Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

March 30, 2009

Who You Gonna Call (or would you?)

A rather thought provoking conversation a friend of mine and I had a number of weeks ago. We all know to call 911 in the case of a human emergency or injury. Who do you call when it's an animal... especially a wild one? Would you call anybody? Would you try to help the animal yourself? Would you just ignore the poor creature and carry on with your own life?

Without getting into the details of my own personal story or the one from my friend... but we've both had our experiences of coming across wounded critters in our days.

Take a look at these creatures pictured here, they are some of the local wildlife in the city of Toronto. Some may call them pests but I think they are certainly a welcomed addition of living things to our city. In a sea of people everywhere, spotting one or more of these species is nice. Sure Raccoons get into the trash, Skunks tear up lawns in search of grubs, Squirrels destroy tulip gardens for the bulbs and, well, I am not sure what an Opossum does but I am sure someone out there has a complaint about them.

But, on a warm summers afternoon in the park, isn't it nice to see the Squirrels among us? An evening in the backyard and you happen to notice a family of Raccoons come trekking through the fence... aren't they interesting to watch? Or, have you ever been somewhere, even another backyard summer's eve party or camp out, and suddenly a Skunk comes through, everybody freaks out and runs to get away from him. Wasn't that a good laugh? Nobody got sprayed and the evening continued. Once again, a 'possum comes along, and well, I don't know... I see them and they just walk about, doing their thing, just trying to make it from one night to the next. I do know some people get quite a fright at the sight of them, thinking they are some humongous rat like creature; but they are a gentle type, not to be handled, but they most likely won't come over and tear up your ankles.

So, one day or night you happen to come across one injured. Would you do something about it? Would you just leave it up to Mother Nature? How about if you find a litter in distress and the mother is nowhere to be seen? She may have been caught by a predator or hit by a car... but, be sure you know the litter has been abandoned.

All I ask, is that if you think you would most likely do something for a creature(s) in distress... please have on hand the number of your local animal rescue, just save it to your cell phone and hope you never have to use it. It's a lot easier than coming across one, wanting to do something about it, but have no idea who to call. Having that number saved could save a life one day.

March 25, 2009

Why? Why? Why?

Once again, somebody in the city of Toronto has let me down. I do not know this person, I do not know what they look like and honestly I would never like to know this person or someone much like them.

They have done something, which probably in their own eyes thought was a good deed... or they just didn't care. Their actions have impacted a number of lives now... both human and animal.

Please read on...

I know this couple, who have become pretty good friends to Angie and I over the last few years. They are very much animal lovers like ourselves. They do not hide their love for the furry and the feathered. I don't believe anybody should... unfortunately this can be a downfall.

This couple own a store in the area. It is a Wild Bird Store where one can definitely accessorize their backyard to attract wild life.

Someone, three weeks ago, drove up to the front of the store, and silently placed a box at the front window and quickly left unnoticed. What they left did not go unnoticed for very long. A card board box with 5 kittens inside. Actually, I should say FIVE NEWBORN KITTENS! A trip to the vet that afternoon verified that those kittens were barely 24 hours old. They still had the little umbelical cords attached to their stomachs!

I'd say it's cruel because it is March (still cold) but anytime of the year is not the right time to do something like this. Newborns need their mother for food, warmth and general care. The mother was no where to be seen. These babies need feedings every two hours. A lot of constant care that a mother cat can certainly provide but is much more difficult for humans with jobs. Now, multiply feeding one kitten every two hours by five kittens! A lot of time is needed. A lot of formula is needed.

I cannot imagine doing something so heartless as this but as I get older I realize there are so many people like this or worse.

Something similar happened to another friend of mine... a kitten left in a box at her front door in the middle of the night. She leaves for work by 6am and found the box on her way out. She works for the Humane Society so it's easy to figure the culprit is somebody she knows. They probably had hopes she would remove this kitten for them, taking it into THS. My friend has a heart of gold and just couldn't do this... so she has gone from 4 cats to 5.

So, don't be surprised if in another 6 weeks that you see a Blog here about yet another batch of kittens up for adoption.

March 21, 2009

He's Picked Me...

About mid-summer of 2008, I happened to be out gardening on the weekend (no surprise). I have a big dirt area to play in and I take full advantage of it.

Well, one day this small cat comes running out to me from the back of my shed, rubbing up against my legs, meowing at me and you would think I was his owner... or best friend. I had never seen this cat before. He looked a lot like the couple females a few doors over but much smaller and this one definitely is a male. He hung around me for about 30 minutes and then off he went. Over the next several days this happened, every day and this turned into the remainder of the summer. I wondered about this cat and especially if he had a home. A collar showed up on him after some time so that put my mind at ease although I still have a thing against people leaving pets outside in the city. We are so close to a main street!

He's quite fascinated with my backyard and I am certain the birds have a lot to do with that. He also enjoys a good chase with the squirrels. But, it seems his favorite part of the visit is when I come out. I don't have a name for him and I don't need to call him. I step outside and he comes running to me. He does not do this with other neighbors from what I have seen.

When I'd go to work, I would see him on the sidewalk, on the next street up from mine... stalking a Squirrel or basking in the summer sun on the warm concrete. I tried to guess which house was his. I wondered what his owners would think of his little visits to me everyday.

One here who really is not keen on the visiting is Meadow. Even with seeing this little cat daily, who I would say wasn't more than 4 months old at the time... Meadow hissed, snarled and swatted at him every chance. Even after weeks of this, she did not warm up to the idea of a feline visitor. Twelve squirrels can run past her, around her, and over her all morning long and she's cool with that; but not another cat.

Summer left and autumn arrived. In the coming weeks I saw less and less of my little friend. As it got colder out, he was gone. I guess his owners kept him indoors for the winter?

Today, March 21st 2009, I saw the return of my little friend... only he's not so little anymore. That white tipped tail of his is a sure sign to me of it being him. He was out on the back walkway of the house next door. I stepped out onto the deck, not saying a word... he heard my steps, turned and saw me and came charging up the walk, meowing, climbed up and over the chain link fence and ran right to me. The next half hour I spent out there with him and wherever I went, he was right behind or beside me. A lot of meows, loud purrs, leg rubs, licks and playing with twigs and sticks that I held up for him. We stopped to look at the birds from time to time and I waited to see if he would spring into action but he didn't... just stuck to my side. I do have my doubts he is that well behaved out of my sight.

I also happened to notice his owners have yet to neuter him... *tisk tisk*

So, what is it between me and this cat? Why is he so drawn to me? I should give him a name but right now he is referred to as "Little Friend".

Breakfast with the Downys

It's times like these, that I have to stop and enjoy the moment with nature. Who wouldn't miss seeing these two everyday right outside their kitchen window?

March 20, 2009

My take on the common House Sparrow

Recently I questioned the disappearance of my Downys and after two weeks they have shown themselves again... thankfully.

Now, another question of "where are they now?" is where are all the Sparrows?

For many backyard birders, they would say this is a blessing to NOT have such commoners around as there can be many of them cleaning out your feeders daily. For me, I don't mind. A Sparrow adds life to the backyard and a sound-track. Multiply that by 30 or so and things get pretty busy as this also tends to help attract other species of birds to the property.

I truly believe it was the activity of the Sparrows at the feeders two summers ago that led Misfit to this yard. Misfit is the Budgie we caught out back and who now lives inside with us.

Going through my records for Project Feeder Watch, I see that I haven't had any major Sparrow activity since early December.

These days/weeks I can count from 0 to 6 at the most and more often than not it is 0.

So, is there bird feeder competition in the neighborhood? From what my ears tell me... no. I remember 3 summers ago somebody 4 houses over put up a bird feeder and it was much closer to the home of the pair of Cardinals who normally visited me... so I wasn't happy when they were over there much more than here. I knew before I saw the feeder because of all the songs and squawks in "the other yard".

Is it the pigeon remains still at the back yet to be cleaned up? Feathers and bits and pieces still on the ground. I also know there is the skeleton of a European Starling still laid out on the top of the rain barrel. Does that pose as a warning to the other birds? You know, "Hey, there's a dead one... danger!" I am waiting two more weeks until the yard waste pick-up starts before I get cleaning. Anyways, I don't think it is that either because other birds still come and go.

Recently a person for the Toronto Star made comments on the disappearance of Blue Jays and Cardinals in the downtown core. He was unhappy that the colorful birds are seldom seen downtown nowadays. He referred to the Sparrows and others as like the brown sludge and slush on the roadways and sidewalks... very unappealing.

I've always found Sparrows to be quite entertaining in the downtown area. They are much more people friendly. While they normally won't land on your hand as a Black Capped Chickadee might, they sure know where food sources are and stick pretty close by. I remember Angie and I sitting outside a Pizza Pizza and the Sparrows sat on top of the table next to us waiting for crust/crumb hand-outs. We'd toss tiny bits to them and they'd fly off someplace to eat it, returning moments later for more. So, in a sea of people in the downtown area, I think it's nice to still have some sort of interaction with nature.

I am sure it is only a matter of time until they return... but their lack of appearance here has not gone un-noticed.

They are not migratory birds so they do not fly south for the winter.

Please note that I did not take the photo below of the House Sparrow at the bird bath. Someone sent it to me and I thought it was an amazing shot of such a common little bird. The above photo I believe is an American Tree Sparrow. There are so many species of Sparrows and I am still early on in the learning how to identify many of them. I am also attaching the photo of Misfit out there with the House Sparrows... something I will never forget.

March 19, 2009

They HAve Returned!

I am happy to announce the return of my pair of Downy Woodpeckers (should I say "our" Ang?).

Tuesday evening I got a text from Angie saying that she saw both of them on the suet feeder. Through the next morning I too saw the both of them at different times buzzing back and forth for a meal. I guess they were busy building/preparing a home for a batch of babies?

I just realized that I don't have many photos of them taken with my digital camera... I better get
working on that! This shot was taken a few springs ago at the Royal Botanical Gardens out in Burlington, Ontario. It's a male Downy feeding from my hand (see the red on the back of his head?)

March 16, 2009

Old reliables, where are thou?

I'd say since the first few months of actually doing this whole backyard bird feeding that we have had a pair of Downy Woodpeckers visiting the property. A couple suet feeders have been hung in the trees right out back of the kitchen window. I can honestly say this too... that I can count on my two hands the number of days where they have NOT been seen right outside the kitchen window. Well, that is up until about two weeks ago.

Where have they gone? I am almost certain of them not disappearing at this time last year or years before... as I know many birds are pairing up, building nests, etc. They spend more time building a home for the young and are seen less during this time. I've been going back and checking my old calendars from the last few years (I jot down the species to visit each day).

They were fondly named "The Downys". Mr Downy and Mrs Downy. Mister has a red spot on the back of his head and Misses does not. I also called them "Old Reliables" because they were just that; you could count on them showing everyday and many times a day, all year round.

Quiet birds minus some small peeps. Gentle birds and rather brave (or just used to us). When feeding, one could easily walk right under them and not upset them.

A peaceful and simple pleasure to us; watching them as we had our morning coffee. A small addition to the soundtrack that is the backyard.

I hope it's just that they are busy getting ready for the coming of the young. There is an increase in the population of European Starlings the last few years and they are notorious for kicking Downy Woodpeckers out of their homes which can be harmful to the Woodpecker population.

I will wait for them and keep the suet out regardless in hopes of their safe return.

March 14, 2009

Spring is here, no matter what your calendar says!

Well, spring is here! I don't care what any calendar says... Saturday March 14th, 2009 is MY first day of spring.

Why? As those who know me and have had this discussion with me... today I saw my first Red Winged Black Birds of 2009. These are males in the photos.

For the last week or so, Angie and I have talked about when they might show up. I did some searches on-line and discovered that others in Ontario had begun seeing them as early as March 5th. I was all set to go out and find my sign of Spring today; but before I was able to go out the door and do so... one lonely male Red Wing showed up in the backyard.

I didn't have to find Spring. Spring found me.

A number of hours later, I was out to a local hot spot for migratory returners, with camera and food in hand and got these shots. A number of Common Grackles were in the mix as well. I don't care what anybody says about Grackles, I like them! I know how much of a pain they can be in large flocks, dominating an area (I have similar problems with European Starlings)... but Grackles aren't here all year long. I also love the look of them, jet black bodies and a blue/green head. They have a fierce look about them with piercing yellow eyes.

Welcome home guys!!!!!

March 13, 2009

Off they go!

Hey All... it's Friday... woo hoo! Enjoy the weekend and please be kind to our animal friends... feed a bird, pat a dog or cat, make a donation or contribution to your local animal rescue or pick up a piece of trash in the park... whatever!

I just wanted to inform everyone that the kittens are off to a new home. Someone took them together which makes me and everyone else involved very happy. The black and white one has been named "Checkers" and the other is yet to be named.

Now, mommy still needs a home. Anyone know of a responsible person who may be interested in taking in a 10 month old female black cat who is spayed... please get contact me. She has a very nice loving personality and seems to get along well with other animals.

March 11, 2009

Don't Point that Thing at Me!

So, the past couple weeks I have been hit with a number of animal stories. Unfortunately they have all been real downers. Grim realities for sure and nothing I really want to get too into at this moment.

Spring is coming, the flowers will be blooming before we know it. So, with the flowers comes the bees.

I've had my share of Bee adventures since living in this old house. Cracks in the walls and they find them, start building their hives. Luckily I haven't been stung in many years.

I do remember my first time I got stung. Do you remember your's? Mine definitely could have been a lot worse than what it turned out to be and to this day I am still thankful how it didn't happen. There is a lesson to this, something one should think about in similar situations in the future.

When we lived up in Bradford, Ontario 25 years ago... we spent a lot of our summers at the public pool. When we got home, we'd hang our swim trunks out on the clothes line to dry off. So, one day, I am thinking about going up to the pool. I bring my swim suit in from outside, take it upstairs to my bedroom to get changed. The trunks are turned inside out and I set them right, pull them up my legs and... you know, get dressed... just trying to emphasize that this is a bit of a travel with the swim trunks from outside, through the house, up to my bedroom, and then put them on only after I turn them rightside out. I am thinking some of you know where I may be going with this one... yes, there was a Bee resting on the swim suit. Now, I did not know this yet, not even when I had my trunks on, tied up too.

A short moment after tying them around my waist, I felt this sharp pain on my rear end. I pulled the legging bit up to see what it was. All I see is this little black thing sticking in my skin. I am thinking, "Hmmm, this little piece of stick hurt that much?" I then pulled it out. The spot began to swell really fast... and then, in the corner of my eye, I see a Bumble Bee, lying dead on the floor of my bedroom. I was 12 but I freaked out like a 6 year old.

I ended up going swimming a little later on anyways and the swelling went down in a day or two.

To this day, whenever I think about that incident, I can only imagine in horror if that Bee had been resting on the front side of my swim suit. I cringe and want to cross my legs in terror. Anytime now, when I have clothes hanging out on the line, I still shake them *violently* for lack of a better word at the moment...

March 9, 2009

Me and My Shadow...

So, I've been battling this cold for 8 days now and am finally feeling better. I know Meadow can sense my "unwellness" but lately she's been even more of an affectionate cling-on. She is my shadow.

If I am on the couch, Meadow is on the couch. If I go to bed, Meadow goes to bed. I am in the shower, Meadow is outside the shower. Funny how when it's your pet, you really don't mind all that much.

My neighbor has been fighting a virus of her own. She's complained to me about one of her animals being a shadow as well in her two plus weeks of illness. I guess an 11 LB cat is okay compared to a 90 LB dog full of mega slobbering bouncing love and joy. He's a unique fellow and his name is "Herman". He went to obedience school and probably failed miserably... but he's such a happy dog. I learned that Herman is a sack puppy. Can you even imagine what that is? Someone got a sack and filled it with a litter of pups, went for a drive, and threw the tied up sack out on a busy street.

I've thought about working for Animal Rescue or the Humane Society but I think I'd probably end up on manslaughter charges against some of these malicious sick $#@%!

I've not done much for many days now, just watch the backyard from my kitchen window.

I went at this blog pretty hard and heavy for the first couple months, spinning out some of my most memorable tales over the years. Am I tapped out, not just yet... but I do hope, with the arrival of spring in a few weeks, that more stories come about.

Well, my shadow has just jumped on my chest... I think it's time for my meds and start my day. See you all in a few.

March 3, 2009

The Red Breasted Nuthatch

So, much of last week found me out in the backyard, with camera in hand, chasing around this little bird and his mate. It was pretty darn cold everyday, which should be, being the end of February and me, being a dum-dum... out there in a sweater and no jacket. Why? I don't know really; I guess I get caught up in the moment? It may explain why I am fighting a cold this week.

Part of my mission this winter, since getting this camera, is to get pictures of all the species of birds that frequent the yard through the seasons. These Red Breasted Nuthatches are only around till April or so and then they return to the north woods till sometime after summer is over.

In past years, since I first noticed them about 3 years ago, they have been easy to get photos of... for whatever reason, they have been rather elusive this year. I wonder if may be due to all the Hawk kills this winter? I highly doubt a Hawk would go after one of these birds, they are much too small, and not hardly a meal to a Hawk. Whatever the reason, after 5 days of trying, I finally started getting photos of them one afternoon. This was the best shot out of 6 I got... still working on exposure, lighting, etc.

They are a neat little bird to watch. They run up and down tree trunks with ease, much like the larger White Breasted Nuthatch. Their sound is rather distinct with an "ANK ANK" kinda noise.

A couple weeks ago, I was out at the park, with a friend and our cameras. I ended up talking to this woman, who was quite a bird expert, and she told me I was very fortunate to have these RBNHs coming to my feeders... seems they are a rarity in these parts. "Sweet" I say to myself, got some bragging to do, but to who? Most of my friends wouldn't know the difference between one of these birds from something else I could name off... must educate the masses!