Thursday, December 24, 2009

Blog dedicated to "Hollie"

Hey ya’ll and HoHoHo!

First, let me greet our new subscribers from the Hiram and Sandy Springs venue. Welcome and thank you for asking to be brought into the HawkTalk family fold. You will laugh, cry and learn stuff and not necessarily in that order. And if at any time you become weary, just ask and I’ll remove you post-haste…toot-sweet.

The sky is blue right now, but just wait…with the cells coming out of the Midwest…oh boy, here we go again. As much as I don’t like being cold, at least I’m not digging out of the snow and ice from this cell coming out of the mid-west and the one last week that hit our friends in the northeast. With the new gutters on the house, (Thank you, Dave L!) I will be interested in how the basement fares. Interested and NERVOUS.

Brian, let us plan a day either this weekend of the first of next week for Richard’s release? Please call me to set up a time. 770.720.1847. As you can see, his cere is healing nicely and he will be very happy to get back into the wild. He missed his courtship/breeding opportunity this time around, but it couldn’t be helped. Well I say it’s too late, but if his wife hasn’t already left him for another and he gets cracking with the flowers and the rats, he might have time!

Guys, take this lesson from the male bird…he knows that in order to keep the pair bonding going strong, (and if I have to explain THAT to you, then you are in trouble!) you must continue to do and cluck and preen and bring mice to your girlfriend. Not just in the beginning either, but ALL the time. Repeat; ALL THE TIME. Exhausting, I know, but if you don’t, she will shut down and you’ll be by yourself on the couch watching sports. ‘Nuff said on that subject.

Richard – Looking GOOD!!! Where did that cowlick come from?

Thanks to Dr. David Martinez over at Loving Hands AH for helping Richard. If it weren’t for the generosity of doctors like him and the owner, Dr. Jo Ann Roesner, I wouldn’t be able to do this.

Below is Richard’s radiograph. He was pelted with buckshot and the large bone in his forearm was fractured. By the time he was noticed and recovered by the multiple Good Samaritans from the neighborhood, his fracture had already started to calcify, so it was at least 2 weeks old. This means he went for 2 weeks without food! Not good. When I first felt his keel, I freaked out because it was so prominent.

The flight muscles are attached to the keel (the first part you carve away at Thanksgiving) and when their fat reserves are gone, they metabolize the flight muscles to keep the body systems operating. I could grab his keel with my thumb and forefinger, which means he was too low to eat solid food at first. Birds that present such as Richard are so starved that they will gobble down anything set before them and then promptly fall over dead because they lack the energy to process it. (I can’t tell you how many Good Samaritans have accidentally killed the bird by feeding it before getting it to me). After tube feeding him for a few days, he was able to put a little weight on and then I could switch over to ‘real’ food…

We didn’t surgically intervene because the smaller bone was there to support it while it healed. So it was cage rest and LOTS of food for Richard while his body did the work.

Please keep Richard in your thoughts as he is released back into the wild, won’t you?

It was on this day four years ago that my life (and heart) was opened back up to having cats. I have loved them all my life, but when I divorced 20 years ago, the x took the cats and I kept the birds, so I went for many, many years without cat hair stuck to my butt. I know all you cat people out there are nodding in unison!

I used to get my cat ‘fix’ down at the local convenience store. Mr. Boots was the store cat and what a cool kitty he was. Black with white boots and he drooled like mad when you stroked his fur. He won hearts and held court in the back of the store next to his cat bed. There was even a chair for the customer to sit in while ‘Bootsy’ received attention! So THAT’S why they call it a ‘convenience’ store? Who knew?

He hadn’t been feeling well and one day when they let him out to use the bathroom, I followed him into the woods and watched him strain to pee. He was growling and miserable with pain, but he allowed me to put my hand under him and when I pulled back to look...BLOOD. This was an EMERGENCY! The owner immediately took him to hospital and with catheterization, meds and a diet change, he was on the mend. I stopped by Christmas Eve afternoon, 2005 to check on him. He was coming along nicely and so I knew he would be ok.

On the way out to my car, I catch a glimpse of a tan cat coming from the same part of the woods where I followed Bootsy. He was yowling his head off and heading RIGHT for me. I have never seen the look of desperation in a cat before. He ran over to me, pleading with me to do something. I could see his ribs and he looked to be about 6 months old. I’m guessing he was either put out or abandoned when the people left the rental house next to the store.

It was overcast, cold and starting to drizzle, and I could have just turned away but I did not. I made a snap decision to pick him up and put him in the car. I was only a mile from home, so I knew he could handle it. I told him when he got in the car that I had little money, so if he was accident prone, we would have problems. I vowed to scrape money together to feed him, but trips to the doctor were out of the question. He thought that was a reasonable deal and meowed his approval.

He wasn’t neutered, so I wouldn’t allow him to come into the house for obvious reasons, but I turned part of the basement into a cat room for him. Heck, it already had a cat door installed so we were half way there!

Litter box – check. Cat food – check. Bowl of water – check, but he drank out of the pond. “It’s better for me, anyway,” he says.

He liked to patrol, so he only popped in a few times a week. He never stayed home long enough to schedule a trip to the vet’s office for you-know-what. He was a smart kitty in that regard. For a while, at least.

Three months later, I have to go out of town and when I return a week later, David has brought his new wife home. She was feral and VERY pregnant. “Oh crap”, I said to myself. She delivered her babies in a sideways 5 gallon pickle bucket in the cat room. I went from one cat, to an entire family. I fell in love in about 5 seconds. I had to be careful because the wifely unit was feral and I was afraid she was going to move them somewhere outside and that would be bad.

David – From his rooftop perch

His favorite spot by down at the pond

And when he wasn’t drinking out of the pond…he hung out in the bird bath

After a bowl of half and half and a pinch of catnip

Creating ripples in my heart that have never stopped

David’s wife, Mommy

He told me that he only fathered one baby, Cristobel, a lovely blend of the two.

The day before he was neutered…he has no idea what is about to happen to his noodles

After he was neutered, he started coming in the house. Face was the only other cat he would allow inside. This is Face, Cristobel’s brother, with David on the bed and I am somewhere in between…

I am all about quality of life, over quantity and so I never held David prisoner. He was free to come and go at will. On August 23rd, 2008, he didn’t look both ways before he crossed the street. He is now buried down by the pond.

I am so glad to have Cristobel. When I touch the tan part of her fur, I know that I can still be close to her daddy…

David’s soaring above me here, waiting just beyond the veil…

He says, smiling…”I miss loving you too, mama.”

Please hug your pets and peeps as they leave out the door because you never know if you will see them again.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and thank you for your donations of Mouse Money. We ALL appreciate it.

Oh yeah...Mr. Boots is well and is living La Vida Loca at Sue’s house. She works at the store and keeps up posted on his shenanigans.

You may follow the convenient PayPal link on our HawkTalk site if you would care to make a contribution. Your help, helps me help....m.

Monteen McCord

Monday, December 14, 2009

It's been a year ago today...

Hey ya’ll,

Richard the Great Horned owl is doing well. I will put jesses on him soon and do some creance flying to get him back in condition and to also make dang sure he can fly. It’s considered bad form to let one go only to watch them flutter to the ground. The nice people in the Duluth subdivision have been very concerned about him and upset that someone shot him. Personally, I believe he was shot somewhere else, picked up and kept for a while and then dumped in their neighborhood because he also presented with a damaged cere and that just doesn’t happen in the wild. This nice subdivision ain’t no trailer part, you know, and if someone fired a shotgun, the neighbors would likely know about it.

While I had him confined in the tree house, he banged his cere up even more and while I would prefer them to remain cosmetically perfect, a boo-boo cere isn’t bad in the grand scheme of things. The cere is the fleshy part that connects the beak to his face. This is a shot I took of him last Tuesday after my dang basement flooded AGAIN. Ugh. He has spent the last month in the tree house and so he needed a good bath. A dab of Brylcreme, a splash of mouse flavored parfum and he’s good to go!

Thanks to Larry W. for inviting me to the Canton Rotary last week. Most everyone remembered me from haven spoken in the past. A lady came up to me and ask how Scully the Screech owl was doing! I couldn’t believe she remembered him. Last Tuesday however, it was Hal Coleman’s turn at the podium. He’s a marketing guru, so if you have a company that needs help, he’s your guy…

We had displays at Bird Watcher Supply in Hiram last Sunday and Phoenix and Dragon in Sandy Springs Saturday. I don’t have any photo’s of the Hiram venue, but my wonderful and talented cousin took this one of Sam and me.

Thank goodness for Nancy G. from Canton for allowing me to continue to borrow her truck until I can gather up some moolah to get another one. I’ll keep asking; if you know of anyone who has something, anything with a reliable engine and an a/c that works, we sure would be grateful for it. I’m still working on the other SUV, but the timing still isn’t quite right.

Barbie says, “I wonder hoo’s doing all that hooting next door…I haven’t slept a wink!”

Richard says, “Just give me 5 minutes alone with them, Plllease???”

Johnson’s the picture of health and honks his little heart out when I call his name…

Is this pathetic, or what? Face says while continuing his bath, “Begging is SO unbecoming, Mommy…”

Meanwhile, Peter had just taken a drink and had not washed off the dribble just yet.

A year ago today, I lost my dear Mina. I miss her every day and twice on Sunday. There was nothing I could do to save her. I will re-post this from last year. Ya’ll, hug each other and your beloved pets before you go to bed because each day could be your last, ok?

"I knew she was dying and all I could do was sit with her, with our heads together while my hands moved under her wings, rubbing her back. Oh, how she loved it when I rubbed her back, but today I was going through those motions not for her, but for me. My heart was breaking because I knew she was near the end of her life.

I spent three hours with my Red-tailed hawk, Mina at hospital today, saying goodbye to my dear friend, kissing her face and telling her how much I loved her and how sorry I was if I missed something that could have been fixed and most importantly, how hard it would be for me to go on without her. Not only was she my charge and companion for fifteen of her eighteen years, but she was also my teaching partner. Over the course of our time together, she taught many thousands of people, young and old alike, the importance of things wild and to encourage us to be good stewards of our own back yards, whether it’s the balcony railing of one’s apartment complex or the back 40 of a stately manor.

I had my chair pulled up to the exam table where she was standing on a towel. She was crashing by the hour and there was nothing I could do to help her except hold onto her. As we were leaning on each other head to head, I was crying hysterically, but I was trying to melt down quietly so the techs wouldn’t call the men in white coats to come cart me off. The top of Mina’s head was soaked from my tears and every now and then I would open my eyes and see someone different standing in the doorway of the exam room, taking in a scene that isn’t witnessed by many; that of an incredible bond between a wild animal and a human being. I knew when I left the veterinarian’s office that she would not survive this thing that was overtaking her by the hour. I don’t even remember driving home that day.

Do I cremate her and keep her in the book case? Do I plant her and cycle her back into the earth, or do I have her mounted so I can still kiss her beak and rub her back every day like I did for the last fifteen years? I chose the latter, so that she could continue to teach even in death. She gave so much and required so little. I would have given anything to trade places with her and assume her pain, but my burden is to stay on this plane of existence for now and figure out how to work through the pain of loss and to realize that having a broken heart isn’t fatal; it only feels like it."

Mina was the model for the bronze statue at Hawk’s Ridge Golf Club. We tried to have a golf tourney fund raiser there a few years ago, but the owner refused to come off the 5 thousand dollar grounds fee and would be keeping the majority of the Mouse Money. Oh well…

There will never be another Mina…I was so lucky to have known her.

At the Atlanta Celtic Festival

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.

If you would care to donate a little Mouse Money, perhaps even as a gift in someone else’s name, you can scoot over to and click on the PayPal logo for your convenience. Thanks so much for keeping HawkTalk afloat this year. I appreciate the kindness you have shown us….m.

Friday, December 4, 2009

I'm a silly goose!

Hey ya’ll,

Well, my blog went on for the length of a bible yesterday and I forgot to tell you where we would be Saturday and Sunday! These are the last public events we will be attending until 2010, so don your galoshes and snow suit, throw the SUV in 4WD and come visit!

Saturday from 2-4, we’ll be at the Phoenix and Dragon Bookstore down in Sandy Springs helping Miss Candace celebrate their Celestial Soirée. The birds of HawkTalk are a staple at this annual celebration and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate their continued support. Click on the hyperlink for directions. Sam, Scully and Nigel will be there, along with note cards and DVD slideshows in exchange for Mouse Money donations. All this helps us put rats on the table. If you live near Roswell Rd. and the perimeter, please come out and support this store. We need to pull together and help keep each other propped up until the bad stuff passes, K?

Another cool locally owned place to support is Bird Watcher Supply and they have a new store out in Hiram. Richard Cole, founder and owner of this vast birdie empire, asked us to help them celebrate their Grand Opening and we are just pickled tink to participate. Click on this link for directions.
5218 Jimmy Lee Smith Pkwy Hiram, GA 30141-2747 - (770) 439-3115

Thank you Bruce, for suggesting adding the directional hyperlink! MUAH!

I shot this last night…Face is on the left, his sister and my dearly departed David’s daughter, Cristobel on the right, along with their mom in the middle of the puddy pile. God, how I love my cats. In this world of craziness and uncertainty, they keep me grounded and bring me incredible amounts of joy.

This is why my plants are barely alive come March. I’ve kept this annual alive for almost 5 years by bringing it in. What’s that syndrome that nurses have where they almost kill their patients so they can be a hero and save then at the last minute? The raggedy-arsed White Flags on the right was almost decimated by Johnson before I realized and did an intervention. Of all plants I need to keep alive, this is a grandbaby of my daddy’s funeral plant that I’ve been growing since he died in ’97. Lot’s of pressure to keep this puppy alive! And yes, the Geraniums love, love, love that full spectrum light and heater. I should have stock in Sawnee Electrical Co-op.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog… m.

Monteen McCord
POB 130
Holly Springs, GA 30142

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Even a blind pig finds an acorn every now and then...

Hey ya’ll,

I swore I wasn’t going to blog again until I had some good news…whew.

Two successful releases last weekend, both Barred owls, one all the way down in Juliet (near Forsyth) and the other one was supposed to go down to Dunwoody this week but he got to feeling better all of a sudden and wanted out NOW, so I just opened the chamber door and there he went. I heard hooting that night, but can’t say if it was him… Both were car crashes, of course. What else is new? If they are adults, they really need to go back to where they came from because they have a territory and a honey waiting. However, sometimes you reach the point of diminishing returns and have to make the executive decision to cut them loose or risk them hurting themselves…

“Pam” on arrival - took a pretty good bonk to the head. Blood in the right eye.

These one handed shots aren’t easy to take, so you just better be quick about it. No pussy-footing around! I was transitioning her from the inside to an outdoor chamber and snapped this head shot. Aren’t they pretty?

You think she’s ready? Don’t worry; the wire is safe as long as they aren’t too nuts… You can see that her plumage is in perfect shape. She was very calm as long as I didn’t open the door, so she bunked down at the very end of “Owl Blvd.” so she couldn’t see me walking around and I fed her through a food chute. This was the day I caught her up for the ride home. She was not a happy camper. Not yet, anyway…

‘Mansell’ just got his bell rang and recovered quickly. This is the one that I released here rather than returning to his area. When they start going nuts, I become concerned with them destroying their plumage. This is why some non-releasable birds don’t made good education birds and eventually have to be put down. Some just don’t adjust to a life in captivity and lose their minds, the poor dears.

Hoo’s yer daddy?! It’s NOT the Christmas Turkey… They get all poofed up like this when they’re defensive.

This here’s Wynona, a rust-neck Wyandotte – ‘Take a look around, see which way the wind blow…Bak-Bak!’

Can’t believe her eyes! This is either Buffy or Barbi Orpington. I can’t tell them apart yet.

Chubby Checker the Dominecker – VERY vocal. This chicken has a lot to say.

Instead of going through the woods to Grandma’s house for Thanksgiving, I was out replacing a roof on one of my chambers. It’s slow going when you’re working alone, but I just putter along a little at a time and all I have to do now is install a platform in the front, scrape out the pea gravel and replace with sand. (would anyone like to donate a dumptruck full of sand?)

I use a two roof system so if a wild bird lands on the roof, the captive bird can’t come into contact with it. It’s a territory thing and when the captive birds hoot, the resident birds comes in to give the usurper what for. This is the top layer. It consists of 2 pieces of 4x8’s framed together and covered with welded wire with screen on top. I build these on the ground and just slide them into place. Man, I was sore in places I didn’t know existed for crawling around on the ground for two afternoons in a row. Thank God for Naproxen!

Here is the first framed piece on the left…nothing on the right side yet.

Both top pieces installed – beautiful day, no?

Coming along! The lower part are pressure treated 1x2’s screwed into PT 2x2’s


Oh, and Richard the Great Horned owl that someone shot is coming along well. I will start doing physical therapy on him soon and hopefully he will be able to be released. His wing still hangs some and that bothers me, but we’ll see. He will go in the above chamber in a week or so, with some handicap ramps to help him get around at first. Right now he’s still in the tree house to restrict his movement. The large bone in his forearm was broken and the small one helps stablize it while it heals, so we rarely intervene surgically unless they are open fractures.

HawkTalk receives no financial help from the state or the feds so if you have a little Mouse Money to spare, he would really appreciate it! We have a PayPal link on for your donating convenience!

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog....m.

Monteen McCord
POB 130
Holly Springs, GA 30142