Dawn breaks , feathers ruffle and preening begins. The cold time is coming, my breath is visible from my beak and there’s slippery spots on the flat places in my space… my space that I can’t figure out how to get out of… I know there’s a way because the other ones like me come in from out there into my space, invaders, abductors, some are scared of me and I laugh at them and torment them …until they put me in the dark place…. I don’t like the dark place……maybe today the big one that gives me eggs and lets me eat things from it’s weird talons will come…I don’t mind that one, it doesn’t put me in the dark place , it plays with me and makes lots of sounds to me, I want to make those sounds back to it, one of these days I will….. it brings me fun things to play with, I like to play with other big feathers and little bloody wings…and find the seeds and meat it hides in my other toys for me to find….I’m glad it’s not as angry as the first time I met it, when I took a taste of the funny thing hangin’ on the side of it’s head, I thought it was a toy and a fun game… that one didn’t think it was fun, I could tell……especially when I tasted the blood, toys generally don’t bleed. Well I’ll just fly around in here and play with stuff to warm up, too bad the wet cold water is falling from the sky , maybe I’ll just hop around in this dry section and play in the dirt with the shiny rocks until my flight service is here….I just hope they stop making that sound when the they walk by : “nev-er-mawr”…it’s annoying me….
That same Dawn breaks a bit further south and it’s dang chilly out there! Mid 30’s and rain…. Oh joy….well that’s nature, especially in the great Pacific Northwest! Just try to put yourself in the “talons or paws ” of the Wildones at all the different rehab facilities across the world or the shoes of the angels that work/volunteer at those places… just imagine the winter times and the challenges they face to care for and rehabilitate the wildones….so it could be much worse for me…so I’m not complaining, actually complaining never even crossed my mind…this is my “church” time. The cold, the rain the wind , those are all just lessons for me to learn from, to think of life from the Wildones perspective….
You may remember my “promise” to myself, Sarvey and the Wildones and now also the EDones ( new term I’ve started using because we have wild animals as well as Education animals at SWCC so they are Wildones and EDones to me now J ) that promise was to never show up empty handed…. Just like on a fire scene…. You never show up to the fire without something in your hand…..be that hose, “irons”, pike pole, axe, whatever you better have something….well since I now know more about the deer that are at SWCC getting rehabbed (7 of them!!) and what they need daily to “browse” ( the most important part of their diet for survival in the wild) and what the staff there does every single day to provide that for them I thought this time, I’m going to bring the browse for them and save them some time and serious effort… so grab my coffee and a bottle of water and head to the garage… just to grab the pruners and the quarantine cargo net ( if you don’t have one of these and you own a truck…. Get one, they ROCK!!! http://www.quarantinerestraints.com/exterior-nets/ jump in the truck and head to the woods…. I pull up the “what do blacktail deer eat” on the Washington Dept of Fish and wildlife website http://wdfw.wa.gov/living/deer.html and start looking for Alders and vine maple, I get some but this time of year it’s hard to come by , but one thing that is always plentiful ( and the deer love it, but I hate the plants) is blackberry….. oh well gotta do what we gotta do for the Wildones… so some vine maple, some alder, lots of blackberry and a little cedar…that takes me alone about 2 hours to get a truckload , get it covered with the quarantine and head on up the road… hot and wet…. But it’s only 38 degrees Mikey…yes but I’ve been workin’ my tail off so I’m hot and wet!! Well if you recall the previous nights “story” ( Happy Friendsgiving ) and how it ended with my beautiful wife and I singing Meatloaf’s Paradise by the Dashboard lights in the truck on the way home then you can relate to me pulling out the “Bat Outta Hell” CD for my drive up to Sarvey!!..that along with some George Thorogood and the Destroyers I’m rockin’ out in the rain driving up north… I arrive at SWCC and undo the cargo net so someone else ( if they are ready for it before I am) can take the browse to the deer…. And I walk in the door to the clinic….SHUT THE DOOR!!!!! I hear….. yikes OK I jump in and close the door…. BIRD OUT they say…. And lookin’ me square in the eye across the counter full of meat and veggies in various stages of prep is a Peregrine Falcon in full hover mode… interesting thing I notice though ( and prior to a few weeks ago I never would have noticed this right away, especially in this particular situation) is that this falcon has anklets on…. So my blood pressure recedes a little…( can blood pressure recede? Not sure sounds funny, but you get the gist…. It went down) the bird flutters around and lands on the ground and a couple gals with gloves on grab it and get it close to it’s cage before it takes off again… DUCK!! Wait no … FALCON!! So the round up begins again….. they finally get the falcon on a glove and into Medical to get an exam…. Turns out this is a new education bird that we are getting from a falconer I don’t know the whole story but you can bet your bippy when I know I’ll share it with you 🙂 …so now that I am breathing again, I can sign in and go face the rain and be with the Wildones and EDones…of course I start with the Raven that I “used” to call “Arty”…. No longer…. We need to find a name for her and I’m offering up suggestions to the Education Director and the Primary trainer for her…. But let me back up for a minute… if you read my last “SWCC” report you’ll know that I spent a lot of time with her as I have since the day she nailed me in the ear….. call it my initiation or call it me falling off the horse and getting back on, or just call it me being stubborn and enjoying a challenge, but I truly feel a connection with this Raven…. She tasted my blood after all ahahahaha… so after I got home on the night of the 4th of November from my last volunteer trip up there, I sent a “Plea” to the Education Director – Here’s an excerpt from that email:
“…I was up there on Sunday volunteering and spent a lot of time (over an hour) cleaning and just bonding with the Raven in the Big Maple flight…. in talking with [name left out] and [name left out] they were saying that most everyone else that cleans in there has to put him/her ( do we know sex yet? ) in a crate just to clean the flight… well I don’t . After my 1st encounter with that gorgeous bird I’ve been “working” with it every time I am there for longer and longer times building trust..I’m sure I’ve probably done some things that I shouldn’t because I’m not properly trained on “training” ed birds and I don’t want to stunt it’s education at all but I really feel a bond with that raven.. which is odd because I’m a “raptor” fanatic… well anyway we ( the Raven and I) have what I feel is a mutual trust and respect building and I really want to continue building that relationship but obviously I need your approval and I want to ask you, almost beg you really to tell me what I can do to “prove” myself and learn and help with this bird… it’s hard to explain how I feel but I think ( I hope) you get what I’m saying… maybe you could get a “reference” from [names left out] on how I feel and “am” with that bird?..I’m a very fast learner and will buy any book or video or whatever I need to learn how to “train” a Raven if need be….ok I think you get what I’m asking and the passion behind it…. But I respect your decision no matter which what you decide and will continue to volunteer and look for opportunities to learn and grow and get the experience needed over time as I know that’s what it really takes.”
The response I got was basically a “YES” !!! Only two people are allowed to work on the training side of the education animals , others can prep them and stuff but as far as bonding and training goes they keep it to 2…. And even though I’m not officially on the Ed team yet she gave me the approval with a stern “I’m taking a big chance trusting you with this”….. and here’s how I responded:
“…Thank you more than I can ever express for taking this chance with me. I will not let you down…” “… [to the primary trainer] I am completely at your service and eager to learn from you and follow your lead! I am eager and willing to help this beautiful creature become an ambassador for her species! You may contact me anytime day or night and if I can help I will. “
So guess what? I get to help train an educational Raven for Sarvey!!!!! WOO HOO…now I just have to finish the requirements to make it on the Education team officially!!! I’ve been reading and studying and practicing jessing, I even made a contraption that the Ed director , my wife and everyone else I’ve shown it to thinks I need to patent… any patent experts out there that want to help me???…..ok well back to the present ( 11/11 visit) ….
I heard the nice one’s sounds..he’s here somewhere, why hasn’t he come to see me yet? Usually I hear his sounds and then I see him , he usually brings me a treat, where is he…. This is frustrating ,I’m getting upset I’m going to make some noise and fly all around in my flight to work off this frustration… but when he get’s here I’m going to give him a piece of my bird brain.. unless he has a treat then I might be nice, but I’m still a little grumpy, it’s cold, with water falling from the sky and I heard him…..I need new water for a bath, my place is a mess and it needs cleaning, I have food but not my favorites so I’ll just fling it everywhere…… I think I’ll relieve myself all over until he gets here, that will make him stay longer….caw caw I see him coming caw caw , if I fly over to the way he comes in maybe he’ll give me a treat through the mesh stuff keeping me locked in here….. or maybe I’ll fly up to the perch above the door to sneak out where he comes from to be with him more… oh he’s coming in caw caw creeeuuuaaahh….oooh and he brought me a treat…one of the fun oblong things like what I came out of…. they are fun to play with and he makes funny sounds when I take it from him and fly around with it…. Oh he wants me on my flat spot before he gives it to me ok…. Swoosh land and caw… he makes the sound of “guhd gurhl, heer yoo goe preh-tee gurhl”… take the round yummy fun thing from his talons I’ll fly over here and put it in the dirt for later… he makes the “hahahaha” sound that makes me think he is happy so I’ll pick it back up and oh I can’t wait any longer I’ve got to fly with it over here by my bathtub and crack it open on this shiny rock…slurp..caw…slurp…nomnomnom ..hey wait where are you going nice one? Mmm this round thing is yummy I hope he comes back ….num num .caw…
So out I go to see “my” raven…. I know it’s not mine, it’s the worlds… it doesn’t “Belong” to anything or anyone other than mother nature, but I think she was sent to Sarvey to help me in my life’s journey, thank you Mother Nature… I take her an egg for a treat , she greets me with a caw and hops over to the net by the door , then the perch above the door and waits for me to come in… we’re still building trust …. So I’m cautiously optimistic. I ask her to come to the flat perch and when she does I say good girl, here you go pretty girl and give her an egg..she gently takes it from my hand, flies over to her crate o’ dirt and starts to bury it…. Silly girl… I laugh at her and she unburies it and flies with it over to her water dish and sets it down and breaks it open and starts enjoying the goodies…. Yeah I know it’s kinda cannibalistic but she likes eggs…..Ok pretty girl I’ll be back to clean in a few…..so off I go to check the to-do list and get my stuff…. ..oh lookie there the Raven flight needs cleaning and feeding …hee hee….so yuck bucket, scrub bucket, pull the hose reel out from inside since it’s now freezing at night they have to get brought in every night…. Grab a rake, make her food and head on out…into the cold rain to spend some time with my pretty girl….
Caw Caw…here he comes again, and this time he has the stuff he brings when he stays for a long time…ooh and I see a bowl of yum yums … caw caw… he opens the tiny opening and pushes the water sprayer thing through, he takes his thing that he puts my yucky leftovers in and the funny tasting water holder with the bubbles and the nasty tasting toy….and the mean stick with teeth…..I don’t like the teeth stick but when he brings it, it’s ok….he get’s on the ground and I hop down too and play with him while he picks up my yucky old stuff…. Oh wait that one still looks good peck gimmee that… he makes the hahahaha sound again.. he picks up some of the yummy red things that I had hidden and puts them in his talon and holds it out for me… I scoop them up one at a time and put them in my crop… I fly up to a perch and place them there for later….. uh oh he’s coming over here… I’ll hop down on the ground and peck at his lower talons…wonder why he has more talons than I do….strange this one… and I think he might be trying to steal the yummies he just gave me… peck peck ..he makes a low mad sound “NO” and pushes me , that’s not very nice. He didn’t hurt but he pushed me… humph… he deserves a peck for that, no one pushes me and gets away with it! Peck peck ..there’s that “NO” sound again and another push..hmmm now he’s picking up my goodies… oh he’s holding them out for me again.. he thinks this is a game… ok guess I’ll play along, I take them one by one from his hand and put them in my crop again, mmm well maybe I’ll completely eat one or two they are small red sweet and yummy…. The rest I’ll take over to the flat perch and set them down for later… he goes back to cleaning up my place and I hop and fly all around supervising him , making sure he doesn’t take any of my hidden yummies… ooh he’s getting close to a nice chunk of meat I hid…. Better go snag that up…. …
I’m cleaning the ravens flight and playing wth her, holding some pomegranate seeds in my hand and letting her get them…. When she get’s “Out of line” I push her away and say “NO” like a dog, because I’m not yet sure how to “correct” her and I make a note to myself to ask on that later.. I spend about an hour in there with her, playing and cleaning and just building that much needed trust and bond… but there’s a lot to do so I need to get busy… but I’ll be back …… as I take the hose out and my “tools of the trade” I bring in her fresh food, and she goes to town…. Flinging the “dog food” out and looking for the meat chunks…. She finds a nice one and as I’m walking out she flies over to the perch above the door and drops it at my feet and gives me a cute little parallax and caw? Like I brought you a present aren’t you going to eat it? I pick I t up and put it in my pocket ( to give back to her later) , thank her for letting me clean her flight and playing with me, building trust with me and tell her that I love her…. Next on the list that needs done are the gulls…. 2 California Gulls and 2 Sea Gulls in the “otter” pen…. A nice large enclosure with a pool….so I go in and prep their food and grab my stuff and make my way to their pen to clean and feed… well shucks…. Someone already did it and didn’t mark it off… DOH!!!! I just spent 20 minutes prepping their food and now it’s not needed… lesson learned..don’t trust the log sheet…. now I have to go tell the leads that I screwed up…. Ugg…. Oh well gotta own up to it… so I go back to the med room and I beg their pardon… “I’ve made a mistake” I say…a worried…”what did you do” in stereo from them , so I explain and they laugh.. oh that’s now big deal just put it in a dish and label it for tomorrow for the gulls and put it in the protein fridge…. You saved us the trouble of having to do it tomorrow , don’t even worry about it….. whew… thank goodness I’d feel so bad if it had to get thrown out …it’s a lot of food for 4 seagulls I was amazed at how much they get! ..ok so next..the list shows that Baxter the Bobcat’s enclosure needs doing… so I walk out and verify that it’s true LOL…..yep OK so Bax it is … he’s on a diet though and he get LESS to eat than the 4 sea gulls…poor chubby Baxter…. Well I ask if it’s OK to throw in a cleaned off deer leg for him to chew on too and got permission for that J so off I go ….put the meat and the deer leg in the guillotined off section, while he’s purring up a Harley sounding storm… and rubbing himself along the cage just begging to be petted… UGGG that’s the hardest part about Baxter.. you just wanna snuggle and play and pet him like a big ole kitty cat… but ya can’t I feel so bad, but it’s what’s best for both of us I guess…. So raise the guillotine and in he goes to get his yum yums… ( beef heart, some quail and the deer leg) lower the guillotine, verify he’s secure and then go in the main section and clean …scoop the poo, scrub the mat and the raised platforms… sweep and scrub, refill the poo pool and “spare” poo water dish, the drinking dishes and check the straw bedding all looks good to go….. make sure I have all my stuff and leave the enclosure…all the while Bax has quickly devoured the meat and quail and is happily crunching away on the deer leg… I thank him and tell him love him and get my stuff all the way out, make sure all is right and then raise the guillotine…. And lock down the doors.. he trots out with the deer leg and keeps on enjoying it in his enclosure……verify the guillotine section is secure and then clean that area… thank him again lock it all down and back to the clinic for my next task… a lead comes up to me and says we’ve been waiting for you, we need your eagle wrangling skills today…. LOL sweet I’m the Eagle wrangler!!! What do we need to do? Well… you remember the Osprey that wasn’t quite right? Well he passed away by unknown causes last week Friday..that’s sad …poor guy… but it happens… SIP sweet Osprey …..but because we don’t know why we need to catch the turkey vulture and the eagle that are in the Big Eagle flight and weigh them and give them exams… Turkey Vulture is easy for us now… we “chase” him for a minute , he does his puking , we nab him , weigh him, check him out and release him back in the flight 15 mins tops… wham vam thank ya vulture?? Stop…..Eagle time… dum dum dum dum duh duh duh… Eagle time… ( hammer time> anyone ? )…ok whatever… so we chase the Eagle around and get her to land on the ground i say her because she’s a biggun… and usually the bigguns with raptors are “Shes”) , I set off at a sprint with my sheet and the next thing I know I’m laying on the ground in a lot of pain…. I will neither confirm nor deny the loss of consciousness… but I was definitely injured… but being a “guy”..nope it’s all good, I’m “FINE” nothing to see here…let’s move along and get this Eagle…. The two gals that were in there with me said it was a really hard fall and were very concerned but they also said it was very “graceful” and that I landed in the perfect Seinfeld pose….I have no idea what that is but I can tell you if you’re from “my era” the pose I woke up in was that infamous Burt Reynolds pose from “that” magazine… only I was fully clothed… ..I slowly get up and even though I’m a bit groggy I’m still gonna get this Eagle Wrangled… I will not have my perfect record tarnished! I get her cornered and go in for the tackle and she spins around 18 inches in front of me all puffed up beak and talons in attack mode, wings spread and a look that said if you come one step closer, evil human, I will have no choice but to rip your throat out and eat your face…. Fair enough…. so I back off and let her get to a different corner, I tell one of the gals to approach from a different angle and distract her and in I go for the snag….. bam, sheet on her, hand on back, wrap the wings, grab the talons and up we go…. Another successful—– whoa someone flip the sheet back over her head please I’d like to keep my face!! As ugly as it is I don’t need another scar there…. So flip up the sheet and out we go….. get her weighed and fully checked out while I’m holding her, she’s gained good weight and is very healthy and STRONG. Good deal, let’s set her free…back to the flight with her, onto the ground, uncover her head to orient her and set her free…. Off she goes….. another success..but oh man I’m a hurtin’ (and also wet and muddy and cold) unit…shoulder, hip, head arm… my whole left side is one big throbbing pain……. But no one needs to know that…. Nothing a little Aleve can’t fix later… so I think it’s time to go… but not without saying good bye to my pretty girl….
Here comes the fun one again…. And he’s got a yummy looking wing in his talon…. He comes in and talks to me but he doesn’t give me the wing, he puts it under his wing thing in a spot I can’t figure out..it just disappeared….. hmm that’s not funny… peck , peck “NO”… peck peck on his lower talon that is on the ground…. “NO” he tells me to go to the flat perch and gives me a piece of meat from his pocket yummy……he goes over to another perch and asks me to go there so I do and whatta ya know the yummy wing… mmm looks like quail… comes out of his hidden spot and into his talon, he gives it to me and I fly away to play and nibble… he utters some caws that sound like “eye wuv yoo, taank yoo and gud buy”….hope he comes back soon………back to this wing……nom nom nom…..