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Last week we went out on the LaPlatte River again and had great birding luck! I saw a family of Merganser ducks on the shore and was able to get a bunch of pictures before they swam away. I also tried to take some scenic pictures of the river itself and the greenery that thrives there to share with you. Happy Canoeing Vermont!
Click on any picture to enlarge!
Summer is here at last! We have been out in our canoe and I have been gardening and hanging out with the critters in back yard! Just a few pictures of my summer so far! Click on pictures to see full size image!
The turkey vulture in the slide show has been at VINS for 30 years!! She was taken away from some one who did not care very well for her years ago . She had to remain an "ambassador" (the name the VINS help gives the birds that stay) at VINS for the turkey vulture community because of her familiarity with humans. She was an amazing creature! Very calm around the crowd!
The little cardinal in the outdoor enclosure was very friendly! We let it land on our finger after a man showed us he would come right over!! This was after we read the "No fingers in the enclosure" sign. Nobody bit us just gave little pecks!
I thoroughly loved looking at the owls! I have never seen one in the wild and I was amazed by their eyes and beautiful feathers. I would have to say that the first picture that comes up on the slide show is one of my favorites!
My husband and I love to canoe and kayak. We try to go out to some of the local rivers at least once a week and canoe camp when possible on the weekends. For me it is one of the most relaxing things I can do for myself. I just automatically slow right down when I am floating in our boat and watching the wildlife. We take our time and linger watching birds and beavers go about their business and have a lunch or dinner on the boat staying out past sunset at times. The following pictures were taken right before dusk on the LaPlatte River in Vermont. It is a wildlife refuge only 20 minutes from our house!
These Mallard ducks were just babies a few weeks ago and now they have all of their feathers!
The elusive Kin Fisher continues to keep a safe distance from us. As we get closer he flies further away! I wish I could get a better shot of him for you! He is truly a magnificent bird to watch!
This is a bird we had never seen before. I have identified it as a juvenile Green Heron. Quite a bit smaller than other herons but they dwell in the same habitat.
Here is one of my new favorites! Cedar Waxwings! We watched a large group of them dancing threw the air and catching bugs. Apparently these guys will some times share their food! One will catch a bug or get a berry and sit on a limb with the group and then they pass it down until one eats it! They were very entertaining to watch and not very afraid of us since they would swoop down only inches away to get a near by bug flying by.
I absolutely love their colors!
This little guy was doing the weirdest thing! It was standing in one spot and just bobbing up and down. I still have not found out why after much Googling but when I do I will add it the this post. It is a purple Sandpiper and if you know why he was bobbing please let me know!
So about a month ago I noticed my cat intently watching one particular corner of our enclosed porch. I did not really see anything and assumed that maybe a bird was nesting in the tangle of vine that grows up that side of our house and covers some of the windows on our porch. About a week or so later I noticed a huge bunch of dying leaves up in that corner and knew right away my cat was anxiously watching a squirrel build a nest!
July 31, 2011: First siting in finished nest! She just had her babies and does not want us looking at her nest! It is not a good picture since it is through the window..
I started to see the squirrel come and go from under our eave regularly. Until one day I heard the sound of squeaky baby voices every time she returned to the nest! When she was not sitting on the nest I could even see right inside it since it rested right against our window! She even had her nest decorated with pretty flower fabric and string! I immediately restricted our cats use of the porch and taped some paper up on that section of the window so the new family could have privacy.
I also set out a water dish for her and when I saw her in the nest poking her head out I would throw raw nuts up on my porch roof for her to collect. She began to run to her nest when she saw me; poking her head and body out waiting for me to finish throwing nuts. Every day after work I would relax and lay on my porch and wait for her to come and go. She became quite used to us and would perch on the vine and just look in at us through the window. Even my small grey female cat did not scare her anymore and she would just look at her. It was at this point I said to myself that I had better watch this nest because if something happens to the Mama squirrel these babies will need my help...
In the picture above you can really see her decorating skills and one babies ear!
One day I came home and went to the porch to watch the squirrels and the Mama never came.. I even threw some nuts for her and opened and closed the porch door a few times but still no sign. I checked in on the nest that night at 10pm and saw only the babies. I began to look for a Wildlife Rehabilitator in the area online and emailed some people since it was late.
In the morning at 6am I checked the nest again and did not see her. I saw the three babies squirming around helplessly in their cold nest. I had to go to work and all day I wondered about the Mama squirrel who I had begun to call "Earl the Girl Squirrel" and "Mama".
The first thing I did when I came home was to check my email but I had not heard from anyone! I ran out and checked the nest and saw the one still squirming around and one that looked more lethargic. I thought I had counted 3 but it looked like only 2 were in the nest! I searched through some numbers on the Vermont Wildlife Rescue Website and called a few and finally a woman in Shelburne,Vermont named Ellen answered my call!
She suggested I put out some gourmet squirrel treats and watch to see if she comes home and to call back in 2 hours. I put out a platter of sunflower seed, raw nuts and watermelon and continued to peak in on the babies. I began to look under their nest on the ground to see if one had fallen out and sure enough there was a baby squirrel lying spread out on the stones!! He was not moving and looked dead! I cried out and immediately picked the poor thing up. He squeaked and opened his mouth wide when I placed him in my hand! He had the very beginning of fur on his back but his eyes were still closed and his tummy pink. I brought him inside my house and wrapped him in a soft dish towel and sat him in our very warm office upstairs to warm up.
I called the Wildlife Rehabilitator after the gourmet meal was left untouched and told her about the fallen baby. She said that this was a sure sign the Mama was dead and to bring them to her house. I carefully plucked the other two babies out of the nest and into the same basket near one another. The 2 nest squirmmers just laid there and did not move! I raced to bring them to the Rehabilitators care and was so relieved when she looked them over and said they would be fine and fed by the time I got home. Phew!
Two days later and there is still no sign of the mother. I wonder if she was hit by a car or killed by a neighborhood cat. Maybe it was a hawk or an owl that swooped and picked her up off from our porch roof! When she did not show up I had suddenly become the care taker of those babies! I felt a responsibility to protect them and save them. I knew I could not properly care for them no matter what I read on the internet and that they needed someone trained.
This picture and the final picture were taken by the rehabilitator. I was too afraid of hurting them to hold them in my bare hands!
Squirrels are one of the top ten smartest animals in the world!! They live close by humans living off from our bird feeders, gardens and trees. Their diet consists of nuts, fruit, and seeds. They will also eat bugs and eggs on occasion. Often they die from starvation before reaching one year old! It may seem like you see a lot of squirrels in your neighborhood but their numbers have plummeted. From causes such as "pest control", dogs, starvation,habitat loss and hunting. In fact the red squirrel is on the brink of extinction in Britain.
A squirrel eating from my bird feeder last fall.
An article written by Diane Ackerman in National Geographic entitled "In Praise of Squirrels" states that in one hunting season in New York State 500,000 squirrels were killed!! I used to think of squirrels as pests but I just adjusted my house, garden and life to deal with them humanely. Often they will get into unsealed attics and people will catch the adult squirrel and relocate it or have it killed and not realize there are babies left behind to starve. Especially in the spring and late summer squirrel babies are everywhere. Babies will nurse for 2-3 months and stay with their mothers until around 12 weeks old. If you have a squirrel in your attic it is best to wait until the babies are old enough to leave the nest or to contact Fish and Wildlife or a Wildlife Rehabilitor in your area. Never seal your attic or relocate a squirrel until you have thoroughly searched for babies.
The above picture was taken of me on my honeymoon in California. This little guy lived on the coast and is pictured here eating on my lap!!
If you found some babies that you think are orphaned do not attempt to feed them just keep them warm and contact your local rehabilitator. You can also call your local vet to find a rehabilitor. Baby squirrels are at great risk for aspiration and need to be rehydrated prior to eating any "formula" or they will die. You can not just feed them any formula either it has to be a special kind or they will get really bloated or have problems digesting the food and die. They also have to have genital stimulation after eating to make them urinate other wise they can get bladder infections and die.
It takes a lot of work , knowledge and professional care to correctly rehabilitate these creatures. They may be cute and you may have rescued them but do not take the risk of caring for them because you might do more harm than good despite the best intentions. Besides it is illegal to keep them unless you are a liscensed professional and you do not want to have killed a baby squirrel! When in doubt call your vet or look up your local Wildlife Rehabilitator.
To close here is a picture of the three cuties I rescued safely in the Wildlife Rehabilitator's hands!
I went canoeing with my husband on the La Platte river in Shelburne, Vermont the other day and took some great pictures that I wanted to share with you. We were out on the river for a long time and I had to take some late night pics of an osprey hunting in a tree and an egret resting on a branch.
First we saw this Mama duck with her babies cautiously watching as we rowed by. It was hard to see them at first and then I noticed there were many more babies spread out but I did not not realize until I saw the close up of this picture.
This blue heron was eating a fish when I first saw it so I zoomed in on it through the trees as he ate. Then he stepped into a clearing so I could take this wonderful picture of him!
This river is a great spot to watch the cormorants fish. This guy was perched right above our canoe in a dead tree sunning himself. He tilted his head sideways a bit to glare at us with his blue eye. I really love the composition of this photograph it really captures the bird.
On the way back it started to get dark and I caught these two silhouettes of an osprey hunting. He would perch high up in a tree then fly down and pluck a fish from the water. At one point in our trip we watched one feed a young osprey in their nest and then fly away to a branch to eat what was left of the fish.
These two great Egrets were perched in opposite trees resting. I was able to get these two pictures of them in the near dark. They sat on the branches and preened themselves hunching down occasionally to rest. I thought they looked beautiful but sinister in the night.
So I have good news and bad news about this canoe trip. The good news is I got some cool pictures. The bad news is I brought the wrong lens for birding pictures! So most of the pictures are of other things that I could take at close range. I did not even notice until I was ready for my first shot! No awesome zoom lens no awesome bird pics :( I did manage to get this picture of a Black-crowned Night-Heron hunting below at fairly close range and a few other interesting pictures that I thought I would share since it was a birding trip.
My husband felt bad that I forgot my zoom lens and saw this caterpillar on a branch that was floating in the water and picked up the branach so I could take some interesting pictures. It is a Orgyia leucostigma or a White Marked Tussock Moth. I thought it was pretty neat looking and enjoyed photographing it before we placed it on a near by tree to munch on.
Below is a picture of a school of baby cat fish!
I was driving to my art studio and saw this guy eating a dead cat on the side of the road. When I drove by he sprang into the air and on to the top of the mail box. I saw how large his wing span was and had to have a closer look! Hastily, I pulled out my camera and could not get it to work at first and then I finally got this picture before he flew away!
Turkey vultures maybe ugly but they serve an important purpose in the wild as the garbage patrol eating only carrion on the sides of our roads and in the wild. Apparently they have a great sense of smell and when flying low can smell the gases released by a fresh decaying body!
I took a walk today after working in my painting studio and ended up with a few good bird pictures that I thought I would share with you.
We went on a short canoe trip on the Lamoille River in Vermont. Unfortunately, we did not see any birds but we did rescue another winged creature from certain death in the river.
My husband started to panic at this point because he loves dragonflies. Once two of them rescued him on a hiking trip and ate a whole swarm of mosquitoes that were feasting on his exposed flesh. before his very eyes they ate them all and since that time he has pledged his allegiance to them.
Here he is recuperating on the canoe paddle. My husband put his hand near it and it climbed into his hand and sat there for a long time as we floated down the river.
You can see the rescued dragon fly drying off on his hand. I think the XKCD tee shirt fits the picture quite well too. It is a computer/math geek comic on the internet. It is linked HERE if you are interested in the comic. The story/comic that goes with the shirt is below. It is very bird watching appropriate!