First, join with me in celebrating the screech owl’s release—finally! To paraphrase a line from “Charlie Brown”, of all the screeches I’ve worked with, he was the screechiest. Even when he was free to go he had to be a little snot about it, sitting on the glove forever—a full 5 minutes—before I gave up and lowered the camera. Then the aggravating little rascal gave me one last glare and flew off, disappearing into the planted pines out of sight behind us in the video below. So…yeah, he was released and no, there’s no video of the actual release. Thank Mr. Uncooperative for that!
The red shoulder is still a guest at the LWR B&B, primarily because he refuses to fully self-feed. As long as the food is offered via forceps, he’s an eager eater—see vids below. If he drops any in his box, however, he looks at it and then looks at me…and waits for me to pick it up and hand it to him again. He’s very alert now but hasn’t uttered a peep, which is odd. Red shoulders are normally mouthy little raptors. So for now, we observe and debate the cause of his odd behavior…Fellow raptor rehabber Steve Hicks and I have been tossing around a few possibilities, but until we’re more convinced, I’m not throwing ‘em out here yet.
When the call came about a “crane” down at a local private pond, it was a pretty sure bet what the caller actually had was a heron of some species. It turned out to be a great blue heron, too emaciated and weak to stand. As a general rule, when great blues reach this point, it’s a done deal. Every rehabber I know who’s worked with them has had the same experience—when they’re too weak to stand, you might as well call it. He died before sunset, while I was debating whether to euthanize or give him the night to see what would happen.
Of course, work continued on the raptor flight pen, with my nephew Alex, my father and me putting the screen in place on the latticework “roof” and placing it on the top, as well as getting the roofing tin up. To be honest, Alex did the “heavy lifting”; Daddy & I handled the lesser tasks. It’s looking good, and weather permitting, we plan to get the hardware cloth on the outside and down as a predator guard on the inside this week.
It was 54°F the day we worked on the raptor flight, so when Daddy’s dog began barking and growling at something in the grass nearby, we thought it was probably a mouse or a mole. To our surprise it was a small king snake, which I snatched up and relocated to safety while Alex held the dog back.
When the call came in about a possibly gunshot hawk, I began mentally running down the list of all the DNR and FWS people I needed to inform. As it turns out, the adult male red-tailed hawk wasn’t gunshot but he was ripped open. He was found in a pen with dogs and although the finders said they saw no signs that their dogs had attacked him, after a careful examination, I suspect that’s what happened. It seems to be the most likely scenario, at any rate. His right wing was broken, open fracture, with a good inch and a half of bone exposed, and the flesh beneath the wing and down that side of the body was torn away. The poor bird was still alert and feisty despite the damage, but there was nothing to be done except humanely euthanize him.
On the same day, a caller sought help for a cedar waxwing she’d found grounded in her yard the previous evening. My first thought was that he was just drunk from over-indulging in the berries she said were prevalent in her yard, but she had tried to release him before calling me that morning, and he just sat in the yard and shivered. Since it had been about 12 hours (overnight) since he’d eaten when she attempted the release, his behavior wasn’t normal. Upon getting this gorgeous fellow, I discovered he was rail-thin. Since these birds are migrating at the moment, some thinness is to be expected, but this was borderline starvation-thin. He probably reached her yard with his flock and just didn’t have the strength to leave. And since we had several days of rainy, cold weather predicted beginning on the day his rescuer called me, “CW” is gonna spend a few days at the LWR B&B, where he can eat all the fruit he wants in a safe, dry, warm environment. He doesn’t seem unhappy in the least about his temporary digs!