Sunday, January 29, 2012

1_29_2012 Walden Ponds and a bonus bird

One place that is fun to go to is Walden Ponds. We went there a little while back to look for some water birds. The one we went after evaded us but we enjoyed the show of some other birds. This first photo shows an American Widgeon with a couple of Coots.

The second photo is a nice one of a Coot chewing on a veggie he pulled from the bottom of the pond.

Nothing as funny as dabbling. That is, a duck or goose turning bottom up to find some goodies on the bottom. So, this photo is of a silly Canada Goose and a American Widgeon. Nice.

And the bonus bird. This bird is from California over Thanksgiving. A Juniper Titmouse. Just a nice bird to look at.

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1_29_2012 Miscellaneous Backyard Birds

A few additional backyard bird shots. Highlighted are photos of "Curly Bill". He's a Flicker who visits and has an out-of-alignment bill. Because of this, the bill grow in an improper fashion, and they grow long. We've not seen him in the last week and are hoping he's doing well.

We recently had a Cooper's Hawk in the backyard. We watched him for 30 minutes or so as he eyed our "pet" rats that live below our lower deck. The rats have been there since the deck was remodeled.

As we thought may happened, the hawk in the flash of an eye, swooped down and pulled one of the rats from a tiny squeeze spot and dined. We've not seen the other rat since (though he was there that day). Not sure if he moved on or the hawk returned later for a snack.

The next bird is just a big fluffy Eurasian Collared Dove. They are standard backyard visitors. Quiet and pretty. They are starting to call more signaling the return of Spring.

And finally, a pretty Kestrel that was hanging around out back recently. These birds have always reminded me of parakeets on steroids.

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1_21_2012 Barr Lake in search of Snowy Owls

It's an irruption year for Snowy Owls. That is, they are far further south than they generally go. There are two that have been seen repeatedly in Brighton, about 30 miles east of here near Barr Lake.

We headed on on the 21st (and again on the 28th) in search of these birds. We were thwarted both times. And yesterday we learned that one had been hit by a car. Totally rural place and some speeder took out a huge snowy owl in the middle of the day. Jerk.

While we didn't see the Owls, we did see other nice birds. Many Bald Eagles. Dave got a nice series of photos of one Bald Eagle with a fish in his talons. Also saw immature Bald Eagles, Kestrals, Geese and other assorted birds. Though the weather was less than ideal, it was nice to get out.

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1_15_2012 Ducks and a Goose

Some small excursions we thought we'd share. This one is very very small. As in walking across the street to the duck pond small. Seems we have a population of ducks and Canada Geese hanging out for the winter.

We head over with some bread and before even settling in, here they come. Many catch tossed bread (wheat) in their mouths. Others are not shy to just climb aboard to get (steal) bread.

They are not mean, but they do have a bite. And clearly flesh looks a bit like wheat bread. This particular day, Dave left the pond with a bleeding ear. A Mallard got excited by what he thought was a piece of bread on the side of Dave's head.

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Saturday, January 14, 2012

1_14_2012 Thoughts and Ferne comes Home

My last post is so not reflective of how things have been here. I noted Ferne's passing but what wasn't clear was the heart break it's caused me. He was my baby.

The first time I saw him was in his egg. Through a technique called candling (a candle is not involved) I could see him developing in his egg. It was right them I started loving him.

His parents were first time parents, and like many first-time moms, Lilac stopped caring for Ferne when he was only days old. So I took him out of the nest and raised him myself. This was before his eyes were open. Before he could hold himself up. Before his ears opened. Before his bill had formed.

I was there when his eyes first opened. (And I was with him when they last closed). The first photos is of Ferne at 11 days old. His bright happy eyes and smile were already apparent - even before he grew any feathers. Here he was learning to stand and walk. He'd toddle around. Beautiful.

He was the most polite, gentle, happy and loving bird. Each parrot is completely different. They can be rascals and test patience. Or be loud. Or destructive. But Ferne was just a gentle, quiet loving boy. He was a delicate eater and so thoughtful (except when it came to warm tea - he wasn't as sharing about that). He never deviated from this sweet self.

This period has shown me that we are really no different than apes or other animals. It's because the words we have to express our feelings are so blunt and flat and unable to *really* express our feelings.

Ferne was cremated on January 3rd and came home on January 5th. I am so happy to have his remains home. I want very much to believe his soul is here too. Not knowing where *he* is has been a terribly hard part of this.

The other birds are confused. Clover is stunned. Gabbie is angry. He has been searching for Ferne and is just angry he can't find him. Grace is her normal quiet little self. And Henri - well it's breeding season here so all he wants is to do mating dances for me. He's very Henri.

Thanks to all our friends who sent cards and flowers and emails and donations to humane societies. They really do mean a lot. And they make me realize that I had no idea in the past how to deal with folks suffering losses like this. I'm sorry if I've ever appeared uncaring before. I wasn't, I just didn't know how to handle it.

Some additional thoughts.

1. Don't stop mentioning Ferne's name or talking about him. A great fear his death reveals is forgetting about him. I don't want to forget his sounds, his smells, his actions - nothing. I love hearing his name and I want the stories and photos and thoughts. They are priceless to me, and while you might see tears, there is great happiness in them. And it shows he's remembered.

2. Take photos. I immediately gathered up all my photos of Ferne and have them in one place. Yeah, I cry when I look at them, but I also smile and have joy seeing him. I have a lot of photos, but I wish I had more. Taking photos is so easy now - don't forget to do it.

3. AND take photos of you with your loved ones. I am shocked that I have only a handful of me with Ferne. I was always taking photos of him, not us. I regret not doing it more.

4. AND take videos. I have only two from 17.5 years. Two. One is on Dave's camera (I'll get it posted soon). The other is of him as an infant on a VHS tape and I'm waiting for Dave to convert it. I'm too afraid to put it in the VHS machine for fear it'll eat the tape and it'll be lost forever. Having only two videos in all that time is inexcusable and another regret.

I am still trying to find the photo album of Ferne as an infant. It is also where his egg shell is (yes, like his first feathers, and the last feathers he molted, I have these things). I want to put his shell and feathers with his remains. I'll post more photos later.

I'll try to get back on track posting some blogs. It's been hard finding energy to do that (or much) though. Thank goodness Dave has been here for this. He did all the heavy lifting during this time. I've not been able to much.

I'm so thankful I've been sick and grounded since July. It's been frustrating, but think about it - if I'd been well, I would have been gone on the bike, climbing and playing. Instead, I've spent so much more time with the birds here at the house. To have this time with Ferne (and the others) during the last 5-6 months of his life is a great gift.

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