Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Quiet week

Not much going on at the Raptor Program this week. In fact, not a single bird was admitted in the past seven days! That's unheard of here. Sometimes it seems like the Humans should install a revolving door, or maybe a conveyor belt, to bring in all the sick, injured and orphaned raptors...but not this week. Not only were there no admits, there were two releases! An Eastern Screech Owl and a Red-Tailed Hawk were both given their second chances at freedom this week.

Even though no birds came in this week, there was still plenty of hustle and bustle at the center. Judging by the sounds of shuffling and stapling coming from the main building all week long, the Humans are using this low-bird week to catch up on paperwork. Sooo glad I don't have the opposable thumbs necessary to do that stuff. Also, because the weather is warm again (yuck!), the Humans are coming into my cage armed with scrub brushes and buckets of hot water, dead-set on scrubbing all my carefully-placed mutes off the walls. They have no appreciation for art.

Still, with the end of the year only a few days away, the Humans are expecting a few more birds to come through the doors at the last minute, just to bump the numbers up a little bit. Like they need it. Two-hundred and forty-two birds have been admitted this year, and that's plenty. But hey, that's what the Raptor Program is here for! As I overheard a Human say earlier today, "We'll just enjoy this quiet week while we can, and not bank on it lasting much longer!"

PS: I have noticed that lots of people have been visiting my blog, which is excellent...but I have no idea who you are. I'd love to read comments if you care to leave them! Then I can pass them on to all the other birds here in the cages! I'm sure they'd enjoy hearing from you. Also, so you don't have to think about checking back all the time to see if there are new posts, you can just subscribe to this blog by typing your email into the box in the sidebar on the right of the main page. Thanks for reading!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Raptors in the news: Famous Red-Tail being treated in NYC

A raptor center in New York City has taken in one of my brethren, an injured and--get this--famous Red-Tailed Hawk from Washington Square Park. The Humans call her "Violet" (which begs the question, why do Humans insist on naming everything?), and she was the star of a webcam this past year because she and her mate built their nest outside the President's window at New York University. You know what they say, location, location, location!

At any rate, this Red-Tailed Hawk developed a leg wound earlier this year, and has recently been captured so a raptor rehab facility can examine, and hopefully heal, the injury. Sadly, it doesn't look good. Best of luck to this poor Red-Tail.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

In the middle of the night...

You know how I wrote the other week about how that whole "Santa" thing seemed ridiculous? Remember? Well, wouldn't you know, I'm sitting by my window hooting "The Twelve Raptors of Christmas" to a calm, clear night sky, when out of nowhere, I hear....bells. Using my perfectly-designed facial disc and my asymmetrical ears, I was able to pinpoint exactly where in the sky the sound was coming from, and because of my excellent night vision, I was able to see....well, not much, in all honesty. Whatever it was, it was very far away. But it looked like (I know I sounds crazy here, I'm sorry) looked like elk. A small herd of elk flying through the sky, with something big and awkward behind them.

After I watched for a few seconds, I head-bobbed to focus in better, and somehow lost sight completely. That never happens. So I don't know if what I saw really know...him. But I must admit, I'm a bit thrown by this.

Did anyone else see anything weird in the sky tonight?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A very lucky ranger in Aurora saw a Snowy Owl this week!! Oh, what I wouldn't give to see a handsome owl like that! These birds only visit Colorado occasionally...maybe I'll get to see one some day.

Snow day!

All night long I watched as the snow fell silently around the cage complex. When it snows like this the cages get very quiet: the occasional rustle of feathers as a Turkey Vulture rouses to shake the snow off; the subtle scrape of a Red Tailed Hawk shifting its weight and tucking a foot into its down. But mostly, silence, so deep and so complete I can hear the individual flakes of snow coming to rest on the drifts outside my window. 

By the time dawn broke this morning, the snow was deep enough to lose a prairie dog in (good thing I never drop my food). Everyone weathered (or feathered?) the storm well, myself included. I found the light sprinkling of snow across my forehead to be very refreshing. 

Now the Humans are busy shoveling pathways and brushing snow off all the perches. It looks like more work for them when the weather changes like this, yet everyone is smiling. Despite the inconvenience, the snow seems to make everyone happy, bird and Human alike. 

The cage complexes at dawn

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Raptors in the news: article about the RMRP!

An excellent article about the very center I work at! Includes great interviews with the Humans at the center, and, what's that? A picture of a Great Horned Owl? I wonder who it could be...

...rabbit fur rug

First thing every morning, a Human comes around to all of our cages and peeks in through the sliding window, making sure they hold a gloved hand in front of their face in case anybird (cough...Ferruginous Hawk...ahem) tries to lunge at their face, talons first.

That early in the morning, I'm usually nodding off after an exciting night of hooting and eating, but this morning was different. I was waiting.

The sliding window rasped open, and I watched as a pair of blue Human eyes peered in at me, then widened in amazement.

That's right! I thought as I surveyed the carpet of disembodied rabbit fur lining the cage floor from wall to wall. Witness the destruction! Cower before me! Be afraid, be very afraid! 

The Human shut the window, clearly terrified and in awe of my might.

So...why did I hear laughter from the hallway a few seconds later?!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Rabbit pelt

Room service just stopped by, leaving me a chunk of rabbit meat and a whole rabbit pelt! Clearly they don't know what my talons are capable of.

The Twelve Raptors of Christmas

In honor of my favorite holiday song, here's a raptor adaptation for you! Be sure to sing it loud and proud, especially if you're in a confined setting like an office.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me:
12 Barn Owls screaming
11 Prairies preening
10 Red-Tails roosting
9 Saw-Whets blinking
8 Kestrels hovering
7 Swainsons' swooping
6 Great-Horneds glaring
5 Golden Eagles!
4 calling Coopers
3 Screech Owls
2 Ferruginous Hawks
And a Peregrine in a pine tree!

Okay, in all honesty, if someone sent the RMRP all that in one day...I think the Humans' heads would explode.

Monday, December 19, 2011


Conversation overheard while on the glove:

My Handler: “You know those bags of dried blueberries you can get at Costco?”
Other Human: “Yeah, I love those things! I put them in my yogurt for breakfast.”
My Handler: “Me too…until this morning, when I popped a handful in my mouth and crunched down on a blue beetle instead of a blueberry.”
Other Human: “That’s revolting.”

I couldn’t agree more. All those nasty blueberries and only one beetle? That is very disappointing indeed. 

Raptors in the news: FEHA killed in CO

I ran across this tragic story this morning. The educational Ferruginous Hawk here at the center was livid when I told her about it. If anyone has any information to help find the perpetrator, please call the number in the article!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Warm winter

Even though it's the middle of December, it's not been very cold. What's the point of wearing a down coat and booties if it's hot in the winter?

Weeks ago, the first snowfalls of the season were a welcome relief. Our cages have slatted roofs, with a panel in one corner so the less-bundled birds can perch in a dry place if they need to. I usually sit out in the open, allowing the snow to fall on me in soft, cold pillows. For some reason, this makes the Humans laugh when they come to check on me in the morning. I don't understand.

More recently, the snow has been melting, and the daily temperatures have been up in the 40's. One upside to the warm weather is that my food doesn't turn into an icicle the moment room service leaves it in my cage. This way I get to spend at least an hour pretending it's not there, before giving in and swallowing the hunk of meat whole.

Today in particular was a very warm day, and the Human who came to clean my cage took me outside to "enjoy the weather". This is a Human I'm very familiar with, one who has been here longer than me. He knows what he's doing, so I don't have to spend the entire session training him. Instead I can sit on his glove and take the time to glare at every creature that passes within a hundred yards of us, like the sparrow that was taking up space in a cottonwood across the field.

I hissed and clacked my beak, making sure the sparrow knew I didn't approve of his invasion, bringing the Human's attention to me.

"You sure are pleasant today," he said in that tone of voice Human's call "sarcastic".

Insolence! I hissed in his face, making him gag.

"Ugh! Breath of death!" he croaked.

That's more like it.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Holiday cheer

The Humans have entered on of their seasonal phases. It's the same every year, as predictable as migration and hyperphagia.

First they all start singing the same music while cleaning our cages, something about "decking" halls followed by a really annoying series of "falalalalala's". However, I must say I'm intrigued by a song they sing about partridges and swans...sounds delicious.

Next they start worrying about time and money, as in, "I don't know how I'm going to afford all the presents I need to buy!" and "Omigod, it's the 17th already?!?" I dislike seeing the Humans so stressed, so every year I try to help by supplying them with casts even bigger and juicier than usual, but they never seem to understand that they're gifts. Maybe if they fed me a green squirrel and a red rat, I could upchuck something holiday-colored and they'd figure it out.

Then, when the big day has almost arrived, they start raising a ruckus about "Santa" and "reindeer". I must admit, I'm not sold on the whole Santa idea. I've never seen hide nor hair of this guy, and if anyone should be able to see a fat man flying through the air at night pulled by eight delicious and exotic herbivores, it's an owl.

Still, I don't mind the holiday season. The Humans seem to be in a cheery mood overall, and I dig the decorations. Inside the center there's a garland hung on the walls, small trees decorated with lights, and there's even a line of socks on the front desk, one for each of us educational birds. Why socks, you ask? You got me. I have feathers down to the tip of every single toe...socks would just be silly.

I'm excited to see what the big day hold for me this year--an extra mouse for Yours Truly? Now that would being me some holiday cheer.