Getting Back in the Swing of Things

I realize that it has been a very long time since I last posted, I think it’s been about three months! At the end of February, I caught a terrible case of bronchitis and sinusitis.  I missed about seven days of class and work because of it. Two weeks later I was finally feeling better and then I got swept up in all of the work involved in graduating college and finishing my student teaching. It’s amazing how much paperwork and meetings are involved to be approved for graduation and I just can’t believe that time flies like that and now I have a degree!

I would like to get back to regular posting and reading other blogger’s post but no promises! I am packed and ready to head off to Minnesota for a three-month long internship working with bears. There is limited internet and cell service where I will be, so I am not sure how often I can post while I am out there but each post will hopefully be awesome since they will feature bears!

After I finish with the bears I will head back to my mountains in the Blue Ridge and take a year to chill and figure out my next step. Now that I have graduated I am no longer working full-time at the wildlife rehabilitation center since it is student run and going down there was a part of class credit. However I do have a stockpile of photos and stories and I have agreed to volunteer as a transporter (meaning I might help transfer patients from one center to another and pick up patients from finders), so I plan on continuing to post about wildlife rehabilitation.

Hope everyone has a great summer! 🙂

possible noca.jpg PS- It is baby season in wildlife rehab and I’ll do a post on babies sometime this week! This picture is a baby bird that is just starting to grow feathers and is possibly a Northern Cardinal.

Back to the Wild

So a while back I did a blog post on a barred owl, Keep Your Shirt On. Well over the weekend we were excited to release the owl back to where he was found.

When my co-worker and I arrived at the finders’ house, we knocked on the door and a pig squealed. Looking through the glass we could see a miniature pig squealing and wagging his tail! The finders told us that he was a house pet and that he even slept in the bed with them. That was it, at that moment I really wanted a pig…I just don’t have a place to put a pig.

The finders were super excited that I was willing to drive 40 minutes to their house to release the barred owl back to his home. The finders excitedly took us out back and showed us a field with pine trees.

“Will this do okay?” The husband asked.

Looking at the field and trees I looked to see how many houses were in the area, there wasn’t very many, “It’s perfect.”

I situate the cat carrier so the barred owl was facing the field so that he had room to fly out before having to navigate around trees. Then I look at the finders, “The honor is all yours!”

The wife immediately spoke up, “You can do it, honey.”

I showed the husband how to open the cat carrier without being in the owl’s way. Then on the count of three, he opened the carrier. Without hesitation, the owl was out of the carrier before the door was already open. He flew a short distance and landed on one of the first trees in the clearing and started checking out his surroundings. The finder said that they have seen a barred owl in that same tree before, I told them that it was likely the same owl that we were watching at that very moment.

It was a perfect release, the owl flew beautifully and we released him back home. Barred owls don’t usually migrate and they spend their whole life in the same square mile they were born in, so we like to release them back home.

Here’s a link to the video I took showing the owl release in both normal speed and slow motion. The lighting wasn’t that great, but you have to release owls at night because they are nocturnal.

BDOW Release

Dizzy Part 2

I went down to the center today and the director said that she had received an email from the finders of the hawk I rescued on Saturday, and that they were impressed with my coworker and I, evidently I was right that they doubted two short women could complete the rescue. The finders had also included two photos, one showed the hawk upside down in the tree. I was excited because I was so mad at myself for not getting pictures of such a strange event.

The other photo was one of me holding the hawk. I was unaware that the finder had even taken a photo of me with the hawk.I’ll have to say the hawk looks pretty upset.

In the photo you can’t tell (thank goodness because it had been sent to my director!), but I didn’t have the best hold of the hawk’s talons. The talons were twisted, not a major mistake just a rookie one, sometimes it just happens. Thought I’d share the photos, hope you enjoy more photos of the hawk. By the way she still hasn’t had any problems and will probably be going home soon. 🙂

Dizzy

Today I headed down to the center to feed Nelson and I overheard one of the workers down there answer the phone, “You have a hawk that is hanging upside down in a tree?”

Immediately my ears perked up and without much thought, “I can go get it!”

After hanging up the phone my co-worker agreed to go with me.The two of us headed out and when we got to the location fifteen minutes later we saw that the hawk was indeed hanging upside down from a branch. And of course, I forgot my phone and had no way to photograph the bizarre image of a hawk hanging upside down like a bat.

She had a beautiful red tail, and that is how we know that she is a red tailed hawk. We had put her on her stomach so that we could give her fluids to aid with dehydration. 

The finder told us that the hawk had been like that for at least two hours. Assessing the situation the hawk was dangling over a five-foot deep ravine. Not the ideal situation for rescuing a hawk. My co-worker climbed through the thick rhododendron and thorn bushes to the top of the ravine and I slipped and slid down through the brush and mud to the bottom. My co-worker was now eye level to the hawk but unfortunately, she was still out of reach.

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The hawk was gripping the branch with both talons and was barely moving, terrified I wondered that when she was finally right side up that the blood rushing back to her head would kill her.

The finder called out to us, “I have a saw, do you think we could cut the branch?”

My co-worker and I thought about it and then agreed while not ideal it seemed to be the only option. I waited at the bottom to catch the hawk while they sawed the branch. In no time the hawk was hurtling towards me talons first. It was quite intimidating watching her talons grow closer to my face. The hawk angrily landed at my feet, stunned by the world tilting right side up again.

We wrapped her up in what we call a burrito. This allows us to exam and weigh her safely. Her mouth is open due to stress and dehydration. If it’s just stress we call it open mouth breathing but because her behavior was more defensive she was hackling at us. This is very much like a dog raising its hair when it’s on the defense and preparing to attack.

Oddly enough we couldn’t figure out why the hawk was upside down. The hawk appears to be fine other than a little bit of vertigo! My kid was amused by the story and nicknamed her Dizzy. We are hopeful that it was some freak accident and that she will be back to normal in no time and ready for release.

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The red tailed hawk weighed close to three pounds, which is the weight for females. She is one hefty hawk! This makes me happy because she was hunting well in the wild and was a successful predator. In the picture below you can see her head feathers ruffled, another sign of her hackling.

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Daily Word Prompt: Aware

Aware

I don’t see a bird in the sky
I see it’s a turkey vulture circling on dinner

I don’t see an apple core on the side of the road
I see a hawk that will be hit by a car

I don’t just see a glue trap
I see the glue on a songbird unable to fly

I don’t see styrofoam plates and paper cups
I see a pile of waste taking up space

I don’t just see a broken wing
I see the tears where bullets ripped through

I don’t see snackfood and makeup
I see a rainforest destroyed

Once you become aware
You can never see just the surface again

rtha

via Daily Prompt: Aware

Sometimes You Have to Lie

About four years ago we were driving to my aunt’s house for Thanksgiving. My two sisters and I were squished in the backseat, and somehow the topic of my middle sister’s old guinea pig came up. The guinea pig had been a pet when my sister was twelve, and when this happened she was seventeen, so it had been a while.  It’s a long story but my middle sister is kind of adopted, so she has different parents and her mother passed away five years ago. Well, my parents, my younger sister, and I all knew that her mother had released the guinea pig into the wild and to its death. Annie had released it because once the newness wore off my sister had quit taking care of it. Well, Annie had told my sister that she had taken it to a nice farm to live the rest of its life happily. When the topic came up we said something unaware that Annie never told my sister the truth.

My sister was outraged, “Mom lied to me! You mean she killed him instead?!”

“Technically a hawk or an owl probably killed him,” I added, wondering why Annie had lied.

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Down at the wildlife center, we made the decision last week to euthanize one of our long term patients. She had come into the center in October of 2015, with an old beak fracture that had healed crooked leaving her tongue hanging out of her beak. After awhile she was lovingly named Duck Duck and soon became everyone’s best friend. We let her roam around the center and she would come when we called her.

We had baby duck eggs that successfully hatched, so we assigned Duck Duck the role of surrogate mother. The baby ducks are in an aquarium to acclimated both Duck Duck and the babies to each other.  She was a very eager and euthanistic surrogate mom!

Over Christmas break Nelson and Duck Duck had a brief romance, they were inseparable. They would eat out of each other’s food bowls, eat each other’s poop, and even slept together. It was true love! Probably not though because animals don’t think like that, but it was still adorable! 🙂

Our veterinarian finally came to the conclusion, that we had exhausted all of our options of realigning her beak and so she made the difficult decision. It wasn’t fair to keep an animal alive that cannot feed herself without assistance.

Duck Duck was my kid’s favorite animal at the center and she was always eager to say hi to Duck Duck before any of the other animals. And of course being the friendly duck that she was, she always quacked back. I knew I had to tell my kid something to explain the disappearance of Duck Duck and I didn’t think euthanasia was an appropriate topic for a six-year-old.

My kid hanging out with Duck Duck one day at the center. Normally we do not interact with the animals but it was pretty clear that Duck Duck was already too friendly and was never going to be released, so we broke the rules and befriended and named her. I further broke the rules by allowing a kid to hang out with a ‘wild’ animal. With some animals, it’s okay to bend the rules because you know they will never be ‘wild’ again

So yesterday I lied to her, “Duck Duck went to a new home.”

Bursting into to tears, my kid responded, “Why? I didn’t get to say goodbye! I love Duck Duck!”

“It was for the best, she’s in a happier place now,” I said trying to console her and keep up with the lie.

Her mother then asked me, “Where did she go? Did she go to another center?”

Quickly thinking, “We know a lady with a farm and a nice pond.”

Then I changed the subject. Now I understand why Annie had lied. Losing a pet to a new home is hard enough to comprehend for a child without mentioning death. My kid is heartbroken that she won’t see Duck Duck again. If she knew the truth she would be devasted. Sometimes with kids, you have to lie to ease the pain, to shield them from the stark truth of real life.

Duck Duck

Mystery Blogger

“The ‘Mystery Blogger Award‘ is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging and they do it with so much love and passion” – Okoto Enigma: creator of this award.

Thanks to Sarah Gillie for nominating me, she has an awesome blog on education, Beacons Assessment.

Rules of the Award

  1. Put the award logo/image on your blog
  2. List the rules.
  3. Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  4. Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well
  5. Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
  6. You have to nominate 10 – 20 people
  7. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog
  8. Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify)
  9. Share a link to your best post(s)

Three Facts About Me

  1. My favorite color is blue.
  2.  I have two sisters.
  3. I love hiking and watching birds soar above the mountains, and wishing I could fly with them.

My Best Posts

Like Sarah Gillie said, it is hard to judge myself so I am going to do it how she did it. I am going to list the three with the most likes.

  1. Odd Ball Photo Challenge: Odd Faces -24 likes
  2. Weekly Photo Challenge: Graceful -23 likes
  3. Daily Word Prompt: Successful  -12 likes

Nominees:

  1.  Mon Avis
  2. The Nature of Things
  3. Rubbernecking Around
  4. Mr and Mrs Bucketlist
  5. Dahila
  6. Kooyabiggmacc
  7. The Honest Fabler
  8. doodleslizzan
  9. Joyously Hopeful
  10. Tony Parsley

My Questions to the Nominees

  1. What is your favorite place to visit?
  2. What is your favorite book?
  3. What is your favorite season?
  4. What is your favorite thing to read?
  5. Share a joke that you think is really funny.

My Answers to Sarah’s Questions

  1. I’ve only mentioned it a few times but the best place I could recommend is the Blue Ridge Mountains of the Southern Appalachians in America. I grew up retreating to its hills and it stole my heart a long time ago.
  2. One of my favorite books to read is The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. I love the poems and how the lines are true for any decade, I reference it during any time I need advice in life.
  3. Recommending a song or piece of music is difficult because my favorite song changes as much as the minute hand on a clock. My favorite genre is rock, any kind of rock, classic rock, metal, punk, grunge, alternative, and ska.
  4. I don’t watch very many films, but as a child the movie I watched the most was Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron Herd. I always wanted to be Little Creek flying across the plains with Spirit. It’s a great children’s movie.
  5. An activity that I would recommend would be hiking or yoga, or the best hiking yoga! There is nothing more refreshing than doing yoga as you hike up a mountain.

The Rush of Morning

My phone buzzes, reaching to turn off the alarm I feel the excitement begin to pulse through my sleepy veins. Throwing on clothes and darting into the night, the excitement has turned to adrenaline. On the way to the top, the first rays struggle to gain foothold in the sky.
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At the top of the mile, the sun is climbing higher above the mountains. The cold air takes your breath as the icy wind embraces you. The black of the night drains into the mountains, as the color of the sun pushes out the darkness. sunrise sun peek 22.PNG

As the sun climbs ever higher, it shines down on the misty mountains. The top feels like the top of the world as you look down into the valley. The mountains begin to accept the sun and push out the darkness as the green returns.sunrise-mist-22Treking back down the trail, the sun makes its appearance known. The sun glares through the leaves letting you know day is here.

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Chicken Hawks & Lamb Hawks

At a festival, a child came up to me while I was holding Captain a Red Tailed Hawk. In response to seeing the hawk, he said in his country accent, “My daddy likes to shoot those with a shotgun!”

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Trying to stay composed I nodded my head, but before I could say anything else he added, “They took off with our chickens!”

Smiling at him, “Did you know that a hawks favorite food is mice?”

“And chickens, ’cause they chicken hawks.”

“Actually, a hawk like Captain very rarely goes after the chickens. But I bet they do hang out around your chicken coops?”

“Yeah, all the time to go after are chickens!”

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Smiling again at his persistence, “Well it’s because mice hang out at chicken coops to eat the chicken feed. And where there are mice, there are hawks.”

Intently watching Captain, I could tell he was absorbing this information. Finally, he spoke, “So they aren’t really chicken hawks?”

Joy filled my heart at his realization, “Nope, and it’s actually against the law to hurt these guys or even keep a feather.”

I say that knowing I have a stash of beautiful feathers in my car. Collecting feathers is a small illegal kind of obsessive hobby. It’s illegal in the United States to have possession of feathers from any North American bird species. That’s because if you have just the feather how are you going to prove you obtained that feather humanely.

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Since Captain is a male, he only weighs about 2 and half pounds. Females can weigh up to 4 pounds.

My favorite response that I ever heard a child say when they saw me holding a red-tailed hawk was, “Did you know that red-tailed hawks eat lambs? And that there strong enough to carry a baby sheep away?

Nope, I never realized a bird that barely weighs over three pounds could carry away an animal that weighs up to 200 pounds. At least the kid was enthusiastic about hawks.