Pierre and I

Pierre and I

August 27, 2014

Ode to Red

I am not sure if I ever gave much mention to Red the Pigeon in my blogs as Pierre is who gets all the attention. But Red was a special bird and has a story of his own.

Red was a stand out bird amongst the flock and with this, I know he was around for over 3 years. I remember him from the days before Pierre who just celebrated his second anniversary with us in July. Even in the Sibley's bird guide, it shows under these common Pigeons (Rock Doves) that Red's coloring is considered scarce. So when Red flew in, he was easily spotted amidst the birds.

And back in the day, even though that was only a couple years ago, it certainly is "back in the day" for a wild bird whose life expectancy is approx 5 years... I didn't like Red a whole lot. Pigeons weren't high on my list of birds as Pierre hadn't shown me how interesting and personable they can be. Heck, even after Pierre flew in and warmed my heart, I still didn't like Red as he was a dominant bird, a real bully to my Pierre and I often referred to him as "The Ginger Pigeon". It was taken from a South Park episode on ginger kids (red haired children).

Red was not coming to my hand in those days, he was a just strutting cock around the yard, and occasionally showing his dominance over my younger Pierre. I get it, that's what animals do, and even some humans too. But I didn't like any bird biting and wing smacking my buddy. I found myself on occasion intervening with this all, stomping my foot and giving Red a scare, having him back off and giving Pierre some space.

I never hated Red, or any of them, but I sure had a disliking to his behaviour some days.

This went on for well over the first year with Pierre.

And then late in the summer of 2013, I started to see Red coming in closer to me with my now two hand feeders being Pierre and little Jesse. He observed from a few feet away for many weeks. Pierre and Jesse got the good stuff (sunflower chips, shelled peanuts), while the ground feeders were left with cracked corn, millet and occasional peanut bit. My buds also got my protection, feeding mostly in peace, rarely having to fight for food.

So, finally, one Autumn morning Red came to my hand. I don't quite remember if Pierre was there at the moment or not. I do know that over the time spent with him visiting, there were mornings I did some great stretches out there on the deck with Pierre and Red, keeping the distance between them as far as possible to eliminate the squabbling. Sometimes all it took was having them not in view of each other and not having to stretch out like I did. See, even I learned something with these birds. I only wish I had photos of these moments as I'm sure we all looked pretty comical, or at least I did. LoL!

Red quickly became one of the special birds from the flock as he bonded with me, and even Angie over time. I spend more time with the birds because of the hours I work. All through the winter, as Angie gets home, these birds have gone off back to their roosts.

And through the brutal winter we experienced in 2013/14, I was happy to see my pals coming in for a feed, no matter how cold it was, and whatever snow/ice and rain fell on us. I gladly put my coat on and joined them every morning.

Red figured out the spot to wait every morning, right outside the back door. I can't say Pierre liked this a whole lot.

And as winter was coming to an end, we took notice to Red having a companion. It was cool to see the birds pair up and look after each other like couples should do. My arm was a wonderful morning perch on those cold sunny mornings. A handful of grub and a safe spot to sit and soak in the rays for a while, as long as I had the time and my arm could stand being extended out for them.

Red became more tolerant of the other birds, not being the dominant force he once was in his youth. It's a zen moment hand feeding my buds and they aren't fighting.

And here's a rare moment with Red and Pierre getting along, hanging out with me while I watched the birds one afternoon. I love this shot because it's the only one I have of my two favorite birds together (wish I was in it) but the moment is in my memory.

Red and I back in May when I was on vacation, sporting the vacation beard.

I remember back in early May, when I was certain we were done with winter and snow, that I finally went and got the snow tires taken off the truck. The garage I use is less than 2 kms away. As I'm waiting, who do I see outside in the Husky service station lot next door, but Red. One can't miss him with his plumage and another physical trait I will make mention of very soon. He was strutting his stuff with some others, and they would fly back and forth from the gas station to the Walmart right across St. Clair Avenue. I thought it was pretty cool to see one of my buds, recognizing them like this, away from the house. Can you spot Red in this mobile photo?

Red had a foot condition which we thought was bumble foot. It looked like a clubbed foot. I never gave much attention to it as it seemed like it was there for almost as long as I'd been feeding him. But he got around with whatever was going on and I chalked it up to life in the city for a Pigeon. It wasn't until one day when I shared a photo of him on a Pigeon Facebook group that someone pointed out it may not be bumble foot but something wrapped around his foot. It was thin black string or rope of some kind. Maybe Pigeon netting people use on balconies to keep the birds away? From further inspections, I could see he had lost a couple toes. The left foot was pretty bad with the material and he did have a little bit on his right. If only he could talk and tell the tale of what happened.

It was discussed on perhaps trying to help him and the argument continued on for days by myself, back and forth in my head. His condition is older, he's getting around with it, and he's not a young bird. I knew he was around for at least 3 years already and who knows how old he really is? What I'm saying is, I always have the fear of catching wildlife and turning them in, as my record with rescues isn't great... 5 of 6 never came out from their rescue. Its nice to know the creatures aren't suffering anymore, but it's never the best feeling to learn the outcome was "humanely put down". Really, from what I could see, Red wasn't suffering. He got around like the others, he ate, he bathed, flew like a champ and in my eyes was a survivor; especially making it through the hellish winter we just had. He evaded all the Coopers and Red-tailed Hawk attacks for another season. So, to me, I thought it was best to just leave him be and let him continue on with his life journey. Of course if I thought he was suffering, showed obvious signs of not being able to care for himself anymore, I would take action. There was a moment through this where I thought I would try and catch him, but the feeble attempt went unsuccessfully and I made the decision then to not do anything like that again unless I had to.

Angie and I just enjoyed our time with Red and kept an eye on him.

It was early June that we last saw him. I see in my photos, this is the last shot I have of him, and this was taken the morning of June 3rd.

Through the month of June I get pretty busy with Peregrine Falcon fledge watches, first at Islington and Bloor, then I help out at William Osler in Rexdale. The watches did go right up into July once again. I was giving my Pigeon buddies as much attention as I could in between work and the Falcon watches. Pierre often showed signs of his disliking to my absence with loud vocals at first sight of me in a week. If I knew Pigeon talk, I am sure his words were "Where the hell have you been? But I am really happy to see you!"

After the watches, it's nice to spend the rest of the summer at home, enjoying our birds. Unfortunately, so far, Red has not been a part of this. One week from now it will be 3 months since we last mingled.

Who knows what's happened? And with these wild birds, I probably will never know. The day will come when Pierre won't be outside our backdoor, and I'm hoping that's not for a long time yet.

It was nice to get to know Red in those last 8 or 9 months. He was a high light to many of my mornings before work. I do hope he's well and just off elsewhere. A friend of mine who keeps homing Pigeons gave me this bit of hope as one of his birds left him for over 6 months before coming back. But if not, he will be remembered as one of the stand out creatures to visit our backyard. Thanks for the memories buddy...

August 20, 2014

Raccoons in Toronto

I've found it upsetting with the recent news posts about Rob Ford and his rants about Raccoons in Toronto. How is this a top story, and for 2 days in a row? I've yet to skim the news today and see if Rob Ford saw yet another Raccoon last night in his wanderings about his property. Here are some links to 680 news on this... Monday and Tuesday

I will not make this a personal attack on the man but seriously, take into consideration where he and his family live, backing onto park space, the Humber River flows a stone's throw beyond that, and they are within a very short walk to James Gardens and Lambton Woods (two parks I hold dear to my heart through the winter months). Rob Ford is almost our neighbour, I can be at his house within a 3 minute drive. If he and his family have such a huge fear of Raccoons, perhaps they should move?

He states there is a huge increase in Raccoon populations here in Toronto but doesn't have much in way of facts to back that up. Perhaps he watched "Raccoon Nation" which says Toronto has the highest Raccoon population in North America. I will have to ask him the next time I run into him at our local Tim Hortons.

If you open the Tuesday link above, you will see the city does not track wildlife, and there is no way to tell how well any species is doing. Nathalie from Toronto Wildlife offered a different opinion on the status of Raccoon in our city. But really, nobody knows for certain.

And with all wildlife, there are good breeding years and there are bad breeding years. This summer we have two families scurrying around at night, a mom and 4 kids, and another mom with 3 kids. For where we live, I think this is about average. Of course there are some straggling lone Raccoons which I suspect are the males who have nothing to do with the family order after mating.

Raccoons are clever creatures and have adapted well to living amongst us here in Toronto. Our green bins are a buffet to them. It blows my mind how many people put their bins out on Tuesday night (Wednesday is pick up day) and are enraged that some creature came along, dumped their bin in the middle of the night and helped themselves to the mass of food waste within. The nerve of those things!

We never put ours out before the morning of pick up. We don't have a garage or any inside place to store it, so the bin sits out on our front porch. We use an old car battery on top and see the signs of them coming around, trying to get in, the bag ends sticking out are shredded but the bin is never spilled. Is this a mind set of humans, a habit that goes back generations, and they just cannot change it? Our fathers and grandfathers put the garbage out the night before, it's even in the cartoons we watched as kids. Heaven forbid having to get the bin out to the curb at 7am when one doesn't normally wake up till 8. I guess we are fortunate that the truck doesn't hit our street until well into the afternoon.

With all the Raccoons I see around our neighbourhood, they all have different personalities. Some are bold, some are skittish and some go either way depending on my approach. I've never EVER in all my life have come across an aggressive Raccoon. I guess the worst one was an injured one I trapped late one night last December, see the story here. That poor guy had every right to be pissed off at me. The family with the four kids, have two of each of these very different personalities. Two high tail it quick upon first sight of us, and the other two are very curious (I don't call them bold as they are just young).

It is my belief that when you show respect, respect will come back to you, even with the wild ones. Don't fuck with them and they won't fuck with you. If you yell and try to hit them with a broom or some other object, of course you will see a side of them that Rob Ford's nightmares are made of.

We live in our homes, but the outdoors is theirs. They use our walks, our gardens, our driveways in their evening searches for food and water. They sleep in our trees. Once again, if this kind of stuff bothers a person, then maybe they should move into an apartment building. It's unfair to label them as threats when they are on our properties and taking advantage of what we provide for them, like it or not.

A few of our neighbours grow grapes every summer. The Raccoons love grapes and know exactly when those things are ready to eat. It pisses these people off that they come in the middle of the night, pick away at their bounty of fruit, eating only the insides of the grapes and leaving the skins. The one guy gave up after a few years and tore out all his grape vines. The other guy would sit up most of the night, sometimes till 4 or 5am, waiting for the Raccoons to come, and he'd have a stick or a broom. But the Raccoon is the smarter beast, watching in the darkness, waiting patiently, because it knew the man was not a creature of the night, and eventually he would tire and go to sleep. It was always the case, the guy would eventually shut out the back light, go inside, to bed. A few hours later he would come outside to the mess and be enraged at the masked bandits. Both these men are dead now. The wife of the later still lives in that house and still grows grapes. She carries the tradition of trying to fight these monsters and shares the hatred of them only because they eat her grapes. There are days where I am not proud to say "I'm human, just like them".

I love the creatures as I do all wildlife. But that doesn't mean I biased in my blog here. People just need to be smart about things. Protect your green bins, as I said, it's a buffet to them. Inspect your homes periodically for wear and tear which something like a Raccoon, Squirrel, Opossum, etc may see as potential shelter and a place to raise a family. One cannot get upset if they grow fruits and vegetables, which may be natural food sources to the wildlife around, and the stuff gets eaten.

We have bird feeders and some come out to clean up under the feeders at night. They also love the bird baths and basins during the dog days of summer. Water is harder for creatures to find than food. We enjoy seeing them play in the baths, if we are lucky enough to spot them at dusk or dawn.

This young one took a cedar chip from my garden. Oh my goodness, the horror! Bad Raccoon! LoL!

Some say Raccoons are changing and not becoming true nocturnal creatures. I disagree. In my experiences, for the most part they are still creatures of the night. I do find for a short spell in the summer when I will see families out and about, mom and the kids. I'm guessing this is in the days after all the kids finally leave the "den" (where they were born), mom isn't nursing them as much, and they are trying to find food to feed a family of 4 or 5 now instead of just mom. But as I said, this is just my guess. It's what I see around here for not much more than a couple weeks, families out before sun set, or still up after sun rise. A few of these shared photos of mine are from the longest days of the year, where I was fortunate enough to see these creatures around 6am. I had the ISO cranked on my camera to get the shots, which may seem like mid-day.

We seem to have an exception to this in a small lone Raccoon we named "Annie". She seems to come out a little earlier than the others, or is up after the others have turned in for the day. She's only been around for a few weeks and we can only guess that maybe she's an orphan? She can't tell us so we can only assume. She gets out looking for food and water before the others get to it first. Or she's still out looking for it after they've gone to bed. Her size is comparable to the young ones that we see following mom still.

Annie may come off as bold but I think it's more about how hungry she is. There are times when I'm filling the feeders and she's hanging around, waiting to spot stuff being spilled as not every peanut makes it into the ring. And there are times she's running off quick at the slightest movement from us or something else nearby. We don't hand feed her or wave peanuts at her to entice her. But she knows where the food is and at times can be seen in the garden beneath our feeder pole (the feeders are 12 ft or so above ground with a metal umbrella on the pole to keep Squirrels and Raccoons from getting at the feeders). We don't chase her, we don't yell and throw things at her. We just sit back and enjoy the sight of her if she hangs around for a bit. I don't see anything wrong with that.

Here is a video of Annie from last Saturday. I couldn't sleep and decided to fill the bird feeders and baths before Angie got up. It was around 6am. Annie snuck up on the picnic table while I was doing the baths and knocked my seed cup over. I figured "finders keepers" and let her have at it. I had our little Canon Power Shot camera in my pocket and took this short video. The camera has great zoom and I was not in her face. I hate that I feel I should spell everything out here loud and clear. Ugh! Anyways, click here if you would like to see little orphan Annie.

And for the record, we don't see her every day/night. Sometimes 3 or 4 days pass before the next visit during our waking hours. She knows there can be food found here but she is not reliant upon us. As with the other Raccoons, she is smart and an opportunist. She's figured this all out on her own at a very young age and I suspect she will have a good long life for a Raccoon in our area.

So, I ask that those with this fear of these creatures coming around their homes to sit back and think for a moment, maybe they do a better job at critter proofing their homes, maybe they can learn to live with these wild creatures in their areas? The city is full of all kinds of wildlife, it's not just us humans and that's it. I'd like to believe most of us would like to keep it that way too!

August 18, 2014

Budgie Talk

I feel a need to type something out about Budgies today. It seems more and more there are people finding Budgerigar birds coming to their bird feeders or flying around local parks. People want to help but don't know what to do.

I can't offer much in way of suggestion for a bird in a park. Put your hand out and call to it, if it was a hand raised bird, you just might luck out and have it come down to you. If it's sitting low, try and throw a shirt or towel over it, then gently scoop the bird up.

But if it's coming to your backyard and visiting your bird feeders, you should have a better chance at catching it. Well, that is, if you care to catch it. Should you or shouldn't you? I say you should, and just because you have caught it does not mean you have to keep it. I think some people get that bit in their head that they are then stuck with the bird. There are many animal rescues around that may help out, and in some areas there are specific Parakeet or Parrot rescues that may take the bird in. I had one Parrot place offer to take in a little blue Budgie last fall if we didn't find a home for it. Another good place is a site like Kijiji as people post lost pets on there and maybe that Budgie's family posted an ad as they'd like to have it home again?

Any regular readers here know we have two Budgies, and both are backyard rescues.

First is Misfit, who is going on 7 years with us now.

She showed up in our yard all those years ago around late May. She lived outside, visiting our feeders daily until mid-September, when I finally caught her and brought her inside.

Misfit certainly was a survivor for all those months out back. Sure the weather was warm but we had some wicked thunderstorms that summer. Angie and I would sit out on the deck on weekends come first light, and wait to hear her. She slept in a neighbour's huge tree a few doors over. She seemed to wake up later than the other birds. But weather wasn't her only threat, there were the Blue Jays. The Jays knew she was foreign, something that should not be here with us, and they would chase and scream at her often. So many times we would see Misfit fleeing from one of the Jays, flying for her life. One would think with such aggression from other larger birds that would kill her if they caught her, that Misfit would give up and move on to another area for food. But not Misfit, she hung around. She learned her pecking order with the wild birds. If the Jays came in, Misfit left. But them little House Sparrows who can be terribly aggressive... Misfit just knocked the hell out of them and kicked them off the feeders.

Long story short about her capture. A friend of ours gave us a bird cage and we left it outside for most of the summer on the picnic table near the feeder area. We figured Misfit came from a bird cage and would hopefully recognize one and remember there is food in it. If nothing else, it would be a safe place to go and feed when the Jays and Blackbirds came around. It didn't take very long for Misfit to figure it out. The funny thing is the Blackbirds and Chickadees caught on, and many times throughout the day we could see these birds in the cage at the seed dishes and the millet sticks.

So, come September, the thought of bringing her in as the weather turned cooler was becoming more apparent. And finally one day, while she was in the cage, I snuck up to the cage and shut the door on her. I had to be sneaky in my approach. Our lot is 25 ft wide and the cage was on the left side. So I walked in the direction of the cage but made my way towards the right side of our property. Misfit kept eating but would always be on watch. My approach was not aggressive so far, and she was used to me being around by now and didn't feel I was that much of a threat. I could never get real close to her but close enough as now. And in the next moment that she put her head down to take some seed, I rushed over and shut the door on her. Of course this totally freaked her out. She was terrified and in a rage. It took months to calm her down. A lot of understanding and patience was involved over the next while. We didn't force anything on her, just let her get her bearings of being in this house, gave her space, and showed her respect (didn't try to handle her at all).

Now after all these years, she is a very sweet bird. While we still don't handle her, there is a unique bond between us and one helluva story which I left out a lot of bits. I guess the most memorable and touching is when she got sick due to a mishap during her egg laying days and one broke on it's way out of her. You can read it all here, it is still my 5th highest read blog of all time.

Next up is Moonie who just celebrated his third year anniversary with us yesterday. His story is quite simple, which suits him just fine as he is a very different bird than Misfit. He is simple to say the least. Not stupid, just a lot less care for anything, a very go with the flow little bird. I always say he's not worldly like Misfit and it shows. He flew in one day and within 20 minutes he was in the house with us. See even his capture was real simple. Angie does a great re-telling of him and that day here. I have my bit as well, see here.

I don't think I can ever be brief on anything in my blogs especially if its something I have passion about and there are stories to share.

So, three different Budgies mentioned above and three different ways of catching them if you opened the links.

A cage is great but not everyone has a bird cage kicking around. Most of us do know someone with one sitting around, just start asking around. If it's summer, the bird is visiting the feeders, then I suggest trying this. Have the cage up off the ground, near the feeders and see what happens. With it being summer, time is on your side (and the bird's).

If you can get really close to the bird, the shirt or towel toss is great. It's heavy enough to bring the bird down but not enough to hurt it. Just be sure when you are gathering it up to be careful, be gentle, as you don't want to harm the struggling bird's wings. Also be sure you have a place to put the bird after catching it.

Take time out to monitor and think about the situation before making that attempt to catch the bird.

I've heard a few times people say something along the lines of it being cruel to take a Budgie out of the wild, and putting it in captivity. I get it, the free bird bit. But a Budgie in Canada is not a wild bird. They do not live and breed here. A captive raised bird somehow gets loose in the wild and suddenly must figure out how to fend for itself; it is scared and will be hungry in no time at all. Not all of them are lucky enough to find food fast. And not every bird feeder out there has suitable food for a Budgie. This lost bird has little knowledge or experience of the outdoors and can be easy pickings to a predator. And if somehow, it manages to find a food source, and survives all the dangers through the warmer months of the year, the weather eventually will catch up to the bird. A Budgie will eventually freeze to death with our winters. So you tell me what is a more cruel fate?

Someone even once said that "cruel to catch them" bit who kept other exotic birds. Hashtag #WTF?!?!

I had Budgies as a kid and then a few decades without. I forgot how social of a creature they are and require lots of stimulation. Both our birds have some favorite toys which they play with for hours on end. We don't keep ours together for more than a few hours a day, but even being next to each other, they have each other. We give them the chance to fly, if they chose to. Misfit still likes to go for flies, and Moonie we have to entice to stretch his wings. We take them out in the yard with us on the warmer days of summer. They love the heat. We keep them out of full sun though. And they love being out back with the tweeting Sparrows. An open window on cooler days have them singing away with the birds outside. When outside with us, we never leave them unsupervised as anything can happen in an instant. A friend of mine lost his two birds to a cat coming in the yard and knocking the cage over while he went to the garage for something. He tried to get the birds back over the next 3 days as they were hanging out in a nearby park. Unfortunately some Crows took notice to the birds on that last day and chased them out of the area; just like the Jays, knew the Budgies did not belong here.

Okay, hope this will help someone out there in the future. Best scenario would be no lost or escaped Budgies flying around Toronto but we know that will never happen. It would be great if they weren't $15 pets. Easily disposable when they become a nuisance to someone. And remember, they do NOT make great gifts! I am saddened at the Christmas season when I see pet stores advertising Budgies as Christmas gifts. Hell, even Big Al's aquarium place was advertising them one year! They had a photo of a Budgie with a Santa hat on. And Big Al's is a fish place. Why the frig did they go to selling Budgies for Christmas?

Taking a Budgie into your home, it is not just a pet, but a family member. The bird will see you as part of it's flock. Be appreciative of that... we are. We love our little feathered kids!

Here is one other link that someone with a Budgie or two, or temporarily helping one out, may find useful. It's a Budgie forum full of Budgie lovers. Check it out here. I am a member but don't get on there much myself.

August 15, 2014

Meadow Update

Hello! Sorry for my absence but with all that has happened with Meadow, I'm sure anyone popping in surely understands.

I miss blogging but a bigger part of me right now just doesn't have it in me for "writing" something out as much as there are stories to share. I guess it's exhaustion. I do find blogging a good way to vent at times, and I love telling stories... but right now, just haven't got it. Sorry.

But for a quick update, her condition has improved greatly. What has only been a couple weeks sure feels much longer. There were little signs of the Meadow we know and love coming back every day. Some days I really had to watch her to see them, but they were there.

She went for a check-up 2 weeks after this all happened, and we had some blood work done. The vet was thrilled to see how good she looked. And she gained a pound back (lost nearly 3 through this which is huge for a cat... which equals roughly 25% of her body weight). Not good at math? A 200 lb person losing 50 lbs in 3 weeks. Now that's crazy, eh?

They checked her pancreas numbers. A good number for a cat is 0 - 3.5 When Meadow was sick, her number was 25.3 approx. Her re-check, the number is 3.6! Woo hoo! I remember the vet said, even if her number was still 25, he wouldn't be concerned, as it can take a year for that number to come down. He just didn't want to see it rise. Way to go Meadow's insides on turning this around!

As of today, she's pretty much her old self again. I know she's a little shy or leery of my approaches to her after everything I've had to do to her for 2 weeks. But it was all for her own good. Once she realizes I'm not coming to mess with her, she calms down, and the purr motor starts up. She's not avoiding us like she did through this all.

It's been grueling to say the least, and I am completely burned out. Of course I am taking joy in her recovery but I think it's going to take a little while to come around to my old self as well. We had some other challenges through this ordeal which included her eating habits. What a mess! She got turned on to Fancy Feast through her sickness. I swear they put crack in that stuff because it seems to be the one food that can get any cat, as sick as they can be, to eat. Fancy Feast is junk! It has approx 2% protein content to a can. A healthy does is up around 5 times that amount. Her previous food was 7%. It doesn't sound like a big difference but it is and it will make a difference in your cat's health as they get older. You can get 2% protein in a serving of Lay's potato chips; does that paint a clearer picture?

But with lots of work and experimentation with other foods researched and recommended, we seem to have a new one which she is taking a liking to... Wellness "grain free" Core Salmon, Whitefish and Herring blend. Of course with good food, comes a heavier price tag; but she's worth it.

So, please bear with me here.  I will get back into things soon.  For now, I really want to enjoy some time with my kitty.



July 29, 2014

Meadow Update

We are thankful for all the well wishes from everyone... be it emails, texts, phone calls, blog comments, Facebook and Twitter posts or that rare live in person communication stuff since we all have busy lives and not everyone is near us. I don't think any of the communication is impersonal because anyone who has taken a minute out of their day to say something in way of support to Angie and I about Meadow is touching and appreciated. Just thought I'd put that out there.

Anyways, I went to visit her this morning. She had started to eat a little bit last night and it continued today as well. That's a very good sign! Of course it's a small step, but one in the right direction.

A lot of the not knowing how she got sick is hard on us. What can we do to make sure it doesn't happen again? How much more of a diet change must we do? Was it something with her diet or ??? I guess as we go along, and more discussion with the vet(s) involved, hopefully we come up with some solutions.

I rushed around this morning, getting my daily things done before I left, and had a shower before my visit (compared to before work). Ha ha! I bet she would prefer her stinky daddy, I should have brought her some work socks to nuzzle in (yes she loves my socks after a hot stank work shift). The wait to see her was killing me. It wasn't much more than 3 or 4 minutes out front but I was nervous as hell, getting all antsy, and not knowing what she was going to look like or how she was going to act.

One of the vet techs brought me to an exam room, I paced the small floor area as I waited. The door opened, and there was Meadow all wrapped up in a towel. It seems Meadow does not like the humans she's been spending time with and in the last day has not had any problems letting them know they were all a bunch of assholes. Meow! Hissssssssssss! Snarl!

I talked to the tech girl briefly, just a few questions, and she told me what she saw of Meadow, etc. And then she left us in the room.

Meadow sat on the table, looked around, sniffed, and was skittish of the noises outside in the hall. She moved about, checking things on the wall, and then finally calmed down, nuzzling into my arms that I stretched out to her. It took no time for the purr motor to start, something I have not heard since early Saturday morning. And then the head butts came on strong. We spent the next half hour just chilling out together, I patted her steadily, picked the dried crap out of her neck fur from our force feeds and she happily took in all the grooming I gave her, pulling on her fur to get that dried laxatone off. Once I stopped, she rested her head on my forearm, kept purring and enjoyed our time together. I spoke to her, telling her she's the best girl in the world, and she's coming home very soon. Very soon may be this evening.

I made the attempt to get a photo of us for a brief moment... but it certainly was more important to be in that moment than worrying about a photograph.

Meadow looked really good. "Brighter" as they've been telling us at the clinic. And indeed more lively than she has been in what seems like a long time even though it's only been since Friday.

I can't wait for her to come home, and of course neither can Angie.

I didn't want to leave her but how long until they needed that room? It was getting busy in the hallway and it was stirring Meadow up again. So a few more minutes and then I called for them to come get her. Meadow wasn't liking that idea and looked more confused than pissed off. "What? Daddy, you said I was coming home soon!"

She may be coming home with the IV on her for one more night, and then I am to bring her in tomorrow for them to remove it. But we shall see what the rest of today brings...

Thanks for checking in!

July 28, 2014

Say a prayer for Meadow

Hi everyone,

I'm needing to share something even though I'm really not in the mood for it. But perhaps venting will help me and words of comfort back from others will ease things for the time being... although I must add that Facebook has exploded for us with kind words from friends near and far about this.

Meadow took ill, and I mean really ill, last Friday. I'm stunned at how she went from the bouncy active kitty on Thursday to a lethargic lump that wanted nothing to do with anything, be it hanging with her daddy or even food!

We let things ride out through that day, allowing 24 hours for something to change and hopefully for the better but that didn't happen. So come Saturday, off to the vet she went.

The vet was shocked to see her as she was in for a full physical only two weeks ago and she got a great bill of health. So what the heck is happening? She even lost 1 pound from the physical to this visit. He was even more shocked by that and said it just wasn't possible. Upon the visit with her this time, all vitals seemed good... temperature, blood pressure, no lumps, no pains.

He said it's obviously digestive and didn't want to go looking for zebras before looking for elephants first. For you birders out there, lets go looking for Cardinals before Owls. We trust our vet, he's a good man, and one of those vets you don't have to worry about giving a sick animal unnecessary tests and treatments in order to make $$$ for himself and the clinic.

So we took Meadow home with some real runny condensed wet food that we would give to her with a syringe to keep her insides working, especially her liver. It's scary to learn that the cat is the only animal whose liver will begin to shut down after 3 days of not being used (not eating). So it was important to get something in her. We were also to give her laxatone, which is a laxative and lubricant to assist in the removal of hairballs. She was trying to cough one up on Friday and only a small one came out.

We let her rest all she wanted and only bugged her when it was time to try and do a feeding or administer the other stuff. Talk about a horrible experience for all of us! So stressful and hard on Meadow who just wanted to be left alone, and for Angie and I who hated putting her through this. But we gotta do it!

Unfortunately nothing good happened through this. We tried to see the positive signs, like her washing, jumping on the bed, purring, whatever. But we could see she was getting weaker, more lethargic than ever and even the last couple feedings had her not even swallow the food.

Sunday we are back at the clinic with Meadow. Our vet takes a look at her and notes that she does not look like the same cat 24 hours earlier. I must add, that with Meadow and the Royal York Animal Clinic, she's been going there since she was a kitten. And once she turned 10, they started a senior cat plan with her, which allows check-ups at zero cost, it's only tests that cost us or other things. So Saturday's visit and all they did only cost us $13 for the treatment stuff we were to give her.

He said they need to keep her for 24 hours, do some blood tests and get her on IV as she was dehydrated. We were half expecting this. He would have the blood results in a few hours and go from there.

2pm the phone rings, it's our vet Dr. John Allen and he has the results. It would seem she's been diagnosed with Pancreatitis but at that moment, unsure of the severity. No matter what, it must be treated or Meadow is going to die.

She's still at the clinic, we are hoping for a turn around in her condition soon, and she is to come home Tuesday evening if all goes well. The condition must clear up and just as importantly Meadow must start eating on her own (and go to the bathroom).

It's been a very hard couple days with our little girl and now without. Anyone with fur kids certainly feels our pain.

I don't know what's been worse, having her here with us as ill as she was, or not having her here period. Deep down I know this shouldn't even be thought about but just saying, not having her home with us is so bizarre. The house seems so empty! Especially with Angie and I on different shifts these days, we have our own routines with Meadow. Mine is coming home from work and she greets me at the door, we mingle, I get washed and changed for the evening and Meadow is always mere feet from me. I'll kick back to something I put on my portable dvd player, stretched out on the couch, and Meadow is soon up there beside me, snuggled in my arm pit as she loves to do. She'll purr away and I usually find myself falling asleep with her while the movie plays. We go to bed, me first, and Meadow joins after her midnight scoop of kibble, trying to not wake Angie up. Then come 4:30am, Angie is getting up and Meadow follows her out the door. Sometimes she's not quite ready to get up, Angie closes the door over, and I end up having to let her out before 5am. I go back to sleep and usually find her by my side again when I wake up at 7:30am. Our mornings are varied, depending on the weather, but many days find us outside even for a brief spell. She's older now and doesn't like being out there for lengthy amounts as in her younger years; but she still ventures out, even on the coldest days we had this past winter.

In the early days of dating Angie, I told her about the life Meadow and I have, and that I am her whole world. A human's life is a lot more complex than the animals that live with them, but overall, Meadow is a huge part of my world. She comes into many equations about things.

She's been with me since about the age of 5 weeks. She's my sick bed companion, my movie bud, my backyard adventurer, occasional food tester in her younger years, the best comforting friend during some really shitty moments and so on. Let's just say she's my side kick and everyone knows that. Even those not into cats or pets can appreciate the bond Meadow and I have. It's unique and some others get it as they have their own unique bonds with an animal (or have had). But this is my blog, about me, about Meadow. I could do a whole one about Angie and Meadow as that's a story in itself.

Anyways, this is just my vent about what is going on and anyone out there who cares to put Meadow in their thoughts for even a moment is appreciated.

Here's a few of my fave photos of our little girl.

Here she is, just a wee little kitty, living in Wasaga Beach, shortly before coming to live with me. Her mother's name was Pepsi. How suiting someone brought Meadow into my life, eh? Note for those who don't know, I work for Pepsi Cola.

Long before having a good camera and the ability to use one. But I remember the early days of her here with me, before I met Angie. She turned this house into a home. She made me want to come home.

What she loves to do on the warmer days of the year, just lay out back with us and take in the sun and the good life.

Meadow and her favorite shrub out back, some kind of Wiegela. She loves those flowers during their short time of bloom.

Ooooooo, Halloween is coming!

The pretty little face I wake up to most mornings.

I like to send such photos to Angie at work on occasion, us up to no good, having her tear around on the bed. She loves bed making with me in the morning, the flying top sheet or bringing her favorite toy ever, that little table looking thing that comes with most pizzas. I can hear the rattle of it across the hardwood in my head.

We made a birthday card...

Oh there's hundreds to choose from.

What can I say? We have a blast sharing life together and I hope for many more years.

July 25, 2014

Crow Fledge Watch?

Last Monday I arrived to the work parking lot and a couple co-workers were flagging me down. I couldn't hear what they were saying as some Crows were steadily screaming away over the back corner.

As I park and meet the guys, they tell me of a baby Crow under a Pepsi truck near the adults. Wow, cool! I'd never seen a baby Crow before, or never took notice to one anyways.

What a cutie!

I shared the photo on social media and everyone was enamored by this young bird.

It was time to start our shift, so we left the little one with his parents and hoped for the best.

I'm used to seeing young birds and how they may seem in trouble, being on the ground or in odd places, but have learned over the years its best to leave them be especially when you know the parents are around. There are exceptions to the rule as some may have learned through my Peregrine Falcon fledge watch blogs. Or sometimes with other birds, if you are 150% certain they are in trouble. 150%?!?! Is that even possible? Yes, even when you think you are 100% certain the bird is in trouble, really think about what you are doing if you step in to help. They can't tell us what's wrong or if there is something wrong; and some people get stuck in a mindset the bird needs help and lose focus. So yes, really REALLY think about the situation. And for even more assurance, call a wildlife rehab centre for a second opinion. You have to remember that if you do step in, you will no doubt alter the life of that young bird possibly forever.

So as I worked away, I kept thinking about that little Crow as did the guys who saw him out there too. Not that I'm an expert, but using common sense and the facts above, I said we can just monitor it for the time being. One of the guys did go and check on it a few hours into our shift and it did move out from under the truck, get under the conifers nearby and I suspect was looking for a low branch to get up to.

I decided to call Toronto Wildlife and inquire about the bird's state, and see what they have to say. My concerns were for the bird being on the ground come night fall and the predators that may come across it. Believe it or not, we've got Coyotes, Raccoons, Opossums and even a Great Horned Owl has been seen in this industrial area.

With TWC one must leave a voice mail and they will call you back. I left the absolute most detailed message about this bird, how he appeared, what he was doing, etc and informed them with me being at work in a noisy plant that there was a good chance I would miss their call and to please provide me as detailed of a message back in the chance I didn't receive their return call.

Luckily I had a quiet moment near the office when they called me back. We spoke for a few minutes, all sounded well with the bird from my description and they suggested that come dusk to try and help him into a conifer, get him up on a branch and off the ground. We talked about his actions, and they said he should be jumpy and active when approached (not wanting to be near a big scary human), and if he didn't do much of anything, there's a chance he's in trouble. But with his parents around, it's best to try and get him up there closer to them.

I was in contact with another rehab person we know from Hobbitstee, keeping her in the loop as she was available after hours if need be. Plus being a live contact through this if any other questions popped up.

So, come break time, we check on him, he's still on the ground. It's nearing 8:30pm now, the sun is setting. We have to get back into work very soon. We decide it's time to help him back up into one of the trees as much as the parents are still present and screaming at us to get away from their kid. I offered to do it, not that I have all this experience or anything, but I just chimed in to do it and everyone knows my passion for the wildlife. My only match in the Pepsi plant that I know of is my bud Tim and he wasn't outside yet.

So, here I am picking up this wee little Crow, feeling good about what we've been doing, monitoring him the best we can while having to work.

His size, or rather lack of, and the no fight in him did concern me. But what more can we do at this time? We had to rush back to our jobs. It would be dark the next time we got outside.

We hoped the best for him as we left him on a branch about 7 ft up in a spruce tree. One of the adults was directly across the road from us watching what we were doing and still screaming away. He was a little wobbly but what baby bird isn't?

An update to our rehab friend and we made the decision that if he stays in the tree, we leave him be. If he comes down again by the time we leave work at 10pm, then we take him in.

It's quitting time. Woo hoo! We are all like Fred Flinstone in the intro to the Flinstones, racing out of the plant. Only a few of us were racing out to this certain Spruce tree while others were jumping in their cars.

It's real dark now, and we hoped just to catch a little glimpse of him on the branch and then we could leave happy. Another co-worker, Evan, spots a dark lump on the ground and quickly puts a light on it. We all wanted it to be a piece of garbage and not the bird but all our wishes, much like wishing for the Lotto Max win, came up empty. It was the young Crow... dead.

I picked up the bird and this time, with a clearer head to the situation since the concern for him was now gone, I gave him a bit of a physical inspection. Indeed one very small bird he was, but also quite emaciated. He was skin and bones. So who knows what happened to him? Maybe he was ill from the beginning? This was Monday night, for all we know, he may have fledged over the weekend, perhaps much earlier than he should have, and burned himself out trying to get home so to speak?

It was a crappy end to this adventure. We all felt some disappointment and a loss since we spent the last 8+ hours focused on this little black feathered creature.

The next day, we return to work, find the adults acting the same way as on Monday. I said "great, there's another kid bouncing around some where!" Only we could not find the bird. Break time comes, there's the sibling, much bigger than the first, and more active. He's trying to cross the road to get over where his parents are.

I decided to help him along, kinda influence him to keep moving as a few cars have already passed him. I'm sure the adult Crows were really pissed at me now, probably recognize me from the day before and what happened to their first fledge. My co-workers are watching me and I'm hoping one of them has their camera phone ready to catch an image if the adults attack me, protecting their offspring. I can always pretend this is like a scene from the first Resident Evil video game... damn those Crows! LoL! But no attack came, and the bird was safely escorted off the street. He went right for a low shrub and disappeared within. I was content with that. He's got shelter and can hop up in there to get some height for the morning.

The next day, back to work, seek the birds out and none to be seen or heard. Come dusk, same scenario, adults present, only they are quiet this time. I sit in my truck, enjoy my coffee and watch. Suddenly, from another hedge near the adults out comes the young Crow. The adults start their screaming again and I watch the bird move about the grounds, going under different trees and trying to make the jump to a branch. He then finds another shrub and tucks himself in for the night.

Now it's Thursday, I am arriving at work and once again, not a Crow to be seen. Come lunch, still no birds. I go for coffee and do a drive around the area, looking and listening. I find them on the other side of a warehouse about half a kilomoetre from our plant. The young bird is perched on a really low branch tonight with the adults over top. What more can one ask for?

Friday no birds any where that I looked.

All this week, no sign of a Crow of any type, adult or juvi, well until last night at break when the adults were present once again by our parking lot. They were screaming away. I looked and listened for a juvi, but had no luck. Now that doesn't mean he wasn't there, somewhere in the conifers (there's a long line of them) but I couldn't find it. Then some Chickadees and a Robin got all defensive like in the parking area too, around these trees. Now I'm like "holy *expletive* maybe there's an Owl in there?!?!?!" Break is over now, but I still tried for a quick search and came up with nothing.

Man, these birds drive me nuts some days!

I hope for sight and sound of a juvenile Crow in the coming days/weeks. I've learned their call which is quite different from the adults. Really it may be the only way for someone like me, not so experienced with these birds to tell. I know some don't like the Crows all that much, giving them a bad reputation for some of the things they do. But really, they are a beautiful bird, highly intelligent and one must respect a bird with such ferocity that will defend it's family and territory as they do.

It just goes to show you that with nature and wildlife, you don't need television or even a book. The stories are never ending if you tune in to them and you are pretty much guaranteed to never have a repeat episode.