Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

November 15, 2017

Farewell to the King

On Friday August 4th, shortly after 3 pm, I was outside feeding my bestest Pigeon pal Pierre. He had been a blessing to me the last couple weeks while I had been off after my accident (I broke a couple ribs after falling 8 ft from the back part of the roof). It was a physically painful and mind numbing boring time, I welcomed all the beautiful backyard beasts that distracted me, especially Pierre. Funny, the day of my fall was the official 5 year anniversary for Pierre coming to visit.


As I fed him, I watched the sky get dark, the winds pick up and we both knew some bad weather was rolling in. Just a typical Summer thunderstorm, nothing different than what we've encountered many times through the past.

I could tell Pierre was getting ready to leave me, taking shelter before the storm hit us. I wished for him to be safe and I would see him later. Off he flew. Little did I know that would be the last time I would see him.

Here we are about three and a half months later, and still no sighting. He's had some long disappearances in the past but even from the first weekend away this time, it felt different. None of the others in his flock were missing, even the missus was here daily. Of course I still looked out for him day after day, week after week, despite my gut telling me he wasn't coming back. To this day, I still scan the Pigeons and a couple times my heart skipped a beat when I thought I saw him out there.

Pretty much all my hope has faded.

I really don't want to do this blog. In a way I'm not ready for it. I always knew the day would come but who ever expects such things? Pierre does deserve a tribute.

I'm sure through his life elsewhere he wasn't thought about a whole lot by people who passed him by. Maybe someone stopped and looked, thinking "man, that is one fat Pigeon!"


It would be nice to think a few thought he was rather handsome.


I like to think he had a friend or two elsewhere in his travels. Someone must have befriended him since he was "people friendly" from the get go. The first day he showed up, he walked the length of the backyard, hopped up the deck steps, walked across the deck to where Angie and I sat. He looked up at us. Then he flew up into Angie's lap like he was introducing himself. Then he flew into mine. Little did either of us know that he would make such an impact on our backyard and my life.


Pierre was not just a Pigeon. Pierre was my friend. We had some great bonding moments over the years. He trusted me. The time I helped him with the thread around his foot, how I took him into the house and then up to Toronto Wildlife Centre certainly is testimony to that. It wasn't always about getting a feed from me.

I will miss the dog days of Summer and us just hanging out.




I will miss the winter mornings where my coffee gets cold as I rush out there to help him get through another frosty day.





I will just miss him.


He may have been a part of a flock, but to me he was a stand out bird.


Sometimes I thought to myself that I should keep one of the sticks he brought to me over the years.


It has been quite a ride with him. My sharing our life together on social media had positive and negative effects. I know he changed the feelings in some about Pigeons, slowly realizing that they are personable creatures. I listened to the idiots who asked me again and again if he shit on me. Calling him a flying rat and calling his kind disease-filled pests. I figured out the best line to say to those who still opposed this friendship... "I always know where I stand with a Pigeon". Honestly, that line works because it is very true. I was once asked if I would catch him and sell him to this person for $20. They were serious, putting a bill in my hand, wanting to take him home as a pet. That person got a big "fuck you!" What I really liked was people, out of the blue, people I never expected to hear say such nice things about my bond with him. They were genuine, thinking it was pretty cool to have this bird come day after day to visit.

Pierre was King around here. He knew it too. I find a lot of Pigeons walk around like they are king shit but Pierre definitely was all that, and a bag of chips.


There's no point in talking about the what may have happened to him. There's a number of possibilities but why even think about any of them? It's better for me and those who admired him to think about the good times, hold on to those special memories.

All I can say is I am grateful he flew into my life. He changed me for the better. I never hated Pigeons but I wasn't big on them over the years when I first started my backyard bird feeding. It's funny to read some of my rants on this bird species in Facebook memories. I was rejoicing mornings where none of those pains in the ass were around. It's laughable now. In the memories though, I still find moments where I had compassion towards them and helped a Pigeon or two despite my frustrations at their antics.

Pierre opened my mind and heart to his kind. As many of you know, I have made a number of friends because of him. Thanks for that my beautiful boy!


I wish for another time to look him in the eye.


One more photo.


Anyway, he will forever be in my heart and my memories. I'm sure some of you will take a moment to think about him, all the pictures and posts over the last 5 years; or if you are one of the few who actually got to meet him.

If for some chance he does show up at the back door again, you all will read about it here. If I can pick my jaw up from the floor.

Adding this as it's wonderfully overwhelming, the comforting words by friends and fans of Pierre after I posted this blog on my Facebook page. He touched a lot of hearts in people who never met him.

What a great tribute to a great bird! Well done Rob, I'm sure Pierre would love it and be strutting around telling everyone that 'he's' your favorite :)

You are one special man and Pierre is one special bird.

You really did a great job with your buddy. He was a beautiful bird.

Your best blog yet Rob - I loved it but feel so sad for your families loss . You certainly changed my outlook on pigeons- always think of yours when I see one !!

Thanks everyone. I will raise my glass to him tonight. :)

You made me cry. What a wonderful tribute. Pierre was so lucky to have you in his life. Hugs to you....

He's lucky to have known you. And there's always hope...

Lovely tribute, so sorry to hear.

It won't be the same coming online and not seeing you & Pierre. Am clinging onto hope that he may return. Thanks for sharing this remarkable bond with us.

Cheers to Pierre on this Whiskey Wednesday . I don't see many Pigeons out my way but when we go to a Blue Jays Ballgame we sit and eat our hotdogs outside the dome and the local pigeons always get tossed a few pieces of bun.
I certainly appreciate them more after reading your blogs.

Coincidentally, before reading your post, Barbara, I finished off my post the way you started yours.
I cant imagine your sorrow at his loss. I'm holding out hope though with fingers crossed he returns. ❤ Pierre
Your story touches my heart, Rob <3 What a beautiful tribute to a very special (and handsome) fellow!


Oh how I wish I could see your jaw hit the floor.... this was loving tribute to the King of pigeons. Although we love the Jerseys, there is only one Pierre.

You made Pierre a real creature( bird) with a personality! I'm sad he is not in your life right now but I'm being optimistic!! You were blessed to have him in your life ❤️

Beautiful tribute to your pal Pierre. I really hope he does return.

OMGosh ... what a truly loving, heartfelt blog/tribute to your wonderful pal, Pierre. I still have tears. Through all of your posts and photos, I too, like many others, have learned to appreciate a bird that many people look down on as ordinary or even as a pest. They are full of character and personality, as individual too in their looks from each other as people are. I was also dreading the day that you came to the realization that he probably wasn't coming back. He certainly had a good long life for a pigeon, probably made even longer and more fulfilled from his long-standing friendship with you and Angie. Of course, one can always hope for that one miracle but rest assured that through you, he has struck a real chord of appreciation and respect with bird lovers everywhere. Cheers to Pierre on this poignant Whiskey Wednesday. RIP

So sorry Rob 😞

oh no Pierre has left Bloor street,sorry for your loss of a fine-feathered friend hugs

Once again, thank you, to everyone for taking a moment out and sending some kind and comforting words. I might actually copy/paste these to the blog for any future readers to see how he touched others over the years.

Got the whisky in hand. Cheers to all of you!

So sorry this chapter in your life has seemingly come to a close. Pierre's life lessons will live on.

Cheers Pierre and Rob with a toast of white owl!!

What a beautiful tribute. I’m sorry for you and Angie. I really do hope he’s well and just off on another adventure!

Lovely tribute. Sorry to hear about Pierre.

What a wonderful tribute to him!

An amazing bird indeed.

He was/is a very handsome bird and I have enjoyed reading all your posts about him.

Wonderful tribute to Pierre, thank you so much for sharing your journey with him with all of us!

Thanks for sharing this incredible relationship.

So sorry for your loss Rob. Pierre was so handsome and we loved reading about him. I too have a love for pigeons. I sometimes just sit in parking lots and take pictures while they interact. They really do have personalities and you did your best to show Pierre's.

Pierre was legendary! A Thirsty Thursday Cheers to Pierre!

So sad... But what a beautiful tribute.

Thanks for sharing Rob, and condolences to you and Angie on the loss of this special relationship.

Cheers Pierre

Beautiful tribute. Such a handsome little guy.

All of pigeonkind owe a lot to Pierre, who I'm sure has helped change the minds of many people about pigeons after reading about your adventures together.

Legend.

We will be raising a glass/tumbler of 40 Creek in his honour.

November 7, 2017

Nest Box Results

Some of you know about my other blog, The Toronto Nest Blog; but I think many of you do not, or perhaps just don't follow it. I look at the views of my blogs here compared to the nest blog and the difference is huge. Not that I need more views; I'm not that much of an attention whore. But the nest box monitoring is important to me.


The whole Bluebird saga was one helluva story and the fact I had 2 fledged in the end is nothing short of a miracle. It shows the determination of a male Eastern Bluebird, a father to these young birds, who never gave up despite 3 eggs not hatching and losing his mate in the final days before the young left the nest.


It was not for the faint of heart. Hell, even I was full of jittery nerves throughout. If you missed it, I suggest you put the kettle on and scroll through my nest blog. I tried to make them as brief as possible, mainly because I'm having issues with the blog's set-up and the paragraphs are not separating.

Anyway, I wanted to post my results here because this is important to me. I have shown what a difference we can make if we take the time out to do a little more for our feathered friends. Yes it is work, but it is good work. I put the miles on my feet as I travel through the fields looking after these boxes. Walking is good for every human being and it's something not to be taken for granted. Every day you can get yourself out of bed on your own, breathe the air on your own, feed, dress and wash yourself is a good day. Try to never take that for granted, even though we all do as we go through life, working, paying bills and bitching about all the insignificant things.

Sorry, getting off topic...

Okay, here are the results from the 2017 season.

Through 16 Tree Swallow nests, 81 young birds successfully fledged.

The previous year, being my first year out, there were 7 nests and just over 30 young birds fledged.

How's that for helping some birds?

I'm hoping for the return of the Bluebirds next year, and a better season. I will be more prepared for it.

The nest season is long over but things are happening throughout, preparing for 2018. I will share all in the coming months. Stay tuned!

October 31, 2017

Wild Week

We were on vacation a couple weeks ago, spent a few days up north and what a stellar week to be off weather wise. Not much story telling here but thought I would share some photographic moments with you.

It's not very often that I see Fox in my travels so I always embrace the moment.


Still lots of migrating birds in the area. We saw Brown Creepers in almost every place we went, including our backyard in the tail end of our holiday. They can be tough to spot if you don't catch the movement of one.


Always a treat to see and feed the Gray Jays of Algonquin Park. This one in particular has some excited because he does not have any leg bands like you see on the Gray Jays in Algonquin. I've heard of people actually photoshopping out the leg bands on these birds in their photos. Personally, I would never do that. Those bands individualize the birds and tell a story about the history of that bird. But that's just me. Here is a 20 second video of the moment.


I love our backyard but it sure is nice to get out of the city for a few days and be around this kind of scenery.








I call this "Encroaching Sprawl".


We found the remnants of an old cabin in the woods.


Address is #13


I haven't a clue what this is which was very near the cabin. My dark imagination begs to be released and share it's 2 cents.


You damn right I wanted to get a photo at this forgotten place.


To me, it was strange to still see Butterflies at this time of year, like this Painted Lady on the beach.


But seeing Dark-eyed Juncos popping up in our travels was a reminder this amazing weather will not last.


Another very regular sighting were the White-throated Sparrows. If we could not see them, we certainly could hear them in our waking moment. These birds are still appearing daily in our backyard.


With our vacation week almost over, now being back home, we continued with some outdoor walks and taking in the sights around us; some of which took in the sights of us too.


Eastern Phoebe


Always nice to spot a Sapsucker as it's not a commonly seen bird for either of us.


Never a day passed without a Skunk sighting at home.


Late October for me begins the season of night Owling once again. We managed to find a couple Screech Owls near our home.



Merry thinks she can pull off a good Owl look herself.


It was a great week off. There was never a mission to see anything. All we wanted to do was be outside and enjoy the natural world around us. It does wonders for the soul.



October 26, 2017

Home

So yesterday morning I was blogging. A "shout out" came out from TWC regarding a Red-tailed Hawk that could use a ride to get her back to her home. A part of me was hesitant at first because the location was Coronation Park, which is a lake park just east of Ontario Place. It's really not that far from our house but the thought of heading towards downtown Toronto was a little intimidating for me even though I still had more than 3 hours to go before I started work. In the end, I said "yes" to helping. One, it's not very often I get to release a large bird like a Hawk. Second, as fall migration winds down, the opportunities to release birds drastically reduces.

It was an easy drive down to the park. The Hawk was very calm the whole way. I even had no problem finding parking and did not mind having to pay.

I scoped out the area. Definitely a nice spot for a Hawk to reside. It was weird to me seeing how close all those lake front condos were though... right across Lakeshore Blvd!


The condos are the reason the Hawk ended up going into Toronto Wildlife. The glass balconies are confusing to birds. If they get up on someone's balcony, like a Hawk in this case, who was possibly going after a smaller bird. The Hawk drops down to the floor of the balcony and suddenly it feels trapped. It can see out to the world but that glass holds them back. The bird panics, thrashes around about the balcony, hitting the glass wall, perhaps also hitting the wall of the condo, any furniture, etc. Of course if the bird does not panic and thinks things through, it can jump up to the rail of the balcony and then fly off. Smaller birds can easily fly under the glass barrier though. We've helped a few young Peregrine Falcons at our Etobicoke nest site who have gotten into similar situations.

Young Peregrine Falcon we rescued from a balcony, June 2017.


End result for this Hawk, no injuries, but it was nice of the finder to catch the bird and bring her in for assessment anyway (just in case). And in case you are wondering, the little Peregrine was a-okay too.

After picking out a spot to lug the large carrier to, I scoped out for off leash dogs. Yes, they were about, one was chasing Squirrels up the trees and I asked the woman to please leash her dog, explaining what I was about to do. She refused but did take her dog well away. This prompted me to move the carrier further back and wait a little longer until they were out of sight. Thankfully no other off leash dogs appeared.

I stand beside the carrier, unzip the door, and try to pull it open but there is some force holding it back. I have a peek inside and the Hawk is on it's back, with it's feet pointed at the door, talons on the one foot are holding onto the door. This is a defensive position with birds of prey. "Come at me bro! I will mess you up!" is basically what it means.

I back off, stand to the side again and wait a minute. I sense movement inside. The Hawk has let go of the door and is now standing up. Well, that's my guess at the moment since I cannot see within. I reach around, let a little light in by moving the door a bit and next thing I know is the bird is coming out. No hesitation now. The bird knows that freedom is beyond the confines of the carrier. Two steps out the door, touching the grass and the bird quickly takes flight, landing in a nearby tree. All the Squirrels surrounding us start their stress calls.

Can you find the Hawk in this un-cropped photo?


The Hawk looks around for a few minutes, then takes flight to another tree. This scenario is repeated 4 or 5 more times. I take the carrier back to the truck, get my big lens and watch her for the next 15 to 20 minutes.


It was great to see this bird come to the realization that not only was she free, but she was back to her home. She flew harder and faster, zipping through the trees like she knew every single one of them, and she began to scream that famous Red-tailed Hawk sound. You know the sound of buzzards in the desert in the movies and TV shows... that's actually the call of a Red-tail and not Buzzards.

She flew to her old nest and sat there momentarily screeching some more. Then flew back out to the treed area.






I like to think she was rejoicing to her freedom. I suspect she may have also been calling for her mate too.

As much as I wanted to stick around and watch her some more, I had to get back home and get ready for work.

Releasing any bird or animal is a wonderful experience. But when I take one back to it's home, it really kicks the heart warming, good for the soul feeling up a few notches. It doesn't have to be a big sexy beast like this Red-tailed Hawk. I get the same good vibe from taking any Pigeon back to it's flock.

Pigeon release in Port Credit last winter. One of the white birds on the right is the bird I released.


When a Pigeon goes home, I watch it coo up a storm to it's buddies, seemingly telling them all about it's adventures abroad. The bird is so excited, walks around in circles and doesn't stop talking. You can see that in the video here of our friend "Rehab", one of the Jerseys, after his release back here with his flock 4 months ago. Yes, I still see him every day.

Time to publish this and get back to the other blog I was working on. I hope you enjoyed this tale. It seems Molly is quite enthralled by it.