Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

October 13, 2017

September Stuff

Good day!

First off, a shout out to Eva B, for the polite reminder that I haven't done a blog in about a month. Thanks!

Anyway, I had started a couple blogs the last few weeks but obviously they never came to light for others to see. I would get distracted and then that was it for them. I really am not a fan of starting one, dropping it for a few days and then re-visiting. In most cases, I pretty much end up redoing the whole thing.

So, I blogged about my birthday weekend. A couple weeks ago I turned 48. I stayed up the night coming into my birthday, toasted my turning another year older and here I am in my waking moments of my 48th year. Angie must think I'm a gem in the morning, eh?

I reflected on some of the past awesome animal birthday weekend adventures Angie and I got into. She sure surprised me a few times over the years. One of my most memorable was us having some alone time at the Muskoka Wildlife Centre. Yes, that is me next to an Eastern Grey Wolf.

I had no plans this time around. All I knew is that I wasn't going to work on my birthday, I never do. Someone asked me what I was going to do. I said "not much". They told me I should be glad I am seeing 48 because of that accident I had back in July could have played out much differently, meaning I could have ended up dead. I agree it could have been far worse, but it wasn't, so why even think about it in such a way months later? I don't dwell on the past even though I have scars to remind me of it daily.

My birthday this year was not anything out of the ordinary but it was a nice day with Angie and the animals. The weather was great. An Opossum came to visit which is a species I've not seen a lot of this year. He found the apple core I tossed into the yard.

A Raccoon also made an appearance.

Topper was here the morning of.

All my Pigeon pals came to visit. Well, all but Pierre. I was not expecting him that morning but certainly would have been more than pleasantly surprised if he did show up. Two months now since I last saw him. I still look out for him every day. But I have others in the flock to help along and look out for the best I can. Some mornings they can be a little demanding and a pain in the a$$, often having me not enjoy that first cup of coffee like I want to; but really I wouldn't trade it all in for anything.

Jersey has a lot of trust in me after almost 1 year of visiting.

We also visited The Owl Foundation for their annual open house. We missed last year's because of the ridiculously high humidity. So it was nice to go for a walk about the grounds again and see some old friends.

Saying "hello" to Big Bird, a Great Gray Owl, a very sleepy Owl I might add.

Here's a few of the Owls we saw during our tour of the grounds.

Barred Owl

Short-eared Owl

Young Snowy Owl

Then the next blog I had started working on but did not finish.

September 27th marked my third anniversary as an official volunteer with Toronto Wildlife. What a ride it has been. No year has been a repeat of the previous.

I've met a lot of wonderful people because of volunteering.

I keep a journal of all my goings on with the centre, be it bringing an animal in, taking some out for release, or the handful of grocery runs I have done. It's just for me, like a diary, and whenever I happen to look through the pages, some things are still quite vivid to this day while others have me wondering WTF? Rough numbers are I'm nearing 100 drives through the 3 years now. In my head, that really doesn't seem like a whole lot. I've brought in about 50 birds and animals. I have released 257 birds as of my anniversary date, most being migratory birds in the Autumn of each year. This is not bragging by any means. It's an interesting number. That's a lot of birds who were successfully rehabilitated after window collisions and other reasons for coming in. I'd like to add that there are far many more birds who make it out, released by staff and other volunteers. I'm not the only one who has had the pleasure of this task. So, Toronto Wildlife sure helps out a LOT of migratory birds every year! Big shout out to FLAP who finds many of them on our city streets.

I don't share much about my goings on these days. The releases are wonderful to do. Seeing all these birds go back to the wild world is great! But how often do people on social media need to see this? Once in a while, as a reminder that this is still happening in my life seems to be enough. I never want to come off as a braggart. Then the animals that come in, sometimes I know the background story and sometimes they aren't good stories. Well, any animal that needs help isn't a good story. Some injuries are light and treatable. Some, a humane ending to their suffering is the only thing for them. How many people want to tune into my social media pages and read about these things? On occasion, perhaps, but not steadily. There are varying opinions on wildlife rehab. I've had a few people say some pretty horrible things to me when it came to helping a Pigeon or a Goose, a Raccoon or a Skunk. "Waste of time and resources. Pests that should be exterminated." One guy said such things to me right outside the doors of TWC. His wife and kids were in the car with him, listening to the unkind things he said about helping an unwell Pigeon I had in a box. We live in a huge city, green spaces are condensed, and the animals are adapting to living among us... we need to do that as well, living among them. Many of the stories of the sick, injured or orphaned wildlife in our city is due to humans. Someone accidentally, or *gasp* purposely did something to an animal, and there is a place to help these poor beings after the fact.

Look at Rehab, our backyard visiting Pigeon pal. He got into some man made substance left out there somewhere in our area. Blog here. That should never have happened. Thank goodness for Toronto Wildlife helping him. He looks fantastic. And he is a very happy bird! Look at him in this photo. You can't tell me he's not loving life in the wild again.

Now I will post this photo of a Hawk release I did. That's a Cooper's Hawk going back home. As some question me looking out for the young Peregrine Falcons in June at Islington/Bloor, and loving my Pigeon friends at home. How can I help a Hawk species that loves to eat Pigeons? Simple. I don't discriminate. Most of my friends get it. That is why they are my friends.

For anyone interested, here is a list of the birds I have released.

White-throated Sparrow
House Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
Fox Sparrow
Song Sparrow

Dark-eyed Junco

Indigo Bunting

Cedar Waxwing

Brown Creeper

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Northern Flicker

Least Flycatcher

Blackburnian Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Black-throated Green
Black-throated Blue
Black & White
Northern Waterthrush

Gray Catbird

Red-eyed Vireo
Blue-headed Vireo

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch

Red-tailed Hawk
Cooper's Hawk

Peregrine Falcon

Great Horned Owl
Eastern Screech Owl

Black-billed Cuckoo
Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Mallard Duck

Canada Goose

Hermit Thrush
Wood Thrush
Swainson's Thrush
Gray-cheeked Thrush



House Finch

Black-capped Chickadee

Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Baltimore Oriole

Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove

European Starling

If you know your birds, you can probably tell which species most likely came from FLAP. If you ever want to send them some $ LOVE $, click here. Or if Toronto Wildlife warms your heart, here is their link, it does not have to be money, check out their wish list.

Now before I end this blog, I'd like to touch upon these releases just a little bit more. It's not simply picking up the birds and taking them to your backyard or favorite park. Autumn migratory birds need to get down to the shores of Lake Ontario, west of Toronto. Year round resident birds like Cardinals and Pigeons must go back to where they came from, that is their home (territory). Waxwings and Goldfinches normally have to go with a flock, since they are nomadic birds. Often it is young Waxwings and Goldfinches we work hard at to find them a flock to join. We also put the word out to friends to keep their eyes and ears open for these species when out. Ebird can be of help in finding these birds.

I recently had a moment of panic when I found a flock of approximately 10 Goldfinches, and they were in this area for over a week already. The next morning I arrive with a young one to join them and found myself struggling to find them again. I jumped right into worry mode, playing out worst case scenarios, which isn't always good, but in another is helpful that I am two steps ahead and already working on plan B. I did find the flock after some hard searching and all the worry quickly disappeared. These are wild birds, they don't follow any rules. You just never know what can happen in a short span of time. It's better to have as recent of a species sighting and go with it than driving around with the bird, hitting various spots looking/hoping for a flock.

When the shout out comes for a bird release, and I can do it, I will. I don't ask how many. I don't ask what the species are. When I hit my personal mini-milestones, I do have an interest in the species I am driving, but that's it. With the migrants, sometimes I know the species before leaving the centre, other times I try to ID them as they go free.

Like, here is my 250th bird release. A Black-throated Blue Warbler. He rocketed out of the paper bag and disappeared into the foliage of a nearby tree. I relocated him for a photo after the others were free that I brought down to the park.

I list the species I have released but I don't hope and wish for a new species to add. I've driven the miles for one bird, I've driven the miles for ten birds. It's all the same. Sure the more the merrier, but whatever. An average release road trip is close to 50 kms. That's going to the centre, then driving the birds to the lake. This is usually an hour out of my day. Suddenly the idea isn't as appealing to some. Someone once squawked at me for taking so many of these drives on in the fall until they learned what really goes on. Their exact words "I can't do that!" reason being because of travel and time to go to these west of the city lake parks.

This may deter some too... I was releasing some birds in September at a certain park that has had a reputation for being a cruise area for gay men. There was a big bust at the park in the fall of 2016 and over 80 men faced charges or got a warning along with some embarrassment because of their escapades. The park seemed to be quiet and void of the antics of these men since. I drove some birds to the park for release and as I let a Thrush free, I saw a man walking towards me from a side path. He was about 20 ft away when he stopped. He looked at me and then flashed me his "package" by pulling his shorts up on the one leg and to the side. I recon the look on my face was enough for him to realize I was not interested and he quickly disappeared. I said it before and I will say it again, "I like seeing Woodcocks, not man-cocks!" This is not a homophobic statement. What two consenting adults do behind closed doors is their business. Please keep it out of the public parks. No matter what your sexual preference is. The litter of condom wrappers and used condoms left on the ground is disgusting.

Another deterrent is the never knowing what you may run into when driving. Shit happens on the roads all the time! Construction which is never ending, then there's the accidents. This is from a recent drive I did for an injured Gull. It took me over 20 minutes to get past this one vehicle accident where the person drove into the centre light post at the intersection of Islington and Dixon.

I don't have the luxury of ample free time, having a work schedule to stick to, and when a negative surprise like this occurs. Argh!

I always breathe a sigh of relief when I finally get to the centre. Seeing the rescue van is like the light at the end of the tunnel.

Or on the other end, getting a little bird back on track, helping it get a 2nd chance at a wild life is worth whatever hiccups I faced during the drive.

Black-throated Green Warbler making some eye contact with me after being released. Moments later he flew to a nearby tree and went back to business as usual, being a bouncy little bird, catching all the insects he could.

Helping any animal is great for them, and I've probably mentioned this before... it's great for me too. It does wonders for my soul. For a moment I forget about life struggles, work does not exist, nor anything terrible making the current headlines in the news.

Well, time to end this. Be back soon with who knows what about. As long as it's about something furry or feathered, slimy or scaly. Right?

Here's my wife Angie's latest blog about her September if anyone is interested.

October 8, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

Blog in progress.

Just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving long weekend! Well, those in Canada anyway. Enjoy it how you choose to spend it and with whoever you like.

Cheers from me... and all the animals!

September 6, 2017

Meet Topper

I returned to work yesterday (Sept 05) and it will probably take me a bit of time to adjust to the "back to the routine" gig. I woke up much too early this morning just because that's what I've been doing during my time off. It was nice to see our backyard Skunk though with me getting up so early. Angie has named him "Topper" and you can see why...

There's not a lot of white fur on him, just a patch on his head that runs into his shoulders and then a bit on the tip of his tail.

Topper has been sleeping under our shed most days. We are okay with that. We hope he spends much of his life here in the backyard with us and stays away from the roads.

Watching him morning and evening the last few weeks, I can see his routines. He knows where to look for food out back, finding stuff under the bird feeders, but also he's made some pretty big holes in the lawn too. Once again, we are okay with that. Angie and I would rather have a lived in backyard, enjoyed by the wildlife, than a well manicured lawn that you cringe whenever a dandelion pops up or a Skunk digs a hole in. We get joy from the wildlife. We don't need the stress of worrying about perfect grass.

One morning while snapping some photos of him, this happened.

Of course it gave me the idea of a potential photo op another morning.

Part of Topper's routine is to sniff out our deck steps. We have a suet feeder above the steps and sometimes pieces of the suet fall down when the Downy Woodpeckers are hammering away at it. Topper cleans it up.

I also occasionally feed some of my Pigeon buds there and they throw stuff around, which Topper is also finding. As you might notice in one of the first photos, the Pigeons don't really know what to make of him.

This morning I set out the measuring tape to try and give people an idea on his size. He's quite small in my opinion.

I know I've mentioned it recently with the young Skunks we have been seeing... I'd like to believe they are the young ones of that poor mother Skunk I tried to help back in July. You may recall she could not be saved because her injuries were too severe. But she was given peace, an end to her suffering. It was the humane thing to do. It's nice to believe that we are now helping her young, more so one of them by letting him claim our backyard as his territory (not a lot of people would allow that to happen with a Skunk). Without any proof either way, nothing wrong with thinking this way; is there?

He loves our fountain.

Topper is not habituated by any means. I have a decent camera with some long lenses that allow me to pull him right in through photos. The key is to remain quiet and still, let him roam around and do his thing. If he wanders too close, I make him aware I am there. I find with the Skunks is that when they are busy looking for food they are rather oblivious to everything else. They let their noses do the work, face to the ground, and don't look up a whole lot. So there are times when suddenly Topper is coming right at me. I don't need to be drastic, just slide my foot along the ground seems to work better than a light cough, clearing of my throat, or a "psst" noise. Once he's aware, he looks right at me, sometimes the fur flares, the tail goes up and he freezes; other times he immediately backs off and goes another way. It's when the fur flaring tail popping moment happens that I don't do anything else in the moment. Would he spray? Why spook him any further to find out? Moments later he calms down and goes elsewhere away from me.

I'm no expert on these animals. I just use common sense although some people think I'm off my rocker enjoying the sights of them out back. What's not to love? They are omnivores, which means they eat both plant matter and animals including mice and rats. Toronto had quite the rat issue in 2016, hundreds of complaints from all over the city. If they promoted the benefits of Skunks in our community, people might have a little more appreciation for them.

Skunks can be a carrier of rabies, here is a list of reported cases in Ontario from past years. But who is out there trying to touch one? Certainly not me. The not wanting to get sprayed factor keeps me well enough away. There's risk in messing with any wildlife be it viruses or just plain ol' blood shed. I don't like to use the word "rabies" with any animal. Rabies spreads fear and misunderstanding. It justifies some people to harm these animals. Just enjoy them. Don't f**k with them. But enough about that, you get what I'm saying and what I'm about with our local wildlife.

We will enjoy Topper for as long as he stays with us. Naming him has added an emotional attachment but even all we don't name, we still have a love for them. He is here. He has made our backyard all the more special. And I hope to share more about his life in our backyard in another blog.

August 23, 2017

Still Recovering, This and That

Good day! Yes, I am still recovering. I am still at home. I'm on the mend, no doubting that, and before I know it life should be back to normal, going to work and always looking forward to the end of the day and coming home. Sure there's a bright side to being hurt in the Summer; but when you deal with pain, sleep loss due to the pain, loss of abilities to do things you enjoy, unable to properly take care of your home as you normally would, and there are some financial set backs... personally, I would much rather take full health and going to work, appreciating my time off come the weekend. Don't get me wrong, having Angie pick up my slack has been awesome. We're testing that old "through sickness and health" bit.

Here's some of this and that from the last couple weeks while I'm still recovering.

First, Pierre is still missing. We are nearing 3 weeks since I last saw "my boy". He was here all that week, and the week before. I don't mark every day, just when I notice he's not come in for a few days, and then mark the last day I saw him.

I won't give up hope on his return but things are different this time with his disappearance. Seeing his missus daily, numerous times some days, and she's had another suitor following her in on occasion. That is something new and I am not happy about. I know there's not a thing I can do about it but it doesn't mean I have to like it.

Crappy photo of the missus (behind) and her new friend up front. I've been photographing at night and some mornings I forget to switch all my settings back like auto-focus.

Come to think of it as I key this, he's not been around here for about a week now either. Even her coming alone day after day is unsettling to me and makes me think the worst case scenario. A reality, one day, I know will happen, that Pierre won't be coming back. He has disappeared for over 50 days in the past so let's not give up hope despite what my gut is telling me.

No regrets for the hundreds of selfies with Pierre over the last 5 years.

To many he may be "just a Pigeon" but to bond with any animal is a privilege and a blessing. They are genuine. May I repeat what I tell people these days "You will always know where you stand with a Pigeon" and of course any animal for that matter.

Jersey also has a male suitor now. The brute that has been following her around the last number of weeks. I still don't get his aggression to peck her on the back of the head like he does. He is very rough. Then I catch them in smooching moments and, uh, other physical *stuff* as you can see here.

You can see he's quite a hulk of a Pigeon compared to her.

No need for commentary with the following photos.

Jersey's sibling, formerly known as Jersey 2, but now nick named "Rehab" is doing well. I miss seeing them together. I always knew they weren't a couple, but it was great to occasionally think otherwise, and just seeing them side by side all the time. The most visually unique birds we've got visiting.

The good old days.

They still occasionally arrive at the same time. It's hit or miss if they are going to sit together. But that's okay. She was here the day he returned to the wild and I do believe she helped him with that transition period in the first days being back home.

A few days ago (that's the brute above).

Rehab is doing fine without his sister. He's been strutting cock among the other birds, probably looking for a mate as well. I actually have another cool story about Rehab for another blog. It certainly adds to his life here with us.

Of course as I key this, I look outside to find The Jerseys hanging out together. That's a rare thing! And they brought in a few others who I am certain come from the same lineage.

This was actually over a week ago now. I let the blog slide to the side.

Here's Rehab last week. He is loving the dog days of Summer!

I recently had a couple adventures helping a few birds.

First off, friends of mine had a Canary in their backyard. They live up the street from me. My bud John was texting me about the bird when it first showed up. I asked him if he was going to try and catch it. He said they had nothing to contain it. We keep a spare bird cage here at home because of all the escapees we come across. I told him he could borrow it. John showed up minutes later and picked up the cage. He quickly set it up in his yard and less than an hour later they had the bird inside.

Now to try and find the owner. I told him I would do what I could from home on the computer. I shared a photo of the bird on a few community Facebook pages. Then I put one on a Toronto lost and found pet page. John posted on some other pages. We waited through the coming weekend and no one claimed it. As much as John and Zeny thought having a Canary would be cool, they knew it would probably be better suited in another home... hopefully free of cats (they have one), and possibly placed with other birds.

I tell ya I haven't had this much "internet frustration" dealing with people as I did trying to help that bird. It all stemmed from the lost and found pet page. So many people argued it was a Goldfinch. Some even argued that Toronto has flocks of wild Canarys! A few people tried to make me feel pretty shitty about us catching this bird, that we need to do the right thing and set it free. One woman was basically begging that I let the poor thing go. Some stated that because the bird was not banded, that it was not a domestic. It took a lot for me to not lose my shit on these people. I grew tired of arguing back with the truth. People commented without reading back through the older comments. A few took my side, confirming it was a Canary, it was a pet bird, etc. Some offered to take it if we didn't find it's owner. I started to weed through these people, trying to determine who would hopefully be the best caregiver to the bird. That in turn became another cluster fuck. Yes, the f-bomb is necessary due to further frustration trying to help this bird. One person would only take it if we could confirm it was a male (they did not want a female because they don't sing). Another told me a golden tale of having 3 birds and would gladly bring it home. We chatted back and forth. They seemed like the best candidate overall and I set up the arrangements for them to contact John because they wanted to pick up the bird the very next day. All that wasted time with the back and forth emails as the person never came through in the end. They never contacted John. And they didn't have the courage to tell me they were backing out. Stuff like this really makes me lose my faith in a lot of people. It makes me more skeptical with the next time something like this should ever happen.

I saw this posted somewhere and it seems suiting for what I had to endure with those people on that page.

I contacted a friend of ours, Chris, who lives out in the east end. She volunteers much like I do, even more so with other places, and has resources to more people willing to help animals in need. Luck have it, she found someone who quickly said they would take the bird in, but would also continue to monitor lost bird posts. They have lots of experience in caring for birds. They already have a couple Canarys so this bird would not be alone. And get this, they contacted John, they set up a time to come get the bird, and they followed through exactly as promised. Amazing!

It's funny that Chris and I have gone back and forth with helping each other help creatures the last few years. She took in a Budgie I helped catch. I took in an abandoned Tarantula she was trying to help place. Now she helped me place this Canary. While I may have lost faith in strangers, I have not lost faith in people I know.

And as a "thank you" gift, look what John brought over to me, as a token of appreciation from him and Zeny for helping them with this bird! As I key this, it is Wednesday, so take a guess at what I'm going to enjoy this evening.

Continuing with helping birds, here is another...

Someone found a box along Dundas Street just north of Islington subway. Within the box was 2 very young Pigeons. What a cruel heartless act someone did by removing them from their nest, probably on their balcony, and just dumping them like this. That's the only thing that really makes any sense.

I picked up the birds and transported them to Toronto Wildlife (recently got permission from my doctor to start doing more including getting behind the wheel for local driving). Sadly, one of the birds died on route. The other was non-stop crying (begging) as it was starving. We can only hope he will make it.

Whoever did this could have avoided the trouble by ensuring no birds were making a nest on their balcony.

The survivor, last I heard anyway was still alive.

It was my most heart breaking drive in to date.

It's still mostly life at home with a couple brief walks to some very close parks. The Skunks are a treat to see, occasionally spotting one (or two) with first or last light of the day. It's makes for better viewing but with a constantly moving Skunk in dim light, I realize my camera lacks the capabilities. I may get 5 clear shots out of 100. Oh well, still a joy to watch and a great distraction for me.

We were surprised to see a rather portly adult coming around now. I'd almost think it was pregnant by how round her mid-section is. Here is a one minute video of this beauty.

Then there's the young ones.

We've got holes all through the garden and about the lawn. We are okay with that.

The Pigeons and other morning visitors are confused about this new animal appearing.

From yesterday morning, two of them wandered about shortly after 7 am and disappeared down back by 8, possibly under our shed. We are okay with that too!

Then there's the 3 young Raccoons. I do believe something has happened to their mother as I've not seen her in a few weeks now. The kids are doing well but I worry about how they are acting without adult supervision. They know well enough to sleep all day. It's just their antics at night are a little brazen, or dumb.

"Talk to the paw Rob!"

Looking guilty down there.

No fear of the Skunks. It's like they watch the Skunks dig around for food, and then they try to push the Skunk out and steal the food.

Waiting for the rain to end one evening last week.

Their mother lived in the garage roof near our shed for a couple years but moved out this Spring, which was good, because the neighbours finally had the roof repaired. She was a great mother Raccoon and kept her young in line.

Here she is, May 2016, sleeping on top of the roof, right by the entrance.

I've seen less and less of the kids in the last 10 days or so. Hopefully they didn't go and get themselves killed. Maybe they had enough of being sprayed by the Skunks and are staying clear of here?

Back to day time fun and distractions out back...

Cross Orbweaver Spider

The Betrothed Moth

Jumping Spider (older photo, saw one recently but it got away on me)

Our cats are always entertaining. Merry is a great side-kick, enjoying just sitting in the chair and watching the world go by.

She's normally the better behaved of the two but recently she got into a bit of mischief in the kitchen while I went downstairs for something. I swear she's saying "What? It wasn't me. It was Molly!"

Molly got some leash time which doesn't happen too often. She's not big on the leash/harness but she did good with this outing.

Last bits...


Here's my arm almost 5 weeks after the accident. I guess those scars are here to stay. I am still dealing with a fair amount of discomfort in the midsection, not constantly, just odd moments, depending on what I am doing. So it's nothing like the first couple weeks. I hear broken ribs take a long time to heal. I've got 2 to mend. Oh goody!

I can't say I really like this blog all that much. I love a lot about it but it's a bit of a mess, isn't it? I don't even know how to end it besides griping about my not liking it. I know starting a blog, then working on it a week later, is not what I like to do. What I initially want to go with changes with the days passing and my moods as well. No I'm not overly moody but how I feel today is very different than how I felt the day I started this. Plus cramming so much in here, when I could have done a few smaller blogs. Oh well. Hopefully some of you have stuck with me to the end here.

Okay, time to shut up now.

Back soon.