Saturday, February 28, 2009

Earl kills a paper bag!

This is perfect timing. I was hoping to thank Lynne for a delightful phone conversation yesterday, and I think she will appreciate/love this video.

This week, Cincinnati was host to the IAATE Annual Conference. My workshops included behavior modification and enrichment for captive birds. There were both "parrot" people and "raptor" people there..and one guy who thought up enrichment ideas for his chickens.

I left with so many wonderful ideas for our's one of them:

Thursday, February 26, 2009

I need to see some birds before I lose it.

My best bird sighting for weeks was this morning. A brown creeper creeping along the sycamores at Lake Isabella. My camera was in a bag, at home, where I left it. I NEVER go anywhere without my camera. Made me feel like I left the house without pants.

If you ever wanted to know what it's like to be tackled by Hooper, the 80 pound "German Malusky", as Kathi calls him (German Shepherd, Malamute, Husky), this is the last thing you see before the tackle:

Tackled by Hooper
Thank you for the love, Hoopie. Now could you please get off my chest?

Hooper is prone to staring vacantly. I wonder what he's thinking about?
1000 yard stare Hooper
"That bacon-grease-soaked paper towel that I ate earlier was really good. I haven't smelled anyone's heiny for like an hour. Trrrreeeeeeeats.....I like trrrreeeeeeats.....I need to pee."

Last weekend, the whole family went to the Cincinnati Museum Center to see a new exhibit "Dinosaurs Alive", and to see the affiliated iMax movie. Meh. It was okay. Not really worth the money we paid (and we are members, even).

I wandered off at one point and went into the John Ruthven Gallery.
They have original Federal Duck Stamps going all the way back to 1936:

1936 Duck Stamp
Above each stamp was the original artwork.

This one reminded me of Laura, because of the soulful-eyed Lab, and the duck in the mouth (she has a thing for ducks):
Maynard Reece duck stamp

Here's the Williams family about to be eaten (by a plant-eating dinosaur):
Family eaten by dinosaur
Hams. That's what they are.

Last one....

Lucy, wrapped in a Birdie Burrito:

Lucy in a Birdie Burrito
Officially, it's called "toweling", but that's no fun. (She was getting her beak coped, hence the towel, the hood and the pen).

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Goin' back a ways...

I have nada to post about, but still feel the need.
I was looking at photos from two years ago, and found some oldies but goodies.

Junior in mew

If you are relatively new to the blog, here's Junior's story.
About this time two years ago, he was sitting in a nice warm mew with free meals, awaiting his transfer to a nature center in Illinois.

That little head tilt just makes me melt. I was hiding behind the door as I took photos, in case he wanted to mate with my head again.
Junior 2

About two years ago, I went to my first OOS Owl Symposium:
(One of my Sunday Sketches...I so need to start doing those again. They made me giggle.)
sunday sketch OOS

Where are we going
Off to his foster home, and onward to a forever home with another Boston, two kids and no cats.

The first foster home was completely useless, but the second time was the charm. Have you ever heard of a dog rescue returning your dog to you three months later???
I still miss him. The girls still talk about him. And Geoff says that Boomer was his favorite (we won't tell Nellie and Hooper).

I don't want to leave anyone depressed so how about an ending about food?

As most of you are aware, birds of prey eat meat. Bird of prey rehab centers need to supply that meat to their birds. A LOT of meat.

This was two years ago...during the quarterly "Rodent Run" (a fun video at that have to have a warped sense of humor to deal with all this stuff), we were pleased (and a little horrified) at the size of some of the rats.
Some of them were approaching 2 pounds. They wouldn't fit in the bags.
So Marc had a good idea.....
Cut off the tails so the rats will fit.

big rats

(The birds don't eat the tails anyway....)
: - )

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Conan O'Brien goes birding

Just saw this on Magnificent Frigatebird and had to share...
We birders may be called lots of things, but one thing you can say about us is that we can laugh at ourselves.

Friday, February 20, 2009

A new Barbie!

Lorelei asked for a specific Barbie for her birthday this year. Barbie isn't just a skanky tart anymore....she has careers. She's been a princess, a fairy, a pediatrician, a mermaid, a super hero, a surfer, a ballet get the idea.
(Okay, princess, mermaid and fairy aren't careers.)
Lorelei wants to be this when she grows up and they have a Barbie for it:

Veterinarian Barbie!
What made us howl was the way she's dressed...
(I bet if your Vet vamped up like this, you wouldn't be forgetting Fluffy's vaccine schedule, would you?)
Vet Barbie

A very snappy lab coat, and a denim mini-skirt that is practically a belt.
(She came with knee-high brown boots, but in the tradition of Barbie foot accessories everywhere, they have committed shoe-icide in the vacuum cleaner)

So. Kathi doesn't dress like this for us. Should I feel insulted? I mean, I think our precious animals deserve a hottie doc, right? But you gotta wonder the view she gives when she is bent over, clipping Spot's toenails.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Now that's something you don't see every day!*

Take heart, gentle readers. Spring is showing up. Very slowly....

I have been worried for the great horned owl pair at Lake Isabella. Last year, I had just about given up on them, when they finally got their butts in gear and started laying eggs on January 29th. (Ohio's great horned owls get their babies started really early in the year, like mid-January)
It's been my thing to check on the nest can every morning, which I have been doing every day since January 15th. Today, they made my day.
GHOW first day of incubation 021709

Day One of incubation, 2009. About time, you goofy owls!
I love being able to go look at an owl whenever I want. If you have any parks near you that have GHOW nests, (if you aren't sure, ask the naturalist...and obey the Owl Roosting/Nesting rules!) you should go have a look. I work with owls almost every day at RAPTOR, but wild owls are harder to come by.
The Owl Roosting/Nesting rules:
  • If you suspect that an area is being used as a roost or nest site you must not disturb it, but watch from a safe distance.
  • Do not disturb the birds in any way
  • If you accidentally stray close to a nest, move quickly and quietly away
So there I was, grinning like an idiot and cranking my zoom as far as it would go. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a flash of feathers. I lowered the camera and saw a red-tailed hawk land in a tree about 40 feet from the owl nest. Cool.

RTHA Lake Isabella

Wait a minute....a red-tailed hawk and a great horned owl at the same time???? Was I dreaming this??

I slide around the corner of the shelter so I could get a photo of an owl and a hawk at the same time.


This was OSSUM. I then wondered if a fight would break out. My first thought was, "Cool, I can watch!" and then, "I could document!"
Alas, no fight. The red-tailed hawk flew off down the river to pick off an overfed squirrel or juicy wood rat.

After the Owl Glow cooled, I noticed all the avian hormones around me. Robins were chased each other. Titmice were chasing each other. Chickadees and cardinals were chased each other.
And the Canada Geese really, really needed to do some butt-biting:

Butt biting goose

See? Spring is coming. The birds know.

*Blogger says that I have used that title before....huh.*

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sunday Randomosity

No real cohesive story ...just random doings around here:

Sleepy Storm:
Sleeping barn owl

Sweet, to be sure. But what made my iron heart melt was the relaxed posture. One of those long, dangerous legs tucked up in warm belly feathers, and the "T" of gold on his face.
Owls can manipulate their facial feathers to direct sound waves while listening for those yummy rodents....and those same feathers, in sleep, can get droopy.

Compare the above photo with the one below, when he is W I D E awake:
Storm in the sun

See? No "T".
Owls are cool. The more I learn and observe about owls, the more respect and love I have for them.

My Valentine's gift from Geoff:

Big Toe

For you poor dopes who aren't in the know, this is an Ugly Doll.
I first came across Ugly Dolls in a local bookstore, and they had a whole table dedicated to these things. I fell in love immediately.
From their website:
From the creative minds of two love struck artists David Horvath and Sun-Min Kim emerge the Uglydoll family! What started as a drawing of a playful orange character known as Wage has turned into a whole new world of fun! In 2001, when David's soon to be wife and creative partner Sun-Min had to return to Korea, he sent her many "I miss you" letters with his little Wage character drawn at the bottom. Sun-Min sewed Wage into a plush doll and sent him to David as a surprise gift. David asked Sun-Min to sew a couple more for the Giant Robot store in Los Angeles and they sold out in one day! A very excited Sun-Min sewed many more and those sold just as fast! Sun-Min and David then began to pull more characters from the Uglyverse, a universe where UGLY meant unique and special, to translate into plush Uglydolls.

Why are they so popular? They defy cute and cuddly. They are unique. They are unconventional.
Our house is slowly filling with them. It started with Isabelle's Wage, then grew with her Target (complete with chest hair) and Lorelei's Peaco and Babo's Bird. Now we have Big Toe (mine).

The girls love them because I love them. Good thing I don't love heroin.

Queen investigates Big Toe.
Queen and Big Toe
"Hmmm. Doesn't smell like a toe."

From a walk at Symmes Township Park, looking for non-existent great horned owls:
Beehive Symmes Park
What is left of a hornet nest... I've never seen one split open like that. With the ice and the wind storms, it's a wonder anything is in one piece anymore.

I've posted about this tiny gem of a park. I haven't been able to get down into it until all the stooopid ice and snow melted.
It's astounding now pristine this place is. Bordered by a neighborhood and a busy road, I always look for trash, knowing I won't find any. It's beautiful....though aside from the GHOW's, I have yet to see any cool birds there.
Sparkles Symmes Park
A perfectly clean, babbling brook. I even caught the sparkles.
Seeing this photo made me think about what I was going through this time last year. Anyone remember the "camera problems"?

Finally, in the spirit of I Can Has Cheezburger?, I give you the definition of "oblivious":

Oblivious...yur doin it rite
"Oblivious..... yur doin it rite."

This red-tailed hawk landed 20 feet from these people, and they were too into their puppy to even notice. Isn't it sad when people aren't in the loop about nature?

I'm so glad I'm a birder.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

(A Valentine gift for my Mom...utterly useless, and therein lies the fun)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A man who knows his math!

(An email from my brother...I don't know where he gets these things...who starts these forwards?)

I was riding to work yesterday when I observed a female driver, who cut
right in front of a pickup truck, causing the driver to drive onto the
shoulder to avoid hitting her.

This evidently angered the driver enough that he hung his arm out his
window and gave the woman the finger.

'Man, that guy is stupid,' I thought to myself. I ALWAYS smile nicely
and wave in a sheepish manner whenever a female does anything to me in
traffic, and here's why:

I drive 48 miles each way every day to work.
That's 96 miles each day.
Of these, 16 miles each way is bumper-to-bumper.
Most of the
bumper-to-bumper is on an 8 lane highway.
There are 7 cars every 40 feet for 32 miles.
That works out to 982 cars every mile, or 31,424 cars.

Even though the rest of the 32 mile s is not bumper-to-bumper, I figure
I pass at least another 4000 cars. That brings the total number to
something like 36,000 cars that I pass every day.

Statistically, females drive half of these. That's 18,000 women drivers!

In any given group of females, 1 in 28 has PMS.

That's 642.
According to Cosmopolitan, 70% describe their love life as dissatisfying
or unrewarding.
That's 449.
According to the National Institute of Health, 22% of all females have
seriously considered suicide or homicide.
That's 98.
And 34% describe men as their biggest problem.
That's 33.

According to the National Rifle Association, 5% of all females carry
weapons and this number is increasing.

That means that EVERY SINGLE DAY, I drive past at least one female that
has a lousy love life, thinks men are her biggest problem, has seriously
considered suicide or homicide, has PMS, and is armed.

Give her the finger?

I don't think so.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Good Gawd, they're everywhere!

More turkey vulture stuff. I can't seem to get away from them.

The other day, Lorelei was watching "Go, Diego, GO!" ( a show on Nick Jr. and Noggin).

The show is about Dora's cousin Diego, a young animal rescuer. Very cute. You should tune in sometime. (If you are the parent of preschoolers, you probably already do)

When Diego is saving an animal (and it's usually a cool South American animal like chinchillas or
pygmy marmosets), if they come across a 'scary' animal, they don't say "Oh, no! Jaguars EAT chinchillas!"....they say "Oh, no! Chinchillas are AFRAID of jaguars!"

No reason to elevate blood pressures in the preschool demographic, right?

I don't remember what animal was being rescued here (the jaguar in the corner is Diego's sidekick), but whatever it was, it was afraid of...........................

TVs on TV
(Look how concerned Baby Jaguar is!)
Thought of Lynne. Again. Had to post it.

One more thing.

Would anyone like to see a baby picture of EARL?????


(Taken 24 years ago, when Earl still had baby down. Feel free to say awwwwww..............)

Saturday, February 07, 2009

An impromptu song about a vulture

Lorelei is always singing something. Whether it's a song she knows, or one she makes up on the's kind of like living with an opera singer.

We spotted a turkey vulture above our street, and it inspired her to make up a little ditty:

I think Lynne will like it.

Friday, February 06, 2009

She did it again!

Isabelle was extremely happy when she got home from school today.
She dug into her backpack and retrieved this:

Student of the Month

So she has a Perfect Attendance award, was on the Honor Roll, and now STUDENT OF THE MONTH????
Think we can get her into Harvard?

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The suckiness of....oh, Hell with it.

Yesterday was a study in adventure.
My program began at 3:15. The good ol' weatherman said that we could get 1 to 3 inches of snow.
When my program ended at 4:20, that had been upgraded to 4 to 6 inches.
The program was only 12 minutes from RAPTOR. It took me a solid HOUR to get the birds back.

This particular snow was thick and fluffy like feathers. Very pretty as it fell silently. Onto the old snow and ice from last week.

Sylvester disapproved of the forecast.
Sylvester disapproves of snow
Click on the photo....that dusting of snow on his big sweet head just does me in.

By the time I had redeposited all the birds in their mews (and almost ending up on my ass while holding Priscilla), the forecast had been upgraded to 6 to 8 inches.
My trip home usually lasts about 30 minutes. Last night, it took 3 hours.
One of the local radio stations was taking requests from people stuck out in the mess on the highways. Someone requested a good one:

I didn't get above 9 miles an hour. For 3 hours.

This morning, with my good humor restored, we were able to go out and enjoy all the annoying loveliness:

Isabelle and the picnic table
That's a foot of snow on the table behind Isabelle.

Lorelei snow
Lorelei enjoyed herself, until......
snow in the face
...while making a snow angel, Nellie went in for a kiss and pushed a quart of snow into her face. That was that for Lorelei.

What is it about snow that makes dogs go out of their minds?
Call of the wild
"Let's play, Nellie! RRrrrrrrrrr!"

Hooper's a big dog. The snow was hitting his shoulders:
Hooper up to his chest

It did my heart good to see Nellie romp and frolic like she was a puppy, instead of a geezer 8 year old:

The pictures don't do it justice. It was a yard full of diamonds.

And now....the goofiest pic I got today:

Goofy Hoopie Grin
Hooper in full "Snow Gritties" mode.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Raptors are better than Prozac!

Did you know grouchiness evaporates at the sight of birds of prey? It's true.

Red-shouldered yard
The local red-shouldered hawks have been seen perched next to each other for the last few days. Yes, it's February, but birds and other wildlife know that Spring is getting closer. I've seen red-tails perching very close, too. When they can tolerate each others presence, you can bet those dirty thoughts aren't far behind. (Kind of like when you meet a guy in a bar, and if your standards aren't too high, you might realize that this weird-looking guy might just get to see the inside of your apartment.)
Okay, maybe I stretched that metaphor a bit there.

It got up to 49 degrees today, and I HAD to get out of the house. (did anyone notice I have access to the Interwebs? That stupid router, the one that the CUSTOMER SERVICE GOON said wasn't "pinging", is just fine.)

*Let me get this off my chest...I boycotted the Super Bowl today. I didn't watch ONE commercial. I was sickened to think of all the millions of dollars being squandered just for 30 seconds of advertising. Families are being thrown out of their homes (and that hits very close to home for us...we came very very close last year) and all that money is filling NBC's coffers. Why couldn't a company stand up and say, "Hey. Instead of being greedy bastards, we are going to donate this big pile of money to a homeless shelter, or feed hungry children, or {insert good cause here}"?

End of rant....for now.

Armleder Park, the stage for past Raptor-Paloozas, was quiet yet crunchy today.
Though the short-eared owls were off sleeping somewhere, two Northern Harriers were hunting with a vengeance.

N Harrier 1
Trick to photographing harriers (whose erratic, moth-like flight makes them unpredictable):
Just stand in one spot and be still. They will eventually fly right by you. This one got as close as 30 feet from me. The air was so calm, I could just barely hear the swoosh as it passed.

Look closely at the pictures...the owl-like facial disc that harriers possess allows them to hunt not just by sight but also by hearing.
N Harrier 2

They fly with their face pointed down, all the better to hear those juicy meadow voles, my dear!
N Harrier 3

I met a local photographer while we were both watching the harriers flow back and forth.

He was good enough to hip me to a screech owl roosting cavity and also a natural great horned owl's nest across the river, both of which I will be visiting when the park's other road is cleared.

Traffic cop harrier
Some birds of prey are rather civic-minded...this one was trying to direct traffic.

And the other harrier decided to go after larger prey:
Giant harrier eats human
A red-clad human!