Released Baby Birds and Yoga Dogs

Recently released baby blue jay taking food from a volunteer.

I am raising fledgling birds until they are ready for release in the wild. I do this as a volunteer for the Ark Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation. I set up a feeding station in the backyard that is well stocked with a variety of foods to supplement the birds while they learn how to fully be on their own. Some birds are not completely prepared for life without help and regularly come for hand feedings. Last evening, I had 3 cardinals, 1 tufted titmouse, 2 thrashers, 1 mockingbird, and 1 blue jay perched in the same small tree waiting to be fed. Some of them had a hard time waiting and tried to steal the food as I fed another bird. Every bird got their fill and left. Over time, the birds get more distant. One mockingbird and a few Carolina wrens come for food but will not come close enough to take it from me. I keep their feeding station well stocked with live mealworms, nuts, seeds, fruit, etc., so they have another option until they can fill their tummies by themselves. Following is a video of some of the released birds getting fed.

Recently released tufted titmouse waiting for food.
Recently released baby mockingbird taking food from a volunteer.
Recently released baby blue jay and mockingbird.
Recently released cardinal taking food from a volunteer.
Recently released blue jay taking food from a volunteer and exhibiting “begging wings”.
Grackle and mockingbird preparing for release. The grackle will not be released until it grows in all its feathers. This grackle is a veracious eater.

In the meantime, I am teaching Raven and Clover agility skills and keeping an open mind about whether we might do rally, flyball, nose work, or something else with one or both dogs. Our trainer is putting in a pool for dock diving but I am not sure the collies would be into that. When the time comes, we will give it a try and see if there is any interest. My biggest concern is keeping up with the dogs on the agility course. I am a decade older from when I worked agility with Dart and my bones, muscles, and tendons regularly let me know they are not young anymore. I am going to start water aerobics again, got myself a replacement bicycle since my last one never made it to Washington, and started back with yoga in my house. As I put the yoga mat out today, Clover immediately laid down on it. As I got started to attempt to do yoga around her, Raven showed up and laid down on most of the remaining mat. I asked Regis to take a picture but keep my face out of it. He took two pictures that are not appropriate to show. He is fired.

I do not have current photos of the dogs. I cannot take pics while training them. I was recently tagging photos and came across some favorite puppy pics.

Raven and Clover
Clover and Raven

Boat update

Since closing on the house in Florida my focus has been getting the house ready for Linda to move in and performing additional fixes and modifications after she arrived in March. I have been splitting my time between house work and boat work. February through mid-March it was mostly house projects. Then we got knocked down with covid that slowed us down for about 3-4 weeks. Since then, my contribution with the house projects have slowed and the boat project increased. Linda has been working with contractors doing some of the work outside our area of expertise or desire to perform.

Dinghy mounted sideways on swim platform. It can be rotated back onto the water for use.

My last post (See here) I had mentioned waiting for more parts. This project spanned over 2.5 months mostly waiting for calm weather. It was installing a mount on the swim platform for the dinghy so all the work had to be done over water. I only lost one tool to the murky depths. The dinghy I bought was too long to be stored on deck so it needed a home “overboard”. With the dinghy now residing on the swim platform my mount for the swim ladder was now blocked. I moved the mount to the other side of the boat and all is well.

A lot of the current boat projects are making permanent installs of temporary work. Back in Pensacola I had “fixed” things to make them work. I am now going through those fixes and making them permanent and pretty.

Permanent mounting of an outlet powered by an inverter with remote invert power switch above.
Routing and hiding wires for invert powered outlet.

One major upgrade was the adding the ability to raise and lower the anchor from the helm station. Before this upgrade I would have to run out to the bow and lower the anchor, then run back to the helm and adjust the position of the boat, then run back to the bow a lower the anchor more. Etc. Now I can do it all from the helm station with just one switch.

New remote microphone for radio. One less thing to carry up to the fly bridge.

Another upgrade was installing water filters. This was a slight chore as a mounting panel needed to be fabricated. Additionally the space to install the plumbing was small and hard to work in.

Water filters (salvaged from one of our RVs.

Linda and I did take several days to go out and enjoy the boat as we traveled up and down the intracoastal waterway. Good times.

Dings from lowering the anchor too fast being repaired.

A couple more house projects and it will be time for another boat trip!

Raven Licking Clover’s Ear

Raven and Clover.

Raven regularly cleans Clover’s ears and she loves it. Following is a video of Raven licking her ear while she chews on something with her eyes closed.

I got several more birds the other day. Three of them have already been released. Following is a picture of the mockingbird and blue jay sleeping together. I had to take the picture through the window so I did not disturb them. The blue jay is sweet.

A baby mockingbird snuggled with a baby blue jay.

Released Baby Birds

Baby eastern bluebird perched in our magnolia tree.

Most of the baby birds that I have received recently have been released successfully. The first day that I released them, most of them came to me for crickets. One time, all five baby bluebirds lined up on a limb on the magnolia tree to be fed. The following video was taken on the day after release. The birds still came to be fed. By the third day, they would not come close enough to get the cricket. They are mostly hanging out at the feeding station I have set up with a variety of foods. I regularly see the chickadee, Carolina wrens, and bluebirds at the feeding station.

Baby eastern bluebird perched in our magnolia tree.
Baby chickadee at the feeding station.
Baby eastern bluebird.
Baby eastern bluebirds shortly before release.
Baby eastern bluebirds shortly before release.

I have three birds that are not ready for release and will pick up several more today. Birds will be rotating through the lanai regularly as nesting season continues.

I count roseate spoonbills weekly at the Alligator Farm. They are an endangered species. Following is a video of a parent feeding its chick.

Baby Carolina Wrens

Baby Carolina wrens.

As a volunteer for the Ark Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation, I am preparing birds for release. I received 11 Carolina wrens, one chickadee, and one tufted titmouse in addition to the 10 birds I already had. The new birds and several of mine are ready to go. I plan to release them in the morning.

Carolina wren on the side of our house. We have coquina instead of stucco. It is easy for the birds to cling to it – and squirrels.

Karen, who runs the Ark, told me that she gets so many wrens because they nest in RV’s. Folks head to Florida in their RV without realizing they have a nest of baby birds going along for the ride. They find out when they get here and turn the nest over to the Ark. Regis and I have seen how quickly wrens can build a nest in an RV.

Carolina wren.

All the birds are loose on the lanai today, so it’s a little dangerous to walk out there. I have only been pooped on once, which is surprising. I saw one of the bluebirds attacking one of the wrens today. I thought bluebirds were sweet. I had to round up the bluebirds and put them in a cage until morning so no bird gets beat up over night.

Carolina wren.

Baby bluebird.

Birds and Dogs

Raven demonstrating feet on and feet off at the end of a piece of training equipment for dog agility.

The collies have been doing well with the baby birds. Raven either listens well or does not care and walks right by them on the way out the door to the backyard. The birds are on the lanai and the dogs must go by the birds to get out. I have to make sure no loose birds escape as the dogs go through the lanai door. Clover is very curious, especially when they move. She has to be told to leave them alone and go out. She does what she is told, but she must be told every time.

Following is a video of feeding the mockingbirds and some bluebirds.

I picked up 11 Carolina wrens, one chickadee and one tufted titmouse today that are ready for release. They are currently flying loose on the lanai. Any birds that are flying well will be released in the morning. Right now, they all look good. Having this many birds to feed requires a lot of crickets and mealworms. The birds are also fed dried mealworms, a concoction of food and nutrients fed through a dropper, fruits, pet food, and seeds. Each species favors certain foods. I got two boxes of mealworms today and moved them to containers that would fit in the refrigerator. I do not particularly enjoy moving the mealworms from the box to the container because many of them escape and it’s a mess. I make the swap on the front porch so the anoles can grab the errant worms.

I have been training the dogs on a “training” dog walk so they can learn to walk it and then stop at the end. They are supposed to stay with their front feet on the ground and their back feet on the walk until released. I have been training them on the equipment on the lanai because it is shady and we can do it even when it is hot outside or raining. They were doing very well. With the birds on the lanai, I moved the equipment to the tiny porch by our front door. Raven continues to do it okay. Clover won’t step on the equipment now that it has been moved. We have to start all over again with training. My agility trainer said dogs could be funny like that and to not assume that your dog can do the same equipment if in a different location until fully trained. The picture at the beginning of this post shows Raven exhibiting the proper behavior at the end of the walk.

I have been neglecting the dogs a bit the last fews days and bribed them with some chews this afternoon while waiting for it to cool down outside before I took them out for some training.

Baby Birds

Baby bluebird.

I am volunteering with the Ark Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation and took in 11 birds yesterday to prepare for release. The head of the Ark, Karen, takes in the little ones and cares for them until they need more room to try out their wings and prepare for release. I placed the birds in larger cages, and when they are ready, will give them access to the lanai to work their wings. I have five bluebirds, two mockingbirds, one thrasher, one cardinal, one finch, and one tufted titmouse. Karen warned me the titmouse can be mean and was probably ready to go. She said if it turned into a demon, I should release it. Today it started beating up the finch, so I released it to the lanai. Its mockingbird friend went crazy since the titmouse was outside the cage and it was not, so I let it out also. It was getting the cardinal and finch upset. This evening, the finch escaped while I was feeding the birds and the titmouse immediately attacked it. Then, it started trying to pull the feathers out of the mockingbird. I captured all but the titmouse and placed them in their cages. The titmouse tried to attack the birds through the bars, so I covered the cages. It looks like the titmouse will be experiencing ultimate freedom tomorrow morning.

Tufted titmouse, aka demon bird.
Baby finch.
Baby mockingbird.

We had a large limb fall off one of our trees. I cut off branches and placed them around the lanai. The titmouse is enjoyed working through the branches and checking out every leaf and crevice. Most of the day, it would come to me to get a cricket and take it somewhere to eat it. By evening, it would not do that but it would eat the cricket from a bowl. The loose mockingbird came to me every feeding to be fed.

I enjoy raising the birds when they are in the pre-release stage. They are easy to feed and fun to watch. The very young birds are tough to handle and Karen has a knack for it. The disadvantage of preparing the birds for release is they need to be fed every two hours which limits what I can do until they are all gone. As I release, I will be getting more until the season is over.

Baby thrasher.
Baby cardinal.

Two Days on the Intracoastal Waterway

It has been a while since we posted. I moved from a Windows machine to a Mac and could not process photos until I resolved some issues. I believe all blog posts need a picture or video and we could only post what came directly from our phones. I had 4 terabytes of photos in an Adobe catalog and the Mac could not write to the drive, although it could read it. We eventually purchased a new drive and formatted it to be compatible with the Mac and then copied the files over which took about 2 days.

During those two days, we dropped the dogs off at camp and took the boat out to spend a couple of nights on the intracoastal waterway. We anchored near Pine Island on the Tolomato River for the first night. While dropping anchor, a couple manatees came to check things out. I enjoyed spending an afternoon and morning watching the wildlife. The lighting was not good the first afternoon and I had a lot of trouble seeing. (I was recently diagnosed with glaucoma and I have cataracts, not to mention out of focus vision from aging. Even my fancy binoculars cannot make up for my eyesight deficiencies.)

Below are some off pics from the first afternoon and evening.

A short-billed dowager feeding at low tide.
A black skimmer feeding by dipping its bill into the water while flying and snapping it shut when it feels food.
A great blue heron actively looking for food in shallow water.
Some wood storks that settled in the marsh for the evening.
A panoramic evening view of sunset over Pine Island on the Tolomato River.

My favorite times on the boat are when we are anchored in a spot where there is wildlife. The evenings and mornings are the best with the great light conditions. I enjoy waking up at night and looking out over the water. There is usually sufficient light to get some view. Sometimes while sitting, I may pick up something to read and will get startled by a breath nearby. It is a dolphin. They are mammals and must breathe air. When they come up for air, it makes a noise. When the waters are calm and it is quiet, it can be startling to hear them when they are close to the boat. I never tire of seeing them.

I was looking over the river and the marsh in the morning and saw what looked like a log swimming up the brackish river. It was an alligator. I know that alligators will go into brackish water but they prefer freshwater. I never considered them a threat while kayaking on tidal (brackish) waters. I have to rethink that. This guy was a nice size.

After the sun rose, I watched an American oystercatcher feeding on an oyster rake as the tide came in. I love the long orange bills on these birds and rarely see them unless I am out on the water.

American oystercatcher on a bed of oysters.

After the tide covered the oysters, the oystercatcher flew off and we headed to the Matanzas River to anchor near Fort Matanzas. The Tolomato River and Matanzas River meet at the mouth of the St. Augustine inlet and the inlet enters near the ancient city.

As we were headed south, we passed an oyster rake that is covered with white pelicans in the winter. There was one lonely white pelican occupying the island.

Single white pelican on the Matanzas River.

We anchored near Fort Matanzas for the night. Since the location is close to the Matanzas inlet, the current is strong. We did not see much wildlife close to the boat but saw many birds flying overhead. We heard the least terns who are currently courting. The male brings a fish to the female to entice her to form a partnership. Some females will take off with the fish leaving the male with nothing for his efforts. The birds nest on the beach at the Matanzas inlet but we could not see the nesting location from our anchorage. Along the way to and from the anchorage, we saw least terns sitting on channel markers and buoys. On our return, we saw a female on a marker with a male courting her with a fish. We were chugging along at more than 7 knots and these are tiny birds, so Regis slowed down so I could try to take a picture.

A least tern male bringing a fish to the female. She took the fish and sat patiently while he left to get another.

Along the way, we saw a few guys boarding on motorized surf boards. I have not seen this before, so I do not know what these things are called. It looked like a lot of fun if you could keep your balance.

A guy on an electric surfboard/paddleboard.

We saw several manatee on our excursion along the Tolomato and Mantanzas Rivers. There is abundant sargassum floating around and they are munching it down. Regis got my favorite video of a manatee eating the sargassum at the marina.

Note: Since I am now on a Mac, I am using Final Cut Pro as my video editing software. I am having trouble retaining the color cast from the original video. Video above that is not washed out came straight from the camera. The washed out video came from editing the video in Final Cut Pro. I have to learn another new software package and figure out what I am doing wrong.

Collies Getting Smaller

Regis taking a nap and wearing a mask so he won’t spread Covid to me and Clover taking a nap also.

Lots has happened since our last post. My brother was not feeling well when he left us and shortly thereafter, Regis got Covid. He isolated himself on the boat for several days and I brought him care packages. When he felt better, he returned but slept and ate separately and used the guest bath. Nevertheless, I succumbed big time. I am now recovering and hope to never be that sick again.

While Regis was at the tail end of his sickness and I was still okay, he moved the boat from the St. Augustine Municipal Marina to Camachee Cover where he has a permanent slip. I helped him move the boat and took some video. By the time we got through the Bridge of Lions, I was fatigued and just sat and watched the scenery on a beautiful day. This may have been the beginning of my Covid trouble.

I tested when I got home since I was so tired, but I was negative. I was beginning to think how much it sucked to get old because I was exhausted and my muscles hurt. The next day I tried to keep up with the dogs, etc. and by evening I was so exhausted I could not stay up and went to bed. It was then that I realized that something was seriously wrong. I tested myself in the morning and I had full-blown Covid and could not get out of bed except to go to the bathroom. Thank goodness Regis was here to take care of the dogs.

Before all this horrible Covid stuff, I started back counting birds at the Alligator Farm. Nesting birds come to the farm in the spring because the alligators prevent predators like raccoons from getting to the chicks. Occasionally, a chick falls out of the nest and becomes an alligator appetizer, but more chicks successfully fledge than in other places. Therefore, the birds return every year. Roseate spoonbills and wood storks are endangered species, so we count them every week during the nesting season. I usually count spoonbills. Once a month we do a full count of the six species of wading birds (great egret, cattle egret, snowy egret, tricolored heron, roseate spoonbill, wood stork) which gets more difficult as the nesting season progresses because there are so many chicks. Nevertheless, it is a high point of my year. I captured the following video of roseate spoonbills during my first count before I had to drop out temporarily because of Covid.

I took Clover to agility training and have been working the dogs at home with great success until I was laid low with Covid. We have been working on getting a fence installed and it is minimally a month away. Not having a fence while I was sick meant Regis had to do all the walking with the dogs that I regularly do. it’s a lot. I broke down and bought the pieces for a temporary fence which Regis quickly installed. The dogs are in heaven with room to run. We solved one problem, getting them more freedom and exercise and exchanged it for another, a messy house.

Here are the dogs playing with my friends mixed breed. The dogs are very close in age. Clover and Hopper play well while Raven plays the ref, as usual. I am so happy to have Hopper and his mom nearby because they are always ready for a walk or run. Sadly, we have not been together for a couple days. As soon as I am not contagious, we hope to have Hopper over for a run with our temporary fencing. I am certain all the dogs will love it.

Since we arrived in Florida, I have been brushing out undercoat from the dogs regularly. When I am not doing that, they are shedding it everywhere. It is an astonishing amount of hair. The dogs look smaller everyday as I brush them. Clover is beginning to look particularly small because she releases the most undercoat. She is now 55 pounds while Raven is 59 pounds. That is near their final weight. Raven looks much larger, so it surprises me he is only 4 pounds heavier. Clover will be the smallest collie I have had. Yet, she is a normal size for a female. Raven is a normal size for a male.

While I have been sick, Raven has been a constant companion. What a sweetie.

The Krakens and a German Shepherd Puppy

Clover, Skye, and Raven.

My brother and mom came to visit today with my brother’s six-month old German Shepherd puppy, Skye. The puppy lives in a rural area and has not had much dog interaction outside of dog training. My brother was not sure how things would work out, but they worked out well. The collies and the puppy played continuously all afternoon. They ran through the house and lanai and we let them out in the yard to run free and they took advantage of the additional space. By the time we took video, they were starting to wear out a little.

Afterwards, the krakens became comatose and stayed that way all afternoon. Apparently, Skye, the German Shepherd puppy crashed when she got back to the house where they are staying. My friend Kim in Washington says “a tired dog is a good dog”. Yes!

Raven and Clover totally crashed after playing.

Yesterday, I asked my nearby friend if she would bring her dog, Hopper, to the powerlines where we would release the krakens. The dogs played well and the krakens slept through the night afterward. I will be calling my friend again.

Hopper taking a break during the playing. Hopper needed a brushing after this little play date.