Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

September 6, 2017

Meet Topper

I returned to work yesterday (Sept 05) and it will probably take me a bit of time to adjust to the "back to the routine" gig. I woke up much too early this morning just because that's what I've been doing during my time off. It was nice to see our backyard Skunk though with me getting up so early. Angie has named him "Topper" and you can see why...



There's not a lot of white fur on him, just a patch on his head that runs into his shoulders and then a bit on the tip of his tail.

Topper has been sleeping under our shed most days. We are okay with that. We hope he spends much of his life here in the backyard with us and stays away from the roads.

Watching him morning and evening the last few weeks, I can see his routines. He knows where to look for food out back, finding stuff under the bird feeders, but also he's made some pretty big holes in the lawn too. Once again, we are okay with that. Angie and I would rather have a lived in backyard, enjoyed by the wildlife, than a well manicured lawn that you cringe whenever a dandelion pops up or a Skunk digs a hole in. We get joy from the wildlife. We don't need the stress of worrying about perfect grass.




One morning while snapping some photos of him, this happened.


Of course it gave me the idea of a potential photo op another morning.


Part of Topper's routine is to sniff out our deck steps. We have a suet feeder above the steps and sometimes pieces of the suet fall down when the Downy Woodpeckers are hammering away at it. Topper cleans it up.


I also occasionally feed some of my Pigeon buds there and they throw stuff around, which Topper is also finding. As you might notice in one of the first photos, the Pigeons don't really know what to make of him.

This morning I set out the measuring tape to try and give people an idea on his size. He's quite small in my opinion.



I know I've mentioned it recently with the young Skunks we have been seeing... I'd like to believe they are the young ones of that poor mother Skunk I tried to help back in July. You may recall she could not be saved because her injuries were too severe. But she was given peace, an end to her suffering. It was the humane thing to do. It's nice to believe that we are now helping her young, more so one of them by letting him claim our backyard as his territory (not a lot of people would allow that to happen with a Skunk). Without any proof either way, nothing wrong with thinking this way; is there?

He loves our fountain.


Topper is not habituated by any means. I have a decent camera with some long lenses that allow me to pull him right in through photos. The key is to remain quiet and still, let him roam around and do his thing. If he wanders too close, I make him aware I am there. I find with the Skunks is that when they are busy looking for food they are rather oblivious to everything else. They let their noses do the work, face to the ground, and don't look up a whole lot. So there are times when suddenly Topper is coming right at me. I don't need to be drastic, just slide my foot along the ground seems to work better than a light cough, clearing of my throat, or a "psst" noise. Once he's aware, he looks right at me, sometimes the fur flares, the tail goes up and he freezes; other times he immediately backs off and goes another way. It's when the fur flaring tail popping moment happens that I don't do anything else in the moment. Would he spray? Why spook him any further to find out? Moments later he calms down and goes elsewhere away from me.

I'm no expert on these animals. I just use common sense although some people think I'm off my rocker enjoying the sights of them out back. What's not to love? They are omnivores, which means they eat both plant matter and animals including mice and rats. Toronto had quite the rat issue in 2016, hundreds of complaints from all over the city. If they promoted the benefits of Skunks in our community, people might have a little more appreciation for them.


Skunks can be a carrier of rabies, here is a list of reported cases in Ontario from past years. But who is out there trying to touch one? Certainly not me. The not wanting to get sprayed factor keeps me well enough away. There's risk in messing with any wildlife be it viruses or just plain ol' blood shed. I don't like to use the word "rabies" with any animal. Rabies spreads fear and misunderstanding. It justifies some people to harm these animals. Just enjoy them. Don't f**k with them. But enough about that, you get what I'm saying and what I'm about with our local wildlife.

We will enjoy Topper for as long as he stays with us. Naming him has added an emotional attachment but even all we don't name, we still have a love for them. He is here. He has made our backyard all the more special. And I hope to share more about his life in our backyard in another blog.





August 23, 2017

Still Recovering, This and That

Good day! Yes, I am still recovering. I am still at home. I'm on the mend, no doubting that, and before I know it life should be back to normal, going to work and always looking forward to the end of the day and coming home. Sure there's a bright side to being hurt in the Summer; but when you deal with pain, sleep loss due to the pain, loss of abilities to do things you enjoy, unable to properly take care of your home as you normally would, and there are some financial set backs... personally, I would much rather take full health and going to work, appreciating my time off come the weekend. Don't get me wrong, having Angie pick up my slack has been awesome. We're testing that old "through sickness and health" bit.

Here's some of this and that from the last couple weeks while I'm still recovering.

First, Pierre is still missing. We are nearing 3 weeks since I last saw "my boy". He was here all that week, and the week before. I don't mark every day, just when I notice he's not come in for a few days, and then mark the last day I saw him.


I won't give up hope on his return but things are different this time with his disappearance. Seeing his missus daily, numerous times some days, and she's had another suitor following her in on occasion. That is something new and I am not happy about. I know there's not a thing I can do about it but it doesn't mean I have to like it.

Crappy photo of the missus (behind) and her new friend up front. I've been photographing at night and some mornings I forget to switch all my settings back like auto-focus.


Come to think of it as I key this, he's not been around here for about a week now either. Even her coming alone day after day is unsettling to me and makes me think the worst case scenario. A reality, one day, I know will happen, that Pierre won't be coming back. He has disappeared for over 50 days in the past so let's not give up hope despite what my gut is telling me.

No regrets for the hundreds of selfies with Pierre over the last 5 years.


To many he may be "just a Pigeon" but to bond with any animal is a privilege and a blessing. They are genuine. May I repeat what I tell people these days "You will always know where you stand with a Pigeon" and of course any animal for that matter.

Jersey also has a male suitor now. The brute that has been following her around the last number of weeks. I still don't get his aggression to peck her on the back of the head like he does. He is very rough. Then I catch them in smooching moments and, uh, other physical *stuff* as you can see here.

You can see he's quite a hulk of a Pigeon compared to her.


No need for commentary with the following photos.




Jersey's sibling, formerly known as Jersey 2, but now nick named "Rehab" is doing well. I miss seeing them together. I always knew they weren't a couple, but it was great to occasionally think otherwise, and just seeing them side by side all the time. The most visually unique birds we've got visiting.

The good old days.


They still occasionally arrive at the same time. It's hit or miss if they are going to sit together. But that's okay. She was here the day he returned to the wild and I do believe she helped him with that transition period in the first days being back home.

A few days ago (that's the brute above).


Rehab is doing fine without his sister. He's been strutting cock among the other birds, probably looking for a mate as well. I actually have another cool story about Rehab for another blog. It certainly adds to his life here with us.


Of course as I key this, I look outside to find The Jerseys hanging out together. That's a rare thing! And they brought in a few others who I am certain come from the same lineage.


This was actually over a week ago now. I let the blog slide to the side.

Here's Rehab last week. He is loving the dog days of Summer!


I recently had a couple adventures helping a few birds.

First off, friends of mine had a Canary in their backyard. They live up the street from me. My bud John was texting me about the bird when it first showed up. I asked him if he was going to try and catch it. He said they had nothing to contain it. We keep a spare bird cage here at home because of all the escapees we come across. I told him he could borrow it. John showed up minutes later and picked up the cage. He quickly set it up in his yard and less than an hour later they had the bird inside.


Now to try and find the owner. I told him I would do what I could from home on the computer. I shared a photo of the bird on a few community Facebook pages. Then I put one on a Toronto lost and found pet page. John posted on some other pages. We waited through the coming weekend and no one claimed it. As much as John and Zeny thought having a Canary would be cool, they knew it would probably be better suited in another home... hopefully free of cats (they have one), and possibly placed with other birds.

I tell ya I haven't had this much "internet frustration" dealing with people as I did trying to help that bird. It all stemmed from the lost and found pet page. So many people argued it was a Goldfinch. Some even argued that Toronto has flocks of wild Canarys! A few people tried to make me feel pretty shitty about us catching this bird, that we need to do the right thing and set it free. One woman was basically begging that I let the poor thing go. Some stated that because the bird was not banded, that it was not a domestic. It took a lot for me to not lose my shit on these people. I grew tired of arguing back with the truth. People commented without reading back through the older comments. A few took my side, confirming it was a Canary, it was a pet bird, etc. Some offered to take it if we didn't find it's owner. I started to weed through these people, trying to determine who would hopefully be the best caregiver to the bird. That in turn became another cluster fuck. Yes, the f-bomb is necessary due to further frustration trying to help this bird. One person would only take it if we could confirm it was a male (they did not want a female because they don't sing). Another told me a golden tale of having 3 birds and would gladly bring it home. We chatted back and forth. They seemed like the best candidate overall and I set up the arrangements for them to contact John because they wanted to pick up the bird the very next day. All that wasted time with the back and forth emails as the person never came through in the end. They never contacted John. And they didn't have the courage to tell me they were backing out. Stuff like this really makes me lose my faith in a lot of people. It makes me more skeptical with the next time something like this should ever happen.

I saw this posted somewhere and it seems suiting for what I had to endure with those people on that page.


I contacted a friend of ours, Chris, who lives out in the east end. She volunteers much like I do, even more so with other places, and has resources to more people willing to help animals in need. Luck have it, she found someone who quickly said they would take the bird in, but would also continue to monitor lost bird posts. They have lots of experience in caring for birds. They already have a couple Canarys so this bird would not be alone. And get this, they contacted John, they set up a time to come get the bird, and they followed through exactly as promised. Amazing!

It's funny that Chris and I have gone back and forth with helping each other help creatures the last few years. She took in a Budgie I helped catch. I took in an abandoned Tarantula she was trying to help place. Now she helped me place this Canary. While I may have lost faith in strangers, I have not lost faith in people I know.

And as a "thank you" gift, look what John brought over to me, as a token of appreciation from him and Zeny for helping them with this bird! As I key this, it is Wednesday, so take a guess at what I'm going to enjoy this evening.


Continuing with helping birds, here is another...

Someone found a box along Dundas Street just north of Islington subway. Within the box was 2 very young Pigeons. What a cruel heartless act someone did by removing them from their nest, probably on their balcony, and just dumping them like this. That's the only thing that really makes any sense.

I picked up the birds and transported them to Toronto Wildlife (recently got permission from my doctor to start doing more including getting behind the wheel for local driving). Sadly, one of the birds died on route. The other was non-stop crying (begging) as it was starving. We can only hope he will make it.

Whoever did this could have avoided the trouble by ensuring no birds were making a nest on their balcony.

The survivor, last I heard anyway was still alive.


It was my most heart breaking drive in to date.

It's still mostly life at home with a couple brief walks to some very close parks. The Skunks are a treat to see, occasionally spotting one (or two) with first or last light of the day. It's makes for better viewing but with a constantly moving Skunk in dim light, I realize my camera lacks the capabilities. I may get 5 clear shots out of 100. Oh well, still a joy to watch and a great distraction for me.

We were surprised to see a rather portly adult coming around now. I'd almost think it was pregnant by how round her mid-section is. Here is a one minute video of this beauty.


Then there's the young ones.



We've got holes all through the garden and about the lawn. We are okay with that.

The Pigeons and other morning visitors are confused about this new animal appearing.


From yesterday morning, two of them wandered about shortly after 7 am and disappeared down back by 8, possibly under our shed. We are okay with that too!


Then there's the 3 young Raccoons. I do believe something has happened to their mother as I've not seen her in a few weeks now. The kids are doing well but I worry about how they are acting without adult supervision. They know well enough to sleep all day. It's just their antics at night are a little brazen, or dumb.

"Talk to the paw Rob!"


Looking guilty down there.


No fear of the Skunks. It's like they watch the Skunks dig around for food, and then they try to push the Skunk out and steal the food.


Waiting for the rain to end one evening last week.


Their mother lived in the garage roof near our shed for a couple years but moved out this Spring, which was good, because the neighbours finally had the roof repaired. She was a great mother Raccoon and kept her young in line.

Here she is, May 2016, sleeping on top of the roof, right by the entrance.


I've seen less and less of the kids in the last 10 days or so. Hopefully they didn't go and get themselves killed. Maybe they had enough of being sprayed by the Skunks and are staying clear of here?

Back to day time fun and distractions out back...

Cross Orbweaver Spider


The Betrothed Moth


Jumping Spider (older photo, saw one recently but it got away on me)


Our cats are always entertaining. Merry is a great side-kick, enjoying just sitting in the chair and watching the world go by.


She's normally the better behaved of the two but recently she got into a bit of mischief in the kitchen while I went downstairs for something. I swear she's saying "What? It wasn't me. It was Molly!"


Molly got some leash time which doesn't happen too often. She's not big on the leash/harness but she did good with this outing.


Last bits...

Peek-a-boo!


Here's my arm almost 5 weeks after the accident. I guess those scars are here to stay. I am still dealing with a fair amount of discomfort in the midsection, not constantly, just odd moments, depending on what I am doing. So it's nothing like the first couple weeks. I hear broken ribs take a long time to heal. I've got 2 to mend. Oh goody!


I can't say I really like this blog all that much. I love a lot about it but it's a bit of a mess, isn't it? I don't even know how to end it besides griping about my not liking it. I know starting a blog, then working on it a week later, is not what I like to do. What I initially want to go with changes with the days passing and my moods as well. No I'm not overly moody but how I feel today is very different than how I felt the day I started this. Plus cramming so much in here, when I could have done a few smaller blogs. Oh well. Hopefully some of you have stuck with me to the end here.

Okay, time to shut up now.

Back soon.

August 17, 2017

6 Years With Moonie

6 years ago today, at approximately 1:05 pm, Moonie came into our lives.

He dropped into our backyard just as I was preparing to leave for work. Angie was home that day and spotted a little blue bird out in the garden.

I walked outside and he quickly flew up to a nearby tree. Moments later he came back down to the ground to pick under the bird feeders.

I slowly walked up to him. He looked up at me and had a curious look like "who are you?"

His world went dark as I dropped a t-shirt over his head and quickly brought him inside.

Angie got bird-sitting duties that afternoon. HAHA! Easy enough, I put him a spare bird cage, in another room, and said to leave him be for the day.

Here we are 6 years later.

Happy Anniversary to the mouth from the south. Our kitchen has not had a quiet morning since you came to live with us. But we love you and are okay with your happy squawks and chirps.

Here's to many more Moonie!


For those curious, he is doing well since Misfit passed away. He did adore her but they were not a bonded pair. He is getting lots of extra attention and will be from now on. A few new toys are keeping him busy plus lots of outside time while the weather is nice. He enjoys being louder than any bird flying around out back.

And yes, we are aware Moonie is a girl but in the early days we thought Moonie to be a boy because of the blue cere most of the time. He remains a boy until he lays an egg which hopefully never happens.

August 14, 2017

R.I.P. Misfit 2007 - 2017

On Saturday August 12th, 2017 we woke to the sad discovery that our Budgie "Misfit" had passed sometime early that morning.


It was a shock to find but in another way, not that surprising. Misfit was an old Budgie and she was showing signs of her age for the last while. Signs were afternoon naps which she never did in past years. She wasn't interested in flying anymore. But she ate well, tweeted daily and played with her favorite toys for hours on end, even the day before she passed. She wasn't sick. She was old. It must have been her time.

Napping girl.


She really enjoyed having her cage door open and just walking about the outside ledge and preening for a while.


This September would have been her 10th anniversary with us. She was well beyond 10 yrs of age. I'd give at the very least 2 yrs on top of the 10 but for some reason my gut feels 4 sounds more like it.

A recap about Misfit.

She arrived in the backyard in the early part of the Summer of 2007. She lived out there for almost 4 months before I finally decided to catch her and bring her in. She certainly made that Summer out back all the more memorable. Angie and I looked out for her all the time; especially after heavy rains and thunderstorms through the night. We'd be listening out for her incoming tweets every morning as she returned to the bird feeders.

We were certain the large tree in the background was where she slept every night. I don't know the species of the tree but it's massive. If I were a little bird, I'd take refuge in this giant tree too. It's 5 or 6 backyards over from ours.


If only Misfit could talk, the things she could tell us about her life outside. We saw a fair amount of it but she could surely tell us even more. We couldn't watch her 24/7.

The Blue Jays somehow knew Misfit did not belong among them outside and they caused her a lot of grief. I recently saw them drive another Budgie out of the backyard and that bird did not return whereas Misfit did day after day. One morning we were sitting on the deck and heard Misfit screaming. Seconds later she came flying over the house with 2 Jays on her tail. She managed to evade them once again. Later in the Summer, as per norm, migrating Hawks started attacking our backyard friends. Obviously Misfit avoided those too.

What was funny is she knew her place out back. There were birds she liked to be around and could peacefully co-exist with. They were the Goldfinches. She easily beat the House Sparrows by the dozen off any feeder she wanted to feed from. I'm sure that will delight many of my Bluebird friends.

Misfit not letting the House Sparrows push her around.


My good friend and neighbour Patricia gave me a bird cage. I set it up out back and Misfit knew when the feeders were busy with bigger birds like Grackles and Red-wings, she could fly into the cage and eat in peace. What was even funnier is that over time some of the Red-wings and Chickadees caught on to this and they too would slip inside for a feed of millet seed or on a Budgie stick.

So when September was coming to an end in just over a week... I did my best stealth like walk outside, going to the cage and shutting the door when Misfit was inside. Talk about a freak out! She was aware of me throughout the Summer but she wasn't tolerant to me being near, this increased over the weeks as she grew accustomed to her wild life.

It was months of patience and understanding, giving her the space she needed and the respect she deserved to take that wild bird out of her. Seeing her in the first few weeks ripping chest feathers out was a little heartbreaking. But we weren't going to release her back outside. Some would argue that I should have left her out there because she was so happy about being a free bird. I would agree if we lived somewhere in Florida or her native home of Australia. But in Canada? No. She would surely perish at some point in the winter.

Misfit did eventually calm down. She never became a hand tame bird but that was fine by us. She loved music, especially Frankie Valli that Angie had introduced her to. We often let Misfit free fly about the main floor of the house. Our last cat Meadow never gave a s**t about Misfit. She could be 3 ft away from the cage and be like "whatever".

This photo has crushed me ever since Meadow died. It crushes me more now with Misfit gone.


Even after we caught our second Budgie Moonie about 5 years later, Meadow still had no interest in the birds.


So, going back to that free flying bit about the house, it leads into my next little tale. We were approaching Misfit's one year anniversary in the house. There was a mishap with the front door being open just a little too long, Misfit was in the kitchen but suddenly she came flying through the living room and went over our heads and straight out the door. It happened so fast.

Miraculously we got her back 2 hours later. It was her choice to come home. She could have kept flying straight south west as she left the house but instead she came back to the yard. Angie had run outside and was calling for her. I got her cage set up on a table in the yard. It was a long tease as she flew here and there. She sat with the Goldfinches for a bit and tweeted away with them. It was almost like a reunion. She was so close to us but just out of reach. This was September and Hawks were migrating. Sure enough at one point in flew a Sharp-shinned, all the birds scattered including Misfit. In the moment we thought that was it, we lost her. Silly us. She returned again. As I mentioned, about 2 hours later, she hops into the cage, kinda like "okay, I'm done, this was fun, I'm ready to go home now" and in she came. Tell me that doesn't say she was meant to be with us?

Later that day we went out and bought Misfit a new bird cage. A cage meant for a Princess I suppose because it was more like a castle than a simple cage. The reason we got her a new cage is because the bars on her old cage were just a little too wide. I learned Misfit could squeeze herself through those bars whenever she wanted. She did this often when I was at work. Angie was not living with me at the time. So I would come home and occasionally I found Misfit somewhere else other than her cage OR I would find her inside but I would see traces of her being elsewhere while I was gone. How comical to know she would break out of her cage when she wanted out, but she would also break back into her cage as well! I found myself leaving her door open more because of this habit of hers. We got a new cage to protect her, one from escaping, and two if she ever got herself stuck when squeezing in and out of the old cage. She still got her free flying time daily but under the strict condition that no one was allowed to enter or leave the house during this.

She was a very unique and special bird.

She loved to sit on the old ceiling fan in the kitchen. We would lightly hand spin it and she enjoyed going for the little ride.


I thought the name "Misfit" was very suiting for her because she really was just that. It's easy to see why she stole our hearts so early on in our life together.

We had that major egg laying spree of hers a few years later which sent her to the hospital and I had to give her hands on care for a number of weeks. I will attach that blog link here instead of retelling it. It definitely was a bonding moment. And reminded us how much she meant to both Angie and I.

Saturday August 12th, 2017 a little something inside of me died when Misfit passed away.

We all are going to miss her, even her "bird sitting" people being my parents who enjoyed looking after her.

We will take pride in knowing she got a 2nd chance with us, a 3rd if you add her great escape of 2008. She really did have a wonderful 10 years of life in our home.