6x6 foot mews so they aren't that far away and I can also keep SMIDGE happy. She is not trained in any way but had fostered babies in the past. The best thing is this mew is on my camera monitoring system so I can check on everyone without disturbing them.
When S&P are old enough they'll all go out into my owl flight area so they can stretch their wings and become ready for release.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Four and five

Last year I only got in one baby GHO, this year is way different. As you saw in previous posts, I made a new nest for two babies and then fostered in another when mom was offside chewing me out. Everyone settled in just fine.

Today I got a call from a G&F Biologist, Erika Peckham. She had to go and pick up two more babies, these about three weeks old. The nest was so buried in a large evergreen that she couldn't get them back to it. Even with a tall ladder, the nest was about 25' high, it was another 10' to the center of the tree to the nest.

I now have the fourth and fifth baby GHO but at this point they'll have to stay here. I don't have any other nests available with only one or two chicks and the adults would have a hard time raising more than three.

They were found in the Mt. Pisgah Cemetery in down town Gillette. Now to think up some names.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

All together now

Human Spencer, Susan with feathered SPENCER, Tyler and Ryan before the big event.

Mom heading out.

Up the ladder one more time. Both parents were doing a lot of hooting the whole time I was near the nest.

Another first for me. Today I took little SPENCER out to where I'd replaced a horrible nest with a large basket. The goal was to put this new baby owl in with the two already at home there. I'd checked with the experts at The Owl Foundation in Vineland, ON, Canada to see if they thought it would work and got a green light.

Mom was on the nest when we got there so I wasn't sure if I'd have to do a lot of ducking but she did fly off when I'd reached about half way up the ladder. I popped SPENCER into the nest and about two seconds later he'd hopped out the other side and pin balled his way down to the ground. He was caught up again, put back in the nest along with a half of a rabbit for mom to feed the kids.

I got a call from Betsy that just minutes after we all left the area the mom was back on the nest and all three chicks were there too. As of now it looks like this will work. Keep your fingers crossed.