Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

July 30, 2015

His name is Petey!

We are well into week 2 with this new Pigeon coming around. A real character who I often wonder about. Like where did he come from? Who conditioned him to be so "domesticated"? I know I have influenced a few of our visiting flock thanks to my minglings with Pierre, but those birds who do pick up on it, it's a very slow process to come to hand. A lot of skittish attempts for days, weeks and even months. This guy... I first notice him one day, and the next he's like my bestest friend EVER!

A lot has happened in a week with this bird which Angie has named Petey.

I had my concerns in the first few days because here he is, and it was like this was where he was staying, not going anywhere, and he really wasn't a part of the flock. Petey was either in my hand, on my shoulder, head or up in the one Pine tree behind the house on the same branch (never a different branch). He'd be there from my waking moments until I left for work. He would nap or watch the other Pigeons but keep his distance. I'd get home well after dark and wondered if he was still out in the yard sleeping in that tree. I should have looked but never did. This didn't bother me, if he's safe and happy there, so be it. Of course when the seasons change (ack, winter), I know a branch on a Pine tree is not a very good roost for one lone bird. Thoughts of what to do with him months from now went through my head. Build him a coop? Trap him and pass him to a buddy of mine who keeps Pigeons? Would he stay with that guy or find his way back to me, since buddy does let his birds fly?

Over the weekend Petey made that decision for me. He slowly worked his way out of the Pine tree, mingled more and more with the flock and was spending less time here. This week his arrival is usually around noon. Obviously he is following the other birds to various feeding spots. It's nice to know they aren't dependent on this house for all their food.

If Petey is here, he lets me know. As soon as I open the back door, he is coming right to me, like it or not.

Last weekend Angie had her first sight of Petey, me peering in the kitchen window at her, with him on my head. I guess my 6' tall stand gives a good view for this young bird?

People are either loving or loathing our new yard pal. Best line, insert sarcasm, "How can you like both Pigeons and Peregrines?" Some people just don't get.

Here's a bunch of photos.  Don't be hating now!  ;)

He's a great groomer.  Looks after my hair and nails.

Peace to the Pigeons!

Large dominant male of the flock giving him some grief.

Mirrored sunglasses...  oooooooooooooooo!

Just hanging out.

Petey's signature...  one white claw.

Loves my shoulder.

Nibbles or kisses to my nose.

Word to the 'world wide web'...  "Better get used to me!"

Artsy shot, focus on him over my first thing in the morning look.  LoL!

Here is a video link to 14 seconds of him and I.

Pierre and the missus are certainly not being ignored.

Watching this flock, it's like a community.  The birds are all individuals, with their own appearances and personalities.  I like watching the relationships between them all.  The birds come and go, and as birds leave, new birds come in.  Walter disappeared about a month ago.  Now we have Petey.

Walter here who sure looks like Petey but is (was) twice the size and very aggressive.

We are in the dog days of summer now.  I don't get out much so most of the animal stuff right now is all here at home.

We are enjoying this male Ruby-throated Hummingbird visiting us numerous times a day, mostly late afternoon and evening.  I can't enjoy him until the weekends due to my work hours.

Raccoons always kicking around the yard.  Did I ever blog about the 2 orphans (who we think are orphans)?  I found 2 young ones dead on the main road by us the other day.  It would appear the pair were trying to cross Scarlett Road together and did not make it.  I hate seeing such things.  I hope it's not our little yard pals.  I keep looking out for them but with the blazing heat/humidity this week; I'm not looking too hard.  After work I just want to come home, shower and zone inside.  This was from last Saturday...

If I do get out, which is once every other week it seems.  I'm not seeing a whole lot.  There is one bird who is presenting itself to me semi-regularly this year and I consider myself blessed.  Who wouldn't feel blessed seeing a Great Horned Owl?

Relatives to my Raccoons at home?

And last, but not least, our new additions to the family, Merry and Molly, keep me hopping, jumping, cleaning and screaming.  LoL!  It's insanity having 2 wee little kittys running around the house.  Angie has been doing some regular blogs about them since their arrival like this one here.  We love them so much.



As always, I would like to thank you all for stopping in here and seeing what the animals and I have been up to.  The August long weekend is almost here.  Have a great one!

July 23, 2015

Son of Pierre?

While celebrating Pierre's 3 year anniversary on Tuesday, spoiling him as I do, I took notice to a young Pigeon standing near us. He was watching the goings on, tilting his head from side to side, and really did have a look of curiosity about him. He was in a flock of about 8 or 10 birds, and even though he looked like many of the others being an overall dark bird and nothing unique about him physically, that look of wonder to him got my attention. I threw some corn down to him and the larger birds just pushed him aside in the feast. I made a few efforts to ensure he got some grub despite the bullying.

Next day, July 22 (for the record), I am outside with Pierre and the missus once again. They are enjoying breakfast at my hand. I suddenly feel a little nipping at my ankle. Then something tugging on my shoelace. I look down and without a doubt I know it's the same young bird.

He's now looking up at me.

He takes flight up to me, lands on the waist line of my shorts, trying to hang on there. He's flapping away like crazy, looking at me and finally lets go as this isn't a place to try and get comfortable. If he wanted my attention, he certainly got it now.

Moments later he takes flight again and now lands on my head.

Pierre isn't pleased about this and starts one of his tantrums. The missus continues to eat, cleaning up the last of the sunflower chips from my hand.

The young bird isn't quite sure what to do now.

Pierre gets aggressive and tries to chase off the bird. Food gets gobbled up and off goes the missus to the bird bath. Pierre decides to follow.

The young bird may have saw this as an opportunity and now went for my shoulder. He lands and looks me in the face. He vocalizes to me, nibbles at my nose, walks the length of my arm from shoulder to hand and back. He's still talking to me. Another walk to my hand, he nibbles on my finger tips. I break out some seed for him and he eats. I'm wondering why I don't have a camera on me for this.

I somehow get him to leave my arm and wait on a tree branch while I went inside... for a camera.

I return, put my hand out and he comes right to me. He begins the vocalizing once again, walking hand to shoulder and back. I feed him again, I take some photos and a video you can see here.

I'm wondering if he could be one of Pierre's kids? It is possible although I will never know for certain. I don't think the love of a parent sticks with a Pigeon once the kids are out flying with the flock. And definitely not with my boy. There are days where food is more important to him than his mate and he will kick her out of the way in an instant if he's exceptionally hungry.

A name for him will come at some point. I recon once Angie meets him. She likes to name them, and really I am out of names for my flock. It is too difficult to keep track with a few who look way too similar and usually I can only tell once they are on hand with me.

Say "hello" to ????

July 22, 2015

What a Week and a Bit!

Well we were riding a high with our Peregrine Falcon family in Etobicoke until recently. A call came in about a downed bird and I was asked if I could meet security and check things out. I was up in Vaughan at the time, hopped into my truck and raced down the Hwy 400 to Islington and Bloor. I won't talk about the speeds but I did get there in some pretty impressive time.

I met security and they took me for a walk where the bird was reported. Nothing. An extended search. Still no downed Peregrine Falcon to be seen on the roof tops over the concourse. Hell, I would be happy to find a Pigeon who needed help at this point. Still nothing. Mixed emotions on coming up empty as my adrenaline was still rushing. I'm happy to not find an injured Falcon, or worse yet, a dead one. But come on, give me something. I was denied. Eventually I did find comfort when I cooled down that there was no bird to rescue or recover.

A while later, I am on my way to work. I get the call that they are still reporting a downed Falcon and if I could go again as they have pin-pointed where the bird is. Unfortunately I cannot. Our friend Tracy makes the trip and sadly she did find a downed Falcon. A young male named Glider. He had hit the glass towers, breaking his neck, dying on impact (at least it was quick) and his lifeless body spiraled down to the Earth. No I did not see it with him but have experienced this in prior years. The impact is loud. The visual is crushing to ones heart and spirit.

Glider at the banding ceremony on May 28, 2015.

It wasn't more than a few days when reports came in that our seemingly star bird Mel was in trouble. Mel was the first of the 4 chicks to take flight and was doing amazingly. I was not a part of this story and have only heard bits and pieces, but on his final hour(s) he somehow managed to get into someone's condo in the area through an open window or balcony door. He was rescued by Mark Nash, founder of the Canadian Peregrine Foundation. His injuries were quite severe and poor Mel died before getting to Mark's vehicle on route for medical help.

Mel at the banding ceremony.

Mel during his early days of flight about the area of Islington and Bloor.

What can I say? RIP you poor Falcons? Way it goes? I know... "this *bleeping* sucks!" I can say that it's not been a great couple years at our site as we've got a 50% mortality rate with our fledged birds. In the big picture, we really are powerless to help these young birds at this stage. Nobody can do anything standing on the ground watching them hundreds of feet up in the air. Of course some measures could be taken to coat the glass towers, even those top panels by the ledges where the birds go, to give them some idea that this is an obstacle and they cannot fly through. Damn that reflective glass. Sadly it's turned into yet another year that I would sooner not think about. I wish the surviving birds Ferris and Ninja to be safe and may we meet again when you are young adults setting up territories somewhere in North America.

But this is all old news now. It's so weeks ago now!

How about last week...

If you live in the GTA and aren't living under a rock, I am sure you have heard about the oil spill in Mimico Creek. A tractor trailer rollover at Hwy 427 and 401 on Monday. The load was some tranformers, which when tipped over, spilled out some 8,000 litres of mineral oil, a lot of which poured into the creek nearby.

I saw the remnants of the accident on my way home from work Monday night. The wreckage was barely recognizable as a transport truck and trailer. I surely muttered some expletives as I passed it all and had no idea the shit that would follow because of this. It seems no one did.

A "shout out" came late Tuesday morning via Toronto Wildlife to any and every volunteer that could help with this. It was the early stages and just getting people to a meeting area where many Ducks were being rounded up was a start. I didn't have a lot of time but wanted to help. I arrive on scene at West Deane Park to a mass of media, fire dept and of course the rescue team from Toronto Wildlife.

It's a bit of a blur now, just so much was happening. They had already caught over 30 Ducks by this point and most were already up at TWC now. I ended up taking another 4 Ducks to the centre and on my way back west, as my time to start work was very near, I stopped in at a No Frills and grabbed some more boxes to drop off to the rescue team.

It was something to see with the media, gathering all the footage they can on this breaking story, and in my time there, a few of them followed Stacey and I to my truck with the Ducks. A couple camera crews and one man from The Toronto Star. They video'd or snapped photos of us putting the boxed birds in the back of the GMC. I could feel my nerves getting all jittery with the attention. A few questions were asked, which I answered the best I could in that moment. I so wanted to put my sunglasses on in front of the cameras. I couldn't stop shifting my eyes from one camera to another even though they weren't the ones where the person was who asked the questions. I later learned that my hair and backside were shown on CP24, and later on CTV news.

Wednesday I was back in the area trying to help out any way I could before work. Once again, not a lot of time. In my brief stint I played my role as a volunteer driver shuffling rescue staff to and from various parts of the area with equipment and ducks, as well as a CityNews camera woman. Angie and I grabbed a whack of Gatorade to pass to the rescue peeps, which was greatly appreciated. Even if I cannot do much search and rescue, helping those who are doing this, is another way.

More Ducks being loaded up and heading to Toronto Wildlife.

After yet another Duck rescue, Andrew assists Stacey back across Mimico Creek. A lighter moment during a crazy morning.

Thursday I set out on my own, searching Mimico Creek, starting from Eglinton and East Mall and following it down to Martingrove and Rathburn. A little over 2 kms one way. I spent nearly 3 hours in the area searching for more oiled Ducks.

Starting my search just south/east of Eglington and East Mall in Etobicoke.

Dense greenery along the creek, making it difficult to scope out for ducks.  I did find many foot paths going to the water and occasionally I did have to make my own.

Catch nets of sorts for the oil spill.

Some real shallow spots.

It was a pretty walk and the area is just full of birds.  I noted Song Sparrows, Catbirds, Baltimore Orioles, Indigo Buntings and many others through my journey.

A few Rabbits seen in my journey.

First Duck I found across the creek.  *note*  just carrying the little point/shoot camera with me, fits easy in the pocket if I need free hands

Super zoom crop shot of the oiled Duck.  I stayed on the other side of the creek since I did not have the tools to try and catch a Duck.  I should add items like a large net to my artillery but really at this point, rescues aren't my thing...  but over time, they may be.

Rescue on site rescuing the Duck.

It was near time for me to leave. Toronto Wildlife asked me if I could help them with one more thing, if time allowed. They had 4 juvenile Pigeons that needed releasing somewhere, with a flock. Everyone knows about our flock thanks to my posts about Pierre. I said "absolutely" to bringing them home. What's another 4 birds to the mass we have here? And if they stick with this flock, they will know this is a pretty good place to come for food and water as well as following my birds, finding a decent roost.

Young Pigeons ready to be set free into a great big world.

Two birds left their confinements in seconds, finding spots in the trees along the property line to land and get their bearings.

Ho hum.  Remaining two birds who were really pokey. In time they both left and went up to a nearby tree. 

About 15 birds were present.  No Pierre and his regular crew; but another group we call "The Helmets".  A few of them appear to be from the same line with white caps on their heads (helmets).  I had to get ready for work.  I really wanted to stay home and watch how things went with them.

There was nothing to really distinguish these young birds from the others.  If only they were banded, I could see if they came back or not.  I wished them all well and away I went.

Friday arrives and I am exhausted.  I am sad too.  Today, July 17th 2015, would have been Meadow's 12th birthday.  I think about her every day, I miss her so much.  Milestone moments like this and others to come in the first year are going to be crushing.  As much as I think about all the great moments with her over the years, cherishing the bond we had, I cannot break the overwhelming feeling of sadness.  Our new kitten couple, Molly and Merry, tried their best to keep me occupied by tearing up the living room and getting into things so I didn't have time to sit and think.  It worked only temporarily.  I had much to do around home before work after days of neglect and even my being so busy was only a temporary fix.

Having a birthday in July...  nice warm weather and lots of outside time.

One of Meadow's favorite things to do on her birthday, and any other summer day...

I want this day over with sooner than later.  I want to sleep and wake up to Saturday.  But I still have work to get through before that can happen.

Really at this point the animal moments have come to an end but I have to add this last bit, something that may offend some but it was a breaking moment from my mood, and maybe there was some kind of creature or dozen with little eyes and pulses involved?

I'm at the Husky station near work picking up some lottery tickets.  As I get out of the truck, looking for some money, I take notice to this woman at the pump filling her car.  One hand pumping the gas and the other is on her crotch.  Okaaaaaaaaaaaay.  And?  Well, this other hand was really raking her pubic area.  I mean hard and fast.  No way it was not being noticed by those around her.  I go inside the station, get my tickets and in she comes.  She's trying to keep herself together at this point but it's still clear as daylight that she is very uncomfortable.  She's paying for the gas and I overhear her asking the attendant if they sell bug spray.  I'm dying on the inside and keep going.  The only thing at the Husky that could help her is maybe a splash of high octane gasoline and match.  Bwahahahaha!  I needed that.  Hopefully she found something to ease her suffering later that day. And a reminder on the importance of washing your hands after pumping gas (I have hand sanitizer in the truck).

So far this week is pretty low key. I'm good with that. Cheers on this Whiskey Wednesday!

If you are still with me after that last paragraph, still wanting to be my friend, on a final note.... 110 Ducks were rescued from the creek along with 1 Sandpiper. Something of this magnitude has not happened with Toronto Wildlife before (let's hope it does not happen again). They handled this quite well with lots of help from volunteers and people from the public, those who live in the area. My daily roles in this were small, I say I am but one pixel in a big picture. All of you could pride yourselves and be a pixel too by helping out. How? Donations either financially or visit their website and check out their "wish list" if you do not have time to be a volunteer.

July 21, 2015

3 Years with Pierre

Happy Anniversary to Pierre!

3 years ago today he flew into our yard, walked the length of it, hopped up the deck steps and jumped into the laps of Angie and I while we enjoyed our first morning coffee.

We both looked at him, wondering what the heck was up with this bird. He spent the weekend with us out back, and even entertained us and friends during a backyard BBQ.

And who knew that this was going to turn into a unique friendship between him and I? I sure didn't. But over time, I knew he was special and he wasn't going away. We have a bond that goes beyond the food offerings in my hand. Anyone who has followed my blog over the years, or the countless photos on Facebook, knows this to be true.

The life of a Pigeon is tough. A good sized bird (good eating for a bird of prey) with little defense other than some great maneuverability in flight when speed is not enough. They really are dependent on us humans for survival. They find roosts in the structures we create and they eat what we discard. To many, the Pigeon is a pest bird and deserves to die in the talons of a Hawk or Falcon. Some who cannot wait for nature to take its course on the Pigeons do horrible things to rid of them from illegal shooting to poisoning. I remember years ago seeing someone walking through a downtown park and trying to kick the numerous Pigeons on the path. The man cursed loudly at the birds. No bird was hurt in that moment and the guy looked like a total idiot to others.

I can admit I was not a big fan of the birds back in the early days of backyard bird feeding. I didn't hate them. I would never hurt them. I was just annoyed at their backyard bird feeder etiquette. Over time I learned to live with the Pigeons, and changed how things were done out back... different feeders and different seeds. Feeders less accessible to these big birds (ones they cannot grab on to) and better quality bird seed not full of junk and filler (the cheapest stuff you can buy at a grocery store or Canadian Tire as an example are just full of crap the other birds will throw to the ground). I learned to accept them, live with them and over time enjoy them. Pierre certainly helped with that.

Pigeons are actually quite intellectual. They are very personable too. Of course having Pierre come right to my hand allows me to see them differently than most. As a few of his flock figured out what he and I had going on, I got know more of them as individuals too. All with their own personalities and relationships with other birds in the flock.

Pierre is the longest surviving bird in his flock, of the ones I recognize anyway. I plan to do a blog on the individuals over the years as a few are no longer with us. And I know the day will come when Pierre will be a bird of the past as well. I do my best to look out for him while he is visiting. He is very well fed as you can imagine. Coming to my hand, he does not have to fight for food with the others. I spoil him rotten. But I can't always protect him as he is a wild bird. He comes and goes as he chooses. He has many dangers in daily routines and even coming to our yard, the threat of a bird of a prey or some free roaming cat looms. Even if he avoids all such dangers in his life, eventually age will catch up with him. Nothing lives forever.

I enjoy every visit we have together. From our personal feeding moments to just watching him as he hangs around our property, mingling with the other Pigeons and acting like a bunch of people at a social. I find peace the days he chooses to nap in our trees or on lawn. I laugh when he enjoys the bird bath just a little too much, spending lengthy amounts of time splashing about.

Watching him and his girl "the missus" over the kitchen roof, enjoying the warm sun on the roof shingles.

He's been around days when I needed him just to be with me, as time with animals is great therapy. Not that there is any short supply of animals inside or outside of our home but he is one of the special ones.

I pride myself on knowing how much of a positive impact I have had on him. I've made many of his days much easier, never going hungry, and ensuring he is stuffed to the eyeballs on the coldest of days even as it feels my fingers are going to fall off from the chill.

Not everyone has been fortunate enough to meet Pierre while visiting us. For those who have been *blessed*, he does leave them with a changing moment in their life. I guess the most stand out story of this is the Global news reporter Laura Zilke who came here in January 2014 to do a story on helping the birds through a harsh winter. I will attach the blog link here. But a long story short, after Pierre arrived near the end of the Global peeps time here, and he landed in her hand for a feeding... Laura thanked me for the amazing opportunity, saying how they do so many terrible stories day in, day out of tragedies, this was special, uplifting and something she would not forget. Over a year later there is still a little chit chat regarding Pierre between Laura and I on Twitter.

I can go on and on about Pierre. A lot of stuff that I have said in other blogs.

I will end this with "Happy Anniversary Pierre! Let's have another great year together!"

A couple video links from this summer. Tantrum video. Just us video.

July 13, 2015

Meet Merry and Molly!

Hello viewers of my blog! May I present to you all Merry and Molly!

Orphaned sister cats that we adopted and brought to their "furever" home here with us on June 27th.

They were found at the wee age of about 2 weeks old. Their eyes were not even opened yet. It is suspected that their mother met an untimely demise on the streets of Toronto. Toronto Animal Services put a call out to the masses about anyone willing to take these 2 darlings in, foster them, bottle feed them all hours of the day/night and hopefully they'd survive these first crucial days/weeks and maybe get into the adoption system.

Our vet clinic answered the call. And everyone there took part in helping these two young felines. Amazing that people gave their time so willingly to help raise them over the next number of weeks.

Angie and I met them at one point, then went home and gave a lot of thought about taking 2 kittens in. Kittens! Hoo boy! The insanity. Plus the fact we have 2 Budgies in the house, both rescues as some of you already know, and we love them dearly.

A few days passed and we decided we could make this work. We both accepted that shit is going to happen in the house, things will be disrupted and things may get broken; but we could make this work. Most importantly no one was going to get hurt... cats or Budgies.

First steps into our home can be seen here.

It's been a couple weeks now with them here with us. A big animal adventure at home, not allowing me a whole lot of time to get out and about. That is okay by me. The days are pretty warm now and I like the time at home, with them, and those who visit our backyard.

At times it seems quite soon after Meadow left us, and other times it seems much longer.  Anyone with animals knows the joy of having furry family members, their love is genuine and can lift a person up on even the crappiest of days.  These cats are not a replacement for Meadow.  There is no replacing her, like there is no replacing any other animal or person in our lives.  We are all individuals. 

Please enjoy the photos of our newest family members and I will see you all again soon!  Angie has blogged about them here and here if you would like to see more about them in photos and words.  Oh and one more video, Molly seeing the brush for the first time.  They love being brushed now!

Welcome home Merry.

Wee little Molly.

She sleeps like a boss, anywhere and everywhere, anyhow.

The shoe rack was a great source of entertainment in the first days of being here.

Caption this...

Told ya so.  Like a boss!

A good size reference as they squeeze into a case of pop.

Merry wants to tell y'all something.  She loves it here.

I think my choice of music...  heavy metal...  is having an influence on Molly.

Hugging and squeezing our new babies.

We all enjoy the down time.

Oh yes we certainly do.

Sometimes I need a little help unwinding though.