Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

November 25, 2015

Hard to Blog

I made mention recently on the difficulty to blog. Sometimes it's lack of inspiration. Sometimes it's just laziness. I can blame work. Other times it's me wanting to be out there in the wild living my future blogs. And a lot of the times it's our cats Merry and Molly.

They sure have grown since that photo was taken. Almost 7 months old now. They were spayed a couple weeks ago. Time sure does fly.

They are a handful. Neither of us ever had 2 kittens before. I recall the days with Meadow as a wee little kitty, it was just her and I. I had just moved into this house. So being single and a bachelor with few things to my name, the house was pretty empty. There wasn't much for Meadow to get into. No computer. No cable. No land line. No wires to play with, no things to get behind. It also meant that all my time at home was just Meadow and I in the early days. I told Angie I was her whole world (so true). Without the distractions, it did mean a lot of bonding time between her and I. I'd be playing with her for hours before and after work. I remember so many nights, us up till 3 or 4am, throwing things around the kitchen, cranking some Ramones and that was life here.

Now the house is "fuller" with Angie and I together. We have all those things I did not years ago.  And we have Merry and Molly.

So, trying to blog with one eye and ear open to the house is distracting. Always listening for bumps and thumps, wondering what they are getting into, what they may trot into the kitchen with. And if they aren't elsewhere in the house, they are right here at the computer with me. I know Angie experiences these same "pains"... lack of a better word.

The photos below give you an idea of what it's like to blog with our 2 little girls.

Merry is a real lap cat especially come computer time.

Molly has an obsession with the computer screen and the moving cursor.

Molly catches the mouse, doesn't know what to do with it so she "sleeps on it". *wink wink*

I can deal with this scenario. I have to put a "stinky" work shirt on the desk and Merry will use it instead of my lap.

They love the computer chair so I wonder if the "let's bug the heck out of our human" is their clever way of getting the chair back?

Young cats are insane. I know we need to embrace their playfulness because before we know it, they will be just lazy old cats. But after a long day at work, the nuttiness can be a little too much, and too extended. A line from Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon sums it up perfectly...

So if you are ever wondering where that next blog of mine is, this may be why. A draft could be sitting here until I get the next peaceful moment.

November 20, 2015

Pigeon Pages Volume 1

For starts, happy 40th month to my pal Pierre! This week marked the mini-milestone.

We've had a few mornings together this week, even just before I started this blog he and the missus spent some quality time with me on this chilly November morning.

It seems his flock may have a new member as of this week, which is what this blog is about.

On Monday November 16th this bird made his first appearance to our backyard. I was scanning the back with my bins and he got my attention with how he was standing alone down by the shed, far from my regulars. Then as I zoomed in on him, I took notice to his leg bands.


Guelph...  is that where he's from?

I know leg bands on a Pigeon aren't all that thrilling to most people, but I do find it interesting, just to know where the bird came from. He's not the first banded Pigeon to come visit us over the years. About 2 years ago one came in from Quebec and spent 3 days with us. That bird never mingled with my buds, just did his thing, grazing anywhere the others were not. He would spend most of the day with us and when dusk came, he would fly off in the opposite direction of my buds. I managed to make contact with his owner, just to say "hey, your bird is hanging out here in my Toronto backyard". The guy really wasn't interested. I found that odd. For me, I'd be very interested, especially since that one was almost 600 km from home.

So now we have this one. I once again tried to make contact with his owner through the CRPU and also through their Facebook page. That was on Monday, it is now Friday, and no one has gotten back to me. I am not going to pursue this any further.

I've watched this bird every morning this week. He's gone from a loner...

to slowly mingling with my flock, feeding with them, and after a couple days he was flying in and out with them.

Blending in with the bunch but I see those bands.

Here he is with some of the "Helmets".  There's a small group that come in with others, but these birds have white on their heads, some more than others and we call them that.

Pierre joins the party.  This is rare because my boy doesn't like to hang out in the open space at the back.  He knows there are threats of Hawks especially as the weather gets colder. Can you spot Pierre? Hint... he's obviously a stand out bird with me.

Trying to make friends with Ollie?  I know Ollie by those legs of his, plus he's a very vocal bird, always going on about something during feeds.

Classy artsy fartsy shot of him in a tree.

I've had some discussions with others via social media about him, and with a co-worker as well who has over 100 birds of his own. For many in these racing clubs, the birds who don't come home, who get lost can pretty much stay lost. They aren't doing their job as winning these races and are useless. I don't mean to offend anyone who is a part of these clubs and thinks differently than this but so far no one has spoken up otherwise. I'm not the only one who has ever tried to connect one of these birds with it's "owner" and come up confused, frustrated and thinking "WTF?" Maybe these clubs get tired of the people contacting them about stray birds (hence not getting back to me)? My co-worker had one of his disappear on him and flew back home almost 3 months later. Oh the stories that bird could tell!

If he decides to stay, he is welcome here, both from myself and my wild flock. He will have a good life with us all as my buds know how to survive even without me feeding them almost daily. Pierre's absences for up to 2 weeks is proof of that. The Helmets were MIA for almost 2 months recently. I finally saw Petey this week after nearly 3 weeks and he's been in every day so far.

Petey and I a couple weeks back...

Some of you love Pigeons. Some of you have grown to acknowledge and even admire them through me, thanks to Pierre. They are very cool birds if you take the time out to watch them, no two are alike. They are living beings who feel just like us. Pierre has taught me that. I recently shared a Facebook memory from 2009, I wasn't embarrassed about it either, it shows I have grown as a person, and my friends all got a chuckle out of it... I am so happy that none of those annoying Pigeons are present in the backyard this morning True story!

If you'd like a read about life away from the animals, check out Angie's latest blog here.

It's Friday! Have a great weekend!

November 17, 2015

Every Picture Tells a Story...

I've not gotten out much lately, and I know the reasons why. I will blog about this soon. I could say it right now but it might take away from this blog.

As you can tell, I like to take photos. I'm not a pro. I'm not a die hard about it. I don't like to be called a photographer. It's not my purpose. The photos started way back in the early days of birding in order to help ID certain birds. Capturing them with the camera allowed me to take the image home, a secure image on a device compared to one in my memory that could easily distort over time until I got to a bird guide.

Every picture tells a story, captures a memory, and while most of mine I can think back to a place and timeline, some stand out a little more and allow me to share a story. I have a lot of such photos and hope to be able to share a moment with you from just one photo. I'd like to start with this one...

Here is a Sharp-shinned Hawk. I know I've blogged about her before. I named her Shirley. I don't really know if this Hawk is a female but I like "Shirley Sharpie".

Shirley showed up religiously every Fall for a few years. I knew it was her just by her actions. I've never seen such a bold Hawk before. She's fearless, even of me.

The morning I took this photo, she was really at it, giving hell to all my backyard creatures. She was a great hunter. For her to take out a Mourning Dove wasn't much of a problem. I'd seen her on a few over the years. Maybe to some that doesn't sound all that impressive, but Sharp-shins are a small species of Hawk, comparable to the size of a Blue Jay... and a Mourning Dove.

Mourning Doves range in weight of 96 to 170 grams. A Sharpie ranges from 87 to 218 grams. The overall length of a Mourning Dove ranges from 23 to 34 cm. A Sharpie ranges from 24 to 34 cm. The average wingspan of this species of Dove is about 45 cm. The average wingspan of this Hawk species can be from 43 to 56 cm. I got all this info from Cornell's site. So as you can see, these birds are rather equal in size and while the Dove is not a fighter, it's not small prey for this Hawk.

No Mourning Doves were to be seen on this day of the photo. All the Sparrows were in hiding. The Juncos had not arrived to our area yet for the cold season. The Jays were absent, who aren't afraid of Sharp-shinned Hawks. Angie and I have witnessed some pretty crazy battles between the two, sometimes lasting for well over an hour. The flight displays of the Hawk are something to witness!

The Pigeons, a much larger species of bird, did come in a few times that morning. The weight of a Pigeon ranges from about 265 to 380 grams. Remember the Hawk's (see above)? The funny thing is the Pigeons, despite being much heavier, still don't take chances with this type of Hawk around. The Pigeons flee for their lives at the first alarm call from any other bird.

The Pigeons would fly in, shit would hit the fan, and away they would go. A short bit later, some would return, soon after realizing things are still not safe and away they would go. Shirley would attack the Pigeons. Was she that hungry and desperate? Did she really have such a bold attitude and think she could take one down? Or did she not like these birds in her hunting grounds and was trying to get rid of them? I'm in favour of either of the last 2 suggestions.

One of the "flushing of the Pigeons" moments had her on their tails as they left the property. This one poor Pigeon didn't get the height it needed to go over the house next door and ended up striking the neighbour's upstairs bedroom window. I was outside watching this all. The bang of the bird on the window was so loud! I am surprised the window did not break.

I watched the Pigeon spiral to the ground, being stunned by the impact. Shirley took notice of this as well. She landed on this rail not too far off and watched. The Pigeon lay still for a few moments before finally rising. I could tell he was still stunned. He walked like he was intoxicated.

Something else got Shirley's attention and away she went.

I hopped over the fence to the yard next door and gathered up the Pigeon. He was stumbling up the side of the house and I did not want him wandering out to the street. I set him up on our deck, under the table, and put a towel over to give him a time out.

Whatever Shirley had gone after, got away from her. She now returned to the area and back on this rail. This when I took this photo. She's looking at me and everywhere else. Shirley, as I mentioned, is not afraid of people. She stood her ground there with me.

We both take notice to the Pigeon coming out from under the table on the deck. He had his bearings now, or mostly. He still seemed a little wobbly to me. He walked off the deck and fluttered to the ground. In the blink of an eye, Shirley rocketed from this perch and went after the Pigeon. I thought that was it for the bird. But he took flight. Shirley connected with him and they fought. She really tried to pin him. And he fought to get away. The Pigeon got some air and flew up over our little chain fence. Shirley was still on him. They fought like mad up between the houses. I am standing there watching in awe. I couldn't even raise my camera at the action. I was frozen!

The distance between our house and the one next door is probably about 8 feet (not much). I watched the birds duke it out and make their way out to the open space at the front of the houses. It reminded me of the old cartoons, watching some characters have a fight, and it's just a flurry of action, occasionally seeing a fist (or wing in this case). I swear they even bounced off the brick walls a couple times. In no time, they were out front and with the open space, the Pigeon got his break and away he went. Shirley gave chase until they crossed the street, then she backed off and returned to the backyard.

She spent the rest of the time sitting in a tree out back until I had to go to work.

I have a few stand out stories about this bird. I may share another some other time.

We have a Sharpie hitting the yard this year. Sometimes I think it's Shirley, other times not so. Bold one day, not so much others. I am certain Shirley did spend at least 3 winters with us.

I hope you enjoyed this tale. Back again soon!