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. ūüôā

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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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.

Keep Your Shirt On

So a few weeks ago a finder called about a small owl that he had seen get hit by a car.

“Okay, I will see you at Earth Fare in an hour.” I hung up the phone just in time to see my kid (she’s a kid I home school) skidding across the hardwood floor and pounding up the stairs to her mother.

“Mommy, mommy!” She gasped out of breath from the exertion and excitement. “We’re going to Earth Fare to get an EASO (pronounced e-so)!”

Wait, I never invited her to come pick up an owl from a finder in a town thirty minutes away on snow-covered roads. I wasn’t sure I was comfortable with the kind of responsibility that came with someone else’s child in your backseat.

I heard her mom calling down, “Okay guys, just be safe when you go.”

Well, it’s settled, and shortly after that,¬†we headed out to pick up an owl. It’s January and that means that it is EASO season. In wildlife rehabilitation, we abbreviate species by their names. Reptiles and mammals are abbreviated by their scientific name. EASO is an Eastern Screech-owl. When the finder said he had a midsize owl, I assumed that in all likely hood it was going to be a screech-owl.

After a long forty minute drive of being asked about shock collars, we blessedly arrived. I claimed the owl from the finders and hurriedly answered all of their questions, eager to get in the car to open the box. Like a kid on Christmas, I just wanted to open the box and see what kind of owl it was.

When I got back to my car with the box my kid excitedly began to pepper me with questions, “Is it an EASO? Is it okay? How hurt is it?”

So we slowly picked up the lid and peeked into the box, it wasn’t an EASO. It was a Barred Owl, a very small barred owl.In the raptor world, the females are larger and the males are smaller. Looking at my kid, “It’s a barred owl, a BDOW. Congrats it’s a boy!”

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“He is sooooo cute!” She exclaimed in a teary voice.

“Alright, we have to run by Walmart real quick and then we’ll head back and check him in,” I told her¬†since I was already in town might as well pick up supplies I can’t get where I live.

She nodded seriously, “Sounds like a plan.”

Never take a six-year-old to Walmart. Every single item that had Frozen on it we had to stop and look at it. Though the experience took a strange turn when I finally got annoyed and firmly said, “We have to hurry we have an owl in the car.”

“Oh yeah!” She remembered. “And he is soooo cute!”

The man standing next to us¬†looked over curious. Guess, he doesn’t hear that excuse too often.

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We finish our shopping and start to head back to the wildlife center. About five minutes into the drive she leaned up to the passenger seat where the box was. Noticing the black shirt on top of the box for the first time she asked, “That’s his shirt, right?”

Nodding, “Right, he didn’t have anything to catch the owl with at the time he found the owl. So he used his shirt to catch the owl, and now the shirt is keeping the box closed.”

She paused, thinking for a moment, I could tell we were in for another long drive. “Well, I guess it’s a good thing he took off his shirt! Right?”

Nodding again, “Right, it’s a good thing.”

“It’s a good thing his wife didn’t take her shirt off, right?”

Nodding, “Right.”

The gears in her head were slowly turning and then she had vomit of the mouth and spit out everything¬†in a string of rapid thoughts and questions. “Because girls can’t take off their shirts in public because they have private parts on their chest, but boys can because they don’t have private parts on their chest, but they do have nipples, just no private parts, but boys should still keep their shirts on even though they don’t have private parts.”

Struggling not to fall apart laughing and ¬†trying to stay focused on the icy road in front of me, I simply said, “Right, everyone should just keep their shirts on.”

Nodding, she matter of factly agreed with me, “Right, keep your shirt on.”

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We’re giving the owl fluids in this picture because he was dehydrated.¬†

Arriving at the center we didn’t find any major injuries but he did appear slightly neurologic. Which is common for owls hit by a car. To keep my kid entertained throughout the boring process of paperwork for a new patient and the exam I handed her my phone. Big mistake! When I finally got it back I had almost fifty photos of me and my co-worker checking in the owl.

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So yesterday I remembered this when I was down at the center yesterday and I took some photos and a video of the owl for my kid. When I showed the video of the owl flying she got excited because the owl couldn’t fly when we first got the owl.

“He’s just soooo cute! And look he’s flying!” She took off skidding across the floor with my phone. Cringing I hoped she didn’t drop my already cracked phone. “Mommy! Mommy! Look my owl is flying now! The BDOW can FLY!”

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My phone still clutched¬†in her hand she began to flap her ‘wings’ emulating an owl.

BDOW Flight

I only wish that I could bottle up her enthusiasm and passion for saving the world one owl at a time and dose all of the people I encounter who lack sympathy for the world.

Daily Word Prompt: Yellow

Yellow

Yellow Yellow Yellow

“Yellow shines with optimism, enlightenment, and happiness. Shades of golden yellow carry the promise of a positive future. Yellow will advance from surrounding colors and instill optimism and energy, as well as spark creative thoughts.”

-From sensationalcolor.com

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Just a yellow fuzzy caterpillar that happened to be chilling on the sidewalk last spring. 

In Jamaica A/C is a luxury so many buildings like this school, as sections of walls that allows for ventilation. These ornate designs were on many of the buildings, and I wish we had them in America.

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I love the colors of the Goldenrods against the blue backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

via Daily Prompt: Yellow

Running With Scissors

 

Literally, Nelson took off with a pair of scissors and went running with them. The gal I am teaching on how to train Nelson had a pair of scissors fall out of her pocket while in the room with him, and of course Nelson noticed it and probably thought, “Oh, SHINY! MINE! MINE!”

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Image from comandress.com. This a lovely photo I found on Google. I think it captures the inquisitive nature of crows beautifully.

At one point the gal with me in the room attempted to regain possession¬†of the scissors but he wasn’t going to give them back without a fight. So we let him run to see what he would do with them, and of course, like any good corvid, he cached them under the newspapers. Below is a link to the video, and no crows were harmed in the making of that video!

Crow Antics

Interesting,¬†fun fact¬†is that the notion that corvids are attracted to shiny objects and caching¬†them is more folklore than science. Most corvids do not have an affinity¬†for shiny objects. Research has been conducted on this matter and it found that the majority of corvids in both in captivity and in the wild did not show an affinity for shiny objects. In fact, many were more hesitant of shiny objects. For example, corvids fed with shiny bowls were less likely to take the food. Now Nelson is imprinted, meaning he thinks people are his family. I have found through three years of observation that Nelson most definitely¬†has an attraction to shiny things. But most of all Nelson has an attraction to anything that you want. For example, he knew the scissors belonged to the gal and when she attempted to reclaim them, it made the steal that much more fun because she was “playing back.” The scissors were both shiny and something we wanted so it made for a delightful steal. Hey, he’s like a child, sometimes your just glad that for one minute their entertained and not destroying the house! Corvids are like children or dementia patients they all have their favorite obsession. I’ve heard of a crow once in Florida that loved stealing golf balls, which doesn’t enhance the survival chances of that crow any. Unless that crow found some use that we don’t know yet for golf balls.

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We put some night crawlers in a bowl of water as enrichment. Nothing says fun like bobbing for worms or taking a bath in water that just had worms floating in it! One of Nelson’s favorite activities is bathing in water and because of the temperature, we took away his giant bowl of water outside. He is supposed to be one of the smartest bird’s in the world and yet he hasn’t figured out that when it’s cold you shouldn’t take a bath. I have walked out to him once and he had taken a bath and his feathers had frozen to his body. Let’s just say he was not a happy camper.

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The center I work at is a part of my minor for college and currently, I now have four students who are learning how to train ambassadors working under me. It was fitting that Nelson went running with scissors today because¬†I feel like I am running with scissors when I train with the students. I have trained animals ranging from dogs to opossums to hawks, but I have never taught someone how to train an animal. I can only hope that I don’t tell them the wrong thing!

Right now I am focusing on teaching them the correct diet for crows. Since crows are omnivores and opportunistic¬†they will eat almost anything. It is critical in captivity that crows receive variety, so often I have seen handlers fall into the routine of feeding the same thing every day because it is easy, it doesn’t require thought. To train Nelson I use all the good food like crickets, mice, fish, and egg as rewards for doing desired behaviors. At least Nelson provided great entertainment¬†to my weekend. He is a joy to work with if you can keep up with his antics!

 

Backup Backup Plan

Owls are a master of defense when danger occurs. It is almost comical watching a small owl trying to appear bigger and intimidating.  Screech-owls are so good at defense that they have a backup for their backup backup plan.

Here’s how to defend yourself from an attacker like a screech-owl:

Plan A: First when a predator or attacker first spots you, stick up your ear tufts and suck in your body to appear really skinny. Then simply lean into the tree… there’s nothing here but a tree!¬†If said tree is unavailable simply skinny yourself and sit completely still. Oh and don’t forgot to squint your eyes! Eyes that big will give you away but you don’t want to close your eyes and become blind to the oncoming attack.

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Image from http://travel.nationalgeographic.com

Plan B: Darnnit Plan A wasn’t enough to deter the attacker time to pull out the bigger than life trick. This involves puffing yourself up twice as big and swaying back and forth. While you slay you must clack your beak and hiss loudly. Though some shy owls skip this step and jump straight¬†to Plan C.

Bean and Oz, two of our Eastern Screech Owl ambassadors. See how big Bean is puffed up? Oz is only slightly¬†puffed up. Bean is new and still learning that we aren’t going to hurt him.

Plan C: The attacker is still heading straight for you! Quick utter the terrifying screech that you are so famous for! Many have compared this sound to the scream of a mountain lion or a baby crying in terrible distress.

red-easo-peeking_zps8qupfaoi Red Eastern Screech Owl, who has thankfully completed his parasite treatment and is preparing for release!

Plan D: Some attackers are not frightened by their dinner screaming at them, now’s the time to perform your most important acting role of your life. Drop dead! Well, pretend you are dead. This trick always works, who wants dinner that has disappeared, grew bigger, screeched, and then died?

Brown Eastern Screech-owl is very unhappy to be in rehabilitation. If only we could tell him that we aren’t the bad guys!

Now if you follow all of these steps you will ensure your survival as a very small owl in a very big world. Remember you must go through all of these steps in less than a minute for it to have optimal results.

Eastern Screech Owl