Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Chester's Friend Shikoba

Hello, Chester Owl here.

It sure has been nice and cool out lately. Bev said it is around freezing. Well I don’t know what freezing really is but it is cool. I stay warm by fluffing out my feathers, sit down low so the feathers cover my toes, and just enjoy the day.

My friend Shikoba is really sick. She needs to go to the veterinarian a lot. She gets special treatments because she has something called Aspergillosis. It is a very, very bad disease. It is a fungus that grows in her lungs. Owls usually don’t like Red Tailed Hawks, but Shikoba is another Educational Ambassador for Wildlife Rehabilitation & Release and a good friend of mine. Here is a picture of her from when we went to the Nevada County Fair together. I hear that WR&R is asking the community to help us pay for her veterinarian bills. If you can help we sure would like to hear from you. Just send your donation to:

Wildlife Rehabilitation & Release
PO Box 868
Penn Valley CA 95946-0989

Be sure to mark your donation “For Shikoba per Chester”. We will get a thank you note back to you. (And when Bev is not looking I will stick a picture of me in the note.)

Shikoba came to us because somebody, who really doesn’t understand, shot her. If you look at her x-rays, you will see at least 16 pellets in her. One is lodged near her brain and she can’t fly straight. She stays with a nice lady named Kari who is her handler. Please don't shoot at birds for fun. Get a nice metal plate and shoot at it. That makes a lot more noise anyway.

Red-tailed Hawks are found all over the United States. They are even found in Canada and up into Alaska. Sometimes they are called “chicken hawks”. They are recognized most often by their “red” tails. They are most commonly seen with a pale chest and a dark band across their belly. Shikoba, as you can see by the picture, is a “rufus morph”. She has quite a bit of rust or rufous color on her that matches her tail. She is really beautiful. Boy, if she were only a Great Horned Owl…

Oh, back to the Red-tailed Hawks. They are pretty big. They can weigh up to 3 pounds. Shikoba is almost as big as I am. Red-tailed Hawk feathers are considered sacred in some Native American cultures. They use them for ceremonies. By the way, did you know that you are not allowed to have bird of prey feathers? We save them at the Raptor Clinic and send them to the Native Americans. Shikoba's name came from the a Native American language and means "feather". Shikoba likes to eat quail, rats and mice. In the wild the Red-tailed Hawks will eat other small mammals, reptiles and birds. Yes, they even eat owls. Yuck!

This brings up another important thing. A lot of people will put out poison to kill rats and other small mammals that are causing them problems. Do you realize that if you poison a mouse there is a good chance that some bird of prey will come along and eat that rat and they will get very sick and quite often will die? Then because they die they aren’t around to eat more of the “little pests” and the pests start causing more problems for people. So don’t use any poison. Use traps. Then when you get a mouse, rat, gopher, etc. save it in your freezer and donate it to your local rehabilitation group. By the way, I love gophers!

This week has been pretty calm. It has been snowing and I don’t get to go on walks with Bev as much. However, friends of Bev keep giving her mice for Christmas presents for me. I like those people. So have a good week and I will be back soon with another blog!

The Great Horned Owl

Friday, December 12, 2008

Good Day, Chester Owl here again.

I got to thinking the other day; I ought to mention that before I started this blog I told all about how I was trained as an Education Bird in Wildlife Rehabilitation & Release’s newsletter. You should read it. Go through the link to the website in the right panel on this page. Then go to the “News and Events” tab and click on “Newsletter”. I am in the Summer 2008 edition.

This past week has been very quiet. Bev takes me on short walks almost every day. I really love those walks. Bev lives on a small hill with lots of trees and brush. Bev comes into my mew and puts on jesses and a leash. I try to sit really still while she does it. When we are done she gives me a treat, usually a half of a “pinky” mouse. I take it right off of her glove. Oooo, yum, yum. Then we go for a walk. I like the trees. Bev says I sometimes get that faraway look and try to fly. I don’t go very far because I am tied to Bev’s glove with the leash. So I just turn around and go back to her safe glove. While we walk Bev talks to me. I love her soothing voice. Then we come back to my mew. Bev takes off my jesses and leash and tells me thank you for the nice walk and give me more mice! That is my favorite time.

Someone asked me what GHOW means. In the recordkeeping at the Raptor Clinic, they use abbreviations to identify birds. I don’t know why. I know who I am; I am a Great Horned Owl. In fact that is what GHOW means – G(reat)H(orned)OW(l). Get it? Like I said, I know I am not a Red Tailed Hawk or Spotted Owl or a Cooper’s Hawk and I definitely am not a Turkey Vulture!

I love food! Oh yes! My favorite right now is mice. I eat about three mice every day. Sometimes I get a rat, or a vole, or a gopher or even a quail. Did you know that GHOWs like to eat just about anything? Bev said GHOWs think the world is their buffet! But the very favorite thing I like – are you ready for this? – it is, SKUNK! Yes, I love skunk! However Bev just doesn’t want to give me one. She said she doesn’t want one within ten miles of our place. Boy is she particular! I guess I will just have to settle for squirrel.

Wildlife Rehabilitation and Release has sure had a lot of things happening. When I got my educational license we also applied for educational licenses for a Red Tailed Hawk, named Shikoba, a Peregrine Falcon, named Gaia, and now an American crow named Sir Winston Churchill. I will tell you more about each one of them as time goes by.

Well that is all for this week. If you have a wildlife question or wildlife subject you would like me to talk about please email me. I think there is a “link” somewhere around this page. Thanks for reading my blog!

The Great Horned Owl

OK Bev, how do you turn this silly computer off?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Chester's First Blog

Hello, Chester Owl here. I am a Great Horned Owl and this is my first blog. When my handler, Bev, asked me to do a blog I had no idea what she was talking about. (Of course she hardly knew either!) I said, “Blog? Is that what you clean out of my mew? I don’t know how to clean out my mew!” (You’re probably wondering what a new is. Well the word mew was used in England for a line of horse stalls. Yes, I know, I am not a horse. However, as time passed the mews were vacated. Then some smart person came up with remodeling the “mews” into one room apartment-like rentals. Then it just became a household word with people who had animals and they called their cages mews. Here is a picture of my mew.)

But then she explained it to me. I am supposed to let you know what Wildlife Rehabilitation and Release is all about, how to live with wildlife, some of my history and what our education program is all about. I thought, that might be fun! So I got to thinking and I guess I am just supposed to tell you what ever comes to mind.

I have been such a busy bird lately. My handler was worried about keeping me busy. Now she is singing a different tune! I have been to a summer camp, a few school rooms, to NCLT’s (Nevada County Land Trust) Pilot Peak event, the Nevada County Fair, a picnic for NCLT, a fundraiser for Wildlife Rehab at the Northridge Restaurant in Penn Valley, and a Harvest Festival at Loma Rica Ranch. And only in three months! Whew! I am a popular bird!

Everyone asks what kind of bird I am and why I can’t be released. Bev tells them all about me.

My story started almost three years ago in March of 2006. I was flying along hunting for food and “Bam!” I got stuck in barbed wire! Oooh did that hurt! My right wing got all tangled up and I flopped around and scratched my left eye. I hung there for a couple of days they told me. Then some nice gentleman came and helped me out and called Wildlife Rehabilitation and Release (we call it WR&R). WR&R cleaned me up and sent me to a veterinarian. I had a broken wing and my eye was infected. They sewed up my eye because it was so infected. Unfortunately when they opened my eye up again, my body had absorbed it. Apparently that is common in any body, if it doesn’t need it, the body absorbs it.

They told me I could be released with one eye. Well I knew that. I don’t need to see perfectly. I can hear perfectly. When I hunt I can hear almost like a grid and zone in on my food. I can sometimes hear things a mile away! Of course I need at least one eye to see and my other eye was in really good condition. But, and isn’t there always a “but”, my wing healed a little twisted and I couldn’t fly silently anymore. An owl can’t be safe if he can’t fly silently! He can’t hunt food without the food hearing him coming and he can’t stay away from predators that would want to harm him. My future didn’t look too good.

Then WR&R started to talk about me being an “Educational Ambassador”. Now that sounded important. I was excited. I even stood a little taller. An Ambassador. Wow!

WR&R is licensed by the California Fish & Game Dept. and the US Fish & Wildlife Dept. The US Fish & Wildlife Dept. is the one that regulates birds. That is because we can fly from one state to another. The nice lady named Tami at the US Fish & Wildlife Dept. told WR&R how to apply for an educational license for me. So now I have a good home with Bev and WR&R.

WR&R is run by all volunteers. That means any donations that come in are used mostly for care and rehabilitation for injured and orphaned wildlife. Bev says it is 93% that goes to the wildlife! So send your donations to Wildlife Rehabilitation and Release, PO Box 868, Penn Valley, CA, 95946. It will provide medicine and pay for veterinary care for injured and orphaned wildlife as well as food. And, it will help keep me in mice – yep, I love ‘em! Bev gives me about three a day and sometimes a gopher for a special treat! But, more of that next time.

By the way, if you write “Chester” on your check memo, then I’ll know you heard about WR&R from me. It will make me proud!

Well I guess that is all for now. My feet hurt trying to hit these tiny little letters on the keyboard. Bev helps me but I am a little clumsy.

So I will be back next week with some more information. Bye for now!

The Great Horned Owl