Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

May 6, 2015

Wild Week

I started this blog last week and had every intention on finishing it by Friday. Not the case. Now it's done.

7 days ago I did my last blog, and in this past week, it's been a crazy bunch of days with the animals.

It first started on April 23rd with a Brown Creeper ending up in the warehouse. I had almost ran him over with my forklift as he sat on the floor in one of the aisles. A co-worker was nearby on his truck and it caught his eye too. We followed the bird as he maneuvered through the warehouse, eventually coming down along the walkway near one of the entrances. He couldn't get more than a foot off the ground through his flights. When he landed, he foraged through dead bugs and debris behind one of the pillars, desperate to find something to eat (my guess). No idea how long the bird was in our building. With the help of my buddy keeping the bird blocked, I got my light jacket and covered the bird, then taking him out to the truck and putting him in a box (the truck is loaded with boxes, gloves, towels, cat carrier these days). It was easy to see the bird was exhausted, and I thought this would be best for him since it was almost dark now, the temp was going down to -7c with the wind chill and it was snowing. I was going to take him up to Toronto Wildlife in the morning. I got the bird home, he was resting quietly in the shredded newspaper. Sadly, just a few hours later when I got up to start my Friday, I found the Creeper had died in his sleep. I felt bad. But in the end, I hope this was a better passing for him, in a warm dark quiet place compared to the loud bright constant pace of the warehouse which runs almost 24/7 or being put outside on such a cold night. I really tried to help this bird. Creepers are always a treat to see and watch do their thing up the tree trunks.

I was getting ready to leave the house when a buddy of mine texted me upon his discovery an Eastern Screech Owl in a nearby park that morning. Sure we've seen a number of them in the last few years but it's always amazing to spot an Owl, especially one close to home. I was actually just on my way to pick up some FLAP survivors, being a couple Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, driving them north of the city for release. It's always a pleasure to be able to set some migratory birds free again, and away from the dangers of our city skyscrapers. I had checked for the Owl on route to pick up the Sapsuckers but no Owl was to be seen, neither was my buddy. He had seen the Owl an hour earlier. Oh well, something to look out for and Sapsuckers were waiting. I got the Sapsuckers, went up into the Vaughan area and released them in a woodlot. Both birds jetted away, far away, and no photo ops were given to me. It was nice to see them go like that. I did spot one high up a tree, going to work on it... back to business as usual. I'm heading home now, free time is running out for me as it's almost time for work. I decided to have another quick peek where the Owl was seen and sure enough, there he was, enjoying the sun.

I enjoyed the view for a couple minutes. No sense hanging around because he isn't going to do anything.

I get ready for work, and off I go. It turned out to be a quiet night at the pop shop and there was the opportunity to leave early. Hmmmmm? Leave early on a Friday night and start my weekend? Hell's to the yes! I get home, Angie is heading out for a bit with some friends, it's almost 8pm and we have just a bit of daylight left, so I go for a peek at the Owl again. He's out and this time he is trilling. How awesome! I don't hear Owl calls very often, and it's almost as good as seeing them. I got into a better position this time, following a path down below where the box is situated. Once again, a couple minutes of viewing, snap some photos and I'm out of there.

Saturday Angie and I were out monitoring some nest boxes. We came across a small family of humans (oh my gosh, we were around other people, strangers at that... LoL!) and we got them hand feeding Black-capped Chickadees along the path with us. Their son, who wasn't more than 5 years old, really got into the moment. It would be great if this was a spark moment for the kid and he turns into a naturalist one day.

Sunday morning there was a need for a volunteer to pick up an injured female Mallard Duck not far from home. Crazy story really and I'm still unsure how it all came to be. As far as I know the bird actually came into the patio area of an Italian restaurant sometime late Saturday afternoon. It was unable to fly at this point. How the heck did it get there to begin with? The workers caught and contained the Duck. Someone was supposed to be taking it home that night and wanted someone to come pick it up and take it to TWC. Why they did not just take it there themselves Saturday, since it was contained, is beyond me. The restaurant is approx 15 mins from the centre. Then things changed, they left the Duck at the restaurant in the outside patio area overnight. I called in about the Duck Sunday morning, went through the confusing twist of things, TWC was just as confused about what was going on too. They have countless stories of "what the fuckery" when it comes to the general public and wildlife situations. Remember, TWC relies heavily on volunteers and some days there just aren't enough people to help out, situations happen any given time of day, and when it's late like this, unfortunately help is not available immediately. It's worse for the animal when advice is given on what to do and the people decide to do something entirely differnt.

So, here I am on Sunday morning, arriving at this restaurant. I knew the Duck was not in a box. But where was it? No idea to me at the time. I had envisioned it sitting in the kitchen voicing it's displeasure at the staff. But it's a food establishment, they aren't supposed to do something like that due to health regulations. Okay imagination, time to stop, and let's get with reality here. I enter the restaurant, tell them who I am, why I am here and they point me to the Duck sitting outside in the patio area, just staring in the restaurant at us. I explained as well that I am a volunteer driver, catching wildlife is not exactly my expertise and my tools for such things are quite limited. I do have care and concern for the Duck on my side, plus the courage and determination to ensure this ends well for the Duck, getting her to the hospital.

For a moment I am taken back to something I saw on YouTube about TWC and a Mallard Duck situation in someone's backyard. Andrew is on scene and has people help him corner this Duck, slowly approaching it from all sides, giving her no where to go. So much patio furniture outside, I thought this would help me. Not the case. It was more of an obstacle course for me and lots of escape routes for the Duck. Of course I don't want to make a fool of myself, jumping over couches and chairs after this bird. I had the Duck cornered at one point, and just as I was about to towel her, she ran under the towel and out into the open again. I can see the few patrons in the restaurant standing at the window watching. It's the age of instant sharing. That's all I need. Me fumbling around like a fool and someone capturing something on their phone, sharing it, and probably giving a different telling of the story. Not something I need to be thinking of right now. I stand there and assess the situation, thinking it's probably a good idea to ask for some help in cornering this girl.

And just like that, suddenly an employee of the restaurant comes out. A sharp dressed man, all in black, with some real shiny shoes. He had caught the Duck the night before and was willing to help out. I wish I was able to video record this guy. The man in black grabs a milk crate, which is what he used the day before, and he does this fancy foot work through the patio area. Both myself and the Duck are stunned at the tap work of his feet in those shiny shoes. He has the Duck backed in the corner in seconds and on his third attempt to contain her, gets her under the crate. Now time for me to step in. I ask the man to lift the one side of the crate just enough for me to work my hands under with the towel. He does. I manage to get it over her head, then over her body, and she submits. I pull her out and put her in a carrier. Hooray! Restaurant patrons cheer from inside, thank you's are made and away I go. It was a nice afternoon at home relaxing with Angie after that. She was actually going to come with me, which would have been something, and quite memorable as we'd team up to help this bird but much was happening at home... someone has to hold the Mueller fort. As always I'm very grateful to have her as my partner in life. If she can't be with me, she supports me in these adventures, and makes sure I'm fed. :)

Monday is a quiet morning at home. I just get to work, having my last bit of Tim's coffee in the truck, enjoying some music before the start of the work shift, when my cell rings. I look at the phone and it's The Owl Foundation. I answer it and was surprised at the volunteer request. See, normally it's to pick up an Owl in need of getting to them down in Vineland. This time, they were bringing a couple Owls up to Toronto, one had to go to one place and they wanted to know if I could take another to another place for something else Tuesday morning. Hell's to yes! Didn't know what or where exactly, just pick up in south Etobicoke and go somewhere along Yonge Street (they would send all the info by email). It turned out to be a young female Snowy Owl.

So it's Tuesday now. The weather is just beautiful. One would think there'd be no traffic issues. Hah! Nobody knows why there was. Even on 680News, they were talking about how bad it was everywhere, and it really was horrific everywhere, just jam ups. It took Stacy from TOF over 2 hours to get from Vineland to Etobicoke, and she left by 7am! From there it took me almost an hour to get to Yonge and 401. I had thought the roads would be better than they were since it is after rush hour. What the hell? Yonge and 401 area was a total shit show, construction all over the place. Argh! I get to the clinic, there was some misinformation about what was going on. I could have left the bird right then and there if need be, and someone else would take over later. I offered to wait the next hour or two if it meant bringing the bird back. After an hour, it was obvious there'd be a lot more waiting, so I left. It still was a rather unique way to spend my Tuesday morning.

Quick crap cell pic of the bird in the clinic. Her carrier was covered with a large towel.

Wednesday was just crazy. First was this Raccoon came out about 9:30am to feed on a peanut pile I had out for the Squirrels and Jays. He ate all the peanuts in the pile, had a drink and then went for a nap in a tree behind the shed.

Unusual to see one out and about in the day like this but not impossible. I worry about the ones that do venture out because so many fear or loathe these animals.

10am there comes a shout out to pick up an injured Pigeon at Islington/Dundas in Etobicoke. That's minutes from home so I offered to do the drive. The bird was already contained so it was just a matter of driving him up to Toronto Wildlife. I'm home an hour later.

I get inside, pass our Gecko Norbert's tank and take notice to what looks like him wearing a turtle neck sweater. Holy crap! He's shedding his skin. This is something I've never witnessed before. The whole ordeal was over in less than 20 minutes. He used his water dish and then the rock house to help him work the skin off, and he ate every last bit of it. I was so happy to catch this with the camera and share with everyone, especially Angie since she wasn't home. Here's a couple pics...

A couple hours later I'm around the corner from work at Tim Horton's when I get a text from a co-worker asking if I am there yet. I replied "soon" and wondered what was up. 5 minutes later I am on company property and buddy has me come over to get a look at some cat hiding in a corner spot of the building, just outside the west entrance doors. Word was he'd been in this spot for some 14 hours already and wouldn't leave. A big cat he was, kinda dirty, but overall seemed to be in decent health, no obvious signs of sickness or injury. He did get the attention of many, and a few people came up to me about the cat while I was working (everyone knows I'm for the animals).

The cat was a distraction to some. He was very docile and affectionate, which meant he most likely was not a feral. He's either lost or was abandoned. How he ended up in this industrial area is a mystery. Why he chose the Pepsi plant is another mystery; although to some it was a sign for me to help him. Unfortunately some saw it as a sign for me to just take him home. I couldn't. Meadow wasn't gone 3 weeks yet. Angie and I need some time. Plus everyone seems to forget we have some rescue Budgies that may not exactly be safe anymore with a new cat in the house. Someone even suggested that we lock the birds up in a bedroom and keep the cat. NO! They are family. Birds are very social creatures. NO NO NO!

I went to human resources about the cat situation. Prior I was told everyone was aware of him but it turned out to be not true. One thing led to another, others got involved, calls were made, I was trying to get some of my west end friends to come and take the cat even temporarily (either got no replies or refusal). I had to get back to work but told those dealing with the situation now that if I can help any further I would, and that I had a cat carrier in the truck. In the end the city of Mississauga was called, which led to Mississauga Animal Services being contacted. They certainly would come and take the cat IF it was contained. I was called to the front office now, and asked if I could help catch and contain the cat. Of course. One of my co-workers, the one who initially told me about the cat, who was also the one who helped me with the Brown Creeper came out with me. We had the cat in the carrier without too much hassle. The cat never hissed or snarled, just gave a little push back with us trying to get him inside. But once inside, he chilled out, submitting to the situation and pretty much was like "whatever". He was smart enough to know we weren't out to hurt him. I put him in the back of the truck, parked in a shady spot and went back to work, waiting for the call to come up front again when the city showed up.

About 45 minutes later someone from MAS arrives. He meets me at the truck, we talk about the cat, the situation and fill out some paper work. Next is transferring the cat from my carrier to theirs. I offered to let them take mine and I'd pick it up the next day but buddy said "let's try and move him first". He opened his carrier door as well as mine. He wanted to see if the cat would go in on his own. Nah, that wasn't happening. 3 or 4 minutes later he grabs the cat and moves him along. Not aggressive like but to get things happening. The cat went with the flow once again, very calm about things, and no signs of aggression. And it was over. I took all the info I needed as I want to check up on this cat, and what his outcome will be. I hope it's a story of a lost cat reuniting with his family. Next best case would be him going up for adoption in 10 days or so. Worst case would be euthanasia.

I bring up his temperment a lot because that will work for him in the animal shelter. There are many no kill shelters around but things aren't what they once were, or what many people are led to believe. Shelters just don't take animals in with ease anymore. Even the humane society does not have an open door policy like they once did. I learned the hard way with a cat a couple years ago, some of you may recall me trying to help a big lovey abandoned boy named Smudge. I did a few blogs as I tried to help this cat, here is the initial one. Not one single shelter or cat rescue place answered my calls, voice mails, or pleading emails about his situation. I asked for help, even just advice on what to do, who could take him in. It seems there is a filtering system in the city now. Cats go in through animal services and depending on such things like temperment either move along to adoption or face being put down. I've heard it from both Toronto and Mississauga Animal Services that bad tempered cats will be put down. I get that, well, sort of, because no potential adopter wants to be in the face of an aggressive cat. But all animals have their own personalities, and some react to such a situation out of fear, and just need some time and understanding, which they won't get with the city. They just don't have the time to work with animals for the most part. It's a steady flow of them coming. Sad really. People wonder why I am so against free roaming cats, not just because of how many birds and animals they kill, but situations like this. And how many people don't spay or neuter their cats. It is so irresponsible of some people to take in a cat, don't "fix" it and just let it do whatever it wants, go outside, kill, breed, and if it doesn't come home... oh well.

A quick visual of this cat lead us to believe it is a neutered male. He was someones cat at some point. If only they could talk.

I wish that cat the best outcome possible, and will promote his adoption page if that is where he goes. At least he is off the streets. An industrial area is no place for a cat.

It was a hard time for me emotionally with this cat. Of course the idea of bringing him home played through my mind. But I couldn't. I felt sorry for him but the timing just isn't right, and our birds, can't forget that. It just would not be fair to any of us. This paragraph, the emotions and thoughts, can be a carbon copy for Angie.

I wished I could go home and hug Meadow like I always did when I got involved in cat adventures. She certainly had a blessed life with us, a life I wish upon all cats out there. But of course that can't happen now. Not in this life. We just set up her "tribute" shelf of sorts around this time making things even a little harder to deal with.

Meadow's ashes in a wood urn and we can change the photo whenever we wish, probably seasonally. We also had a plack made with her actual paw print. *sigh*

The week ended quietly. I enjoyed the backyard critters and some local park sightings including my first of season Garter Snake and spotting that Screech Owl from a week earlier as well.

Yes, that is a traffic light behind. He is quite close to a main road but I will never say where.

So, what do ya think? Wild week or what?

I should add that Pierre and the gang are still showing up most days on top of a few migrants for some added spice.

Pierre chomping on Jesse as they squabble over breakfast.

White-throated Sparrow. We've had 3 or 4 coming in lately. Too bad they don't stay with us.

A couple White-crowns also popping in, and belting out their sweet little song.

A couple male Baltimore Orioles are back now. Woo hoo!

Angie and I have a 2 week vacation coming up very soon (last 2 weeks of May). We are so looking forward to it. While we don't have any big plans, and there never is a vacation from the animals (they are a part of our lives); it will be nice to not go to that thing we call "work". I'm sure I will blog again before the holiday and we can only imagine what I will share from our holiday.

Thanks to those who have sat through this lengthy blog. Being short is something I know nothing about.

Cheers on this Whiskey Wednesday!

A message from my buddy out back...

April 24, 2015

Full Circle

Back on March 1st I drove a few Owls down to The Owl Foundation. One being a baby Great Horned Owl that had fallen from a nest in High Park (efforts were made by Toronto Wildlife to get him home but the nest is much too high). Another Owl was a Northern Saw-whet Owl, unsure his story, but he was found in someone's window well north west of the city. And lastly, an Eastern Screech Owl. As always, it's bitter sweet doing these drives. I'm happy to be helping the Owls and such organizations as Toronto Wildlife and The Owl Foundation; but I always feel bad for the birds because they are sick or injured, and really don't understand what is happening to them.

The story of this Screech Owl is kinda bizarre. He was roosting in someone's backyard in Rexdale, Ontario, which is minutes from our home. A Hawk of some sort spotted the Owl and went in for the kill. The Hawk got a hold of the Owl and the birds came down to the ground, tumbling out back of someone's house. This fray got the attention of their dog, who basically went ape shit with the action, which then got the attention of the homeowners who all raced outside to see what was going on. As everyone came to the scene, the Hawk got spooked, and let go of the little Owl, fleeing in fear. The Owl lay on the ground, stunned and injured to some degree. The Owl was scooped up. Toronto Wildlife was called. And the bird was at the centre in no time after that.

After assessment and a brief stay at TWC, it was decided to send him down to The Owl Foundation for rehab with the Owl experts.

I did the drive as you are aware. I never did see this little Screech Owl that morning but did get to meet the baby Great Horned.

I left The Owl Foundation, wishing all the birds well and headed for home.

Jumping ahead to April 17th. I was out that morning doing my first ever solo Red-tailed Hawk release, then having a rush job of getting ready for work. I did not check any emails and had no idea TOF contacted us about the little Screech Owl. He was deemed "good to go home" and we were welcomed to take him back to his territory if we wanted to. Angie saw the email, told me, and of course we had no hesitation in saying "yes". Anyone following my recent blogs knows this along with the Hawk release are much needed distractions.

We made the arrangements to pick him up on April 18th (a lovely Saturday it turned out to be weather wise). We had plans already for some of those "distractions" that I may touch upon at the end of this story. Adding the Screech Owl release to end the day made it one epic Saturday overall.

If we got to The Owl Foundation in good time, Annick was going to band the bird with us. If we ran late due to our other goings-on, she'd do it on her own. Hey, don't blame her, she has a life as well, and it would soon be Saturday night. We made sure we would be there to witness the banding as it would be another first for us to see an Owl get banded.

5:30pm and we roll into Vineland. The trip to TOF was not such a bitter sweet one as this time we were taking an Owl away from there to have a second chance at a wild life. This thrilled us. It doesn't have to be an Owl, seeing any bird or mammal go home again is heart warming and uplifting. But this was our first Owl and it made things a little more exciting. 3 years of being a volunteer driver for TOF now.

I'm kinda lost in the moment in my head.

We met Annick at the house. She had us follow her to where the Screech Owl was being housed on the grounds. We chatted along the way, catching up on things and then entered the building. She caught the Owl in the enclosure and brought him out. She is going to band the bird now. Annick looks to Angie and asks her if she would like to help with the banding. Angie pondered this for a moment and then, like the wonderful thoughtful wife she is, said "no, I think it's best Rob take part, he brought the Owl down, so it adds to his story, going full circle". Angie's words were something along those lines, but it's definitely what she meant. She passed up on this opportunity for me. I was touched, in awe and a little intimidated. I wasn't afraid of handling the Owl by any means, I haven't banded or helped band a bird in a few years now, and I never want to have one escape on me. The Owl wouldn't have too far to go being in the building, but still, don't want to lose him in my grip regardless.

Annick is holding the Owl in front of me and going over what we would be doing which included a final weight, wing measurements and the banding.

The bird is clicking and clacking away, showing his disapproval to what was being done to him. If only they knew what the not too distant future held for them.

Now it came time for me to help. My nervousness went away quick. Annick is a great teacher; and I just went with the flow, enjoying the moment holding this little Owl instead of freaking out. All went well. I had an ear to ear grin. Angie snapped photos of the moment. How awesome!

I had to pose at least once through this.

In his carrier and good to go.

We said our goodbyes, big thank you's on both ends, from us for the opportunity, and from Annick for our help. And away we went.

It was shortly after 7:30pm when we arrived in Rexdale at the home of the people who found the Owl. They were ecstatic about this release. Prior to meeting this bird in that tangle, they were much like me 10 years ago, in disbelief that Owls lived in the GTA. We talked about the Owls for a brief moment while we looked about the property for a good release spot. Once a spot was deemed good, we headed off with the bird in the carrier.

Angie did the release. She had hoped I would get a photo or two of the bird after it left the carrier. For me, I wanted her to be a part of this and not just a passenger in the truck and a witness. It was a special moment for us, and as I keep saying, "a distraction".

She walked about 15 ft ahead of us, set the box down, opened the top and backed away slowly.

We waited and waited and waited just a little more. I think it was maybe 3 or 4 minutes tops before the Owl left the box and headed straight into the nearby woodlot. It was over in a flash and no photos were taken due to the obstruction of the tangles where he went. He sat there for about 3 seconds and then flew deeper in, to which we lost sight of him.

Once the sun was going down, it went down fast. Here Angie is trying to spot the Owl after his release.

We all left the area, these people have a huge chunk of land in Rexdale and back onto a large greenspace, how lucky for them. We told them to listen to the other birds in the future, hear their alarm calls, as that is a sign the Owl may be around. We talked about them setting up an Owl box as well. They were quite eager about all this and we could see the spark in these people regarding the wild birds around them now. They had one bird feeder and knew their Cardinals and Blue Jays, but I bet they start looking a little more closely at all the birds.

I really did do a full circle with this little Owl though, didn't I?

It really was an amazing day. The whole week had been full of "wild distractions" for me but this was not something neither of us expected to be doing Saturday evening. I swear it's like someone out there is looking out for us, giving us reasons to smile when we don't feel like it.

Prior to this release with The Owl Foundation, Angie and I spent a good part of the afternoon at the Mountsberg Raptor Centre. I'm sure Angie will be blogging about it soon, her blog link is here. We got hang out with our friend Sandra and our favorite little Eastern Screech Owl "Echo" during a private raptor encounter that I highly recommend those interested in Owls (but seldom see them in the wild) check out some time.

I know I've done a few heart wrenching blogs about Meadow and I've linked them throughout other blogs, but they really are all connected. Everything that has been happening in the last 2 weeks is a part of that. I've felt such a huge loss losing her. I want to thank everyone who has read them and continues to come back to my blog page in my days of grieving.

April 21, 2015


With the grueling emotional week I had last week, as some of you following me may have seen, I was keeping myself very busy, see here. As the days passed, my worst moments were in the dead of the night when all is quiet and still. I had hoped being on the go so much would have me collapse into a sleep coma for at least 6 hours a night, but that was not the case.

Friday morning, I'm in a groggy daze, and had one crap night with countless thoughts of Meadow, reliving her final breath. There were chores to be done and errands to run. I did not want to do anything but I forced myself to. Snow tires off the truck, a bit of shopping done in the meantime.

In the midst of things, my phone rings. It's Toronto Wildlife. They were seeking the assistance of a volunteer driver sooner than later in the west end of the city. They know my work schedule and most mornings I am good to go upon their shout out for help. I'll drive for them any chance I can, whether it be to pick up food, a sickly duck, an injured bird or Squirrel, you name it. I'm happy to help them and the wild creatures. It's good for me, my spirit, more so these days than ever before.

Today it was going to be exceptional. They asked me if I could take a Red-tailed Hawk to the north/west corner of Brampton and release him. Hells to the yes I could and would. Anything I see get their second chance at a wild life from tiny little Kinglets to a Hawk is awesome! I told them I would be there as soon as I could, probably within the hour, once the tires were done. And I was.

I met Andrew at the front, Stacy joining him, we talked about the bird, where it was to go, going over a map of the area and narrowing down a spot good for releasing him. He was found in a subdivision but releasing him to nearby green space would be better for the bird.

I was honored that they asked me if I would like to come to the back and see the bird, them catch/contain it instead of just waiting out front. I've done the tours of the back with the TWC open house and I knew where the Hawk was but this was even cooler. I just stood back and watched them.

Andrew working on catching the bird.

The birds all have ID bands, colored ones, for easier identification, and they fall off in no time... much like is done with the baby Peregrine Falcons during banding. So easy to spot some yellow or green tape instead of trying to get a band number. This bird had a blue band.

The bird was caught, checked over one last time, contained and away I went.

I was excited about this opportunity. I had never released a Hawk before, not that I am listing species, but this certainly was the biggest creature for me to set free. I was wishing Angie could have been with me. We went over the procedure earlier, before even going to get the bird. I talked about the release I joined them for of another Red-tailed Hawk back in December that someone had shot with a pellet gun. I remember the whole release well, I took photos throughout and blogged about it here. A good thing I did because this release was almost a play by play of the first one.

I get to the area for the release, took a few drives around, seeking out the best spot, away from the road and hopefully some sort of elevation too. I found one in way of a large corn field with a wood lot running along the side of it, and a marsh area just west of the woods. All this habitat and well enough off the road too. I pulled off the road, got the bird and my camera of course. I knew there'd be no release shots but if the bird hung around or perched in the vicinity, I would try for a few pics. I get to the top of a small hill, one last look about, positively a good spot for the release and I let the Hawk out. He burst out of the box and hopped to the ground. This was very much like the release last year. And the Hawk sat there, and sat there, and sat there some more. He looked at me, he looked around at his surroundings, looked to the sky, repeat. I had hoped my close presence, since he didn't go far from the box, would move him along soon but it didn't.

He continued sitting and just getting his bearings, observing his surroundings.

Now if I had not seen similar things with the previous RTHA release, I probably would have started freaking out after so many minutes of this. In reality, it was nearing 10 minutes, but in my head it was triple that!

Finally he took a few hops.

My hunkering down as I was, still by the box, not moving, was getting to my legs. Since the bird moved further from me, I stood up for a moment to stretch my legs. The bird reacted.

And moments later, took flight. He flew some distance, gaining height and landed in a tree.

I was so happy to see this. I did see him fly about in the enclosure at TWC, but with any releases I have done, I never leave the animal until it leaves me (I don't think anyone leaves them). From this point, nothing else can be done. I walk away, silently wish him a healthy long life and head for the nearest Tim Hortons celebrating with a glorious cup of coffee, saving the whiskey toast for after work.

Portrait shot thanks to my 500mm lens. I didn't take very many photos as I was too focused on him and what he was doing (pun intended).

Toronto Wildlife and The Owl Foundation rely heavily on volunteers, donations both financially and items from their wish lists. Perhaps you might consider stepping up in one way or another?

April 20, 2015


A friend sent me these words after learning of Meadow's passing. While I am not one for the religious take on anything, I did find comfort in this. Of course it's better with Meadow photos throughout...

And God asked the feline spirit

Are you ready to come home?

Oh, yes, quite so, replied the precious soul

And, as a cat, you know I am most able

To decide anything for myself.

Are you coming then? asked God.

Soon, replied the whiskered angel

But I must come slowly

For my human friends are troubled

For you see, they need me, quite certainly.

But don't they understand? asked God

That you'll never leave them?

That your souls are intertwined. For all eternity?

That nothing is created or destroyed?

It just is....forever and ever and ever.

Eventually they will understand,

Replied the glorious cat

For I will whisper into their hearts

That I am always with them

I just am....forever and ever and ever.

April 16, 2015

Death & Distractions

After the heart breaking life event we had to endure on Sunday, it's certainly been a very rough week. If you missed that, here is the link, please keep the kleenex nearby and don't say I did not warn you. It's a happy sad mostly though.

I am rather drained. I know stress is exhausting but didn't think being so sad would do it too. How I long for a solid night's sleep!

We've had unbelievable amounts of outpouring support from family, friends and so many people we've not met but who love their pets and understand what we are going through. Gotta love social media! With so many comments, one does stand out from our bud Lee, after stating her dehydration from reading my tribute to Meadow, she nailed it with a part on how Meadow was a bit of a celebrity in the eyes of all those who never met her. Meadow was a regular through my social media, be Facebook or Twitter, and I never realized how many people enjoyed our shenanigans. She was there so often and not in the background.

As Angie and I spent Sunday at home, trying to enjoy the beautiful day it turned out to be weather wise, we did have some difficult moments. Sitting on the back deck, we could not help but look directly at Meadow's favorite shrub, envisioning her there. She went to this shrub with every visit, no matter the season, but of course just loved it when it was in bloom, smelling and licking the flowers (last photo I shared in the blog linked above).

Watching over the shrub everyday now, waiting for signs of it coming back to life.

Sunday night was difficult. As per usual, Angie goes to bed a few hours earlier than me because we work different shifts. I am so used to the routine of Meadow and I stretching out on the couch, her snuggling in my arm pit, and I put a dvd on. She purrs for a long while, I watch whatever, and we both eventually drift off to sleep. No other way to put it other than it just plain sucked not having her there with me.

Monday morning wake up, no kitty coming out to the kitchen with me as I boil the kettle for that first morning coffee. No kitty getting up on the table while I enjoy it. No kitty jumping in the window when I open the shutters. Ugh! I spent over 3 hours that morning doing the tribute blog, smiling, crying, back and forth. I went to work that afternoon and was greeted by some of the guys with sympathies, hand shakes, man hugs and lots of talking. Not a bad bunch of guys I work with.

Early in the shift I was contacted by some wildlife rehabbers about a unique situation that they hoped I could help them with. It would involve me meeting an individual the next morning, early in the morning, more like middle of the night to me, meeting this person in a sort of relay system to get an injured bird to the help it needed. I jumped at the opportunity despite how screwed up it would be for my sleep. To me, this was a really good distraction and kinda boosted my spirits temporarily. I wasn't happy that there was something sick or injured and needing help but the ability to help others, especially wildlife, did. Unfortunately the animal died before this got to happen.

Work went by slowly, and a few times I caught myself about to get choked up, lost in thought with memories of Meadow, but I would stop myself. As much as I looked forward to coming home after work, I dreaded the dead stillness of the house without Meadow. It was a mild night and I went out back for a while. I like to fill the bird feeders at night when no one is around, well, no humans anyway. I don't mind the passing critters such as Raccoons, Opossum or a Skunk (from a safe distance). But tonight I was treated to the sounds of Coyote howls very near our house. How near? Maybe a 1/4 km away. They were so close! In the near 13 years here I've not heard them before. My spiritual animal lovers said to take it as a sign from Meadow. It sounded very much like this.

Tuesday I run a few errands like I normally do, stopped in some local bird spots close to home and saw my first of season Yellow-rumped Warblers, a Brown Creeper, a Tree Swallow and a brief view of a Turtle. I was curious if it was a Red-eared Slider that someone tossed in the pond a couple years ago.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

I'd been meaning to get in touch with my friends at the Humber Arboretum as the last couple Springs we've been working on a nest box or two, experimenting with positioning them better, and critter proofing them. Each year we've learned something and make adjustments. I've learned a lot from the Ontario Eastern Bluebird Society about such things. The meadow at the Arboretum is full of Tree Swallows and on occasion I have seen an Eastern Bluebird. It is our goal to help the Bluebirds and maybe get a nesting pair. Of the 3 Springs we've done something, I'd say this one is offering the best for a Bluebird and the returning Tree Swallows. Jimmy from the Arb built a nest box for Angie and I and gave it to us as a wedding gift on behalf of the Arb. We set it up the Spring after we were married. The first year we got a dummy Wren nest. Male Wrens will build a few nests and let the female pick out the one she wants, at least that is what I've been told. Should I have been offended she did not want this nest? The second Spring we got a pair of Tree Swallows but sadly they abandoned the nest and 4 eggs due to ant infestation. Here we go again and no way them ants are getting in the houses this time around. Wish us luck! Shit, I just jumped ahead a day with the last bit here. That is how I spent my Wednesday morning. It was great to see Jimmy and mess around with him for a couple hours working on the nest boxes. Another great distraction plus we're hopefully helping some lovely bird species. It gives me inspiration. It gives me the drive I need, something to look forward to, something to watch over in the coming months.

Now let's go back a few hours, Tuesday at work wasn't as hard as Monday, but I still caught myself in a few moments of misery. I probably will for some time yet. I will always miss Meadow but I guess over time the pain eases. I can look back with fondness and not the heartbreak. I just remind myself on how sick she was, how quickly she turned for worse, and she is not suffering anymore. I'd rather think of the happy healthy sidekick I had with that cat but for the time being giving myself the dark reminder is helpful.

Work ends Tuesday night and I am on my way home. What do I see in my travels? Two Snowy Owls! One at Hwy 401 and Hurontario, plus one at my Eglinton exit. I was in awe! This is the latest in the season for me to see Snowy Owls. I wished I had my camera to get some crap record shots. I get home, it's another mild night, I'm filling the feeders and wondering if I will hear the Coyotes again? Nope. It's quiet for the most part minus a Raccoon that comes racing over a few fences to join me. Someone has been feeding them and a couple have become quite used to human presence. I'm sure my dropping of whole peanuts and not minding their clean up does not help but whatever, it's like a score to them, a little snack as they search out food. I won't chase them away as long as they aren't messing with our house. So he's snacking on a few when through the side gate comes an Opossum.

He's looking for the apple core I normally toss out to the back lawn after work. Lucky for him, I threw a whole mealy one out tonight. He sees it, takes it in his jaws and goes under the deck to feast. A one minute video link.

I go back to filling the feeders when I spot a second 'Possum at the back. A smaller one. Perhaps a female and the big guy I encountered moments earlier was the male? A great hour or so out back with these furry distractions!

Wednesday, as you know what happened. Jimmy and Taurean are great guys and we had some laughs.

One of the nest boxes we moved had Tree Swallows take to it in minutes.

I didn't want to leave and go to work but I did. Work wasn't much different than Tuesday, good times, a couple rough moments, but I just kept at it.

It was another night I was dreading though because this is after all Whiskey Wednesday. Angie will be in bed and my usual drinking bud won't be with me. Meadow was great on Whiskey Wednesdays. She never said anything, was just there with me. We enjoyed the peace and quiet after a long night at work. We loved looking out the kitchen window to the darkness. She always spotted the critters long before I did. On occasion did the whole back fur raising, ears popping, and then run around the house like a maniac before coming back to the window with her eyes bulging out, staring at what I cannot see. Such fun! But this was not going to happen tonight. I shared this photo on Facebook, talking about my first "WW" without her and anyone wanting to raise a glass to her memory with me.

The mass of friends saw my post and made many cheers and toasts to Meadow. Heck, some even took pics of their drinks and shared them not just on Facebook but a few photo texts to my phone as well. How freakin' awesome! There are a lot of shit heads in the world. I am happy to say they don't exist in my circle.

My ride home had me spot 2 Snowy Owls yet again. This time the birds weren't more than 50 ft from each other in a field near my exit. Damn, no camera again.

Home now, Angie waited up for me, she did a shot and then went to bed. I went outside again, met up with my masked friend for a bit and then the Coyotes started their chant about 11:15pm. Their yelping intimidated my Raccoon friend and for whatever reason, he moved in much closer to me. I've always had Raccoons drawn to me through my life. If they ever did my totem animals, I'm sure the Raccoon is on there somewhere.

So now it's Thursday morning. I should get out for a bit since it's another lovely morning. I have some bird buds I've not seen in a while and we keep talking about meeting up, they have checked in on me this week and remind me they are there if I want to get out and chat. I will. Just not today. Blogging this is good therapy for me. I turn on the radio and Luba's "Everytime I See Your Picture I Cry" is playing. OMG! A song nothing to do with this life story we are facing but that one line... ei yi yi... some hard moments looking back on old photos.

I'm unsure how interesting anyone will find this but this one is for me.

There are 5 stages of grief... denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

I know I don't have denial. There is no denying Meadow is gone. Meadow went to sleep in my arms. I will never forget her last breath.

Anger. Yes I have anger. I get angry when someone says "oh that's too bad. My cat is 16 years old and has never been to the vet other than to get fixed." I'm sure it wasn't meant in any ill way but I still want to say "shut the fuck up!" Some people don't think before speaking. Anyway, that's about the extent of my anger. Anger is for the most part a useless emotion. It's toxic to your body and spirit, and a waste of time with the remaining life you have.

Bargaining. I don't get that one really. I will be a better man, let her remain with us? Meadow was really sick. She is at peace now. The cat in the last days was a shell of her old self, just tiny snippits of the old Meadow came out briefly. It would have been cruel to try and hang on to her. Cruel to her and cruel to us. Nope, no bargaining for an extension on the sickly life she had. Maybe guilt could be a replacement? I have brief moments of that, like I should have done more.

Depression. Yes, that is lingering. I have moments of "why bother?" Hence this blog, sharing the things I've gotten into to keep myself going, just got to keep busy. I have a difficult time remembering the last time I washed my hair. I know my eating is off, 2 meals a day right now. I wish for Meadow and I to be together. That is not a hint at anything crazy like suicide, I just miss her so much. But if I were to look death in the face right now, I'd wouldn't be afraid, I know Meadow is there waiting for me.

As Angie said the other day, which is something I could never forget even if she did not say it, we have others that need us, and cannot neglect. The Budgies Misfit and Moonie. I am happy they have each other to keep company in my off moments. Ralphie the Newt and Ash the Frog. Not the most social buggers in the house, just feed 'em and they are good. While I may not always feed myself, the "kids" will never go hungry. Then there's Norbert. He's got such a welcoming face every morning I get up and turn on his light.

Always smiling, so it seems, and he's left me a cricket leg, reminding me I gotta eat. LoL!

Pierre and his lady, along with others, have been arriving daily once again. Usually here when I get up shortly after 7am. I'm not ready for our visits at this time of the morning, head is too cloudy, and I've got not much more on than the boxers. Handfuls of grub are tossed out to tie them over until I see them a little later on.

On top of all our animal buds, there's us. We need each other.

Our human friends need us too, as much as we need them.

As the weekend comes, Angie and I will be there for each other. We already have some afternoon plans for Saturday, a great distraction as we visit our friends at the Mountsberg Raptor Centre.

The final stage of grief is acceptance. Done that. Meadow is gone in the physical form. I know that. I accept that. But I still don't like it.

I have a long road ahead, struggling with this loss. As I said in my blog about Meadow, I lost one of the most precious things in life, something I loved more than my own life. Words that are so true.

I thank all that is around me, family, friends and acquaintances who all "get this" and are here for me... for us.

I am thankful for all the animals I share life with, the ones I cross paths with, past and present... they help me through all the rough moments and the negative times. My experiences with them help me take away the bad in my life and turn into beautiful memorable moments. Meadow gave me countless of these.