Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

December 18, 2009

The last thing I expected to see at 5:45am this morning.

This is probably one of the last things I would have expected to see on my drive in to work today at 5:45am. A Snowy Owl! Amazing. Graceful. So *bleeping* cool! Words are hard to describe, since this is my first sighting ever, in the wild.

At first, I thought I was imagining this massive white bird. He was sitting on a light standard, on the 401 west, less than 1km west of Renforth Drive. I wasn't at full speed yet hitting the 401, but I had one coffee in me already, so I know I wasn't seeing things/dreaming. I slowed down even more, traffic was very light and nobody behind me. A second later and he took flight, the wing spread was huge! He flapped those wings, lifting up off the post, and moved north towards Pearson Airport. There's a lot of field there and probably looking for a mouse or some other small animal.

It is funny how there's been more talk of Snowy Owls between myself and a handful of people. My previous blog is proof of that. I've vowed (and hoped) to see one this winter in my travels and it has happened. Not bad for first sighting, seeing him from the car. Next time though I am hoping for a sighting while trekking on foot, with camera and binoculars in hand.

I guess there is more than just cars to keep an eye out for on the 401 (safely).

Here are some cool facts I got from AllAboutBirds.Com

- Snowy Owl pairs fiercely defend their nests against predators, even wolves.

- An individual adult Snowy Owl may eat three to five lemmings per day, or up to 1,600 per year.

- The Snowy Owl can be found represented in cave paintings in Europe.

- In some years, some North American Snowy Owls remain on their breeding grounds year-round, while others migrate in winter to southern Canada and the northern half of the contiguous United States. In the northern plains, New York, and New England, Snowy Owls occur regularly in winter. Elsewhere, such as in the Pacific Northwest, the Midwest, and eastern Canada, Snowy Owls are irruptive, appearing only in some winters but not in others.

- Young male Snowy Owls are barred with dark brown and get whiter as they get older. Females keep some dark markings throughout their lives. Young males tend to have a white bib, a white back of the head, and fewer rows of bars on the tail than females. Although the darkest males and the palest females are nearly alike in color, the whitest birds are always males and the most heavily barred ones are always females. Some old males can be nearly pure white.

NOTE: I did not take any of these photos. I had to borrow them from various sites through Google images.

December 10, 2009

How Do They Know?

So, Wednesday December 9th, 2009 brought us our first real snow fall of the season. It wasn't the worst one, but it wasn't pretty either. Depending on the area you lived, 5 to 10cm of snow, later rain (lots) or just rain or just snow.

That was the big news of the day; and the day before was warning everyone about the storm rolling in.

I didn't need any sort of news media to tell me something was going to change in the weather. Tuesday afternoon the backyard was so alive with birds and I mean lots of birds! Many species, many numbers of them, and a few species who I've not seen around here for nearly a month. It was all very exciting.

Numbers included 5 Northern Cardinals, 6 Black Capped Chickadees, 2 White Breasted Nuthatches, 2 Red Breasted Nuthatches, 1 Hairy Woodpecker, 3 Downy Woodpeckers, 6 American Goldfinches, 4 House Finches, 4 Dark Eyed Juncos, 3 Mourning Doves and countless Sparrows, Starlings and Pigeons. Oh, lastly one Sharp Shinned Hawk showed up looking for a meal too... hoping to snag one well fed bird of sorts.

I know I can Google the answer to this, and maybe I will, but another part of me still enjoys the mystery and wonder of what is around us. So, how do they know? How do they know what the weather is bringing? Sure they don't know exactly, like how much snow, but they sure know when it's on-coming. Tuesday afternoon was testimony to that.

So, regardless to what some out there really think... they aren't just stupid little birds and animals. We can learn from the animals around us... if we only stop, look and listen.

One of the main reasons I still do not have cable television in this house.

November 20, 2009

Some remain because?

Through October I had quite early sightings of my winter birds returning to the area. Nights were hitting near zero already and the days were cool. It all made sense to me that our lack of summer and now a seemingly short-lived autumn, with the actions of my feathered friends, ment winter was coming early.

November hit and we started hitting some double digit days again. November 8th saw a high of +17c. Almost 3 weeks of zero precipitation. My winter arrivers became scarce. I've not seen the White Breasted Nuthatch more than once in the last two weeks. I hear Dark Eyed Juncos in the cedars but seldom see them. But this is not about these birds. This is about the few Red Winged Blackbirds that still remain here...

If it were one RWBB still hanging in here, I would think he/she was an older adult and not able to make the trip this year. Perhaps sick and knows it's best to live out his days near a reliable food source?

These birds are not unfamiliar with cold nights and snow. They often begin returning to the area in early March. They are MY first signs of the arrival of spring. As you can see below, the ice and snow doesn't bother them.

An adult male RWBB enjoying some seed at one of our many feeders pictured below...

Much of the last week, I have seen 3 or 4 flying in and out of the feeders. What gives? Juveniles that don't know any better? A rebellious small group who are challenging Mother Nature, defying their natural instinct to fly south, and possibly making some big changes in the coming years and what RWBBs normally do?

I've noticed similar patterns with American Robins in the last few years, discovering small numbers (flocks) deep within the woods nearby. They amaze me to no end as they are fruit and insect eaters; so what are they living on through the winter months? A definite sign of the changes to our world and the climate.

I wonder if anyone else has noticed such things?

The shot below was taken on February 2, 2009 at James Gardens in Etobicoke.

November 4, 2009

Why Are They Here?

First off, I did not take these two photos. I had to borrow them from Google images. I was outside BBQ'ing and did not have the camera with me. I felt no need as the sun had almost set. The image above is what I saw late yesterday afternoon; it is a Turkey Vulture. I am not kidding when I say this bird was flying this low over the grounds.

I am used to seeing Turkey Vultures out in the country, soaring gracefully over forests and fields. I am not used to seeing them soaring over backyards in a city; especially one as big as Toronto. Sure I am not right downtown with the big skyscrapers but less than 20 minutes north/west and many high-rises and condos in the vicinity is still what I think not be country/rural enough for these guys.

Have I just not noticed them before? I don't think so. Two summers ago was my first sightings of them in the area. Three of them circling an area for about 4 days. I made jokes about them waiting for a stab victim to bleed out in the park near here. Deep down I had wondered if they were aware of maybe a dying deer in the woodlands along the Humber River? Last year I only recall one similar sighting. This year there have been more than a few. This latest one being the closest. About three weeks ago was the largest as I was in awe of watching countless numbers of them flying over head, moving in the same direction. I questioned them being Turkey Vultures. I had never seen so many. A visit to our local wild bird store showed reports from many others who had witnessed the same thing and counts were nearing 150 birds total.

I know very little about these birds but I plan to research them more over the winter. The only thing I do know is that they are scavengers, eating dead flesh, referred to as "carrion".

A quick visit to tells me this that I'd like to share...

The Turkey Vulture uses its sense of smell to locate carrion. The part of its brain responsible for processing smells is particularly large, compared to other birds. Its heightened ability to detect odors allows it to find dead animals below a forest canopy.

The Turkey Vulture maintains stability and lift at low altitudes by holding its wings up in a slight dihedral (V-shape) and teetering from side to side while flying. It flies low to the ground to pick up the scent of dead animals.

Like its stork relatives, the Turkey Vulture often defecates on its own legs, using the evaporation of the water in the feces to cool itself down.

No nest structure. Puts eggs directly on ground in caves, crevices, mammal burrows, hollow logs, under fallen trees, or in abandoned buildings.

Prefers rangeland and areas of mixed farmland and forest.

Roosts in large trees or on large urban buildings.

Wide variety of carrion, from small mammals to dead cows. Also some insects, other invertebrates, and some fruit.

So, some interesting tid-bits for sure; but still no answers for me on why they are here now or am I mistaken and they have always been here?

Maps show we are in the northern most areas for them in spring/summer breeding. Another thing I just found out... they are migratory. I thought this might be the case with the sightings, that they are passing through, but I have seen them through the summer months.

I only hope my increased sightings of these birds is not because of suburban growth, tearing up more and more land for development and housing of humans.

Are they learning to adapt with the masses of people? If so, people need to be educated, as I am betting many will misunderstand the role a Turkey Vulture plays and fear such a large un-attractive bird would definitely feed on their pets and not a creature that plays an important role in cleaning up the forests and fields of deceased animals.

October 27, 2009

Once Again They Come to Me...

Once again they come to me... a beautiful autumn afternoon in the yard, enjoying the mildness of +13c in late October, stepping into the house for a bathroom moment and a coffee re-fill. My ears pick up a cry out back when waiting for the kettle boil. I look out and what do I see but this young dog looking up at me.

This is the second time in less than one month that a dog has shown up on my property, straying from their home.

I've said it before, I said it this time and am certain I will say it again... "It's a very good thing for my neighbours that I am aware on where the animals live."

Unfortunately for this fellow I only know because his family has a tendency to leave him outside for lengthy amounts of time on weekend mornings. He is not happy with this and a couple Saturdays ago it was rather frosty out there; and this dog sure was voicing his unhappiness. It lead me out to see where the cries were coming from. It hurt me to see him so sad. I've not had many dogs in my life and am not sure if this is part of the training process... waiting for him to go to the bathroom maybe?

Now after today I am wondering if his family is neglectful? They had no idea he was gone. I had him with me for about 45 minutes. I played with him. I chased him. He chased me back. I wanted to go inside to get my camera, and tried such commands as "sit" and "stay" to keep him at bay till I returned, but nothing worked. Not even a firm voice, pressing his butt to the ground worked. As I left him out back he stood up to my deck and cried away. He rejoiced my return outside. Meadow was not happy with any of this.

His energy kept going. I sat at the deck for a moment and he stopped in what is left of my vegetable garden, sitting and waiting for me.

He munched on remains of cow manure and peat moss chunks in the soil. Was he hungry? Did this appeal to him?

I finally had enough of this, figured it was time to get him home as his family might be in a panic at this moment realizing he is gone. Another example showed me this dog is probably not in the best of homes... I tried to affix part of Meadow's leash to his collar as to walk him home. He is no where near being leash trained. He snarled and rolled about, doing everything in his power to get that leash off, he wanted no part of this going for a walk. I scooped him up in my arms and carried him up my street to the next, around the corner and about 10 homes down to his. He made no fuss or fight with me carrying him and even licked my chin a few times. He was quite content in my arms.

I knocked on the door not once, not twice, but three times. After the first knock I had heard someone inside and that is why I didn't give up. There were no cars in the driveway and I might'a taken him back home with me if I didn't hear the noise. An 18 year old answers the door with a bit of a surprised look on his face. He sure was wondering who I was, why I was holding his dog. I said "I found him in my yard over on Bernice." He concluded the dog must've gotten through the back fence and found his way over to me. Brilliant conclusion! He thanked me, gave the dog a light scolding and shut the door.

So it bothered me that he had no clue his dog went missing. The dog is maybe 6 months old and more trouble than a 3 year old. We are steps away from a busy street. I found him during rush hour. It could have been a tragic ending for this dog, and I nor his family would have known, if he went the other way. Thankfully he didn't and ended up here as they all seem to do...

I do plan on keeping a closer eye on this dog. I can see their yard from the very back of mine under the apple trees.

October 23, 2009

The Northern Cardinal

So, the cool weather is definitely coming (and fast). I've made mention of some arriving winter birds already and yet another sign of things to come is that the Northern Cardinals of the area are also beginning to flock together. Through the warmer months they are quite territorial and one pair will dominate and protect this feeding area as their own, for their own. Now though, more show up, it's not quite a fight, they are sharing the feeders.

The Northern Cardinal is probably my most favorite of the backyard visitors. I've had an admiration for them for as long as I can remember; going back to the early years of schooling and doing animal projects. What is my fascination with them? Not really sure, just always been attracted to them. I'm not the biggest fan of the color red unless it's blood splattering in one of my gore movies; but there is something quite striking when seeing one of these birds in my travels... I just have to stop and admire him for a while. I am stunned when I see people just pass him by and taking no notice.

So, when I put out my first bird feeder here... two weeks later, my first arrival of any bird species was a pair of Northern Cardinals. I freaked with joy! Last winter I had the pleasure of no less than 12 Cardinals at my feeders one afternoon... 9 males and 3 females. They do not migrate so we get them all year long.

For those not knowing... the bright red ones are the males; the females are a reddish brown but still quite pretty, just not as flashy. Cardinals do not molt into dull plumages so they are still breath-taking in the winter... looking even brighter against the snowy landscapes.

Female Cardinal pictured below...

I've heard many reports and queries of people having a male Cardinal sit at their window and peck at it non-stop. Why? They see their reflection, thinking it's another male in their territory and attack it (not a very proud moment for my boy I tell ya).

The Cardinals are the earliest of risers and will be the first to the feeders. Funny enough they are also the latest of the settlers in the evening and are the last to hit the feeders again just before sunset.

The range for Cardinals is growing a little every year due to more people taking part in the pleasure of backyard bird feeding and climate change is another factor.

The calls of the male are very distinct and when you familiarize yourself with a few of them you will surely know of their presence in the area long before you see them.

Cardinals love Black Oil Sunflower Seed. They also enjoy Safflower which most birds do not. So if you would like to try to just attract Cardinals to your backyard (providing they live in your area)... a feeder with just Safflower might do the trick.

Cardinals are also insect eaters. So one more reason to not mind having a few buzzing around your property helping with the insect population.

Adding native plants to your property can also help attract these birds. Mulberry, Hackberry, Blackberry, Wild Grape, Viburnums and Dogwood are a few of what they may feast upon. I planted two types of Dogwood this summer. Last year I planted 3 Viburnums and one is named "Cardinal Candy".

How one cannot enjoy birds in the backyard is a mystery to me. The Cardinal, as an example and topic of this blog, is great to watch. The songs of this bird add a sound-track to my backyard activities. One needs not to read a book to learn about this bird... just pay attention when happily co-existing with them. It's also their world and people must realize this.

A male House Sparrow and a kind female Northern Cardinal enjoying a snack together on a fence post. Nice to see them get along so well.

This would have been a great shot if it came out clear... I just can't delete this photo despite the fuzziness.

This male Cardinal knows his place around the male Red Winged Blackbird... wait your turn buddy.

An evening shot of a male at the back of the yard... sure looks like a painting.

October 17, 2009

Return of the Junco!

"Return of the Junco" sure sounds like it could possibly be a horror movie of some sort. I mean, for someone who has no idea what a Junco is... why not? Then, for those who may be reading this and truly dread the on-coming winter season, and know what a Junco is, it could be horror in real life.

So, on Friday October 16th 2009 I happened to notice one Dark-Eyed Junco hopping around the backyard (I actually thought I heard one earlier in the week but since I had no visual I put that to the back of my mind and made a mental note to keep my eyes and ears open when in the yard). So, this is the first one of the season, which is scary because Autumn arrived only 24 days ago and winter is still some ways off. I know there is no set date on when birds should come and go for migration but this could be taken as a sign of a long cold winter coming for 2009/2010.

Here are some facts about the Dark Eyed Junco...

The Dark-eyed Junco is a medium-sized sparrow with a rounded head, a short, stout bill and a fairly long, conspicuous tail.

Juncos vary across the country, but in general they’re dark gray or brown birds brightened up by a pink bill and white outer tail feathers that periodically flash open, particularly in flight.

Juncos are birds of the ground. They hop around the bases of trees and shrubs in forests or venture out onto lawns looking for fallen seeds. You’ll often hear their high chip notes, given almost absent-mindedly while foraging, or intensifying as they take short, low flights through cover.

Juncos breed in coniferous or mixed-coniferous forests across Canada, the western U.S., and in the Appalachians. During winter you’ll find them in open woodlands, fields, parks, roadsides, and backyards.

So, not much can be done with what may be coming weather-wise, like it or not... lets just welcome the early return of our winter backyard bird visitors and may the many soon to follow a safe journey as well.

Here is a couple pics of the Dark Eyed Junco. The first one I took out back last winter. The second I borrowed from as it's a much better shot. These birds are quite elusive and camera shy. I will see a dozen from my kitchen window but a step outside and most fly for cover.

October 14, 2009

Early Winter?

So, it's rather chilly for the early part of October, eh. Will it warm up again anytime soon? How about our Indian Summer? I'm thinking the answer is "NO".

Today, Wednesday October 14th 2009... we saw our first winter bird arrive at one of the feeders out back. A White Breasted Nuthatch! So wonderful to see again but a little early I think. I was betting on the Dark Eyed Juncos to be the first winter birds arriving and even said exactly that 2 days ago. Not the case this year.

Let's see how long till our first snowfall. We've had frost. Monday morning the bird baths were frozen solid. It's just a matter of time...

The Nuthatch was not co-operating with my attempts to take his picture but here he is...

Good ol' fuzzy butt! He showed me it a few times... not his best side. LOL!

September 28, 2009

Dumb or Comfortable?

The Mourning Dove. A rather common species of bird in the city. A sometimes common species of bird to my backyard. Some days or weeks there can be up to half a dozen motoring about the property and other times for many days none.

They do not have a reputation on being the most brilliant bird in the city. Their nesting habits can be quite threatening to the survival of their species. A nest built very loosely of twigs that one can see through the bottom of it. A startled adult Mourning Dove can fly out of the nest in such haste and actually destroy it accidentally... and the eggs within. Often, a startled adult Mourning Dove can also abandon a nest of eggs if they feel threatened by humans or predators in the area.

But, lets not dwell on these facts of the Mourning Dove.

I welcome these birds to my yard. Some refer to them as another form of Pigeon but I would argue that till my last breath. The Mourning Doves at least have some backyard feeding etiquette. They are not aggressive, they are not piggish, their bathing techniques are quite graceful.

I can always tell when one is flying in before I see it as their wings whistle when flying.

My concern for these visitors is the fact they are ground feeders. I do have one platform feeder; a pair of them will sit in and feed but often it is cleaned out by the Squirrels or knocked to the ground... so it's not used very often unless we are outside much of the day to keep an eye on it. The thin black chains are difficult to find in the grass.

So, with their ground feeding, they spend much time roosting or just sitting around and especially so on warm sunny days. The early sunny days of Spring had us find one pair enjoying every bit of sun light in the yard for as many days there was high sun over a week.

It's not so bad as you can see in these photos with them being out in the open spaces; but at times they also spend it in the developing bird garden of mine. If it was within the Honeysuckle Bush or other shrubs, providing some cover, that would be great, but that just isn't the case. I often worry about some cat around the other side of the bush just waiting silently. So, what's the deal? Are they just that dumb or that comfortable on the property? We try our best to keep the area free of roaming cats. Meadow is on a leash and harness, unable to get anywhere near the bird garden. We keep super-soakers nearby when neighbours' cats decide to pass through or try to get a thrilling hunt on. We just can't be out there all the time or watchful all the time.

I know they just aren't the most brilliant of the feathered friends who visit but I would like to think that maybe they do feel a little safer here. I mean, there's birds here all the time, there's many species of birds here all the time. Some of the others are keeping a watchful eye about the area for predators (cats, hawks, etc) and let off quite a shriek when danger lurks. As seen in the next photo, an American Kestrel flew in to a tree nearby, an alert was set off and everybody went off into hiding... well, everybody except these two. Their eyes opened a little more, their heads popped up but they never moved from that spot. Once again... are they dumb? Are they comfortable? Did they feel this was their own way of protecting themselves, by being more or less still? I will give them the benefit of the doubt. I mean they cannot be that dumb... they still exist.

As pictured below, this is how I like to see the Doves. Safe up in the trees. While the one on the right was at the end of a yawn... it would seem he is enjoying the sun, the company of his mate and possibly a good story (maybe his compliments to the chef of the feed they just had below or pooping on the neighbour's cat)...

What do you think?

September 16, 2009

The Beautiful Joe Park... Meaford, Ontario... every town should have one!

At least twice a year, I like to visit northern parts of Ontario and especially the area of Meaford, Ontario. And with each visit to Meaford I make a visit to "The Beautiful Joe Park". A park which I think every town and city should have. It doesn't have to be named this, but it's meaning should be the same... a park dedicated to the animals who touch our lives.

I was unfamiliar of the Beautiful Joe story even after learning about this park. Some friends told us about it as a nice place to visit and potential bird watching. It wasn't long after that Angie and I learned who Beautiful Joe was and how touching his story is, what this park really means. Here's a brief bit on his story...

The real Beautiful Joe was an Airedale-type dog. He was medium-sized, brown, and described as likely being part bull terrier and part fox terrier. He was also described as a mongrel, a cur, and a mutt. He was originally owned by a local Meaford man, who abused the dog to the point of near death, and even cut off his ears and tail with a hatchet.

Walter Moore, father of Louise Moore, rescued the dog in 1890 from what likely would have been a violent death.

And from this, a couple years later a book was to be made...

In 1892, Margaret Marshall Saunders (1861–1947), first learned about Beautiful Joe when she visited her brother and his wife, Louise Moore. Saunders was so touched by Joe's story that she wrote a novel-length, fictionalized, autobiographical version of it, entitled Beautiful Joe. Margaret Saunders relocated the story to a small town in Maine and changed the family's name to Morris to win a literary contest sponsored by the American Humane Education Society. The book was first published in 1893. By 1900, over 800,000 copies sold in the U.S., 40,000 in Canada and 100,000 in the United Kingdom.

The response was tremendous; both the book and its subject received worldwide attention. It was the first Canadian book in history to sell over a million copies, and by the late 1930s had sold over 7 million copies worldwide. In 1902, a sequel, Beautiful Joe's Paradise, was published.

In 1934, Saunders was granted Canada's highest civilian award at the time, Commander of the British Empire or C.B.E.

In 1963, the official Beautiful Joe Park was named in Meaford, next to the Moore house where Beautiful Joe was rehabilitated by Louise Moore. A Beautiful Joe Heritage Society was formed in 1994 to preserve Joe's legacy and ultimately establish the Moore residence as a museum.

So, that is the story of Beautiful Joe and the impact his story had on the world.

Now, about the park. Sure, it's a park, a forest, a river runs along the side of it. What's the big deal? Well, Beautiful Joe is buried here. The better part of his life was just next door and I'd like to believe he spent some happy sunny afternoons in this park just being a dog... running and playing. There are a few monuments about the park dedicated not only to Joe but to all animals. A 9-11 World Trade Centre site for the rescue dogs that were lost on that morning. How many people out there ever gave one moment of thought that not only humans died that day? So there wasn't hundreds of K-9 rescue dogs lost but the ones who did perish that day shouldn't go unnoticed.

Another section has a wall full of plaques that is slowly growing every year with those displaying a memorial of their own animal friends who have passed on. Some of the plaques stand out much more to me than others.

I raise a glass to Barbara Selkirk for having so many four legged friends in her life...

It's nice to see another great dog got a great home in the end...

I get a glowing feeling as I walk through this park. In this moment we, the people, take a step to the side for our animal friends. This is for them. It seems most who visit this park also realize that. In this moment, although I feel this all the time... animals are people too! They get the respect they so deserve for the impact they have on a person or family's life... they are family! This is not a pet cemetery. This is not a place of sadness if you choose it not to be. This is a place to remember, to re-joice our four legged friends/family members.

The final resting place of Beautiful Joe. As I said, I would like to believe he had many great days on this same piece of land he is resting in.

If you ever happen to get up in the Georgian Bay area... please make a special visit to The Beautiful Joe Park in Meaford. It's pretty much right inbetween Collingwood and Owen Sound.

September 9, 2009

My Sad Little Birdy

I have a saying that I have always believed in and tell others... "Animals are people too!" All creatures great and small have feelings much as humans do and they can express them in their own ways. It's just up to those around to actually pay attention and notice.

Like right now, Misfit (our Budgie) is a sad stressed out little bird. She's been very quiet the last week and from my experience the year before with her, she will be for another 3 to 5 weeks. Last year I only thought it was because of the seasonal change; summer is ending, the days are getting shorter, the nights are getting cooler and I think she knows this and is saddened in her own way, being a tropical bird who enjoys the heat and humidity. What I do notice this September though is her loss of feathers. She went through a similar stage in the Spring and it was a molt. She lost all her tail feathers and many about her body over a span of 4 weeks. She became very quiet, not even singing along to her favorite cds (Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons or her song birds cd). She even looks uncomfortable during this process. Research shows that this is almost painful at times for birds... the feathers are needle-like and they say it's a prickly feeling on the bird's body. Feather loss is a sign of stress in a bird as is them picking and pulling their feathers out. So when they naturally lose their feathers I assume it is a naturally stressful time for them. They require a better diet (vitamin and mineral supplements added to their food). They require a lot more sleep (12 to 14 hours is good).

Misfit is normally a very happy chatty active little bird. Right now she barely makes a sound, doesn't play with her toys and is wanting to go to bed earlier than normal. She lets us know when she wants to go to bed... she has some very distinct noises in the evening. We ask her if she wants to go to bed and she re-acts with a variety of wing and leg stretches. I've had Budgies in my past and have never recalled one who loved being put to bed at night (not like Misfit does). One might think she was ill with her inactivity but her appetite shows me that is not the case.

What can we do for her? Keep her warm. Keep her fed. Keep her rested. In a few weeks she will be back to her old self again and we'll be wishing for some peace and quiet when she really gets going with her squeaks and tweets, bell ringing and so on.

Imagine that! I know so many who think little of birds... not in a bad way, they just don't think about them as much of anything other than an eating and pooping machine. Wow! Something so small but with so much personality and feelings and in need of proper care... meaning, a responsible family with them who will notice and realize these stages they go through and help them along.

Here's Misfit in her most memorable days for me... flying free out back with the Sparrows.

August 24, 2009

First signs of Autumn and it's August!

Have you noticed anything different up in the sky within the last few days? Do you ever look up to the sky? Some do, some don't. If you do, you may notice a sight such as the photo below. "A bunch of birds flying around. What's the big deal?" you might ask. Well, it's really not a big deal unless you absolutely dread the end of summer. It's the first signs of Autumn coming and Fall Migration beginning.

Today at work, on my lunch break, I look out to the front grounds and noticed a sight similar to the photo below... a flock of Brown Headed Cowbirds. This is the first flock I have seen since their return back in the Spring. I said to my co-workers, "Oh, it's all over now." A few heads pop up, curious to what I am talking about. Some inquire and listen on as I explain my comment. There weren't many happy faces in the lot as we didn't have much of a summer this year. What can we do? Nothing! Go through the seasons, make the best of the them, and hope for a better summer next year.

I borrowed these pics via Google images but hope to have some of my own to share as my backyard can turn into quite a hot spot for a feeding stop over through the month of September. The sounds can be deafening with some flocks. I gladly throw handfuls of shelled peanuts and seeds to my feathered friends, assisting them on the long journey ahead. Maybe you do the same?

August 10, 2009

Know Your Neighbor and their Pets

This past Saturday, just as we were leaving the house to go out for dinner... the rain had just started to come down (again) and as we sat in the Monte Carlo, letting it run for a moment (them oldies), I happened to notice my neighbor's cat moseying along on the other side of the street. So, what's the big deal? Well, to anybody else on the street who may have noticed this feline, they would just think it's another cat in the neighborhood. For us, knowing this cat, we knew she should not be out on the streets roaming around.

Meet Louise!

Louise is one of my neighbor's handful of "misfit" cats that she has taken into her home over the years, one of a handful, who may have not had a chance at a good life because of her *imperfections* but we all see her as a little more unique. Louise is deaf. Louise has 3 legs. So, as you can see, Louise definitely should not have been wandering about the street.

It only took us a second before we were out of the car, dashing across the street, going after her. Lucky for us she didn't hear us coming, and her quite laid back personality had her just sitting there looking up at us as we moved in. My neighbor wasn't home, I made a few attempts to contact her with no luck. So Louise was scooped up and brought into our home. Meadow slept through the whole ordeal, even as we locked Louise in the storage closet off the kitchen while we went out for dinner.

Finally my neighbor returned my call and as I told her we saw Louise walking up the street, she went into a panic and tearful rant. I had no opportunity for almost 30 seconds to get a word in to let her know she was safe with us.

My neighbor was going to be gone for another few hours, which was fine by us. I tell you, for a foreign cat being brought into a strange home, there was no stress with this one. She was fine in the closet for the 2 hours we were gone. When let out, she figured out where the stairs were to the basement and down she went and slept the next 3 hours till she was re-united and returned home.

From the time my neighbor left till the time we left and saw Louise, approximately 2 hours had already passed. Another 5 hours would go by before my neighbor returned home. If we had not seen Louise and taken action... who knows what the outcome may have been. A deaf cat sure can't hear cars or other threats. A 3 legged cat sure wouldn't have much of a chance defending herself. Lastly, Louise likes to spend much of her time in the basement so there is the possibility she may not have been noticed missing until the following morning.

So in my head the worst case scenarios have been played out but you never know, cats are quite remarkable creatures. Louise may have made it back home, if we had not seen/taken her, and might have ended up sitting on the front steps waiting for her "mommy".

I am happy with how this story all played out, like fate stepped in, how timing was so well with the beginning actions to it. So perfect! Louise is right across the street from us as we sat in the car. Things like that.

I tried to get a better/clearer shot of her but she really isn't keen on the flash.

If anyone has been wondering what has been up with me and my blog, even though I made mention some time ago about cutting back through the summer months. I had hopes of stocking up on blog topics for the fall... but with all the rain this summer and as July arrived, some bad flooding in the basement has taken over our lives. It's finally going to be repaired this week, taking about 15 days to complete, and hopefully then I can relax and enjoy the remaining weeks of summer with our animal friends. Nobody has been neglected through this though...

See you all again soon...