Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

December 22, 2014

Pierre Returns!

Recently we had a number of visits from a Cooper's Hawk and I blogged about her, see here

That Pigeon was the last thing I saw her take out, which was on a Friday. She hung around all of the weekend but was unsuccessful in any further catches. She was the first bird to arrive both Saturday and Sunday with my bird counts for Project Feeder Watch, and I watched her give chase to the Cardinals and Blue Jays. It was a dismal count weekend that's for sure.

But then the Hawk moved on it seemed and I've not seen her since (watch her spring into the yard now as I key this).

As far as I know, none of my hand feeding flock were present that morning she got the Pigeon. But they all knew. I did not see another Pigeon for some days afterwards.

First in, 5 days later, was my pal Snake... left bird.

Second bird, Mickey, 7 days later.

Slowly the birds were coming back, testing the area, and I believe word was spreading it's looking safe once again.

I knew it was a matter of time for my boy to come home. And sure enough, 8 days later, Pierre came in.

First sight of him outside the back door, he was all flared out, excited, head bobbing and cooing like crazy at me. This happens when we don't see each other for a number of days, especially when some crazy s**t had been going on like a Hawk or some nasty spell of weather. The coo's all sound the same but I am sure they mean something different with the scenarios.

And on the 9th day, all the birds came back. I have 6 hand feeders and everyone was present. Of course the birds are still paranoid and the slightest scream from a Jay sends them scurrying.

I feel for them being so scared to be here but I take comfort in knowing they know well enough to keep their distance when such a threat is present. Who says "Pigeons are stupid birds?"

Busy times coming with Christmas just days away. I wish you all a very happy, healthy and safe holiday season no matter how you spend it.

December 17, 2014

Good Gawd!

As the holiday season rapidly approaches and we get busy with festivities, I am trying to get my "birding" fix in before work this week.

I revisited an area not far from home that I had chanced upon the sighting of 5 Long-eared Owls not too long ago. The whole park was quiet this morning, and the line of conifers I had previously found them were lacking birds. I scanned them with my bins a couple times to be sure and at one point I spotted a dead Deer Mouse draped over a branch. First thought, Saw-whet Owl stash. Those tiny Owls sometimes cannot finish a mouse in one meal and will hide the rest of it for the next day. A little more looking and I saw another dead mouse. And then a third! Okay, no way this is a Saw-whet stash. Owls are not hoarders.

I went in for a closer look with my own eyes since there were no birds (Owls) within to fear of disturbing and all the mice had broken backs due to a snap trap. So obviously someone has had the bright idea of bringing dead mice to the park. Why? Hoping to feed some Owls? Maybe this is where they keep them and are trying to launch the carcasses in the direction of a roosting Owl? In this day and age with some of the goofy people carrying cameras hunting wildlife, I can only make assumptions.

Whatever the reason is, it's pathetic!

Sad thing, this is not the first time I have stumbled upon such a sight. Two years ago there was a slightly popular Saw-whet Owl roost at another park and I discovered the same thing. The mice have no gaping holes from the talons of an Owl. None of them have been eaten to any degree either. Just full bodied dead things with crushed spines.

I've left them in the trees. I figure they will remain there and hopefully the individual will realize this idea is a waste of time. It's a totally sad visual even if most see mice as disease carrying vermin.

I saw very little bird activity of any kind this morning, only this WTF sighting. I guess I will have to get out there again... some where else. But this outing still had meaning, a reminder that there are a lot of dumb selfish and/or strange people walking the trails.

Here is one of the Long-ears that once chose this spot to roost in. I doubt they will return. I know I ruined the photo with my little scribe through the Owl...

Lastly... for Tracy. I replied to the comment you left in my last blog. Thanks for reading and commenting! :D

December 16, 2014


I had a rough day yesterday for some reason. It was an exceptionally gross Monday. Nothing went how I had hoped for it to go. And my mood went from feeling nothing more than "ya, I'm existing" to something angry and intolerable to much around me.

Of course this all went away as soon as I got home from work last night. I put my silly wife to bed. I got lots of kitty cuddles from Meadow. And I spent a little time watching this guy out back.

We actually have 2 Opossums roaming the backyards after dark now and that's just freakin' awesome!

I have a habit of tossing mostly eaten apples out on the back lawn when I get in. I normally snack on one with the drive home. It's the only time where I enjoy eating an apple and not actually get bored with it. I sure hope that doesn't go under distracted driving one of these days!

Usually it's a Squirrel who finds the apple remains in the morning and finishes it up. But the 'Possums are taking them if they come around. It's that time of year where food is scarce and something like this is appreciated. I am not hand feeding them, just throwing it out back and if someone comes along and finds it... score!

They know the hollowed out half log down at the back of the yard that I dragged home last year and use it often as a place to hide. This is where they take the apple cores to finish them off.

View from the back. You can sort of make out the exit. I tried to fill it in with dirt through the fall and then cover with leaves, downed cedar branches but they keep digging out a hole. I guess it's for the best in case something wicked comes for them through the front that they aren't trapped. This is well away from the house. We are fortunate to have such a deep backyard.

View from the front.

This is barely noticeable from the deck as well!

Be it a winter scene.

A summer scene.

Or those gross days in between.

We are still seeing the Skunks the odd night, or early morning too.

Our Raccoons seem to be in semi-hibernation now. I see signs of their night time visits on occasion, be it a stool sample behind the shed or tracks in the snow. I miss the nights with the kids.

I love where we live! Our house may be a near 100 yr old shack but home is where the heart is, and it goes beyond these walls. It's our sanctuary... and theirs.

December 15, 2014

The Enemy Within

We have a new predator on scene. A big a$$ Cooper's Hawk only known as She-Beast. It's a term my friend Tracy and I refer to a certain big a$$ Peregrine Falcon we know and love.

With this bird on the hunt here, everything clears out, even the other predators. No Shirley Sharp-shin, no Waldo the Cooper's Hawk. How do I know this is not Waldo? My observations have me believe Waldo is younger, smaller/thinner (male?) and lighter in color. The personality between the two differs. Waldo carries a curious attitude, not quite disturbed by my presence. This one, She-Beast, wants nothing to do with me when I am outside. First sight of me when she's hunting the yard and off she goes.

I know it's a bird eat bird world out there with these creatures, I accept that, but I don't have to like it. I won't interfere as in chase her away but I won't hide indoors when I have things to do out back and she's hunting. Mind you, I do back off temporarily while she's caught her lunch and is having it. I know I've mentioned in other blogs about letting them have their well deserved meal. I spooked a Red-tail one day and I felt bad, it left it's kill in the snow, barely eaten because I stepped outside.

She-Beast first made her presence known last Thursday during the snow storm when she caught a Starling and ate behind the house next door. I watched her from the kitchen window. It was so tempting to try and sneak out there for some good gore shots but I didn't.

Friday she flew in fast and hard, and nailed one of the Pigeons. Once again taking it down in the yard next door but this time way at the back. I know none of my birds were present this day (so far), but it still sucked for this other Pigeon. I let her be for quite some time to eat it before I went out the front of the house, snuck up the side and tried for a few photos. She is a magnificent specimen of this species. We've not had a Cooper's Hawk like this in the yard for some years now. The last one was taking 3 Pigeons a week!

She-Beast trying to get a big piece of meat down.

Look at the crop on her as she is done with the meal.

I do fear for my friendly flock but they seem smart enough to back off with the activity. I've not seen Pierre or any of the others since the day of the storm after the Cooper's had left, done with her lunch. Funny how the birds know these things.

There was one really angry black Squirrel that raced up and down, and around the tree base near the Hawk while she ate. He made lots of funny noises at her through this which got her attention and she'd flare right up at him, which was something to see. It was her defense, or perhaps a warning to Mr. Squirrel to back off, by making herself look twice her size. Our Shirley has done this before as well.

She-Beast and the Squirrel.

Shirley Sharp-shin trying to scare off a Squirrel as she sits on a Starling.

This Cooper's has made things quite interesting... and quiet. It was dismal numbers over the weekend for our counts with Project Feeder Watch. We saw her both days. She was the first bird to arrive on scene. It was a busy weekend for Angie and I, but I've found no new bird remains about the yards.

I shouldn't call her the enemy as I don't hate this bird.

I worry about my buds. I'm allowed to worry about them even though I know this is not their only threat out there. They are my little friends and add to my mornings.

December 8, 2014

Trash Can Hawk Update

A few weeks back I got a call out via email from Toronto Wildlife Centre that a small Hawk in the Richmond Hill area was in need of a ride to TWC. The species was unknown as were his injuries.

With Angie in Florida, it was Saturday morning and I had nothing going on... I phoned in offering my time and truck to pick him up.

The funny thing with this is the Hawk was actually picked up in the Keele and Langstaff (Concord) area by some contractors who were on their way to a job site in Richmond Hill. The bird was just sitting out in the middle of the street. They put him in a plastic garbage can, covered him with a moving blanket and away they went to the site, where one of them made the call in to Toronto Wildlife. Even though they went in the opposite direction of TWC, gotta commend them for stopping and helping out.

There was no other details for me as mentioned, so I got the address and away I went. Small hawk? Hmmmmmm... Sharp-shin? Maybe a Kestrel or a Merlin as some mistake Falcons for Hawks?

I arrive on scene and there was some confusion at first. I asked to see the owner of the house, not knowing the guys (contractors) were actually the ones I needed to see. I waited 10 minutes or so before the man of the house came down to meet me, looking awfully puzzled at who this soaking wet mess of a long haired guy was standing at his door wanting to speak with him. It was a wet snow/rain mix coming down as I waited out front. From there, it all came together, and I was led into the back of an old cube van and shown a mid-sized garbage can with a blanket over it.

I was under the impression the bird was contained and ready for immediate transport, hence me not really dressed for standing outdoors for very long in the precipitation. I've only done a few pick-ups since signing on as a volunteer driver, and only once did I have to do something more than take the animal already in a box and go.

At this point, seeing the garbage can, I'm still under the impression it is a small hawk. Buddy removes the blanket slowly and reveals something not small at all. It was an adult Red-tailed Hawk! He was freakin' huge! I had my carrier with me and we feared it wasn't going to be suitable for the bird. My concern was more about getting him in it as the door is small, or so I think, for such a bird. The man was concerned that the bird was going to shred us. I asked how it was when he grabbed it, and he said it gave no fight. Would it tear us apart if we tried to move him again? Perhaps, perhaps not. But nobody wanted to chance it.

My heart sunk looking down at this bird. He did not look well at all. My heart still sinks looking at this photo one of the guys sent me.

This was all new to me on how to deal with this, as it was for the guys who picked him up. After some humming and hawing and pondering, the head contractor told me to take the can and blanket, and not worry about returning it. I asked if he was sure despite how old and used the items appeared; and he assured me it was all good. So off I went with this Hawk in a trash can. Thank goodness for having the GMC as this would not have sat well and upright in most cars!

I made a quick post on social media about having a Hawk in a trash can on route to TWC and of course it got people wondering. I should have added to that as many thought someone shoved him in a garbage can for some cruel reason. Nope, this wasn't cruel at all. But today, I learned something cruel with the story... why the Hawk was down on the street and unable to fly. Someone had shot him through a wing with a pellet gun! What the hell is wrong with some people?!?!?!

It's sad to know that there are many cruel acts committed to animals almost daily in our city. It's best not to relate the many I already know, for your sake to read them, and for mine to type them out.

So, anyone reading this, please send him some love and well wishes, hoping he may return to the wild once again. I feel bad being the one who brought him in as my "return to the wild" ratio is not good at all. It's a sad reality that many animals brought in are at the point of near death, most try to conceal their sickness as a defense, and only when they get too sick or weak, do we find them or are able to catch them. But euthanizing to end their suffering is better than what they will face in their finals days in the wild.

I should add that TWC relies a lot on public support, through volunteers and donations. Angie and I are monthly donors plus I've signed on to help with emergency drives when needed. Maybe some of you reading this would consider helping out some how? They also have a wish list on their website.

Here's a happy healthy Red-tailed Hawk I am often seeing with my drives to and from Toronto Wildlife...