Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

December 16, 2012

If Ya Can't Beat Them, Feed Them!

Not everyone who feeds the birds likes the Squirrels.  What can ya do about it?  Don't take the title of this blog in the wrong sense, as in "beating" is not a physical act at all...  just they aren't going anywhere.  The backyard is their home, ours is inside.  So instead of going crazy trying to keep them out of your feeders; might as well enjoy their antics and set things up out back for them to eat and play with, and be entertained in the process.

We purchased a bungee corn cob feeder from our local Wild Birds Unlimited store and it's been a blast!  I'm sure one could easily be made at home but if you are like me, not so MacGyver-like, this is the next best thing.  If memory serves me correct, the feeder is under $10 and corn cobs are $0.40 each.  We give them one a day, sometimes 2 on the weekends, and enjoy the show.  Sure some still attempt the other feeders, but most do get preoccupied with this one.

My favorite shot out of any I've ever taken. 

I haven't seen a pole act like this since my days of hanging out in the Manhattan Strip back in the early 90's!  Haha! 

The race is on as to who will get there first.

The feeder bounces up and down, swings back and forth, and they hang on.  Hilarious!

Some really seem to enjoy the corn more than others as you can see.

I believe they are all grateful for the offerings as winter nears.

Thanks for viewing!  Comments are appreciated but not expected.  :)


December 2, 2012

Tis The Season to be Owly!

Sorry for my absence here, just been busy with this and that, and not really in the mood for a blog. I guess with Angie and I suddenly planning on getting married a couple weeks ago and having probably the smallest shortest ceremony in Toronto's history this past Friday November 30th had a lot to do with it. We sure surprised the heck out of a lot of our friends! Did I just surprise you?

Been birding at home a fair amount since "Project Feeder Watch" started for me a couple weeks ago. Yesterday we had approximately 91 European Starlings here. It was freakin' insane! All I needed was one Hawk to make an appearance to clear out that mob of piggish birds; but one did not come. And today during my count, not a single Starling was to be seen. What's up with that?

A pair of Red-breasted Nuthatch's visit daily, small flock of Goldfinch and occasionally one lone Pine Siskin joins their numbers. Blue Jays, Cardinals, Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers add to the counts as well. Juncos are sporadic as is a Mourning Dove. Pigeons and House Sparrows arrive in double digits these days and once again I sometimes wish for a predator to disperse the crowds.

But home isn't always enough and I still venture out about about the GTA once a week. The highlights away from home have been the Owls. This is their season. I am enjoying the sightings and doing my best to not stress over them.  Anyone who has followed my blog knows I worry about these creatures and the interference caused by selfish photographers.

 Sightings so far have included Barred Owl.

Northern Saw-whet.

Eastern Screech.

I anticipate more sightings in the coming months. And am really looking forward to some Long-eared Owls hopefully soon. That is probably my favorite species of Owl to visit the GTA in the winter months. The fact they colonize is pretty cool to me. And that they are incredibly difficult to spot most times makes it a fun challenge to hopefully see one on a walk. I was blessed last winter with one LEO being seen usually once a month from December to March. He earned the nickname "Blinky" due to my YouTube video of him.

Christmas is rapidly approaching and apologies in advance to those who enjoy my blog may not see too many more entries from me in the coming weeks.  Tis the season to be social.  But also "tis the season to be Owly!"


November 3, 2012

What's Up with this Sharpie?

The past couple Autumns, we've had a Sharp-shinned Hawk show up in the backyard looking for some meals being our song birds.

Not sure what it is, but we get some real characters with some of the wildlife that visits us. Look at Pierre, the prime example! And this Hawk is very different than any other Hawk I've ever encountered in my days (so far).

Let's go back to my first notice of this guy in the fall of 2011...

I am out back one mild October morning, raking the leaves. I have Meadow outside with me on her leash/harness and she's doing her thing, smelling everything, watching the birds and Squirrels, etc. I catch out of the corner of my eye, a small Hawk swoop down on Meadow from the trees behind the house. I just froze as I watched him come down at her, talons out, like he was ready to "take her down". Last second, the Hawk veers up over Meadow and lands in the neighbour's yard. Meadow was completely oblivious to what was going on as she was looking the other way. He then does a turn around and begins to "chirp" at Meadow, staring her down. Now he has Meadow's attention. And Meadow being a cat, the Hawk a bird, Meadow is now all bug eyed with excitement looking at this Hawk. The Hawk then takes another shot at Meadow, and silly me, is still standing in the same spot watching this again. I guess I was in awe and shock. Never did I think of the consequences if this Hawk and Meadow made a connection. He couldn't kill her, he's far too small of a Hawk species, being a tad larger than a Blue Jay. But those talons could really do a number on her. And on the other end, if Meadow caught him, she'd do some damage to him in return but would probably face his talons during the action.

So the Hawk comes down on her again, and same as last time, he veers up last second. And from there, he comes to a branch not far above my head and starts "chirping" at me. Now Hawks really don't chirp but that is how I can best describe the sounds that were coming from him.

I know he wasn't trying to make a meal of Meadow but he really wanted her out of his hunting ground, plain and simple. I took the hint, not wanting them to connect in any physical way, and put Meadow inside. The Hawk remained outside while I worked in the yard. He sat and preened and watched the world around him.

He spent a good part of the winter out back. Not everyday but often enough. I only ever saw him with one take down, being a Mourning Dove. Obviously he got more than just that Dove. He would have starved to death for one. And would surely have moved on if the hunting was that unsuccessful. He came up a number of times as I browsed my final data report sheets for "Project Feeder Watch".

And just like clockwork he has made a return. No interacting with Meadow so far (weather hasn't been favorable for our Princess). But he and I have spent a number of moments together out back in the past week. Nothing shy about this guy and me. He sits in the trees and does his thing, paying little attention to me. The other day he swooped down after some Sparrows while I was out there, and then landed on the "Outhouse" birdhouse which was maybe 10 feet from where I was standing. I had my camera but he was too close for a shot.

Another day, he's out in the tree for quite some time. And eventually the birds started coming around again, forgetting he was there, thinking he left perhaps. And in came the Pigeons too. He made a slight move and everyone got spooked and hightailed it out of there. All the little birds took quick cover in the cedars and I watched the Pigeons race up over the house next door. One miscalculated and crashed right into their second floor bedroom window. What a sound that was! And I watched the bird spiral down to the ground, hitting it hard. The Hawk had flown to another tree, still looking for the smaller birds. Pigeons are too big for a Sharp-shin really.

I watched the Pigeon briefly. He was quite stunned. He stumbled around a bit, and reminded me of the Coyote in the Roadrunner cartoons after one of his traps backfires on him. He was just that wobbly. He stumbled up the path between the houses. I ran around front and watched him as he kept going towards the street. I should have video'd him, he appeared drunk. I scooped him up and brought him to the back again, putting him under the table on the deck to hide out and get his bearings. Seems he figured that one out and sat for a number of minutes. After which, he strolls out on the deck, and makes a short flight to the grass behind the house. By this time, the Hawk, who is in front of me is now taking notice to this Pigeon. And he goes for it! I caught this with the camera as he did.

The Pigeon has had enough time to clear his head since the impact some minutes earlier; but the Hawk is on top of him now. And there is a brief but violent thrashing fight between these two birds. The Hawk is trying to take this Pigeon down! And the Pigeon is struggling to get away. I figure with his size actually working for him here, the Pigeon does get away, not before the two end up between the houses, still fighting a bit longer.

The Hawk returns to the tree above the swing. He "chirps" at me a bit and then goes back to the business of watching out for his next opportunity with something else feathery.

A few days later, with sightings in between; I get up late one morning, have a look out back as I normally do when the coffee is on, and I can see him way at the back eating something. Of course I step outside to investigate. With the bigger Hawks, I make it a rule to leave them be outside, undisturbed, while they eat. Why? One day curiosity got the best of me and I went for a closer look and hopefully get a photo with the point/shoot camera; and spooked the Hawk (Red-tailed), having it fly away and leaving it's kill on the ground and did not come back for it after I went inside. I felt really bad about that. The hungry Hawk expelled this energy on a cold winter's day, got a meal in way of killing another living creature and in the end the Hawk did not eat, and the other animal's death in turn was a waste. So, after that, I leave them be, and try to capture whatever I can from the kitchen window and maybe sneaking up the side of the house for a cleaner shot when they have just about finished consuming their prey. But this little Sharpie, seems I don't need to worry about such things. And this day, he proved it to me.

He flew right up over my head, parading his kill! I am not entirely sure what this is, but most certain it's a bird.

This shot, notice the bird's foot sticking out of his mouth?

I was convinced this bird is a Downy Woodpecker just by the black and white feathers, the pattern seemed to be that of what I see on a Woodpecker's back. But a new "birding" friend Angie and I have made pointed out the toes on this foot do not match those of a Downy Woodpecker. And in her exact words, hope you don't mind this Kellie...

"Yanno, I've been thinking of 'the foot photo', and it just doesn't seem right for a Downy Woodpecker. They have a zygodactyl toe arrangement (two toes to the front, two toes to the rear), but the photo shows an anisodactyl arrangement (three toes to the front, one toe to the rear). Also, it doesn't look like it's the right colour. I think a Downy's foot is dark with greyish scaling, but the foot in your photo appeared solid black. Just some thoughts.. chickadees have black feet and are anisodactyl. What others species are visiting your feeders that have black feet?"

All I could do was run off a list of the birds that have been around the past week as I have never paid attention to such a detail on them. And she then overwhelmed and impressed me with this information...

"Well, I have to say that I pay particular attention to bird feet, legs, etc., because of being owned by a parrot. Leg and foot colour is one way to tell approximate age in some species. All parrots show zygodactyly as an adaptation to life as climbers. Your budgies should actually show zygodactyly, too, since they're in the parrot family. It especially bothered me in "Rio" that they got the toes so horribly wrong, just because the movie had gotten so much of the other parrot behaviour fairly spot-on... anyway, I digress. Woodpeckers are about the only non-parrots that show this. Some owls can shift a toe back and forth from aniso to zygo, and I have read in some old books that Rough-legged Hawks can do the same, due to their relatively weak and small feet, but that's about it. It might explain why I love woodpeckers so much, too...
Let's see... juncos have pink legs and feet. Grackles: black legs/feet, but no white feathers. House Sparrows: not sure on legs/feet colour, but wrong feather colour. House Finches: ditto. Blue Jay: I think you'd notice some blue feathers, though they do have black legs/feet. Cardinal: again, I think you'd notice more red or brown, and they don't have any white feathers. Starling: black legs/feet, not enough white in the feathers. Chickadees: have a lot of white plus grey-ish down, and some black feathers on the back and head, plus black legs/feet. Red nutty: grey to black feet/legs, but I don't think there's enough white feathers. Pine Siskin: grey legs/feet. Dove: bright pink feet. Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers: dark grey feet/legs, with plenty of black and white feathers. Hmm... not sure if this helps! I'm still thinking chickadee, although I could be wrong! Those toes just really got me thinking... Thanks for the nice compliment, btw. :D"

Its great for us to be meeting more people in the "birding" world now. We all can learn from each other. And she's given me something to think about when viewing birds, not just looking at their plumage if I have the opportunity. I know I will be looking more closely at the visiting Woodpeckers here.

So, maybe it is a Chickadee he got? Bugs me a bit since it may be one of the ones that was born here out of the few nests they had. But a Hawk must eat too! I only wish he'd pick off the numerous Sparrows and Starlings instead of the less numbered special birds we have visiting.

After his meal, he gave me a bit of a show on cleaning up after lunch.

He's around almost daily. And it's spectacular to watch him on the hunt. Such agility! Even days I don't see him, it's easy to know he's out there by the inactivity at the feeders and not needing to fill them again during the day.

As I putter about, he just sits wherever and does his thing...

Its been a really bad week as we've had steady cloud cover and lots of rain with that slow moving "Sandy" storm. Taking pics out back has been a challenge. This shot is blown to hell but looks kinda cool anyways.

I hope you enjoyed this blog, as long as it was, with the stories I shared. I know my friends sure do when I tell them.

See yas next time!

November 1, 2012

Meanwhile in the Other Cage... it's a Boy... Again

So, during the last few weeks while aiding Misfit (see here)...  it seems things were going on in Moonie's cage too!  His cere has started turning blue...  again.

As most are aware, we caught him in the backyard just like Misfit.  We knew he was really young but never knew his sex.  Deciding to clip his wings during the first while, helping him to not hurt himself, as he and we adjust to the new living arrangements; the pet place insisted Moonie was a girl.  I have to admit I was a little disappointed.  Lotsa females in this household is the joke but knowing how much easier going male Budgies are, the fact they can be trained, were my reasons.

January of this year, his cere turned slightly blue.  And I announced to the world "It's a boy!"  March comes around, I take him for another wing clipping, and they still said "no, it's a girl".  Moonie's cere had turned brown again by this time.

My mom simply put it this way, "it's still the same bird whether it's a boy or a girl".  That made sense.  And Angie followed it with "Moonie is a boy until the day he lays an egg".  These helped me put it all back into place once again, yes, Moonie is a boy.

His attitude is so different than Misfit's.  He's a far gentler bird.  It's also easy to see he is a far simpler bird too.  Can we blame it on his youth?  Maybe the fact that he didn't live outside for four months and is not as worldly experienced as Misfit?  He did not have to fight Blue Jays many times a week because he did not fit in.  He did not face some severe thunderstorms.  He did not have to sleep in a tree.  But overall, just something about him and his personality still lead me to truly believe he's a boy.

And now, in the past week, his cere is turning more blue now than it was showing back in January.

Ah, nothing like a little more mystery added to this little bird besides the obvious "I wonder where you came from? What's your story?"

I think I even pin-pointed Moonie's exact time of this transformation, capturing that moment with the camera...

Haha! Sure looks like that could be when, eh?

Whatever the case, he's our little boy, and we love him and his goofy antics. The world is shiny and bright to Moonie. And sometimes it's healthy for the soul to sit back and watch him with that happy outlook he seems to have.

Moonie still adores Misfit more than life itself.

Misfit still isn't moved by his admiration for her.

I think this captures the personality of him.

Thanks for giving this blog a browse.

October 30, 2012

Amherst Trip, Nov. 17, 2012

I know a few of my friends have been talking about taking a trip to Amherst Island one of these seasons but just haven't gotten around to it yet.

Well, here's a great opportunity coming up on Nov. 17, 2012, and an affordable one at that; from Authentic Canadian Tours! At $75 you cannot go wrong.

$75!  I can hear some squawking, but also some eyebrows raising too.  For me, that's incredibly reasonable.  Think about the cost of gas as an example.  Amherst is approximately 3 hours east of Toronto at a distance of approximately 260 kms.  And that is one way.

Another reason for me is I love the fact I can drive to the York Mills subway station, park my vehicle and hop on the bus that takes us to Amherst.  Driving can be exhausting, and especially if you don't exactly know where you are going.  Leave it up to the tour company to get you there and just relax, enjoy the view out the window from your seat.  Have a snooze even due to the early start.  And with a stop off at Tim Hortons along the way, enjoy your coffee and hot breakfast without worries of losing time sitting in the restaurant or fumbling with your meal at the wheel.

And lastly, Murray Shields, the founder of this company is an excellent host.  He does his best to ensure every one of his guests is enjoying their day out with him.  And it's just that, he doesn't treat people as customers...  you are like a guest to him.

Anyways, these are my biggest reasons for using Authentic Canadian Tours for such long distance nature trips. 

Angie and I have been on a number of trips with A.C.T. now.  And we've made a number of friends through the tours too.  Always nice to be out with a bunch of people who share a common passion for the natural world outside our door.

On this tour, there is an agenda to get the experience of what Amherst is all about and please click on this link here to see.

I hope you clicked on the link as now I am about to lightly touch upon a couple of the spots.

The radio station is a wonderful visit.  The people who run it are awesome.  It is the smallest radio station in Canada and it sits on a dairy farm.  I've never been in a radio station before; so to visit the smallest one in our country was pretty cool and unique.

The museum is interesting, get some history on the island, view old photos and artifacts.  There usually are some handmade local crafts available for purchase.  Someone bought a lovely Great Blue Heron painting on one of our trips.  Angie and I purchased a one of a kind bird house.

As you travel the island, be on the look out for wildlife.  We had the pleasure of seeing a few Snowy Owls on our trip in January of this year.  And around this time last year, being our first trip to Amherst we were fortunate to see a Northern Saw-whet Owl, a Long-eared Owl and a Short-eared Owl in the famous "Owl Woods".  A lot of Rough-legged Hawks may be seen along the roads too.  Even as we entered Owl Woods, it was easy enough to get side-tracked by the welcoming mob of Black-capped Chickadees greeting us along the first stretch of the trail.  Just put out your hand with some seed in it and seconds later you have a Chickadee or two in your palm as well.  Who wouldn't love that?

If Angie and I didn't already have previous plans, we'd be on this trip once again.  But I thought I would put this out there to all my debating friends.  It's worth it to go for the experience to this small island in eastern Ontario with Authentic Canadian Tours.

Angie did some wonderful blogs from our previous trips there.  Check 'em out here and here.  And if you are on Facebook, please visit A.T.C.'s page here.

October 19, 2012

Send Misfit Some Love

Last Thursday we had a mishap here at home.  Seems Misfit, our senior Budgie (backyard rescue) was on the verge of laying an egg.  This was nothing new, she's had some wicked spells in the past of steady egg laying; the worst being the late Winter/early Spring of 2011 where she layed approximately 24 in about 4 months.  So, I had little concern for what was going on.

A couple of Misfit's eggs from 2011.

About 20 minutes after my first notice of the goings on, Moonie suddenly let out some very loud God awful screeches, which had me race to the birds' cages to see what was wrong.  Moonie was fine, other than obviously upset.  But Misfit was far from alright.  The egg she was passing had broke and one half was at the bottom of the cage, while the other was still stuck inside her.  She was scurrying up and down the bars of her cage, trying to wiggle it out.  Even worse was the blood I noticed on the broken shell bits and one perch.

Its kind of a blur after that, I know I must'a done some weird bouncy stress dance, going in circles for a few minutes until I pulled myself together to deal with this.  First thing, call the vet.  Unfortunately we don't like the only avian vet we know of in our area.  We took Misfit there once, after her egg laying spell, and the vet was a very cold individual.  She made us feel like the worst bird parents in the world.  We explained how we caught this Budgie out in the backyard 5 years earlier and thought perhaps bringing her in for a check up, and hoping an avian vet might tell us more about Misfit.  The experience was terrible enough that we never wanted to return to that clinic again.  And we didn't.

I knew I had to get Misfit medical attention and while we know of another vet off in the east end, time was of importance here.  And with Angie at work, I just went with it.

I get to the vet, expecting this cold individual to walk through the door, but that wasn't the case.  It was a different vet.  This vet was far nicer than the one just over a year ago.  We had to work out what was best for Misfit, and hate to say, what was affordable.  Not that we don't want the best we can give Misfit, but we must also be sensible.  The long list of things they wanted to do to her, some of which could possibly kill her in the end.  And Angie and I both agreed we would not put her through all that.  She's been with us 6 years now and know full well she was more than a couple years old already when we caught her.  Ten years is a pretty safe estimate on her age.  I had Angie on the phone with the vet by this time, because my head was just spinning.  And in the end, she came to something with the vet we could do, and hope for the best.

I hate to think some vet clinics play on pet owners' emotions but deep down know it's true.  A vet clinic is a business.  Don't get me wrong, there are some great vets out there, but it can be difficult to find one.  Medical visits cost money, of course, but some vets can carry on beyond what is necessary or right for an animal's well being when they are so sick.  We all want to keep our beloved animals with us forever, but unfortunately, the physical forever is not possible and some will give false hope to us, and some of us fall for it, with a longer suffering for the animal, the pet owner's bank account depleted, often going into some hefty debt and with the same ending  These guys play out the absolute worst case scenario and how they will deal with it. 

They wanted to admit Misfit for 2 days, do x-rays and possibly some surgery.  In the end though, Misfit came home with me and must be administered 3 different fluids via syringe varying from 3 to 5 days, to 12 to 14 days.  One is liquid calcium, another is a pain killer and the third is an anti-biotic.

Its been both a learning and bonding experience.  Six years, and I've only ever picked Misfit up once before, last winter, and that was "just because" I wanted to see how she'd be with me.  Now with handling twice a day, its still a fight with her, and her heart races in my hand.  But its got to be done.  Either she's getting less uncomfortable with the ordeal or I am getting smarter, but it is getting a little easier.  The process has gone from a 20 minute ordeal to no more than a couple minutes.  I've gone from catching her in the darkened bedroom to just getting it over with in the bright kitchen with only one escape from me in the past 7 days.

As peaceful as she looks here, it's been a very difficult time for us all with the meds.

Misfit returned to the vet on the Saturday the 13th for a quick check-up.  She appears well but they won't say for certain unless they are allowed to do more tests.  This was yet another new vet to see us, and she was nicer than the last.  X-rays were discussed but I declined.  She gave Misfit a good handling and feel over and could say with almost full certainty that there was not another egg on it's way out of her.  The vet also commented on how feisty and strong Misfit is.  She hadn't examined a bird with such force as Misfit in some time.

Misfit going to the vet again.

She did have concerns over Misfit and her weight.  She was 49 grams in September 2011.  She was 43 grams on Thursday October 11, 2012.  And on Saturday, only a couple days later, she was at 40 grams.  I brought up the fact the last of the egg was out of her, and with all the stress, and the meds, especially the pain med, her appetite was down considerably.  All very good reasons for the 3 gram loss.  I further explained that after our visit back in 2011, we made changes to Misfit's diet.  She got less Budgie stix (bird treats) because the vet told us it could bring on egg laying, since it's a high energy treat.  She also told us Misfit was fat.  How many of us out there have overweight pets?  We love them so, and we spoil them rotten.  Right?  So we have made changes for Misfit, much like we have done for Meadow.  And her weight went down.  I've since learned that the average Budgie's weight should be in the 30 to 35 gram range.  Misfit is still in a healthy range.

Misfit has been off the pain med for a couple days now.  Her appetite has grown, she is drinking more; but she still sleeps quite a bit.  One may see the sleeping as a concern; but I see the increase in her appetite as a sign of improvement.  She preens, she tweets, she plays a little bit and her poop is very normal.  Actually her poop looks much better than what we have seen in the past with her.  If you have a Budgie, the small hard poops with the dark exterior and white interior are perfect.  If it's a big runny splat of green and white, not so perfect.

A sleepy healing Misfit.

Moonie often follows her lead.

This whole ordeal has been hard on all of us.  Angie and I are drained with worry over our little girl.  Some don't get it.  "She's just a bird.  You don't handle her.  Who cares?"  We have quite a story with Misfit, some of you may recall about how she lived in the backyard for four months before I caught her and brought her inside.  And one year to the day (almost) she escaped out the front door with us having her back inside 2 hours later.  No denying she is meant to be with us.  Misfit has been with us for over 6 years now.  She's family.  She's entertaining.  She's good company when we spend time in the kitchen with music on that she enjoys like Frankie Valli.  She comes outside with us in the warmer months and I am sure wakes some of the late sleeping neighbours as she chats with the Sparrows in the trees.  She's gone from a wild scatter brained rescue bird to making us her flock.

The stress has flowed through Moonie too.  Moonie adores Misfit to no end.  And with her not feeling too great lately, being far less active, and so quiet; Moonie is doing as she does.  But as soon as Misfit comes around, so does Moonie.  And look back to the start of this lengthy blog, who freaked out when the egg broke inside Misfit?  I've heard so many times that animals don't feel like we do, especially birds.  I never believed that and can argue this more so thanks to our birds.  We worry about the day Misfit is no longer with us.  Moonie is going to be one sad little bird.  While he understands that something is up with Misfit, you can also see the confusion as he tries to get her attention at times.  His communication is different right now, the way he looks at her, and the way he tweets to her too.  Note, Moonie is probably a girl now after a year and a bit of maturing with us.  But we still consider him a boy (unless of course he lays an egg...  please don't do that Moonie!).  His cere turned blue back in January but has since turned the typical brown as females have.

I made this poster sometime after I took this photo.  It's perfect.  Moonie seemingly tries for Misfit's attention and that look she has, it's like "whaaaaaaaaaaaaatever".

It was never an intention to have birds in the house, but when these exotics show up in your backyard; what do you do knowing full well their lifespan will be cut considerably if you don't help?  Most of my friends would do as we have done, even if not keeping them, would hopefully catch them and find them a home or rescue facility.  Budgies are very personable birds.  Sure they may be loud a lot of the time.  But if you actually spend time with them, watch them, open your eyes, ears and heart; you will see how interesting they really are.  We can learn something from them through their genuine behavior, like all animals...  and its just that, genuine.  You will always know where you stand with your animals.  Enjoy your time with them, and just like your own time on this Earth, we never know how much we really have.

This story will continue another day and hopefully with a positive update.

 Please keep the healing vibes coming for Misfit.

October 11, 2012

Great Gray Thanksgiving Monday!

So, how did you spend your Thanksgiving Monday? Did any of you find yourselves up in the middle of the night, the unholy hour of 3am, scurrying around and getting ready to hit the road ASAP in order to hopefully see a bird? I know at least four people who did, myself included.

"A bird? What kind of bird?" you ask. To my birder friends, is there a bird out there that would get you up and moving for, regardless what time it is, regardless how little sleep you got? Obviously this was one for us. And honestly, if I had a "bucket list", this would be on it, that being a Great Gray Owl.

I've always marveled at the appearance of Great Grays. And the fact they are not common to anywhere near us made it a dream for some years now. I always figured there'd be a trip to north Manitoba later in life, in hopes of spotting one. But an interesting chain of events have happened over the past 18 months which certainly helped to make what happened today, happen. And Angie did a fantastic re-telling of it herself on her blog, so I will attach the link at the end.

Lets just say it was an exciting dark trip up the highways to get to our destination. And as we got closer, the weather began to take a turn for the worst. It started raining, and in no time it was a heavy slushy rain. Not ideal weather at all for birding, and especially if someone wanted to take a few photos of this monumental moment we were all soon to experience. I was a passenger this morning, forever grateful to our friend Jim, who seems to have very few issues when it comes to driving the distances for us when we go out; and I was searching for weather radar sites to see what was going on out there and hoping for a break in the precipitation. I am not tech savvy so it took some time and I think I read the screen right with a break coming up very soon. And it did, right as we parked to meet another individual you will read about in Angie's blog.

We started our walk along the road, vehicle safely parked away from traffic. I add this because some people could care less when it comes to them and something like this. Anyone remember the stories of the Great Gray Owl in Kingsville from this past winter? In my terms, although I never went, it became something of a "shit show" as the days went by and more and more people arrived to the area to see that bird. People parked wherever they chose, often illegally, and stupidly, putting themselves and others at great risk. I saw the media attention given to it, and heard the stories from a few I know who went to see that Owl.

It was a quiet walk, very few cars on the road, even as the sun was up by this time. Some light soft chatter amongst us. I knew we were all full of hope and excitement, praying to catch a glimpse of this Owl. You cannot predict nature; there was a very good chance we'd see him but not guaranteed. We heard no birds yet but did see this Buck cross the highway just behind us.

And then the precipitation started again.  Only this time it came down as snow.  Big fluffy flakes of it.  And for a short bit it REALLY came down.  We could barely see through the thick flakes and not far through them either.  Not long after our "guide" found the Owl across the way.  If we went up there on our own, despite the general directions (general being the area where the Owl has been seen most), we'd never have spotted the bird through this snowfall.

As it was said by someone, it was like a Christmas morning.  I couldn't have summed it up better myself.  And for a good fifteen minutes or so we took in the sights of this bird from a more than respectable distance the best we could through the heavy snow with some praying for a break once again in the weather.  And then, suddenly, the snow stopped.  And we were left with a very clear and breathtaking view of this Owl and the landscape around us.

The Owl gave very little attention to us.  It seems they don't know what people are.  But the odd shift of someone would occasionally have him take a glance at us momentarily.  And then he'd go back to his business of hunting for breakfast.  We were treated to a few short flights of the bird as he moved from one perch to another, viewing/listening to the ground around him.

We couldn't have asked for a better "first time" with this species.  Just four good friends, a lifer for us all, a perfect landscape setting...  and a charming likeable young man who helped make this happen.

And with a few "sweet shots" to boot!  I'm having a difficult time trying to figure which photo I love the most.  The one that will be framed, and make our calendar; to bring a warm glow over us every time we look at it.

As an added bonus, on our way back to the van, we were treated to the sights of a couple American Pipits walking along the side of the road.  Another lifer.  A bird I only ever heard of, never gave much thought to, and if it weren't for the man who took us for this walk, we'd still be puzzled by these birds if we even took notice to them all.  I mean, 24 hours later, all of us were still in a buzz about the fact that we just saw a Great Gray Owl!

For a more in depth story, please view Angie's blog here.  It will lead you to yet another blog, one that I suggest every one of you to take the time out to read.

September 28, 2012

Step Into My World (through video)

I still have a few stories kicking around in my brain to punch out on the keys at some point but not just yet.

Today I thought I would further add to my previous blog of there being no place like home and instead of adding many photos I thought I would share a few short videos of life here (all are a minute or less in length).

First off, here is our second backyard rescue Budgie "Moonie" after one year with us and he's decided to take a bath in one of Misfit's water dishes. The birds remain separated due to Misfit's unpredictable occasionally aggressive attitude. And we offer them a larger bath area which they do use very sporadically and lightly. This video makes me laugh every time I watch it; Moonie is just so excited about his bath moment and he's so lost in the moment. It's only a minute long, check it out right here.

Next up is Pierre the Pigeon.  Trying to tell people how he is with us doesn't do the experience justice.  The photos sure help but actual video is even better.  First up is out in the yard while I am enjoying a sunny summer morning, this was taken about 7 weeks ago, check it out here.  And if you want more, here he is a week ago when I was on holidays and a typical morning of getting up to fill the feeders.  He sure surprised me with this one as it is the first time he ever did this and with no coaxing whatsoever.  See it here.

We joke about how as the weather gets colder, that last video will be more of an actual occurrence.  I still wonder where he came from, who influenced him, or is he smart enough to figure out that we aren't going to hurt him and he can get fed well through us?  He's still a very wild bird and not dependent on us by any means.  There are days that go by where we just don't cross paths.  But when the next time rolls around, look out.  I think this photo I managed to take of us is testimony to that...

We have a new visitor this summer, a young Groundhog, and we named her "Clover".  Not for everyone but we think she's a-okay.  I mean, she's done wonders for the back lawn, chewing down all the clover and some other plant life growing through the grass.  She's very shy though and I hid along the side of the house, video'ing this very short clip through the back gate.

And lastly, with all the bird feeders around, we have a number of Squirrels who join the daily adventures out back.  Some have taken to us much more than others (or the other way around) as you can see here.

Thanks for viewing.  And stay tuned for more another day!

September 25, 2012

No Place Like Home

As some of us travel through the GTA and beyond in search of birds and wildlife; we really need to remember that there is no place like home. Especially to those of us fortunate enough to have some outdoor living space where we can hang bird feeders, and invite the creatures to us.

Many of these photos here were taken with my Blackberry, capturing some fond memories at home and have been some of my most popular pics on my Facebook wall of late.

Meadow, Pierre and one of the "Dirty Dozen"

The bond with Pierre grows every week.  And as the days go by between visits, when we meet again, you can really see his excitement and anticipation.

I am sure everyone viewing this is adding their own caption right now.  "How long did you say that leash of her's is?"

Never a dull moment with the Squirrels around.  And no nuts are safe.  LOL!  I was feeding some Jays off the clothes line and this one saw me tuck the spares in my pocket.

Super cute moment as I sat and had coffee out back the other afternoon and I swear this Squirrel was making an offering to Misfit.

A cold wet September morning brought one of the Chipmunks right to our door (something that never happened before...  they are so skittish with all the dangers in the area).

The early days with Pierre, who brought Angie, myself and our friends Dave and Andrea some good laughs at an afternoon BBQ.

Back in the late Spring, Meadow and momma Chickadee seem to be having a moment.

And who wouldn't take something from this capture of Clover the Groundhog in the garden?

A baby Raccoon was quite curious about our latest addition(s) to the yard with these granite Owls.

Meadow surely agrees, there is no place like home...