Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Warm suet dough, frozen rats and mice

I finally got all the ingredients to make Zick Dough:

dough ingredients
It wasn't as disgusting as I thought it would be. Tip: Melting the peanut butter and lard in the microwave works great.
Peanut butter and lard

melted lard and peanut butter

dry ingredients
I didn't have quite enough oats, so I added some extra cornmeal, and it seemed to work.
When the spoon stood straight up, I knew it was the right consistency.
dough in the feeder
This stuff was stiff enough to pack into the suet feeder, as well as crumbling it up in a dish; though I think that in warmer weather, it would just run out.

And now, the Rodent Run!
RAPTOR gets lots and lots of mice and rats, of different sizes and temperatures. The whole process is this: Some volunteers drive up to a facility in Michigan, and pack all of these rodents in garbage bags, and drive them back to RAPTOR. Then, we dump each bag out onto a mesh screen to filter out the bedding that ultimately gets into the garbage bags. We then grab up handfuls of the critters and put them in smaller freezer bags, twisty-tie them and stick them in the deep freezers.
big rats

rodent bags
This is only about an eighth of what we packaged tonight. There were plenty of people there to help, so it went fast. This supply, along with other mice that we "bump" from our live colony, will feed our birds for a few months.

I disapprove
"I disapprove."

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

It was da BOMB!

Word of the Day:

ambit \AM-bit\, noun:
1. Circuit or compass.
2. The boundaries or limits of a district or place.
3. An area in which something acts, operates, or has power or control; extent; sphere; scope.

The weather was actually nice enough to go outside and have a look around the yard:

deer skull
The deer skull still rests just outside our fenceline. I have posted about this pile of bones before.
dead prairie
The prairie sleeps...but soon, it will grow up tall and create shelter once again for snakes and mice and bugs. I plan on expanding it this year, to maybe twice its length and depth. The blackberry bramble I planted two years ago is getting nice and tall and we can expect more than two berries this year. (Blackberries grow on last year's growth)
birdbath planter
Our original birdbath, one of the catalysts for me becoming a birder sprung a leak some time back, so I turned it into a planter. All that is there right now is moss and fungus.
Boomer workin the Nylabone
Boomer has been working on the same Nylabone since he came back. I think I will send it along when he goes to the foster home.
towhee workin a seed
I soaked in the juncos, white-throated sparrows and the solitary towhee today. Soon they will be gone, not to be seen until next winter.
Now, my bird trip today:
one of my really awful digiscope shots
Oh My God, my digiscoping skills stink.
I went out to a park today (Geoff and I decided that I shouldn't say which one I went to, and I will explain why in a minute)
the geese that aren't snow geese
Here are the geese that aren't snow geese.
a flock of gulls
And a slew of gulls, mostly ring-billed.
flock of ducks
Thank goodness I had the scope today. On the far side of the lake, there were a zillion ducks:
Wood ducks
Ring-billed ducks
Black ducks
Northern Pintails
Lesser scaups
Hooded mergansers
And probably lots more, but this ranger decided to come through on his little boat:
The ranger who scared off the ducks
...and flushed them all.
The weird package
This is why I am not saying which park:
I was getting ready to leave the park, and stopped to look at a raptor soaring above. I never did figure out what it was, because this package caught my attention. This package, wrapped as a Christmas present, was just sitting next to the parking lot. My first thought was "Is this Candid Camera or something?". Then I thought, "Holy sh**. What if that is a bomb?"
I hightailed it out of there and went to the Ranger's Station to report it. I felt stupid doing so, but what he told me made me glad that I did. He said that they have found rudimentary bombs in the park before.
Alright, then.
I will be watching the news, in case it's mentioned.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Word of the Day:
susurration \soo-suh-RAY-shun\, noun:
A whispering sound; a soft murmur.

Nice pair!
Yesterday, my Starbucks ran out of the mix to make my carmel frappuchino. So I ordered a mocha. And then, they were out of venti cups, so they gave me two mochas.
Now, that's a nice pair!
darn good pizza
Once again, pulled off a killer pizza!
You talkin' to me
"You talkin' to me???"
(This is a stuffed GHO at RAPTOR)
My Mom is back from Alabama after a week down there. We were watching her dog, Bailey, and we took her back today. She's such a nice, SMALL dog.
Boomer update:
A foster home has become available and he will be going to it this week.
*heavy sigh*
One of Mom's chickadees
One of Mom's chickadees. She has a blue million of them. It's impossible to count all of the little flying blurs.
chickadee in mid hop
How's this for a shot that I thought was a throwaway?
I caught him just as he was jumping off the feeder into the air!
Loveland sunset 02-26-07
Loveland sunset.

More on the OOS Owl Symposium:
I learned so much about owls this weekend. My programs are going to be turned up to a new level from now on. I feel like I was in kindergarten at the beginning of the symposium, but now I feel like I have graduated to the sixth grade. There were PowerPoint shows, with pictures of the entire digestive system of an owl (did you know that they have a two-chambered stomach? That's how they make pellets)
I got to meet a lot of people who were only names until Saturday. For example:
I met Shila, as in very good friend of Julie and Bill's. She showed up at my table and waved. I squinted to see her name tag, and I was like "Hey! Shila!". She is sunshine with a camera.
I bought a matted photograph of a baby screech owl from a woman who, it turns out, was a RAPTOR board member back in the 80's.
The world of birding in Ohio is a small one.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

OOS Owl Symposium, finally

For anyone who thinks that birders are stodgy, geeky, socially- inept losers:
The OOS Owl Symposium was a time for fun, for learning, for being part of a group. I spent the day surrounded by like-minded individuals who paid to sit and listen to the likes of Bill Thompson, Julie Zickefoose, David Russel and Denver Holt; they willingly walked out into the frigid air to go birding together. They were a fun, happy, pleasant, rockin' crowd and I loved every minute of it.

BT3, otherwise known as Bill Thompson III. Everyone should be so lucky to hear this loony speak to a crowd. He was hilarious.
Big Momma OOS
I brought all of our program owls: The great horned, barred and both screech owls.
Check out the nifty new perch Marc made! It's just a log with a pole stuck into it, with a cross bar of wood bracing it at the bottom. The GHO liked it, and the barred owl tolerated it for a few minutes.
David Russell OOS and Larri
David Russell and Larri (That's Larri with an "I"!)
black vultures OOS Hueston Woods
The Lodge at Hueston Woods is home to a butt-load of black and turkey vultures. They like to roost on the chimney. Those were the only birds I saw yesterday.
black and turkey vultures OOS

Zick OOS
I didn't get to spend any time at all talking with Julie, much to my disgruntlement. And Chet spent the day in their cabin, but I passed on a bag of dog treats to Julie for him.
Jim McCormac powerpoint
Jim McCormac, author of Birds of Ohio, my bible. An award was presented to the man whose picture is up on the screen, but for the life of me, I can't remember his name.
raise your hands in the air
Bill asked all the participants who got life birds that day to stand up. He then asked them to raise their hands in the air...and wave 'em like they just didn't care.
whose car is this
Hmmm...I wonder whose car this was?
Show me your life list!
That's my kind of bumper sticker.
Denver Holt
The weather took a nasty turn after dinner, but I decided to stay for Denver Holt's talk, and I am glad I did. This guy has been studying snowy owls for like a million years, and he is an extremely entertaining speaker. Imagine Joe Pesci, but a birder.

When Denver spoke his last syllable, the RAPTORites and I ran for the lobby, packed up the owls and the other education stuff and packed the cars. The Lodge is a 5 minute or less drive into the park, and it took us 30 minutes or so to get out. Snow flakes the size and weight of quarters had been falling for quite a while and it was about 4 inches deep as we set out. Yuck, yuck, yuck.
After getting to the closest town, Oxford, the snow became slush.
After getting to a highway, the slush turned to rain. Alot of rain. Rain like you have never seen.
It took over 2 hours to get home.
Now, some Sunday sketches:

Sunday sketch grumpy owl

sunday sketch OOS

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Fun day, sucky snow

I am home, after a two hour drive through snow and ice and rain.
The weather turned ugly just as the symposium was drawing to a close, so one of our RAPTOR volunteers offered to take the birds back with her, to save me extra driving (she lives just around the corner from RAPTOR).
I am wiped out from white-knuckling it all the way home, so I will do a proper post tomorrow.
It was a GREAT GREAT day!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Birds caught: Check. Car packed: Check.

Word of the Day:
malodorous \mal-OH-duhr-uhs\, adjective:
Having a bad odor.

I am all set for the Owl Symposium tomorrow morning.
The owls are all comfy in their carriers. Geoff and the girls are spending the night in Swami's Guest Yurt. I have a nice, quiet house in which to sleep tonight. Ahhh.
A few pics from today:


A skunk noodling around a yard near Stonelick Lake. I guess it just came from hibernation and was super hungry, because it didn't care that I was sitting there taking pictures of it. I even cleared my throat a few times, to get it to turn and look at me, but nada.
skunk 2
A red-tailed hawk hanging out near the highway. Look at the tiny twig it's standing on!
This speck is a red-shouldered hawk who was soaring with its mate over Stonelick Lake.
RS hawk up high
And finally, here's Junior, in his mew. It's weird to see him sitting inside a building. He is gaining weight and awaiting a new home as an education bird.
I was standing half behind the door when I took this, because I didn't know if he would try to fly to me, and he did the cutest little head tilt, trying to see me.
Junior in mew
At least he is warm and well-fed.
Junior 2
Stay tuned tomorrow for my pictures and stories from the Owl Symposium. We are going to have such a blast.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Blue water, this weekend, and general blah blah blah

Word of the Day:
hypnagogic \hip-nuh-GOJ-ik; -GOH-jik\, adjective:

Of, pertaining to, or occurring in the state of drowsiness preceding sleep

Better grab a cup of coffee. Boring post ahead.
My absence last night was due to a board meeting at RAPTOR that ran late. They always run late. Man, those people can talk!
But I like the meetings. It's a time that I can sit back and learn things.

A blue day:

great blue heron overhead
A great blue heron flies over Lake Isabella.
blue water
The ever-so intelligent park service has added "Aqua Shade" to the lake. I know that because I saw the empty box by the boathouse. This stuff is supposed to inhibit growth of water plants. Well, that's good! We don't want the ducks and geese to have anything to EAT, do we????
blue water fountain

pretty ducks and geese
This one made me do a U-Turn:
Jeff-Gold Star billboard
I would never have looked twice at this billboard, except that one of our board members is the guy on the billboard. Gold Star (a local chili place, Cincinnati-style chili) has a new ad campaign for their corn dogs, and Jeff somehow is on billboards and the commercial. I was warned in advance that he was on these. Otherwise, I would not have known it was him.
Good dog. LOL

Upcoming events: This weekend is the Ohio Ornithological Society's Owl Symposium at
Hueston Woods. RAPTOR has been asked to be a participant and bring our owls to show. So it has been a logistical nightmare, figuring out when I will get the birds, pack the one car we have working, maybe or maybe not get a hotel room to stay the night... Thankfully, a lot of RAPTORites are coming, too, so Marc, our president, is bringing our paraphernalia and I am bringing the birds. So I now have to figure out if I will get the owls tomorrow and let them spend the night with us, or get up at zero-dark-thirty on Saturday morning to get them and then drive over an hour to the symposium in the bleary hours. Jeez...
The highlight of all this is that I will get to see Julie and Bill, Phoebe and Liam, and the irrepressible Chet Baker. To throw more into the mix, Julie, Bill and a friend from Oxford are going to do a set Friday evening at the lodge, and I really want to see that. So maybe I could go to that, then drive over an hour back home, fall into bed, get up at 4:30 am and THEN get the owls and drive over an hour to the symposium. GOD.
It is going to be a fun time...surrounded by expert birders, getting to hear Denver Holt speak, and I get to show off our beautiful owls. I am bringing all of them: The two screech owls, the barred owl (god help me) and my favorite owl, the great horned.
So, that's been where my head is for the past few days.
Junior update:
Junior is better, eating and gaining weight. It has been decided that he is NOT to be released again. He will become a program bird. Not for us, because we are allowed only one GHO on our permit, and we already have my Big Momma:
show us your hooters
I love that bird. She (I THINK she is a she...she's certainly heavy enough to be a female) has been at RAPTOR for 8 years, and has done many, many programs, and is just a big pussycat. Nothing bothers this gal.
Oh, and check out the comment section from my last post. Geoff and Pam have been going back and forth about Geoff's book. I adore all of my blogger gals, and Pam just makes me smile.
Love ya, Pam!