Monday, November 19, 2007

The owl who loved me

Anyone remember Junior?
If not, here's his story:
Junior was admitted to RAPTOR in 2005. He was an orphan and after some TLC, was "hacked" out (released near the facility and given food, so he could hunt for himself with a little help). He stuck around for a while, and it was observed that one of his eyes was injured. He was recaptured and given eye drops and then released again. He still stuck around, and it was thought that he was hunting on his own.
I came into the picture in 2006, when I started doing the education programs for RAPTOR. I was there dropping off birds sometimes late at night, and Junior and I became friends. If I had extra food (mice or rats), instead of throwing them away, I would give them to Junior.
He got very comfortable with me, sometimes landing a few feet away from me and hooting and food-begging. It was kind of fun, having a "watch-owl" around. But on December 31 of last year, he attempted to mate with my head. (That link will also show me dressed up as a 14th century falconer. Oh, yeah, I was a drag queen in a former life. That event is coming up, pictures!) Thanks to Karla, human-spouse to Alice, I was prepared for Junior's amorous advances. I covered my head with my gloves and ran for my car.
It was decided that no one would feed Junior. Turns out that others were feeding him, too. When the free food was cut off, he became alarmingly thin and walked up to one of our volunteers, using the last of his energy to beg for food. He was recaptured, and after some searching, a home was found for him in Ithaca, Illinois at a nature center.
pretty junior close up
Here's Junior, sitting with me in the yard at RAPTOR.

And here are some pictures of Junior adjusting to his new home:

In the weathering yard....

...hanging out in the office, getting weighed...

...getting used to standing on the glove...(looks like he is in mid-hoot in that picture)

...And taking a walk with one of his handlers.
All's well that ends well.



Mary said...

I remember Junior so well. All is well that ends well, but why am I teary-eyed??? Dammit.

LauraHinNJ said...

Yeah.. I've wondered about Junior. You must miss him!

Glad to know he's okay.

Liza Lee Miller said...

Of course we remember Junior. I'm so glad that he's adapting to his new world. Yay for Junior!

Marvin said...

I'm pleased to meet Junior. He seems to be enjoying his new home. Thanks for providing the background story and links to a new arrival.

dguzman said...

You know I'm always full of questions --

So he had to go because he was trying to mate with your head? Does that mean he was too familiar with you or whatever, and thus was potentially harmful? What does he do now at the nature center?

Susan Gets Native said...

Don't cry, Mary. Junior is happy and healthy and fussed over at his new home.
Delia: He was an imprinted owl, so he wasn't hunting for himself and was a danger to humans who didn't know him. If he was ready to mate with me, he would have tried on someone else, too. RAPTOR is in a residential area, so we had to cut him off before he hurt someone.

The Swami said...

Look at it this way. If Junior had not gone to a new home he might have been the subject of a help call to the Butterball Helpline.

Speaking of which...The Swami has returned just in time for Thanksgiving.

Trixie said...

I went back to look at your 14th century falconer. You look fantabulous! Are you doing this again this year? Which church are you at, I'll have my mom go, she would dig it!

And thanks for the Junior update.

Dave said...

All is well that ends (or begins) well.

Anonymous said...

Exactly what kind of owl was junior?