Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

 Something to think about...

The Cat Carol

The cat wanted in to the warm warm house, but no one would let the cat in, It was cold outside on Christmas Eve. She meowed and meowed by the door.


The cat was not let in the warm warm house, and her tiny cries were ignored. It was a blizzard out, the worst of the year. There was no place for her to hide.

Just then a poor little mouse crept by, he had lost his way in the snow. He was on his last legs and was almost froze.

The cat lifted him with her paw. She said, "Poor mouse, do not be afraid, because this is Christmas Eve. On this freezing night, we both need a friend. I won't hurt you. Stay by my side."

She dug a small hole in an icy drift. This is where they would spend the night. She curled herself 'round her helpless friend, protecting him from the cold.

When Santa came by at the end of the night, the reindeer started to cry. They found the cat lying there in the snow, and they could see that she had died.

He lifted her up from the frozen ground, and placed her into the sleigh.

It was then he saw the little mouse wrapped up. She kept him warm with her fur.

"Oh thank you Santa for finding us... Dear cat, wake up, we are saved!"

"I'm sorry mouse, but your friend has died. There's nothing more we can do."

"On Christmas Eve she gave you her life, the greatest gift of them all."


Santa lifted the cat up into the night sky and laid her to rest among the stars. "Dear mouse, don't cry, you are not alone, you will see your friend every year. Each Christmas a cat constellation will shine... to remind us that her love's still here.

Yes, it's a children's story but we can really learn something from it, and our animal friends.

Have a wonderful holiday season, whoever you are, wherever you are, however you celebrate it.  

See you all soon!

December 15, 2011

Yet Another Moonie Update

So, Christmas is less than 2 weeks away and it's go go go around here.

We are quite certain this is Moonie's first Christmas.  We cannot nail down his age exactly but do know he's not a year old yet.  Does he know what Christmas is?  Probably not exactly but I do think they feel the energy about this time of the year.  Take Misfit (our other Budgie) as an example.  Every Christmas season, she spends about 2 weeks waking up at 4:30am on her own, ringing her bell and wanting to get up.  And right after New Years, she goes back to her old routine of sleeping in until 7am.  What's up with those 2 weeks?

How will it be with Moonie?  I guess we will see. 

The past couple weeks he's been getting a feel for it; he's been exploring the decorated living room and placed here and there for my own personal entertainment.  Why not?  It's good interaction for him and I, and I can take some festive pics with my boy in the meantime.  Moonie just might make a personal Christmas card one year.  He's one easy going bird and mostly goes with the flow.

Other than that, he's just doing his thing...  eating, sleeping, and squawking like Budgies do, and his time with Misfit is an adventure on it's own.  You never know how she's going to be with him.  One day okay, another day she's back to her aggressive self.  I still believe they are good for each other as company, even in separate cages, but side by side.  Moonie really wants to be her friend and he mimics her at times.  When she eats, he eats.  When she plays, he plays.  He seldom touches his mineral block unless he sees Misfit pecking at hers'.  And if I move Misfit from their area as she likes to sit on the kitchen table, he gets quite antsy and vocal until she comes back to the top of the fridge with him.  Moonie doesn't seem to care much about being on the table with the kitchen window to look out of...  unless Misfit is on the table with him.  It's funny really.  I mean, Misfit can be pretty aggressive to him but he still wants to be around her.  And while Misfit can be the total b*tch, if I move Moonie out to the living room with me, she too will get quite vocal in his absence.  And Moonie hears Misfit's calls, and suddenly he wants little to do with me and to return back to his cage.  Silly birds.

Well, here's some photos of late, enjoy...

There is a noticeable size difference with these two and I say Moonie is poking fun at Misfit with his "Who's the fat birdy in the house?"  pose.

One of their more peaceful moments.

Moonie exploring the Christmas tree for the very first time.  He moved around the inside of the tree and popped his head out here and there.  The lights do not get hot in case someone wondered.

A close up of a cute moment.

I do wonder what he thinks of all the different shaped/sized and colored ornaments?

He's our little boy and we love him.

December 9, 2011

Snowy Owl Invasion

In recent weeks, Snowy Owls are being reported seemingly everywhere.  I recon it's an irruption of the Owls and not certain at the moment why they are on the move and settling in around us here in the GTA and other areas.

A female Snowy Owl Angie and I viewed across from a pier in Whitby this month.

While it's amazing to see these beautiful birds of prey; as always, we must use care and respect with them.  They are living beings, and while not human, they have emotions too.  And simply put, everybody wants to get a photograph of a Snowy Owl...  so, yes, take a photo and take home a visual memory of this majestic bird you have encountered.  But please limit your time viewing the bird and also keep your distance.

I've only seen two Snowy Owls in the wild myself.  Both were in very well protected spots along the lake shore, being surrounded by water.  No sane person would dare swim across the near freezing lake at this time of year.  And if covered in ice, same thing about attempting to cross it.  And the Owls have been at such a distance that nobody is invading their space/comfort zone.

But I have heard stories of other sightings where the Owls are in reach.  And people seem to have no concern for the Owls and attempt to approach them for better viewing and better photographs.  Not everybody has a mega thousand dollar camera and lens set-up so the photos will never be clear unless you are pretty much face to face with the subject.

People are walking on private property, not caring who owns the farm land the Owl has stopped in on.  And this is infuriating to many property owners.  Would you want a stranger walking into your backyard because he felt it was his right to see a bird on your property?  Imagine you are having your Sunday morning coffee, you look out your kitchen window and find 3 strangers with cameras walking about your backyard.  Wouldn't that just piss you right off?

So, wherever you go this winter, and if you see a Snowy Owl since I assume more sightings will be coming about...  please enjoy the Owls but respect them, their space and the land owners (if the Owl is on private property).

Here is the very first wild Snowy Owl we have ever seen, back in February of 2010.  These are grainy heavily cropped shots but still a lifetime memory for me.

And lastly, with this irruption of Snowy Owls, I must add that some may come into trouble for one reason or another.  It's not uncommon for an Owl to be out on the road with a fresh mouse kill as an example.  And these birds aren't too familiar with life here in the big city, not exactly knowing the dangers of sitting down to a meal on a roadway.  Some may get hit by cars and may need our help.  Once again, as an example, and there are many others which I won't get into.

So, if you or someone you know comes into contact with an injured Owl; please view these links on what to do, how to help, who to call, etc.  All courtesy of The Owl Foundation.  Here is a webpage to help you locate a wildlife rehab centre near you.  The link to general information isn't working for me so here is a list for you to review that deal with any encounter, with any Owl or other bird species at any time of the year.

Happy birding!

If you or someone you know has found an injured or otherwise distressed raptor, it is of utmost importance to get in touch with and transfer the animal to a licensed wildlife rehabiliator as soon as possible. This is in the very best interests of any wildlife you find and can mean the difference between life and death.
Please do not attempt rehabilitation of wildlife on your own. Communication with experienced, licensed rehabilitators is key to providing the best care for sick, injured or orphaned wildlife. Licensed rehabilitators have been specially trained for triage, convalescence and paliative care of wild animals.

Most provinces of Canada allow their citizens to hold onto wildlife for a maximum of 24 hours at which time the wildlife must be released or transferred to an authorized wildlife rehabilitator. It is illegal to maintain wildlife beyond this 24 hour limit without special permitting from the Ministry of Natural Resources. These regulations have been set in place to protect our native wildlife from typically well-meaning, but inexperienced people. Animals, especially those injured, sick or orphaned, require special care and medical needs that most people are unable, unwilling or too niave to provide properly.

If you have found a raptor in distress, please visit the Wildlife International page (my link above) for listings of rehabilitators in your area. You may also contact your local Humane Society or Ministry of Natural Resource office for information.

You can be doing more harm than good. Raptor throat anatomy is very different from yours.
You can drown a raptor by putting fluids and food into the wrong area.
If the bird you have found is showing signs of sickness or injury such as difficulty breathing, bleeding, stumbling, fractures or other trauma, the animal will require immediate medical attention. If you have trouble finding a local rehabilitator, consider contacting your local veterinarian. Many veterinarians can do simple, cheap procedures such as wing wrapping, pain relief and fluid therapy until a rehabilitator can be contacted.

Temporary Housing for Transport to a Rehabilitator:
You Will Need

Cardboard box with lid
Pen or Boxcutter
Towel or other soft cloth
Work gloves

Find a cardboard box approximately half again as long as the bird and twice as wide. The bird should be able to sit upright in the box without bumping its head against the top. The box should not be so large as to allow the bird to walk around. The idea is to keep the bird contained in one spot, but as comfortable as possible. If the box is too big the bird can hurt itself as it fights to escape. Broken wings can be rotated improperly and blood circulation can be cut off.

Prepare the box by punching holes from the inside out along all walls approximately 2/3 of the way up. This will allow ventilation for the bird to breathe while it remains in the box. You don't have to go overboard. Five - ten holes per side, depending on the size of the box, is enough. If you have access to a boxcutter, you can cut one inch holes 2/3 of the way up from the inside out (two - three per side).
Place a towel or blanket in the bottom of the box. This provides cushioning, warmth and gripping substrate for the animal.

In most cases an orphaned, sick or injured raptor will be fairly easy to contain by simply picking it up. It is helpful to throw a towel or blanket over the bird as you approach. Scoop the animal and towel up together. The bird should grab the towel, not you. It is suggested that you have a pair of work gloves with you as well since raptors will often use their last bit of strength to protect themselves. Do not leave the towel over the bird once it is contained in the box.

If the bird is capable of walking just a touch too fast to capture single-handedly, ask a friend to help corral the animal into a corner or directly into the box (put the box on its side on the ground).

If the bird cannot sit up in the box, use a second towel to encircle its body and prop its head onto the higher surface like a pillow. This will also keep the bird from falling over during transport.

Keep the box covered (either with a lid or blanket) as raptors have a tendancy to escape.

Maintain the box/bird in a dark area at room temperature (~22ºC/70ºF). Keep the bird from stressful stimulae such as noise, children, pets and television. A stressed hawk will freeze and stare with mouth gaping and wings out, if capable. Owls can display stress in many ways including playing dead, snapping their beaks, hissing and fluffing up. Raptors can pant if stressed. Many scared raptors will show defense tactics such as lunging with their beaks or grabbing with their feet. Be careful.

During transport, do not play music and keep talking to a minimum. Keep an ambient temperature in the vehicle and try to place the box in an area that will not receive direct sunlight.

The rehabilitator you contact will give you further instructions geared toward the species and injury you are dealing with.


Baby owls are very cute balls of fluff and can be very accomodating and fun to have around.  Don't get sucked in!

These little guys need their parents, not humans. They should never be coddled, petted or passed around. This is stressful and inappropriate. They are wild animals who need to stay wild for successful release back to nature.

Owls are not pets.

November 23, 2011

Backyard Terrors... but I love them

So as the cold weather moves in for another season, I definitely notice some changes in my bird feeder activity. You know, some species fly further south until next Spring and for other species this is their southern region. And another change I see is the increase in Hawk activity as it gets more difficult to find mice with the colder weather. And when the snow hits, it gets even worse for them. So, what's a Hawk to do? Check out some local bird feeders for another natural food source... smaller birds!

We get a pair of Coopers Hawks when the snow stays on the ground. And they enjoy a Pigeon feast under my feeders. And personally this doesn't bother me really. I don't hate the Pigeons but there's more than enough of them around and really their etiquette is quite rude.

But before the Coopers pair arrive, I normally see a Sharp-shinned Hawk. And he/she arrived almost on schedule a couple weeks back. And it's funny that with the smaller the Hawk, the bolder they seem to come. Look at him here, just giving me the stare down...

At this moment all I kept thinking was "please don't poop on me".

The above shots were quite a comical moment actually. I was outside filling some bird feeders and since it was a pleasant morning, my little side-kick Meadow joined me. She just loves to partake in anything her daddy does outside or anywhere else really. Ask Angie how Meadow is when we move furniture, set up the Christmas tree, etc.

So, I am filling the feeders and Meadow is looking off to the yard next door as some House Sparrows are bouncing about. Meadow is on a leash/harness set-up and has about 25 ft of length to go about where she chooses... and she's perfectly fine with that.

Suddenly from out of the pines right behind the house comes this Sharp-shin Hawk! And he's swooping right down at Meadow! It's happening so fast but it's like slow motion too. I am frozen as I watch this. Now Meadow is 15 lbs and this Hawk is maybe 3 lbs after a couple Sparrows for lunch. The Hawk really cannot do too much in way of trying to make Meadow his next meal with lots of leftovers. And as he gets close over Meadow, he veers up and over the fence to the yard next door. And my cat is completely oblivious to what had just happened until now as she notices him perched in front of her and staring her down. I can see the excitement in Meadow's face and it's like "oh boy, look at this big bird!" And seconds later the Hawk is coming at Meadow again. Only this time Meadow is ready and jumps up at the Hawk! I wish I was videoing this whole ordeal. Of course Meadow did not catch the Hawk and thankfully with the first strike, the Hawk did not connect his talons with Meadow's back. Sure he couldn't kill/eat Meadow but he could do a serious number on her back and a costly vet bill to me.

The shots above were right after that bit of action as he sat himself on a branch above me and was rather vocal. At first, I did have some idea that this Hawk was starving and desperate. But watching him for some time I realize this was more about a territorial thing and getting a cat out of his potential feeding grounds.

Another morning and another attitude stare at me.

Many backyard bird enthusiasts get pretty upset when a Hawk comes to visit. It creates havoc out there, the little birdies get upset, occasionally get caught and eaten, and for days after the backyard can become pretty quiet. This last bit happened with me after two weeks of this Sharpie hitting my yard for meals. I saw no birds for nearly a week. Was I upset? No. This is the natural way of things. And really, it's something most of us never get a chance to see.

I find Hawks to be beautiful birds. And they do contribute to some population control of certain bird species. See, I get a pair of Northern Cardinals, a pair of Downy Woodpeckers, a pair of Blue Jays and 30 to 50 House Sparrows and European Starlings. I would bet on a Sparrow or Starling getting nabbed over the "special" birds.

On a cold winter morning, sitting in my kitchen with a nice hot coffee; why turn on the television when I have the best nature channel on in the neighbourhood right outside my back door.

This Red-tail Hawk has made a few appearances recently. And she sends everyone running and flying for their lives. She makes the Squirrels cry as they cling tightly to the tree trunks. And she is the one bird of prey that comes around that would have me putting Meadow inside.

I leave you with that thought... to never leave your pets unattended outside, and really no matter the season, because you never know who is watching.

November 19, 2011

Stealing an Owl ain't cool... and you suck if you disagree!

I met an Owl recently, actually met her a few times over the past couple years; but with my last visit, I was reminded on how important it is to keep knowledge of anything to do with Owls pretty much a secret from most people.

You might tell someone you totally trust, and they honestly may have the same care/concern for these mystical creatures; but all it takes is to tell one wrong person somewhere down the line and bad things can happen.

I only have bits of this Owl's actual story and will piece it together how I can imagine it unfolded. And after reading this, perhaps another person will realize the importance of protecting these birds from the yahoos of the world.

A Great-horned Owl pair nested in a wooded area near town. People had heard the Owls with their familiar "hoo h'hoos" from dusk til dawn.

A couple who lived very close to where the nightly calls were made let their curiosity get the better of them and decided to seek out these Owls. And luck have it, after a couple nights, they pin-pointed a location and set out the next morning with daylight over them to find the nest. Success! And what a surprise to find a pair of Owl chicks in the nest!

Not wanting to be selfish and keep this marvelous find to themselves, they brought a couple friends to the nest to see it for themselves. And these couple friends told a couple more friends and before long a lot of people knew and saw this nest.

Somewhere through the lines of communication, the nest was told to a couple younger males who also came to see the nest. It was atop a rotted old tree stump not much more than 10 ft or so above ground. After a couple visits with the Owls over a few days, they got talking about how easy it would be to climb right up to that nest. As the conversation continued, ideas on how cool it would be to have an Owl as a pet were brought up from the depths of one's mind. And before you know it, people coming to see the nest discovered that one Owl chick had gone missing. People figured this is the natural way of things and perhaps this young Owl was sick and fallen prey to something through the night. What else could it be? Sure it's unfortunate but that's nature for you. And people watched the remaining chick grow over the next number of weeks.

Little did they know that not too far off, in a shed at a neighbour's home, there were the two males with the missing Owl chick. The Owl being very young quickly became "human imprinted" and mistaking these lads as it's parents. No more was this a wild Owl. It was a human, so it thought. And it seemed perfectly normal to sit in this enclosure (shed) with it's parents and have food and beverage brought to it. Isn't that what all parents do for their young? All the kids love potato chips, soda pop and McDonalds cheeseburgers! This is awesome!

But after a 10 days or so this idea of keeping an Owl as a pet became stupid, boring and too much work. So the boys confided in another man from town and he thought he could do much better with this Owl in his home, not just a shed. No more potato chips for this Owl, it's a meat eating bird, and it shall have meat everyday! Steak, pork chops, chicken thighs and still them cheeseburgers because even the adults about town love them McDonalds cheeseburgers too! Unfortunately the man had a bit of a drinking problem and as he consumed his daily dozen of his favorite brew, he became quite generous with the suds and began feeding the Owl beer as well.

This of course didn't last too long as word got out in the small town. The local veterinarian got involved and figuring that he took care of sick cats and dogs, that he'd be better suited to care for this Owl, and even perhaps save it's life. Humans cannot live on junk food and beer for as long as they hope. How can one think it would be good for an Owl? Yes, without a doubt this Owl surely would die sooner than later under a non-vet's care.

This non-avian doctor did what he could for the Owl. Uncooked ground beef and chicken livers was a daily dietary source must. And water.

I'd like to believe this vet had the Owl for less than a week before his good judgement, and being a doctor for our animal friends, had him make the right decision to turn this Owl over to people who could care for her properly now. And through some contacts and phone calls, the young Great-horned Owl was soon in the care of a Raptor Centre in our province of Ontario.

The Owl lives in an environment now where her happiness comes above all else. She is fed properly with more natural food that an Owl eats in the wild... mice, young chicks, etc... all humanely destroyed (sorry), frozen and fed later on thawed out.

She can never be freed to fly where she chooses, to hunt for her own survival and feel that sense of freedom and independence. Now don't go feeling bad for her now because really, she doesn't know any better.

We cannot paint everyone with the same brush in that town or anywhere else. But really, do we need to take that chance?

Owls are an extremely rare sighting in the greater Toronto area for most people even though Great Horns and Screeches are year round residents. Half a dozen or so of the 11 species in this province only come to the area for the winter months (3 to 4 months tops) make it a special treat for those of us who appreciate and respect them. But some get a little too "goo goo ga ga" over the birds and forget about the Owl's safety, or just do not know, and while it's really cool to see one, we must protect them with a code of silence... unless you REALLY REALLY trust another or perhaps you are twice their size and a tad off balance and will tear them a new one if they did something which could bring harm to the Owl.

Anyways, as I said, I've pieced together a few tid bits of what her story was and made my own tale from it. I hope you enjoyed and maybe took something from it.

And now meet Octavius the "stolen" Great-horned Owl 5 years later...
 Here she is last December at a private photo shoot Angie and I took part in.  All money goes to the birds.
You may visit her at Mountsberg's Raptor Centre in Campbellville, just west of Milton.

November 14, 2011

Northern Saw-whet Owl... life list went up by one!

On Saturday Angie and I took part in a road trip out Kingston way and were fortunate enough to see our very first Northern Saw-whet Owl in the wild.

We sponsor Luna, the Telus Owl (you may have seen the ads) from the Muskoka Wildlife Centre. And while we have had many visits with Luna, and the last one had her sitting on my head, on my camera lens and on Angie's shoulder... it still doesn't count to us for our life list. We prefer to see one flying wild and free, sitting in a tree. And we need a good 30 seconds or so of viewing a bird, absorbing it into our memory, before we add such bird to the list.

Anyways, we had a good lengthy look at this guy and let's just say Angie got quite emotional about it. They are the most adorable Owl species to be seen in our area. Size comparison would be to a can of Pepsi, only slightly bigger.

I don't know a whole lot about Saw-whet Owls since I've never seen one before until this day.

Here is what I do know, and some other tid-bits I am picking up from

Much like other Owls, they prefer coniferous trees (trees that don't shed) which include Pines, Cedars and Spruce trees. They might use cavities bored out by Woodpeckers too.

They are incredibly tiny for an Owl, or so I think. And the cutest things I have ever layed eyes upon!

They seem to roost on the lower parts of the trees which keeps them out of view of larger Raptors like Great-horned Owls as an example who unfortunately don't mind have NSWOs for a meal when available.

If you ever come across one of these little Owls, they will sit very still on the tree branch, right up against the trunk. Do not take this for being tame and unafraid. They are actually quite terrified and hope you really aren't seeing them.

Their preferred diet is mice... Deer mice which are a small species. Larger mice that are caught are often eaten in two meals.

So if you ever chance upon seeing one of these beautiful little Owls, please keep a respectable distance from it. And if the Owl starts to make some movement of any kind, you probably have crossed the line and best back away for the safety of the Owl.

There actually is a code of ethics regarding viewing Owls in the wild. It's a special code made for them because of the thrill with people finding Owls and perhaps not realizing the stress they are creating for the Owl. It includes as I said keeping some distance from it, not viewing the Owl for much longer than 30 seconds, flash photography is not acceptable especially on darker days because their eyes are very sensitive, and if you happen to find one at night, no flashlights in their face as you will temporarily blind them... and if frightened they may fly off blindly, injuring themselves by hitting a tree as they flee. And it is important to not share the Owl's location to the world, perhaps to someone you really trust, who also understands the code; because unfortunately far too many people will do what it takes for them to get "that shot" which may harm the Owl and definitely stress them out.

So, here is one photo I got of the Northern Saw-whet Owl. It wasn't easy getting a photo with the dense brush/branches but I am happy with it because it is the very first NSWO I have seen in the wild.

Thanks for looking!

October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Wishing you all a very happy and safe Halloween. We've got some computer desktop issues right now so not doing much with photos at the moment. And without my pics, I'm just not blogging. Working with a laptop right now and have to load my Canon program in and get used to this new toy.

But after Halloween is done, here's an idea for those leftover pumpkins. We find this highly entertaining.

Fill them with the things your backyard friends love and watch the show!

Hope to have some great pics from this year's pumpkins in the coming days.

See you all again soon!

Oh, and if you are on Twitter, just signed up and plan to do my own bird and wildlife reports in my travels. Of course discretion will be used on locations of certain species such as Owls and babies through the Spring.

My name on Twitter is... robantheanimals (no room for the D)

October 23, 2011

Moonie Update

We just passed our two month anniversary since Moonie joined our flock. I blogged about him back in August as some of you may recall.

Clipping his wings during the transition phase of being in this house really helped. Also just letting him do his thing for a number of weeks was essential.

And it was funny how a number of people told me Moonie was a girl. I had no clue. Even the guy who clipped his wings said he is a she. All I knew was that Moonie was really young.

Well, two days after his one month anniversary into our home, I noticed a little bit of blue on his nose area (I forget the actual term); and I was quite excited, immediately posting on my Facebook page "is happy to announce it's a boy!"

Why the excitement over a boy than a girl? Well, this house has 9 beating hearts within and I am out numbered with noise making females. So, having another male around evens it up a bit. Ha ha! Seriously though, male Budgies are very different than the females. They are calmer and easier to "tame".

I should have known from the beginning that Moonie was a boy. His personality and temperment were/are completely the opposite of Misfit's. But I let things be as they were, under the impression he was a she according to the more experienced; and I took his calmness as something due to his very young age.  But upon noticing the blue on his nostrils, I began "working" with him, one on one.  And we progressed quickly...

Here is our first bit of bird on hand training.  He wasn't minding the interaction at all.

A few days later and he was enjoying the higher views from atop my head.

He's quite content hanging on my shoulder in the morning after some breakfast.

And he seems to have no problem whatsoever napping wherever he feels like.  Here he sleeps on top of his cage while I am cleaning out the bottom.

I am hoping for further progress over time with him. He's quite comfortable with me providing his cage is not in view. When he sees it, he wants to return to it. He's not stressed at all when he's out and about; but sure loves his home I suppose. The other morning I stretched out on the couch and he sat on my chest for quite some time, just chilling out with me. I thought that was pretty cool.

I've introduced him to banana with success. I place small bits in his food dish almost every morning and it gets eaten before noon. There is a whole list of fruits and vegetables to try with him, and I will little by little over time.

A bond with him is my reward, as it's something very specialBBudgie, and eternal.

October 13, 2011

I Walked A Kilometre With Them

Feeling a need to key away here and not exactly sure on what until skimming over previous posts, I have noticed I missed out on sharing one of the coolest experiences for this year. And that was walking a kilometer with 6 White-tailed Deer!

This happened back on April 4th when walking a stretch of the Humber River. I happened to spot a couple White-tailed Deer just down a hill from me. I took a couple shots from the distance I was at; and then thought why not just walk down there and see what happens? If they get spooked, they will move along quick, and I won't pursue. But maybe they will be okay with my presence... "hey, it could happen" is what I convinced myself with.

As I began to slowly walk down the hill, the two Deer stopped and looked at me which made me stop. But neither bolted for the nearest quick exit, which would be in any direction away from me. So once again I moved in closer... slowly and quietly. I never got close enough to touch them but I sure didn't need to use any zoom with my camera. Not long after getting to the bottom of the hill and taking a number of steps with them did I then notice more Deer... 6 to be exact! I was floored! And they were all pretty cool with my presence, just doing their thing, sniffing and eating, walking along at a very slow pace. They'd pass me on either side, cross in front of me and continued their daily activities. Here are a few photos from that 45 minute moment with them...

Pretty sure this is one of the adult females.

The most curious of the herd was this fellow. At one point he was almost at my finger tips being very curious of me. I reached out my hand and he moved nearer to me. Unfortunately for him, mommy (I am assuming) noticed his approach to me which made her stand on her hind legs and bring a front hoof down across this guy's neck. I am certain she was telling him to back off from approching me. If I didn't see it, I wouldn't have believed it for myself. He did back away and move towards the rest of the Deer.

I walked behind this pair for a short bit as the others slowed to enjoyed the feast about the ground.

Out in the middle of some deep woods and I find this piece of furniture.  I ask if there is a smidgen of land not touched or eff'ed up by man on this planet?

It was at this log that I made my decision to be our cut-off point.  As much as I didn't want to leave them, I would have to eventually.  And as the last one crossed over, I silently thanked them for the moment, before I turned back the way I came..  I probably could have spent all afternoon with them if I really wanted to.

There is so much to see out there, even in woodlands so close to my home, here in Toronto. All one needs to do is keep their eyes and ears opens and their mouth shut. Show respect to the creatures as you walk through their home and you will be blessed with a memory to take home with you.

October 11, 2011

Thanks on this Day!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Sorry for my absence but life is pretty busy once again. Between some home projects, home/life stress, but also with some really great things of late too that I will share in due time (my list ever increases).

And today, as they say, is a day for thanks. Who/what do you give thanks to?

Of course there are the obvious being our family and friends, those we choose to share our lives with, the ones who give us strength, the ones who bring a smile to our face and this be it a person or an animal.

I am also thankful for the country we live in, I find the beauty within it each month, as every season has something unique to offer us. Autumn is in full "bloom" right now and those who stop and look around to appreciate the beauty surrounding us would definitely be thankful for such sightings as this...

All I could say was "wow!" as I took notice of this tree along Royal York Road in Etobicoke. I like to think Autumn is Mother Nature's last blow out of the year before the winter sets in. Take in the colors before the slate is wiped clean as the trees become bare and the ground is covered in a blanket of snow.

I am thankful for the many organizations who do everything they can to help our "wild" friends. Be it the Toronto Wildlife Centre, the Muskoka Wildlife Centre, the Owl Foundation, Mountsberg Conservation Area and the Canadian Peregrine Foundation (CPF), to name a few.

I am especially thankful to the CPF, allowing Angie and I to volunteer with them wherever we can offer time. Which isn't easy when working shift work. We have tried with some other organizations, but they have expectations of commitment beyond what we can give them. It's not that we do not want to help but giving up every Saturday is not possible, and some want even more than that.

But CPF appreciate any time we can spare. And we don't mind doing the not so glorious chores like cleaning Hawk and Owl enclosures. It's a dirty job but somebody has to do it. And our return for such things is being close to these majestic creatures. To see Peregrine Falcons, an American Kestrel, a Bald Eagle, a Harris Hawk and a few species of Owl all in one visit is awesome. And with time, trust and learning we move up to such things like a couple events they do in the year where they bring awareness to the people about what CPF does, educating on the birds of prey in our area, the importance of these creatures in the wild, and displaying some of their captive bred, human imprinted, educational birds. It is indescribable the feeling of sitting there with a bird of prey on your hand.

Here I am at the Toronto Sportsman Show with Kyla, an American Kestrel, talking to the curious about her species. Something I thought I would never do as I am not much for being the centre of attention. But Kyla helped me through the day.

Here I am with Alexandra the Great-horned Owl at the Woodbridge Fall Fair this past Sunday. A big beautiful bird she is, and only weighing in at 4.5 lbs; but after a couple hours she may as well have been 45 lbs on my hand/wrist. Ouch!

It is always a good time when working with CPF. They are wonderful people and a few of the greatest story tellers I have ever met are in their flock. Work seldom feels like work with this bunch.

So yes, big thanks go to CPF for taking us in this year and may we have many years together.

September 23, 2011

A "What the ?" moment...

Well, today is the first day of Autumn. But the signs of it's coming arrival have been apparent for weeks.

Today I had four Downy Woodpeckers in the Lilac Tree. All looked to be females, or maybe juvis... all lacking the red spot on the back of the head. I haven't seen much of the Downys this summer. So while some squawk at the end of summer; I am happy to see their return here.

But now to the reason for my blog today. It's a "What the ?" moment here in my yard. There really isn't much to tell but it is making me wonder about it. Basically I went outside to fill the bird feeders and clean the baths as I do everyday. And a check on one of the feeders had me find it to be rather covered in blood.

As you can see it's on the perch, and the front of the feeder too. And there is even more on the roof.

So, ya, it's a "What the ?" moment here. Was it a Hawk? Maybe a Kestrel? Snagging a bird off the feeder and perhaps the struggle continued as it carried the bird up to a branch above? Maybe it consumed the bird above the feeder? The Hawks have started hitting the backyard in recent weeks as the colder weather moves in.

Another thought is some mammal trying to get into the opening of the feeder from the top and cutting itself on the metal? But the corners of the lid are folded over to prevent such things. It's a smooth rounded edge. But even if it were the case, how much would this creature put up with to get into the feeder, going to the point of injuring itself, and continuing?

Maybe it is an injured animal? But once again, would a bleeding animal go to the trouble of climbing up to this feeder, which is on a pole about 5 feet up, to eat? Isn't eating the last thing on the mind of an injured animal?

I see no carnage below. No remains of any sort. There are Pigeon feathers about but there are ALWAYS Pigeon feathers about.

Yes, definitely a "What the ?" moment that I will ponder in quieter times today.