Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

September 28, 2009

Dumb or Comfortable?

The Mourning Dove. A rather common species of bird in the city. A sometimes common species of bird to my backyard. Some days or weeks there can be up to half a dozen motoring about the property and other times for many days none.

They do not have a reputation on being the most brilliant bird in the city. Their nesting habits can be quite threatening to the survival of their species. A nest built very loosely of twigs that one can see through the bottom of it. A startled adult Mourning Dove can fly out of the nest in such haste and actually destroy it accidentally... and the eggs within. Often, a startled adult Mourning Dove can also abandon a nest of eggs if they feel threatened by humans or predators in the area.

But, lets not dwell on these facts of the Mourning Dove.

I welcome these birds to my yard. Some refer to them as another form of Pigeon but I would argue that till my last breath. The Mourning Doves at least have some backyard feeding etiquette. They are not aggressive, they are not piggish, their bathing techniques are quite graceful.

I can always tell when one is flying in before I see it as their wings whistle when flying.

My concern for these visitors is the fact they are ground feeders. I do have one platform feeder; a pair of them will sit in and feed but often it is cleaned out by the Squirrels or knocked to the ground... so it's not used very often unless we are outside much of the day to keep an eye on it. The thin black chains are difficult to find in the grass.

So, with their ground feeding, they spend much time roosting or just sitting around and especially so on warm sunny days. The early sunny days of Spring had us find one pair enjoying every bit of sun light in the yard for as many days there was high sun over a week.

It's not so bad as you can see in these photos with them being out in the open spaces; but at times they also spend it in the developing bird garden of mine. If it was within the Honeysuckle Bush or other shrubs, providing some cover, that would be great, but that just isn't the case. I often worry about some cat around the other side of the bush just waiting silently. So, what's the deal? Are they just that dumb or that comfortable on the property? We try our best to keep the area free of roaming cats. Meadow is on a leash and harness, unable to get anywhere near the bird garden. We keep super-soakers nearby when neighbours' cats decide to pass through or try to get a thrilling hunt on. We just can't be out there all the time or watchful all the time.

I know they just aren't the most brilliant of the feathered friends who visit but I would like to think that maybe they do feel a little safer here. I mean, there's birds here all the time, there's many species of birds here all the time. Some of the others are keeping a watchful eye about the area for predators (cats, hawks, etc) and let off quite a shriek when danger lurks. As seen in the next photo, an American Kestrel flew in to a tree nearby, an alert was set off and everybody went off into hiding... well, everybody except these two. Their eyes opened a little more, their heads popped up but they never moved from that spot. Once again... are they dumb? Are they comfortable? Did they feel this was their own way of protecting themselves, by being more or less still? I will give them the benefit of the doubt. I mean they cannot be that dumb... they still exist.

As pictured below, this is how I like to see the Doves. Safe up in the trees. While the one on the right was at the end of a yawn... it would seem he is enjoying the sun, the company of his mate and possibly a good story (maybe his compliments to the chef of the feed they just had below or pooping on the neighbour's cat)...

What do you think?

September 16, 2009

The Beautiful Joe Park... Meaford, Ontario... every town should have one!

At least twice a year, I like to visit northern parts of Ontario and especially the area of Meaford, Ontario. And with each visit to Meaford I make a visit to "The Beautiful Joe Park". A park which I think every town and city should have. It doesn't have to be named this, but it's meaning should be the same... a park dedicated to the animals who touch our lives.

I was unfamiliar of the Beautiful Joe story even after learning about this park. Some friends told us about it as a nice place to visit and potential bird watching. It wasn't long after that Angie and I learned who Beautiful Joe was and how touching his story is, what this park really means. Here's a brief bit on his story...

The real Beautiful Joe was an Airedale-type dog. He was medium-sized, brown, and described as likely being part bull terrier and part fox terrier. He was also described as a mongrel, a cur, and a mutt. He was originally owned by a local Meaford man, who abused the dog to the point of near death, and even cut off his ears and tail with a hatchet.

Walter Moore, father of Louise Moore, rescued the dog in 1890 from what likely would have been a violent death.

And from this, a couple years later a book was to be made...

In 1892, Margaret Marshall Saunders (1861–1947), first learned about Beautiful Joe when she visited her brother and his wife, Louise Moore. Saunders was so touched by Joe's story that she wrote a novel-length, fictionalized, autobiographical version of it, entitled Beautiful Joe. Margaret Saunders relocated the story to a small town in Maine and changed the family's name to Morris to win a literary contest sponsored by the American Humane Education Society. The book was first published in 1893. By 1900, over 800,000 copies sold in the U.S., 40,000 in Canada and 100,000 in the United Kingdom.

The response was tremendous; both the book and its subject received worldwide attention. It was the first Canadian book in history to sell over a million copies, and by the late 1930s had sold over 7 million copies worldwide. In 1902, a sequel, Beautiful Joe's Paradise, was published.

In 1934, Saunders was granted Canada's highest civilian award at the time, Commander of the British Empire or C.B.E.

In 1963, the official Beautiful Joe Park was named in Meaford, next to the Moore house where Beautiful Joe was rehabilitated by Louise Moore. A Beautiful Joe Heritage Society was formed in 1994 to preserve Joe's legacy and ultimately establish the Moore residence as a museum.

So, that is the story of Beautiful Joe and the impact his story had on the world.

Now, about the park. Sure, it's a park, a forest, a river runs along the side of it. What's the big deal? Well, Beautiful Joe is buried here. The better part of his life was just next door and I'd like to believe he spent some happy sunny afternoons in this park just being a dog... running and playing. There are a few monuments about the park dedicated not only to Joe but to all animals. A 9-11 World Trade Centre site for the rescue dogs that were lost on that morning. How many people out there ever gave one moment of thought that not only humans died that day? So there wasn't hundreds of K-9 rescue dogs lost but the ones who did perish that day shouldn't go unnoticed.

Another section has a wall full of plaques that is slowly growing every year with those displaying a memorial of their own animal friends who have passed on. Some of the plaques stand out much more to me than others.

I raise a glass to Barbara Selkirk for having so many four legged friends in her life...

It's nice to see another great dog got a great home in the end...

I get a glowing feeling as I walk through this park. In this moment we, the people, take a step to the side for our animal friends. This is for them. It seems most who visit this park also realize that. In this moment, although I feel this all the time... animals are people too! They get the respect they so deserve for the impact they have on a person or family's life... they are family! This is not a pet cemetery. This is not a place of sadness if you choose it not to be. This is a place to remember, to re-joice our four legged friends/family members.

The final resting place of Beautiful Joe. As I said, I would like to believe he had many great days on this same piece of land he is resting in.

If you ever happen to get up in the Georgian Bay area... please make a special visit to The Beautiful Joe Park in Meaford. It's pretty much right inbetween Collingwood and Owen Sound.

September 9, 2009

My Sad Little Birdy

I have a saying that I have always believed in and tell others... "Animals are people too!" All creatures great and small have feelings much as humans do and they can express them in their own ways. It's just up to those around to actually pay attention and notice.

Like right now, Misfit (our Budgie) is a sad stressed out little bird. She's been very quiet the last week and from my experience the year before with her, she will be for another 3 to 5 weeks. Last year I only thought it was because of the seasonal change; summer is ending, the days are getting shorter, the nights are getting cooler and I think she knows this and is saddened in her own way, being a tropical bird who enjoys the heat and humidity. What I do notice this September though is her loss of feathers. She went through a similar stage in the Spring and it was a molt. She lost all her tail feathers and many about her body over a span of 4 weeks. She became very quiet, not even singing along to her favorite cds (Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons or her song birds cd). She even looks uncomfortable during this process. Research shows that this is almost painful at times for birds... the feathers are needle-like and they say it's a prickly feeling on the bird's body. Feather loss is a sign of stress in a bird as is them picking and pulling their feathers out. So when they naturally lose their feathers I assume it is a naturally stressful time for them. They require a better diet (vitamin and mineral supplements added to their food). They require a lot more sleep (12 to 14 hours is good).

Misfit is normally a very happy chatty active little bird. Right now she barely makes a sound, doesn't play with her toys and is wanting to go to bed earlier than normal. She lets us know when she wants to go to bed... she has some very distinct noises in the evening. We ask her if she wants to go to bed and she re-acts with a variety of wing and leg stretches. I've had Budgies in my past and have never recalled one who loved being put to bed at night (not like Misfit does). One might think she was ill with her inactivity but her appetite shows me that is not the case.

What can we do for her? Keep her warm. Keep her fed. Keep her rested. In a few weeks she will be back to her old self again and we'll be wishing for some peace and quiet when she really gets going with her squeaks and tweets, bell ringing and so on.

Imagine that! I know so many who think little of birds... not in a bad way, they just don't think about them as much of anything other than an eating and pooping machine. Wow! Something so small but with so much personality and feelings and in need of proper care... meaning, a responsible family with them who will notice and realize these stages they go through and help them along.

Here's Misfit in her most memorable days for me... flying free out back with the Sparrows.