Pierre and I

Pierre and I

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.

July 23, 2014

American Kestrel... the smallest and prettiest Falcon

I recently saw a report of a family of American Kestrels in Mississauga, not too far off from my work. I haven't seen much of this species since the winter; we usually have a pair hunting some open spaces about 1 km north of our house through the winter months.



I never think to look for these birds in the summer. We get so busy with the Peregrine Falcon watches and then it's time to enjoy the backyard with our seemingly short summers, as much as I curse the high humidity some days.

So, with this report, it peaked my interest, and since I can easily pass the location on my way to work, I took a chance on it this past Monday. I was half expecting but totally hoping to see the birds, especially the juvenile ones. See it was a very hot and humid day, the birds much like us, can lay low in such extremes.

I get to the spot and of course, no birds to be seen. I look and listen about the vicinity, nothing but a few Pigeons and House Sparrows.

Well, still having some time to kill before my shift started, I decided to check some open field areas nearby as the Kestrels hunt in such spaces. And luck have it, I spotted two! A male and a female.

The female spent the whole time perched on a lamp post, preening away.


The male was keeping himself busy hunting over the field adjacent to the 403 near Eglinton. I saw him catch a couple Dragonflies and then return to some dead trees which gave me great views of him.



I find the American Kestrels overall to be a very skittish bird. More often than not they will flee at the sight of a human in close range. So I do my best to view them from the truck, and take any photos out the window.

Sometimes it pays to put the camera down and just watch and enjoy the experiences with them, as much as I like getting photos, the images are never quite as clear and spectacular as the ones in my brain. It's cool to see them hover over a field for a lengthy amount of time, suddenly diving down, disappearing in the grass and then pulling up a mouse.

Sadly American Kestrels are yet another declining species of bird in North America. There has been a lot of study on this in the last decade but nothing concrete on the reason why has been determined. Habitat loss? West Nile? Predation by Coopers Hawks? Other cavity nesting birds such as the European Starling driving them out? Who knows?

Much like the Eastern Bluebird nest box monitoring programs, the same is going on for the Kestrels. Every little bit helps. And actually that may be a program Angie and I could help with since we have Kestrels and not Bluebirds in our area. I know this doesn't go over very well with some people, helping a bird of prey; but it's all about balance. We need these birds. They help keep populations of other species in line, and assist in weeding out the flocks.

We used to have Kestrels come through our backyard. I'd see one high atop a neighbour's tree overlooking our feeders. We even had one snag a House Sparrow here while having company. It silenced our guests, and us too... the eerie blood curdling screams from the Sparrow it was preparing for it's dinner. I guess you now know why back in the day, Kestrels were called "Sparrow Hawks".

They are the smallest and prettiest Falcon we have... let's try to help keep them here with us for generations to come!

We've had some very up close and personal experiences with this beautiful species in recent years.

Me with Kyla, a female CPF educational bird, at the Toronto Sportsman Show.


I'm not one for speaking in front of people, but Kyla really helped me get over that.


Then there's Bean from Mountsberg. We've done photo shoots with him, and Angie and I got to mingle with him one on one in a private raptor encounter a couple years ago. Bean is a sweet little man! I wish I could find our photos with him and us. My mom met Bean for the first time last weekend and she made many comments on his beauty and lovely demeanor.


And most recently I was at a photo shoot with The Canadian Raptor Conservancy and had a blast with their little Kestrel!




No denying how colorful and pretty these birds are! So, if you love them... I hope you enjoyed this blog. If you don't, maybe you will have moved your opinion to "ya, they're okay" after this.

I recently learned of the Peregrinefund and their mission to help the Kestrels. I just joined the site and hope to have something to add in the coming months, but I know there's a lot to learn and they certainly can teach me.


July 21, 2014

Happy Anniversary Pierre!


Wow! I can't believe it's been 2 years since he first showed up in the backyard. We've had a lot of moments out back, mostly good, some better than others and he's had the charm of also coming in a few times when I really needed him. A friend, just enjoying some comfortable silence, helping me forget or get through something else.

He's touched the hearts of many just through the stories, photos and videos I share... and only a select few have had the pleasure of meeting him.

I have no idea Pierre's age, take the 2 years and add at least another year on top of that. Research shows that the average life span of a wild Pigeon in the city is 3 to 5 years due to predators and disease. But can live up to 15 years in captivity. I enjoy every day we have together and hope for many more. People often say I should catch him and keep him. As much as I would like that, I know he wouldn't be happy. He's a wild and free bird, containing him would not be fair, even if he is then protected from predators and he'd be well fed.

I know we've made a difference in his life and I am happy about that.

So, if you have a moment and never saw these other blogs or would like to re-visit the adventures, check them out here...
The weekend he first arrived is here. Here is a funny morning I had with him, his old mate Maggie and an aggressive male that came on scene. Or how about the day Global News came to visit the backyard birds and Pierre made a grand appearance in the last minutes of their stay, see here.

I take a lot of photos of my little buddy, even trying to get me in the pic with him. The whole idea of taking selfies as they call it is widespread and popular these days, but with us, I just like to capture "our moments" and show people what a personable bird he is. Of course, if someone else can point a camera at us, it's even better.

Our friend Patty got to meet Pierre in the summer of 2013 when we had her over for the afternoon.


Or this one, Angie took from the back door. It was January 2nd of this year. Pierre had disappeared for almost 2 weeks after the ice storm in December. I worried over him and then he finally came to us.


I know the day will come when he won't come around anymore. I just hope it's not for a long time yet.

It's great to be able to distinguish some of our backyard creatures and have something to share about them with others, especially when they mingle with us like Pierre. He chose us on this day back in 2012. We were having our morning coffee when we watched him walk the length of the yard, hop up the deck stairs, circle us and then jump into our laps. I'm not sure who he went to first, but it doesn't matter, he said "hello" to both of us that day and we've enjoyed his visits ever since. I tell ya, no human can come into our backyard without any notice, but all the wildlife sure can.

Raise your glass to Pierre today if you happen to catch this blog!

Cheers!

July 15, 2014

Rare Bird Alert... sort of...

Saturday I was heading out back to do some chores in prep for some afternoon company. I am half way down to the shed when the light clicks on in my brain and I decide I should get my camera from the house just in case.

So, back I go, get it and no sooner am I once again halfway down to the shed does this large Dove like bird fly in. At first I couldn't get over the size and thought that was the biggest Mourning Dove I'd ever seen in my life. Then I took notice to the lack of that whistling sound they make when flying. And then I saw the black collar on the bird. So I knew I was suddenly looking at something new to me.


I took some photos, then quickly but quietly booted it back to the house, told Angie to get her bins and to come out to see this bird. I grabbed the guide and quickly skimmed the Doves section.

My first guess, and the only one that seemed to fit was an Eurasian Collared Dove. Angie was in agreement. Excitement levels rose. But always play the part of caution with new bird sightings unless there's no doubt there. I posted a couple pics on a birding Facebook page called "Ontario Birds" and asking for confirmation or just ID'ing it otherwise.


I got a mix of replies from people saying it is an Eurasian to others saying it's an escaped pet of some variation.

I'm texting a few friends, Angie is calling some of our fellow bird enthusiasts. It's all very exciting and our friends agree. Of course we want it to be this countable species being the Eurasian that all the bird world would appreciate; but for us, we are happy for whatever it is, something new and a good story to tell in the future.

Jim and Lynda considered opening the store late just to come over for a peek. Our pal Dave was off in Milton otherwise he probably would have been over in a jiff. Same with our friends Murray and Debbie, having some errands to run in the east end, but were willing to come over asap to see him. Our new birding bud Len was willing to come over and assist us in giving confirmation on the bird's true species ID. Hoo boy! Can you not see how this was elevating?

We thought about the whole bit on IF the bird was an Eurasian, reporting him to Ontbirds and whether we'd post our address and give the opportunity to strangers with the same love of birds to come over and see him (if he stuck around). Wow! Really?!?! This is the stuff you see in movies! I could envision a line up of cars on our street and people single filing up the side of our house, creeping in to the backyard for a peek and a photograph. I wondered about the new people we'd meet, good people, and probably a few we would want to escort out of the yard. My day dreaming ability was in overdrive now.

Then there's the whole us taking Meadow (our cat) for her annual in a couple hours, plus us having company over for the afternoon and evening. Should we cancel the vet appt? What about the BBQ? So much to consider in a short time frame. Angie was willing to stay home while I went to the vet. A friend offered to come sit in our yard while we were gone. And we had more emails, texts, and a few phone calls still to answer or ignore because of this bird.

It was crazy!

Now back to the bird, he spent some time foraging in the garden, found one of the baths and had a drink. Then a few Pigeons flew in to check him out. Our new male on scene, still yet to be named, as "Bully Jerk Face" may be a little harsh... he attacked this Dove. He bit it on the neck and wouldn't let go. The Dove held it's own with the Pigeon but I finally stepped in and the scuffle stopped with one stomp of the foot. What I found surprising was the Pigeon retreated to another part of the yard and the Dove continued his business of feeding and exploring the grounds.


Peaceful times after the fight was broken up.



A few times he looked as he was ready for a nap. The fluffed out appearance... sign of stress and fatigue? Did he really blow in with some recent storms? Or is he totally freaked being a captive bred bird and set free at a wedding that morning?


He took flight to our north/west fence line and zoned out for some time. Our neighbour next door was outside doing her gardening. She's a huge animal lover but recently immigrating from Tibet, her understanding of the English language is lacking. I tried to explain to her as simply as possible that the bird was very tired, to give it some space and not disturb it. I saw no point in trying to explain that he may be a rare bird to Ontario or a pet of sorts out on his own. At one point she did get within 4 or 5 feet of the bird and start talking to him, saying "hello" and "pretty bird". I guess it was better than trying to shoo it off the fence and away from her rose shrubs.


He turned his back to the next door yard after her little conversation to him. I should have hung a "DO NOT DISTURB" sign next to him. LoL!


Please note that I am using my 500mm lens, and am keeping a respectable distance from this bird. I don't want to stress him any further, and wanted him to stay with us as long as possible.

Unfortunately about 10 minutes later, after the neighbour left him be, the bird suddenly opened his eyes and took off south/east. Damn! I was a little disappointed about this and had hoped for the bird to return at some point in the afternoon. But he never did.

Meanwhile on the internet and all the conversation on my photo post asking for ID help, Glenn Coady chimed in and said indeed it was an escaped pet or possible release at a wedding and the bird was actually an African Collared-Dove, sometimes called a Ringneck or a Turtle Dove or both words used in his species name (it's rather confusing once one starts looking this shit up). He gave a big explanation as to why he ID'd it that way, which helped us see the differences. I was cool with that. So was Angie. In the end only a handful of us still held the excitement of this bird visiting us.

If only I knew then when he was there with us, that he was a domestic, I know I would have made the attempt to capture him and help him out. I'm sure he will be okay for the next while outside since it is summer.

Oh well. It was fun. And I am counting this species on my own personal backyard list for us and our sightings. He's a cool bird regardless and we wish him well wherever his wings take him...


I don't think I will ever understand the concept of releasing Doves at ones wedding, whether this is this bird's story or not, as it happens often in our city.

July 3, 2014

Pierre the Falcon

Hello readers, welcome to "rob and the animals". My name is Pierre, I am a Peregrine Falcon.


I was born in the early days of May atop the east tower of the Etobicoke Sunlife Buildings. You can sorta see my house way up there on the ledge.


My siblings and I were born very close to each other, just days apart, maybe even hours. Our parents, Jack and O'Conner, were very proud. We are freakin' gorgeous babies!


And around our third week on this Earth, Humans came and took us away, putting funny things on our legs. They weren't heavy things, just funny looking rings like jewelry. We each got a color band as well, and they gave us names. I became Pierre-Yves (Pierre for short) with blue, my sister became Skyla with red, my brother Sunni with yellow, and lastly, the smallest of the us all, our little brother became Heaton with white. My mom and dad sure didn't like the humans around us and they let them know that. And before we knew it, we were home again, and the humans fled. I was giving them a piece of my mind throughout it all too. I really wanted to give someone a knuckle sandwich!


Life was pretty good up on that ledge. We watched the days go by, my siblings and I would play up there, while mom and dad would bring us food many times a day.


I couldn't believe how fast we were growing! No longer little white fluff balls as you can see. About 3 weeks after the humans left us be, we all were ready to explore the big wide world we saw in front of us up there. With all our playing, running back and forth, flapping our wings, it was time for us to take flight.

Sunni was the first to take that big scary leap. As he left, he was egging me on so to speak, calling me out to join him because it was fantastic to be out in the open and see how big the world really is. I wasn't one to be shown up like that, so very soon after, I joined him.

As open as the world is, there are a lot of obstacles too. I learned pretty hard and quick about that one. I also learned that maybe my wings weren't quite strong enough to carry me over the area just yet. So that first flight of freedom fell short with me bumping into a few things, and I lost altitude. I wasn't able to pull myself up any higher and helplessly fell down... way down. It was confusing where I ended up. My home was so high above me, so were my parents. The towers shone bright with the sunny sky and I could see other Falcons around me in them. Who were all these birds? I didn't like the humans being so close to me either. I could smell them under my feet, them and their flaming torches dangling from their mouths. A few took notice to me too and they watched me for a long time.


This was all very stressful for me, so many noises, it made it difficult for me to think. And that's all it took, me not giving 100% attention to what was going on, and suddenly I fell again. I fell right into the land of the humans! They surrounded me. They threw things over me, covering my eyes, and all became dark.

I awaited my fate in a cool dark chamber. And over time that day, it seemed Sunni and Skyla became prisoners too. It was great we were all together, but what would become of us? Where was Heaton?

I guess not all humans are bad. It seems some took pity on our plight and set us free in the darkness over our home. It was nice to be outside again, breathe the fresh cool air of the night, and know mom and dad were nearby.

Daylight came and we all decided to try this again, vowing to not go through the same scenario as we did the day before. We tried really hard this day, flying from tower to tower and staying high above the Earth. Mom was very happy to see us doing so well, she'd feed us with the more we did, the better we got. This was awesome!

For some reason Heaton did not want to join us yet.

I felt stronger with every flight, and faster too. And from the first day to the next, you wouldn't know I was the bird who fell to the Earth. I loved flying, and going fast. I was faster than Sunni and Skyla. I prided myself on this. Nobody could catch me in a game of tag.

A couple mornings passed, after breakfast, I worked on my speed some more. I flew a little further from home. On my return, I could see one of my siblings coming towards me. I couldn't believe they were moving as fast as me! I wasn't going to let them surpass me and I just kept at it. We were getting closer and closer, neither of us making room for the other. And then suddenly we collided, all went to black, and that's the last thing I remember.

........................................................................

If you haven't figured it out yet, Pierre died in that moment. What he saw was his reflection in the glass of the buildings he called home. It's a sad situation for so many birds, not just the Falcons, and not just here at Etobicoke Sunlife. The reflective glass is a killer. It looks just like the open sky and the birds think they can fly right through it. So a bird going fast doesn't stand a chance. They die on impact, breaking their necks, and spiraling to their deaths.

I was shocked and saddened with Pierre. He was my boy of the bunch, my favorite. Anybody who knows me, even just through these blogs surely knows why. Pierre. The name alone did it for me. Pierre the Pigeon, and now Pierre the Falcon. Sure it's coincidental that this happened, but it was enough for me. No Falcon is really better than another, but many of us watching over them through fledge watch end up with a favorite we pay more attention to, the one we root for, and hope to hear of in a nesting territory in a few years.

It was me who discovered Pierre the morning of June 19th. We were having some adventures with Skyla who had been struggling to get to the top of the towers from the day before. She put some grey hair on my head that day and gave me good reason to go home and have a few on that "Whiskey Wednesday". The next morning, being Thursday the 19th, I set out early to the site to help locate Skyla who had spent the night in a tree down Eagle Road, a few houses south of The Longest Yard. I had met Baylie down there shortly before 6am.

Skyla on Wednesday the 18th, clinging to someone's balcony on the south/west corner of Islington and Bloor.


She then found her way to a tree on Eagle Road, where the Crows took notice to her, and screamed at her for hours.


Through the search, I took notice to Pierre and Sunni high atop the west tower, Moneris as we call it. Unfortunately Heaton was no longer with us. He had passed less than 48 hours earlier through an entirely different situation. Both Pierre and Sunni were doing fantastic, flying high and landing well. I got some really crappy photos of them buzzing around the day before, which was fine, I just wanted to see the tape colors and figure out who was who, and who was doing what. This morning, same thing, good flights, and I watched them both get their breakfast.

I had found Skyla atop the gymnasium at Etobicoke Sunlife. Baylie and I parked ourselves in good view of her, watching and waiting to see what she would do next. Of course, it was a great photo op; but we were ready for just about anything with Skyla.


Kathy slept in that morning, joining us shortly after 7am. Yes, through the watch, that is sleeping in for some if they arrive after 7am. LoL! Kathy had been our key watcher through the days this week, and often into the evening too. She needed a break and took a very small one that morning.

Skyla disappeared on us over the concourse. We chatted for a bit, waiting to see if she would pop up again. She did not. And after some time, I offered to do a round check of the buildings, see if she popped up out back, plus try to spot Pierre and Sunni again.

After last year's watch and discovering where Lizzie fell to, I learned enough to look everywhere on a round check, up and down, behind stuff, and to use the reflective glass to my advantage, see parts of the concourse through the reflection.

I just made my way around the back, looking high and low, when suddenly a reflection caught my eye. I was wanting to believe that this was not a young Peregrine Falcon I was spotting. I couldn't fool myself... it was. But I had no idea who.

I ran back around the building to Kathy and Baylie, half freaked out, very upset, and out of breath. I walk a lot but I don't do much running. Kathy returned with me while Baylie kept an eye out if Skyla popped up again.

Kathy saw the reflection and away we dashed to the security office. They are well aware of the Falcons and assist us whenever needed. We told them where the bird was laying and they led us to the door to this part of the roof. We knew the bird was dead but we raced to it anyway. It was a huge mystery as to who it was. Nothing against Skyla, but we were kinda betting it was her. She was having so much difficulty compared to Sunni and Pierre.

My heart sunk when I saw the reflection. My spirit was crushed when I saw the blue tape band around the leg. I held back the tears, I was so upset, and I think I yelled "fuck!" Of course I didn't wish this bird to be one of the others, I didn't want it to be any of them... hell, I didn't want it to be a bird at all. But in a situation like this, there's nothing any of us can do, even if we saw the bird hit the glass. There's no rescuing them in a situation like this, it's a recovery. I thought again, "why Pierre?"

When he took his first flight 3 days earlier, and he was rescued, a woman who helps watch the birds during breaks at the office in ESL named Rene ripped her top off to help cover him. That's the story on the internet. Rene was not mentioned but her top removal was. Of course she had a shirt on under this top but it was great to let the readers following our posts let their imaginations go with this. Pierre's rescue was unique to say the least. Why him? *sigh*

I guess it was meant to be for me to find Pierre, or rather it had to be. I'm not sure why. Maybe a reality check for me since I've seen very little tragedy in four years of Falcon fledge watches? Or perhaps it was right for this beautiful boy to be picked up by the one human that probably thought of him a little more fondly than the others? Whatever the case, I am happy that US as a team got to Pierre shortly after his death and we gave him his dignity, getting him out of the public eye, out of the harsh sun on that roof, and putting him to rest.

I transported Pierre away quickly and was hesitant on returning afterwards but I had to. I couldn't just leave Kathy and Baylie wondering where I went, if I was okay. I needed to see that they were okay too. This stuff isn't easy and while they've seen it far more times than me, it never gets any easier. We support each other through this kind of stuff. Kathy basically told me that it's okay to mourn the fallen birds but we must continue on with the watch as the others still need us. Deep down I knew that but I was overcome with grief. I did some round checks in a daze, my mind elsewhere and not exactly in the moment. This wasn't a very good mental state for crossing busy streets. It all hit me as soon as I returned to the watch. I stayed for a while longer, my head cleared some hanging and chatting with Kathy, until it was time to go home and get ready for work.

Through this, I posted a photo of Pierre on social media and said something like "R.I.P. Pierre", "Fuck you reflective glass!" and made mention how this is the hardest part of a watch being recovery and not a rescue.


I was comforted by a slew of feedback from friends in way of phone calls, texts, social media comments, etc.

Once home, I look out back to all our feathered friends who visit us every day, and there was my boy Pierre waiting for me. He was a little impatient and gave me quite a scolding at the door. He doesn't like these watches because I'm not home very much for a week or more. I gave him a good feeding and wished we could sit out back all afternoon.

The funny thing to end this tale, with me posting about Pierre's death on social media, not everyone took notice to the photo of a Falcon, or word of mouth spread and people were saying "Pierre died!" Everyone who knows me, knows Pierre the Pigeon. So it was like celebrity death hoax that afternoon as people approached me, concerned and trying to be supportive about what happened. I had to laugh and I had to assure people he was not dead. I posted a photo of our Pierre the next day too.


We always hope to have more people join us at the ESL fledge watch. We struggle a little more each year with getting help. I warn people it's not for the faint of heart. The birds bump and tumble in the early days of flight and sadly some do die. The reward is knowing we are helping the birds that we can rescue and give another chance. The reward is the friendships we build with other watchers at our sites. Some we may not see until the following year, but it's funny, the day we all meet up to start the watch again, it's almost like no time has passed since the previous.

Anyways, it's almost 2am, I've been at this for a couple hours now. I hope it didn't feel that long reading it.

Thanks for taking the time out to read this blog, and giving a moment of thought to a little Falcon named Pierre.

Be seeing you...

July 1, 2014

Canada Day 2014, here and gone...

Well, it's a wrap on Canada Day 2014. Okay, less than 2 hours to go really but it's a wrap for me. I just got inside from a full afternoon/eve out back with my crew, thanks to the mosquitoes.

Angie is away visiting family and friends in Nova Scotia this week and this may be the first Canada Day we've not been together. Normally we don't do a whole lot, which is what we like. We hang out in the yard with our critters, snack, drink a bit and just enjoy the day at home.

Well I kept up with much of that tradition minus the snack part. No I'm not starving myself as some are lead to believe. It's just the eating for one, meh, why bother (especially in this humidity)? Blah!

The morning started at 5:30am. I fell asleep on the couch last night much like a bachelor can do. Thanks to Meadow wanting her breakfast, she woke me up with a tap on the cheek with her paw. I should commend her for letting me sleep in until that time as usually it's 4:30am when she's getting her first scoop of that day.

The day has started outside, Sparrows are singing, the sun is rising, and I see our little Raccoon family wandering around. I could hug Meadow now for having me not miss this moment. I throw some clothes on, after feeding her of course, and dash outside. It was an entertaining half hour watching them do their thing. I wish I could share all the photos but there's just too many. I will try to pick the 4 best ones of the visit.

Isn't he the cutest little bum EVER?

Gotcher nose!

Plumbers in training.

Mom says she's sexy and she knows it.

Okay, one more... family portrait.

They were outside until about 6am. Then off they went to bed, and so did I.

7:30am comes along and it's time to get the Budgies up. I try to go back for a little more sleep after but that isn't happening. I get up, coffee is on, and outside I go. Pierre is waiting for me like usual.


The lady next door comes outside to do some gardening and stops to speak with me. Her and her family are from Tibet. They've only been in Canada about 6 years. Her English isn't very good but somehow we communicate rather well. She often says we don't speak the same language but we understand each other. What really helps is that we share a love for our animal friends. She took Pierre for a walk one morning about her yard, it was hilarious and endearing to watch. He went along for the walk, sitting in her hands, and she spoke to him in her language. He would look at her and all around, almost like he knew what she was saying. Maybe he did? I wish I got a photo of that. It was nice to talk with her although she was delaying the work I wanted to do outside before the rain came.

I got most of the work done that I wanted and actually the rain was welcoming to me. It forced me to go inside and chill out for a while, have another coffee, and giggle at the slew of Raccoon photos I got earlier. I'm feeling pretty bagged today after the Falcon watches and other stuff but these kinds of animal moments give me energy. The rain kept on for a while and somehow I managed to get a little more sleep in.

When I woke up, I could see the sun shining outside. I knew it was gonna be stank ass humid out there but out I went, this time with Meadow and the Budgies.

It wasn't long before the humidity knocked the wind out of Meadow's sails.

Misfit and Moonie talked to all their friends outside for quite some time, much to the joy of anyone in ear shot with an open window. TWEET TWEET TWEET!

I changed the bird baths and the Pigeons were in heaven with the cool water.

Mickey flew in for a visit and had a sit with me too.

I puttered a bit, and at one moment, a Monarch Butterfly stopped in and checked out the Milkweed. Dammit, I didn't have my camera, just my phone up on the deck! By the time I got the camera and came back out, it was gone. So I searched the garden for anything of interest. I did spot my first of season Candy-striped Leafhopper. But as with the name "Leafhopper", that is what this guy did, hopped away and disappeared on me. A little more searching the yard and I stumbled upon an Orchard Orbweaver Spider. Man was I ever stoked about this! I'd never seen one before, or just not noticed/ID'd one. So this was a real treat! I rang up my buddy Brian for some camera setting tips as I just can't seem to nail this macro lens. We had a good chat about this and that, plus some camera tips.

Spiders aren't for everyone, but they sure are for me!



Content with my shots, I went and sat down for a while. I started to read a book Angie picked me up called "Last of the Curlews" written by Fred Bodsworth.  Ron Pittaway recommended it to me the morning I ran into him at Col. Sam Smith Park in May.  Interestingly enough it was the morning of the unveiling of Fred's memorial bench at Whimbrel Point.  I told Ron I wasn't so sure about that since I mostly read comic books.  He assured me it's a good read and so far he is right on that, in my opinion.  Ron is a great guy and I'm happy to now know him thanks to Big Frank and the Rosetta Hawk Watch crew.

Angie and I had been texting periodically throughout the day.  We were missing each other and spending the day together.  While I don't know much about where she is since I'd never been to the east coast, she sure could envision being at home in the yard with us by my updates to her.  Budgies squawking, Meadow is chasing Butterflies, we had a Chickadee visit briefly, Chimney Swifts flying low over the yard, etc.

The afternoon passed, evening set in.  The Budgies went to bed.  Meadow got fed.  And finally I did too.  The air was noticeably cooler, still a near 30c humidex but much better than 40+.  Meadow joined me and we sat quietly, enjoying the breeze and watching the last of the birds coming in for a feed (Meadow hoping for another Butterfly or two).


Darkness rolled in, fireworks booming about the neighbourhood and I can see not everyone is enjoying the show.

They don't understand. Poor guys.

So, while it may not have been the most exciting Canada Day to some, it was just right for me and could only have improved with my wife by my side. I mean, you are reading about "Rob and the animals", right?

I hope however you spent your Canada Day (those who live in this fine country) certainly enjoyed yourselves as well.

Cheers!