Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

June 30, 2015

P is for Peregrine

Well it was a very busy week last week assisting in the fledge watch of our young Falcons at the Etobicoke nest site. Most mornings I was awake by 5am, at the site before 6am, spend 4 hours or so watching the birds, and then head home to recharge before starting work.

It was a pretty good watch this year. Only one of the birds, Ferris, got into enough trouble and needed rescuing. Everyone else stayed high up and has not hit anything. Let's hope it stays that way.

I did miss some action, which is par for the course when I can't be there from sun up to sun down. But those stories are not mine to tell.

I did find myself one evening hopping out of the truck and seconds later was dashing out into Bloor Street, escorting Mel as he took a low flight across the street. Traffic was well off and while I could not run along side this speedy bird, I hoped my presence in the street would slow any traffic heading towards us from either direction. And if Mel could not get any height, that I could be there to pick him up before he could possibly make a dash out into the street. He did get enough height to land on the concourse above Bloor, about one story up from the sidewalk, and that is where he spent the night. Next morning he was gone. He fledged on Friday June 19th and by Monday, he had found his way back up to the top of the nest building and on the ledge at that!

Not sure how long he could legally "park" himself there. LoL! No Peregrines allowed! *groan*

Close up of Mel.

Ferris took first flight on Sunday June 21st. He explored the area late in the afternoon and little by little came lower and lower to the ground. It seems he picked a better spot to spend the night. *wink wink*

Monday morning he was still in the same spot.

This shot gives you a better idea on how low he is to street level and how close he is to Bloor Street with passing traffic. I'm directly across the street from him, watching, waiting, growing roots under my shoes, collecting road dust as the hours passed us by.

P is for Peregrine!

About 2.5 hours later Ferris took flight. He jetted south, right over my head and the line of low buildings behind me. He did a circle and tried to get height, heading back to the nest tower. A smart move, realizing this was not possible, he turned again, headed south across the street, over my head again, over the buildings and had a time out in the neighbourhood somewhere. Bruce, Roger and myself searched for him without a sighting. So many trees he could have gone into and no birds were alarm calling to his presence. I remember last year with Skyla, she took a beating from Crows and Robins in a tree out front of someone's house all afternoon.

Anyways, a couple more hours of watching, occasional search for Ferris, and I had to leave to get ready for work.

A few more hours passed when Bruce spotted Ferris coming out from the neighbourhood, flying across Bloor, trying to get the height and once again not being successful. He did a bit of "Peregrine Ping Pong" as I call it, hitting the buildings as he struggled with what he was trying to achieve. And once again, being smart about things, backing out of this idea and now looking for a safe place to land again. Unfortunately his energy was quite spent. He missed a roof top, the Bell building to be exact, by about 4 feet. He caught the wall and tried to climb up but he dropped to the ground, less than 10 feet from where Bruce stood. Bruce quickly gathered him up, set him in a carrier and tucked him away in the ESL security area to rest the remainder of the day away. Ferris was released on the roof top after dark and got another chance at this flying thing the next day.

Ninja took his first flight on June 22nd, some point during the search for Ferris, Ninja snuck out. The most amazing thing happened that he found his way home, back on the nest ledge later that night. I've never seen or heard of such a thing in my 5 years of helping watch this site!

The week got blurry as the days passed, fatigue catching up with me.

Glider was the last to take flight and I cannot remember the exact day he did. Thursday June 25th I am thinking right now. He did stay high and mostly out of sight. To this day, he's still up there, doing great.

A cam shot on the 25th, Ferris first thing in the morning. Amazing to me that they are making it back on to that nest ledge so early in the days of flight.

Look up, way up, and you can see the nest ledge, right below the top of the building. Can you see the cameras up there?

I arrived later in the morning on the 26th. I only saw mom, O'Connor, high up on the nest building, and she was screaming her head off to something in the east. What? No idea. I did not see any of the kids, nor did I see dad Lucky. I gave Tracy an update of this after spending 30 or so minutes looking around. I said I had to run some errands and would return in about an hour. As I got back to the site, I discover Tracy is now on scene. She had spotted a couple of the kids by this time, we did a search of the perimeter and found another. Great seeing them but now to get some tape colors. Tracy picked off Mel (white) and Ferris (yellow) but this third bird was in such an angle that we could not see his legs. Time for me there was limited, I had to leave for work soon. Tracy walked me back to my truck so we could talk about the birds and things some more. As we get to my truck, out come some of the young Falcons. The next 10 minutes, so high in the sky, was the reward of doing this watch. The kids were playing! It was Mel and Ferris! What a sight to behold! What sounds they made as they chased each other up there.

After I left, Tracy managed to get all 4 of the young birds, positively ID them by tape color and all was good.

The watch is done. Nothing we can do now other than spot checks and if a bird ever gets into trouble, there are enough people in the area who know who to call. One of our fellow watchers, Kathy, works in the building, so she is there 5 days a week.

I can't believe it is over. There was such a build up from their hatches early in May to this watch. The anticipation, the excitement, the stress... and now it's done until next year.

This certainly was one of the better watches in my time. While we stress about the birds there was no real stress this time. Nobody got hurt. And nobody died.

Wow! 11 months to go until this all ramps up again.

Lastly, curious people from social media stop in at the site. One or two a year come looking for me. I'm assuming it's people from the birding pages where I share the updates and am always seeking extra eyes to the skies. If I am not there, they ask if I am around, never say who they are and end up leaving. Introduce yourself and it would be nice to know who is coming out. Perhaps communicate with me about my times at the watch and we can coordinate a meeting time. Don't be shy you guys. :)

As always, I thank you all for stopping in. Back again soon with some great news!

June 16, 2015

It's time for the Falcons... again

Once again I remind myself that when I do a blog, to finish that blog... grrrr... still have an update for May sitting, waiting completion.

Now, mid June nears, and it's just about time to start the Peregrine Falcon fledge watch at Etobicoke Sunlife (Islington and Bloor). The kids are up there doing a lot of wing flapping the last couple days, and very soon will take their first big leaps off that ledge so high up. It's exciting and scary as anything for them, and for us who watch over them.... err, under them, from the sidewalk below.

It's a real struggle with some of the nest sites about the GTA. I'm not talking about all the dangers these young birds face, but with the lack of interested people in keeping an eye on them. There is a lot of time where it's like watching paint dry. Ho hum! Boring! And some people cannot stand that. That is the time when watchers get to know each other, share stories from the previous years, other birding/nature things, or just shoot the shit in general. Frank and I had a lot of good guy through some watches, unfortunately he is not with us anymore.

Some people don't want to come down and pay to park, not even for an hour or two.

Others, the ledge is too high, making it tough to see the birds and bad for photos. I've had a few people come down with cameras, scoff at the shitty site and leave. Meh, good riddance in my eyes.

Sure we all have lives, we work, we have families, we have other interests. But the Falcon watch really isn't that long, and even an hour or two the odd day sure can make a difference. It may be just giving someone a bathroom break or a laugh through some dull times. Or, it may be at a moment where all hell breaks loose, Falcon kids are struggling and falling, and people step in at that last moment, catching a grounded bird before he ends up on Bloor Street in traffic.

One of our young birds this year at the banding ceremony. Meet Mel.

One never knows what can happen during the watch. The birds can be unpredictable. And so can the general public. We've had women remove their tops in a moment, where they found themselves with a young grounded bird, and it was just them and the bird alone. Nothing to cover and carry the bird off with, and off goes a top. How's that for a story?!?! I tell people the world is full of weirdos and standing still in one spot, in Toronto, you are bound to run into a few. One of the Falcon blogs I make mention of a strange guy unsure what I am doing, he could not see the young Falcon from his view point, so he mimicked me and my motions, looking at me, looking at the wall, etc. and suddenly breaks out into song, singing "rain drops keep falling on my head". I can't make this stuff up.

I am going to attach a few Falcon blogs here from the past. The good, the bad, the exciting. I still enjoy re-visiting a couple of these and maybe you will too. I don't think this is a cheat by doing so. It's like a re-fresher, and perhaps someone new to my blog has not seen these. Maybe they will want to know where and when they could come down to our nest site and help, or want to know of another site closer to them.

First off, despite this being a few years ago now, I still hold out hope this crazy lady Falcon will show herself somewhere in the continent one day. Meet Layton.

Almost a year later, this blog here, of my morning alone with 4 fledged Falcons at the Rexdale site is still one a few people talk about. It excites but also scares some. I've probably read this one 5 or 6 times in the last 10 months.

And one more, sharing a dark moment with one of the birds. It's not all rainbows and sunshine, shits and giggles, at a Peregrine Falcon fledge watch. Grab the Kleenex if you care to read this one.

Some of us are watching our Etobicoke kids closely now via the web cam, as in the coming days, they will take flight. I save images and share them on social media for others to see. Here are a couple.

Mom, O'Connor, feeding one of her not so little boys the other evening.

Dad, Lucky, checking in on his first family 9 days earlier than the shot above. Amazing how quickly these birds change at this stage of their life.

Anyways, I am going to be quite occupied the next 10 days or so. I hate not blogging. I enjoy blogging. I have things to share. Lately, I'm just not feeling it. I struggle with words. I know I am still dealing with the loss of Meadow. I think I am okay and then something happens, stuff I am not ready to talk about or share with anyone other than my wife Angie. I know not everyone will get it, what I could tell. Sure I share stories, thoughts and feelings through these blogs and at times it raises an eyebrow. In the end though, I think my honesty wins over people before passing judgement.

Thanks for checking in, not giving up on my blog. I know there will be a story or two coming from the watch, and maybe I will finish the May update as we had a lot happen.

The watch in Etobicoke should be in full swing by this Friday, June 19th, and run for a week to 10 days.

If you can't join us, please wish the birds well, and us to keep our sanity.

A young PEFA from last summer. I don't always like to share the images because it leads some to come to a watch and expect to see a bird in close view, right then and there, like it's waiting for them, and poses for the people. Why is it that some people don't understand wildlife?

June 6, 2015

How About a Quickie?

Hi everyone! How's things going for you all in the first bit of June? Very well I hope.

It's been about a month since I blogged. Time sure does fly! I had a shift change for a week, which turned things upside down for me, then a couple weeks of vacation and back to work this past week which meant getting back into routines and here I am some weeks later.

I am working on a catch up blog, one of my famous things to do, just throwing tons of bits and pieces at yas about all the animals around me. But until I get that done, later this week, offering you a quickie. Who doesn't like a quickie?

Okay, stopping the quickie bits before I fall into the gutter with my blue collar humor. LoL!

This past Monday, dreading returning to work, not that I hate work, but hated the end of our vacation, I had to run an errand and as I got ready to go out for a bit, I felt something. It was a calling sort of. Something told me to visit a certain park very close to our home and a certain bird was coming to mind loud and clear. I'm not one to pass on such a vibe. I occasionally get that with animals and a couple times I can recall the vibe with lottery tickets, never picking a big winner, but a $3 ticket purchase giving me $25 as an example. Ya, maybe I am a bit weird, but aren't we all in our own way? I just don't always choose to hide it.

So, errand done, off I went to this park. What bird was in my mind? A Great Horned Owl. I've seen this bird in the park before, and usually chance upon it on average 3 times a year over the last 4 years. Although I went over a year and a half between sightings, not seeing it in 2014 at all.

I arrive at the park, get out of the truck and to the west was a Crow squawking his head off flying south. Now they are pretty vocal birds most of the times but they do lead me to Barred and Great Horned Owls on occasion. I took it as a sign that my vibe was not pulling my leg.

Anytime I have seen this Owl, it's always been in the same tree and on the same branch. I make my way there first and no Owl is to be seen. Okay, time to start looking.

I do visit this park much more than 3x a year, just so you know. And whenever I do, I do keep my eyes and ears open for this bird.

A few squawky Blue Jays are near, flying back and forth. Another very vocal bird but they too lead me to Owls. I had 3 Jays kick a Long-eared Owl out of a cedar near me one morning at another local park. I tell people to tune into the birds, they can tell and show you things you might otherwise miss.

Next, a flash of bright orange goes over my head... a Baltimore Oriole! And he's quite agitated too.

I look up and ahead of me a bit and this is what I saw.

Ah, there she is.

And she is taking a beating from the above mentioned Blue Jays and this male Oriole. The Crow did not return. She now has me to deal with as well. Not that I am going to do anything, but she doesn't know that.

I was quite thrilled to see her again. I did not notice she had something in her talons at first.

The Jays continued to pester her. Spot the Jay?

It was a very overcast morning, so the shots aren't great, overblown in some, too dark in others, but I managed to get some to tell of this brief moment.

I took a long way around the bird so I could try and view her from her front, and maybe see what she was having for breakfast. It was a bird. But what kind?

Super crop here of the meal.

At first I thought Starling but the tail wasn't right in my mind. Then I thought Grackle because it was dark, the tail seemed to fit, but the legs weren't right. I started to think Pigeon because of those legs but that seemed absurd to me. A friend of ours, an expert with bird ID's, confirmed it indeed was a Pigeon!

Another angle with the Owl before I left it. She was still getting a lot of grief from other birds.

It was a very cool sighting to me. Never have I seen a GHOW with it's kill. They are always just sitting high up, looking around, or napping. But to me, I find it an odd meal to have. I don't put these big Owls and birds together. Plus, regardless that Great Horns are about Toronto, they still remain woodland birds (so I think) and Pigeons are city birds. I never see Great Horns outside of the woods like I never see Pigeons in the woods. What do you think?

This spot is very near our home. Pierre and his flock have to cross slightly east of this part of the park to get to us. Another thing they need to be wary of?

Well, I hope you enjoyed my sighting here almost as much as I did.

May 6, 2015

Wild Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pierre chomping on Jesse as they squabble over breakfast.

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers on this Whiskey Wednesday!

A message from my buddy out back...

April 24, 2015

Full Circle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I had to pose at least once through this.

In his carrier and good to go.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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