Still, my heart is an open secret...someone tell me, have I been gifted or robbed?
The life of a rehabilitator is full of ups and downs. Here’s the down - Last week I had to euthanize Stephanie, the Great Horned owl. She started going downhill over a period of about 36 hours. Her poor head FROZE upside down and neither she nor I could right it, so she couldn’t feed herself because she couldn’t swallow. At the same time she started using her right wing as a kickstand because her balance was so off. I cried hard for a day on that one. When you have so much time invested in a bird, only to watch it go south…**sigh** Thanks to Jeff, the Good Samaritan, who stood watch over her that day so nothing would happen to her until I could come pick her up and made a substantial financial contribution to help me feed her. I tried so hard. I am sorry.
We also had to do a second surgery on the Barn owl, Icabod. Things were coming along nicely until about 10 days after the first surgery, when he start chewing his wing. Not good. Put him back on pain meds and we had to go back in to remove more bone. He’s a very quiet, well behaved patient. I will keep my fingers crossed that he will adjust to a life in captivity and will become a good teacher. Barn owls are so different anatomically, they have their own sub-family of owls… They are space creatures, to be sure. With the most asymmetrically placed ears of all the owls, Tyto Alba can catch food in almost complete darkness. Don’t let that sweet countenance fool you, he will bite the crap out of you and not feel the least bit sorry!
On a happier note - All the babies are out! Woo Hoo! It’s important for the Screech babes to keep a VERY low profile during the day so they aren’t eaten by larger raptors, so I go up at night to ‘trill’ the baby Screech owls in for supper. They are so funny as they zoom from tree to tree and then glide down to the hack board for a mouse… The bell is what I use for the young hawks during the day. SO, there are two serving shifts at my house right now. NO vacationing for moi! Chef Boy-Ar-Teener!
Hmmm…this is like Piccadilly Cafeteria! Which one do I want?
They will come every night for a while, then as they start to find food on their own, they will come less frequently, thus, weaning themselves of my help. Raising them to come to this hack board is called ‘operant conditioning’ and is crucial to the survival of babes that don’t have parents to teach them what to do… The ‘trilling’ I do when I come up the trail to feed them, I start when they are still captive and gets them to associate that sound with supper, like ringing the proverbial dinner bell! Pavlov’s owl, so to speak.
The Ledger News of Cherokee County posted a very nice article about the release of Hollis the Hawk… Thank you, Jessica, for a spiffy write-up! We appreciate it very much! This pic was taken at my home, the day before the release. As you can see, Hollis is READY!
Me, Hollis, Holly Springs Mayor Downing, Officers Carswell and Ladner
Here we go! The release was behind this abandoned house just off the road where the nice officers stopped and directed traffic around the downed bird. Of course, what does Hollis do, but promptly drop to the ground, rather than shooting out at Mach III. I had to go get my gloves, pick him up and set him aloft. As he flew away, a feather drifted down… It was lovely. A happy ending, indeed…
Dear Grace has been doing so well since her other surgery to remove the right hallux talon, I keep forgetting to mention her sweet self! She has now been transferred from REHAB over to POSSESSION so I can now start working with her as an educational ambassador. The purple stuff on the right stub are the sutures that will eventually fall off. Thanks to Dr. Martinez and all the loving hands at Loving Hands Animal Clinic over in Milton! I love you guys!
Once again, thank you for taking the time to read my blog and if you have something to donate for the auction, please call me to arrange the pick-up. Your ten dollar ticket will buy 20 whopping mice! Click on www.paypal.com to 'send money'. Plug in our email address - firstname.lastname@example.org and it will walk you through the rest! ….m.