Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

August 17, 2017

6 Years With Moonie

6 years ago today, at approximately 1:05 pm, Moonie came into our lives.

He dropped into our backyard just as I was preparing to leave for work. Angie was home that day and spotted a little blue bird out in the garden.

I walked outside and he quickly flew up to a nearby tree. Moments later he came back down to the ground to pick under the bird feeders.

I slowly walked up to him. He looked up at me and had a curious look like "who are you?"

His world went dark as I dropped a t-shirt over his head and quickly brought him inside.

Angie got bird-sitting duties that afternoon. HAHA! Easy enough, I put him a spare bird cage, in another room, and said to leave him be for the day.

Here we are 6 years later.

Happy Anniversary to the mouth from the south. Our kitchen has not had a quiet morning since you came to live with us. But we love you and are okay with your happy squawks and chirps.

Here's to many more Moonie!

For those curious, he is doing well since Misfit passed away. He did adore her but they were not a bonded pair. He is getting lots of extra attention and will be from now on. A few new toys are keeping him busy plus lots of outside time while the weather is nice. He enjoys being louder than any bird flying around out back.

And yes, we are aware Moonie is a girl but in the early days we thought Moonie to be a boy because of the blue cere most of the time. He remains a boy until he lays an egg which hopefully never happens.

August 14, 2017

R.I.P. Misfit 2007 - 2017

On Saturday August 12th, 2017 we woke to the sad discovery that our Budgie "Misfit" had passed sometime early that morning.

It was a shock to find but in another way, not that surprising. Misfit was an old Budgie and she was showing signs of her age for the last while. Signs were afternoon naps which she never did in past years. She wasn't interested in flying anymore. But she ate well, tweeted daily and played with her favorite toys for hours on end, even the day before she passed. She wasn't sick. She was old. It must have been her time.

Napping girl.

She really enjoyed having her cage door open and just walking about the outside ledge and preening for a while.

This September would have been her 10th anniversary with us. She was well beyond 10 yrs of age. I'd give at the very least 2 yrs on top of the 10 but for some reason my gut feels 4 sounds more like it.

A recap about Misfit.

She arrived in the backyard in the early part of the Summer of 2007. She lived out there for almost 4 months before I finally decided to catch her and bring her in. She certainly made that Summer out back all the more memorable. Angie and I looked out for her all the time; especially after heavy rains and thunderstorms through the night. We'd be listening out for her incoming tweets every morning as she returned to the bird feeders.

We were certain the large tree in the background was where she slept every night. I don't know the species of the tree but it's massive. If I were a little bird, I'd take refuge in this giant tree too. It's 5 or 6 backyards over from ours.

If only Misfit could talk, the things she could tell us about her life outside. We saw a fair amount of it but she could surely tell us even more. We couldn't watch her 24/7.

The Blue Jays somehow knew Misfit did not belong among them outside and they caused her a lot of grief. I recently saw them drive another Budgie out of the backyard and that bird did not return whereas Misfit did day after day. One morning we were sitting on the deck and heard Misfit screaming. Seconds later she came flying over the house with 2 Jays on her tail. She managed to evade them once again. Later in the Summer, as per norm, migrating Hawks started attacking our backyard friends. Obviously Misfit avoided those too.

What was funny is she knew her place out back. There were birds she liked to be around and could peacefully co-exist with. They were the Goldfinches. She easily beat the House Sparrows by the dozen off any feeder she wanted to feed from. I'm sure that will delight many of my Bluebird friends.

Misfit not letting the House Sparrows push her around.

My good friend and neighbour Patricia gave me a bird cage. I set it up out back and Misfit knew when the feeders were busy with bigger birds like Grackles and Red-wings, she could fly into the cage and eat in peace. What was even funnier is that over time some of the Red-wings and Chickadees caught on to this and they too would slip inside for a feed of millet seed or on a Budgie stick.

So when September was coming to an end in just over a week... I did my best stealth like walk outside, going to the cage and shutting the door when Misfit was inside. Talk about a freak out! She was aware of me throughout the Summer but she wasn't tolerant to me being near, this increased over the weeks as she grew accustomed to her wild life.

It was months of patience and understanding, giving her the space she needed and the respect she deserved to take that wild bird out of her. Seeing her in the first few weeks ripping chest feathers out was a little heartbreaking. But we weren't going to release her back outside. Some would argue that I should have left her out there because she was so happy about being a free bird. I would agree if we lived somewhere in Florida or her native home of Australia. But in Canada? No. She would surely perish at some point in the winter.

Misfit did eventually calm down. She never became a hand tame bird but that was fine by us. She loved music, especially Frankie Valli that Angie had introduced her to. We often let Misfit free fly about the main floor of the house. Our last cat Meadow never gave a s**t about Misfit. She could be 3 ft away from the cage and be like "whatever".

This photo has crushed me ever since Meadow died. It crushes me more now with Misfit gone.

Even after we caught our second Budgie Moonie about 5 years later, Meadow still had no interest in the birds.

So, going back to that free flying bit about the house, it leads into my next little tale. We were approaching Misfit's one year anniversary in the house. There was a mishap with the front door being open just a little too long, Misfit was in the kitchen but suddenly she came flying through the living room and went over our heads and straight out the door. It happened so fast.

Miraculously we got her back 2 hours later. It was her choice to come home. She could have kept flying straight south west as she left the house but instead she came back to the yard. Angie had run outside and was calling for her. I got her cage set up on a table in the yard. It was a long tease as she flew here and there. She sat with the Goldfinches for a bit and tweeted away with them. It was almost like a reunion. She was so close to us but just out of reach. This was September and Hawks were migrating. Sure enough at one point in flew a Sharp-shinned, all the birds scattered including Misfit. In the moment we thought that was it, we lost her. Silly us. She returned again. As I mentioned, about 2 hours later, she hops into the cage, kinda like "okay, I'm done, this was fun, I'm ready to go home now" and in she came. Tell me that doesn't say she was meant to be with us?

Later that day we went out and bought Misfit a new bird cage. A cage meant for a Princess I suppose because it was more like a castle than a simple cage. The reason we got her a new cage is because the bars on her old cage were just a little too wide. I learned Misfit could squeeze herself through those bars whenever she wanted. She did this often when I was at work. Angie was not living with me at the time. So I would come home and occasionally I found Misfit somewhere else other than her cage OR I would find her inside but I would see traces of her being elsewhere while I was gone. How comical to know she would break out of her cage when she wanted out, but she would also break back into her cage as well! I found myself leaving her door open more because of this habit of hers. We got a new cage to protect her, one from escaping, and two if she ever got herself stuck when squeezing in and out of the old cage. She still got her free flying time daily but under the strict condition that no one was allowed to enter or leave the house during this.

She was a very unique and special bird.

She loved to sit on the old ceiling fan in the kitchen. We would lightly hand spin it and she enjoyed going for the little ride.

I thought the name "Misfit" was very suiting for her because she really was just that. It's easy to see why she stole our hearts so early on in our life together.

We had that major egg laying spree of hers a few years later which sent her to the hospital and I had to give her hands on care for a number of weeks. I will attach that blog link here instead of retelling it. It definitely was a bonding moment. And reminded us how much she meant to both Angie and I.

Saturday August 12th, 2017 a little something inside of me died when Misfit passed away.

We all are going to miss her, even her "bird sitting" people being my parents who enjoyed looking after her.

We will take pride in knowing she got a 2nd chance with us, a 3rd if you add her great escape of 2008. She really did have a wonderful 10 years of life in our home.

August 11, 2017

Where Art Thou Pierre?

Week 3 of recovery. I aim to do a blog about this and that animal related for the week, and I will, but not today.

I have not seen Pierre in exactly one week now. Last visit(s) were on Friday August 4th. As per norm the last few weeks, he was here numerous times throughout the day, getting spoiled rotten with feedings.

Of course his missus had been with him almost every time.

It's not uncommon for him to disappear, especially during the winter. I saw a Facebook bit through my "On This Day" app and back in 2015, he also had also pulled disappearing act in August.

We had some heavy rain and thunderstorms last Friday. Not that I think they would have done anything to him, he's seen much worse over the years. But it's just a note of something different on that last day I saw him.

His missus has been here every day though.

The Pigeon flock must pass through Red-tailed Hawk nesting territory. I've been seeing the Hawks semi-regularly since the Spring. Things ramped up some when the young hatched. But it's been quieter lately other than a few days where they had their sights on our backyard. Last Friday was not one of them.

Anyway, just mentioning this here, for those with an admiration for him.

Let's hope he's okay and shows up at our backdoor again soon.

Here they are from last week. The missus is giving Pierre some good loving.

August 2, 2017

Next Generation

Hello. Here we are 12 days since my accident. The recovery is slow and I find myself getting quite bored through the afternoons being home and just relaxing. The cats sleep the afternoon away, my Pigeon buds are well fed and gone, the heat is on and there's not much to do. What I want to do, I can't or shouldn't. Things I could do, I just don't feel like it. Angie has really picked up on all my chores from landscaping to trash and recycling duties, etc. Yep, it's all messed up.

Then as the evening rolls in, the sun sets, and it's like the changing of the guards out back. The birds settle down for the night. And out comes the wildlife. You will see why I call this blog "Next Generation".

The Raccoon kids are almost a sure thing lately.  I've not seen momma since last week.  I hope she's okay.  These guys are fine regardless in my opinion, doing their thing, scavenging under the peanut feeder, playing in our baths and new fountain, scurrying up the trees when they get scared, etc.

To our surprise, we have an Opossum visiting again. This is the first one since April.

A couple wee little Skunks have been popping up in our garden too! I'm hoping these are survivors from that poor mother Skunk I tried to help a few weeks ago. Cute as hell they are, and smaller than our cats. They seem to be doing well out there on their own, digging in the gardens and lawns out back, either our yard or a neighbours.

They are trigger happy and the slightest noise sets them in this alert pose.

It makes us long for the weekends even more, so Angie has the opportunity to stay up later and watch the night action.  We had a blast last weekend with "hat tricks" both evenings as all 3 species came through.

Yes, despite the downfalls and tragedies, nature keeps moving along, and we welcome the next generation.

I hope Star Trek geeks don't Google "Next Generation", find this and get disappointed. HAHA!

July 28, 2017

Grateful because...

So I had myself an accident at home last week. I was cleaning the eaves-trough at the back of the house.

No, it didn't happen like this...

I had been up and down the ladder a few times that morning, 3x up to be exact, but my third and final trip down became a free fall from about 6 or 7 ft. I still don't really know what happened. The ladder must have shifted. All I know is I stepped on it to go down this 3rd time and suddenly I was on an express drop to "Painsville".

I know I lay there on the deck for a while. How I got into the house when I couldn't stand is a blur. How I got the back door open is another blur. But I did it.

I immediately dropped to the kitchen floor. I kept thinking "this isn't happening". I looked at the clock and thought to give myself 20 minutes to catch my breath and get my bearings. I had to! I couldn't reach for the phone at this point to call anyone for help.

One of our cats, Merry, came into the kitchen. I could tell she was quite concerned over what was going on. Here I am laying on the floor and making some awful zombie like moans with a few f-bombs throughout.

About 20 minutes later I was finally able to reach for the phone on the desk. I called Angie first. Nothing like putting my wife into panic mode just before her lunch break. Of course she's like "call 9-1-1!" which is what I did next.

I lay there as I waited for them to come, which didn't take very long. Merry was sniffing my blood drops on the floor by the door. I had a couple long gashes down my left arm which is still another mystery to what did that as I'm certain I landed on my right side.

Day after the accident

5 days later

Then moments before the paramedics arrived, I threw up. Poor Merry was completely freaked out now. And then in came her sister Molly to see what the heck was going on.

The front door was locked, I had instructed them to come up the side of the house and to the back door. One paramedic did just that while the other waited out front. Everything happened rather quickly upon their arrival. I only remember when the front door was opened to let the other in, that I had nothing on my mind but pretty much begging them to shut the door, not letting either of the cats bolt outside. They are calicos and it's their personality to be high strung when things get "weird". The paramedics were great about this, while I was their main concern, they ensured Merry and Molly stayed put.

I had to climb up on our computer chair and go for a ride through the kitchen and living room, then out the front door. It was another feat to get down the front steps to the waiting stretcher. The ride to the hospital went rather quick. The bumps and stops hurt like hell. I was so nauseated from the pain but am glad I didn't throw up again, especially on these nice people helping me. I know I said "fuck" an awful lot, and apologized almost as much to them throughout. Sure I can have a potty mouth but only in the company of people I am comfortable with.

It was 9 hours in emergency at St. Joseph's hospital on The Queensway in Toronto. Two sets of x-rays and one cat scan. They feared I had a collapsed lung, or partially anyway. In the end, I escaped with 2 broken ribs and quite a few scrapes and bruises. I don't know how many times I heard how lucky I was, especially as they checked my spine and my head.

I broke the 6th and 8th rib on my right side.

Angie and my mother met me at the hospital not long after my arrival. I slept through a good part of the ordeal after they gave me some Gravol and a couple hits of hydromorphone. Angie said they could see the drugs take effect on me and I went into my own world. Sleep was the only thing that took the pain away. My waking moments were often unbearable until I got my body settled in a pain manageable position. I later learned they entertained themselves and had lots of adventure through the afternoon and evening; how could one not in an emergency room in Toronto? But that's their stories to tell.

Trying to make the best of this misadventure. I'm high as hell here.

So I was able to come home later that evening. And here we are 7 days later. The pain is mostly manageable. I have to rest as much as possible, which is difficult for me to do. Angie has taken on most of my chores about the house for now. I shouldn't drive for the next week or so. I actually started the truck yesterday and as I sat in the driver's seat, I know I can't drive, as I can't twist to the right to look behind me for backing up. I know sitting in the seat for any length of time would be uncomfortable, the bumps in the road would not help, nor any sudden stops.

I have eased off the hydromorphone, only taking it before bed. It makes me pretty dopey and I don't like that very much. I guess it could help me pass the days away but if I don't need to take it, managing the pain on my own or with Advil, is what I prefer to do. I've read these narcotics are highly addictive. Ya, I don't need to test my strength on saying "NO!" to drugs.

Why am I blogging about this here? Well my blog is like a journal for me. What happened has effected the adventures of "Rob and the Animals". I'm not out and about enjoying nature. I cannot volunteer with Toronto Wildlife or any other place right now. I still have 2 nest boxes left to check for the season. It's not a big deal, I will get to them eventually, but it is disappointing I cannot finish the season off when I want to. Time passing may erase some of the evidence within those boxes.

This was not my first gutter cleaning. I've been doing this chore on average 3x a year for over a decade now. All without incident. I guess my overconfidence worked against me this time?

I'd like to state that I am grateful for my family and my friends. We've had a lot of offers to help with anything need be while I'm recovering, be it cutting the grass, grocery runs, or anything else. So far, we are okay. But it's nice to know some have offered their assistance and truly mean it.

What else I am grateful for is our backyard. Being a nature lover, we are blessed with a nice slice of nature right behind the house. I am grateful for all the creatures that come here day and night. I'm glad I can sit on the deck and hang with my Pigeon pals, watch the birds and butterflies, and if I am still up after dark, see the Raccoon family and a couple new Skunks coming around. Rainy days will be had I am sure and those days I will resort to the television, but any nice day I can sit out there, I will. It sucks I can't take the cats out for the time being, they both love it out there. I can't handle monitoring the two of them, setting up that kitty walk structure and even picking them up is not easy right now.  I can't play fetch very well with Merry and her paper balls.  I can't find Molly's plastic ring toys, which she loves so much, when they disappear under the furniture, appliances or baseboards.  They are confused why things aren't the way they were a week ago, the things we normally do, we aren't now.

Here are some photos from this week as I recover...

Merry, who is daddy's girl, is very happy to have me home again. We could see that my accident really effected both of them. It was well into Saturday (day after) before they finally started acting like their normal selves.

My Pigeon pals keep me company. Jersey has some long visits.

Of course there's Pierre.

Both are daily visitors and I am thankful for their company.

The new Raccoon family show up pretty late in the evening so I don't see them like I have been when coming home from work. The young ones are always entertaining to watch. These 2 wander around together while the third is a "momma's boy" and not quite as adventurous.

I haven't tried to use my 500 mm lens since the accident. The macro is much lighter. While I'm confined to home, during sunnier moments I am looking for creepy, crawly, flying and buzzing things.

Orchard Orbweaver feasting on a mosquito.

Zebra Jumping Spider.

Brown Mamorated Stink Bug.

Anything with eyes and a pulse keep me entertained.

More Pierre.

Yes, the Pigeons are really helping me this week. Who would have thought?

A male Northern Cardinal has been caring for his 2 young all week out there.

Last night there was 2 Skunks and the Raccoon family out back. Close call here but no spraying happened.

I am amazed the Skunk tolerated this invasive curious behaviour. I'm realizing through all the encounters in our backyard that they aren't all trigger happy, especially the older ones.

Indeed I am grateful for a lot of things right now, especially my current state of health and family, but since this is an animal blog... I can't imagine not having the backyard and all the visitors we are blessed with. It's really helping through my recovery. I don't know what I'd be doing without the yard and them.

July 25, 2017

Happy Anniversary Pierre!

A little late but I just wanted to share with you that Pierre and I celebrated our 5th anniversary recently. July 21st to be exact.

I remember through the first couple years I was acknowledging all the mini-milestones like 1 year, 18 months, 2 years, 30 months.

Then through this past winter, with his lengthy disappearances, I wondered if and when I would see him again. The last couple winters it has gone as such. I start marking the calendar with our last "encounters". It's always a blast when I suddenly see him in his spot outside the backdoor after weeks of being away.

Whoever would have thought I would have befriended a Pigeon? Not me 10 years ago. As I say, I never hated them, I would never hurt one, but they weren't high on my list. Hell I even helped a few injured ones back in these times. But I would never have believed something like this would happen.

But it was him, with his grand appearance back in 2012, literally hopping into our lives that started it. And I found myself growing fond of him rather quickly.

He spent that whole first weekend with us, just hanging out, and even taking part in a small gathering of friends that Saturday afternoon.

He's my buddy. He has a lot of trust in me. Our adventure over the last Christmas season, going to Toronto Wildlife because of the thread wrap around his toes, is the ultimate proof to this.

Who could ever forget our Global News piece the other winter. See here.

It's fun to revisit some of the short videos I've taken over the years like this one. One of his typical tantrums. Here's another.

He is a big Pigeon and his personality is even bigger.

I don't know how long this ride of ours is going to last. I do try to embrace every visit even though I never think of it as possibly being our last. My much needed first coffee of the morning is often delayed to cater to him first. He always seems quite appreciative.

Some people seem to forget that he is a wild bird. Sure he may come off as tame and lovable but he is not one to become a pet, never to be caged. He comes and goes as he pleases. He makes his own choices like who he may come to hand and feed from. No one should ever take offence if he does not come to them.

Happy anniversary Pierre! Here's to many more moments together!

July 17, 2017

Cool Outings

Sunday morning I went out looking for Dragonflies and Butterflies. I saw very few but I did run into this beautiful beast...

I did get to photo this guy, who I still need to ID.

Then Sunday evening I went out again elsewhere and encountered a few Coyotes calling in a field. I waited to see if I could spot one, but didn't. The mosquitoes were brutal but I put up with them for the 10 or so minutes I got to hear these animals call. You can hear a 30 second clip of it here. I don't encounter that many Coyotes so I always embrace these moments. Might as well pimp out a Coyote blog of mine from not too long ago. Apparently one was seen last week during the day in the hydro field by us which has stirred up some negative feelings from a few neighbours.

When I got home, I saw a big fat Skunk out back, but it disappeared before I could get my camera and headlamp. You saw my Skunk blog, right? Well, as consolation, I got to see our local momma Raccoon and her 3 young'uns. This is the third time I've seen them and they are always in this one tree.


Cuteness overload

Or how about this cutey... newly fledged Northern Mockingbird that Angie and I saw Saturday morning.

Toronto is a big city but we are blessed to have some great green spaces throughout where a nature lover can still go out and enjoy the wild world around us.