Grackles Won’t Leave

Grackles perched underneath our bird bath.

I think the grackles will be with us forever. They like it here. I put them outside and they hang around very near the lanai and patio. I left the lanai door open and the slider open today while doing my projects in the house. I heard a crow making lots of noise on the patio and went out to see what was going on. I leave lots of food for the bluebirds and grackles so it is not surprising other animals show up to take advantage of the buffet. The crow left when I showed up and shortly after that the grackles moved onto the lanai and are not interested in leaving. I later saw a raccoon on the patio and Dart would not get engaged to solve the problem. By the time he got interested, the raccoon was almost gone. I think the grackles like their situation and are like those teenagers who won’t leave home.

The older bluebirds continue to visit. They usually do not like me approaching them now but a few times they let me feed them some crickets. I pulled out my camera and got a couple images today.

The young bluebirds continue to grow up, but two of them still require me to force feed them. I was excited to get one of them to eat a couple crickets today and eat formula without having to pry open its beak. Perhaps the other two will be easier to feed within a couple days. They are exhausting. Because they will not eat easily, I feed them less food more often.

Bluebirds, Grackles, and the RV

I released the older bluebirds the other day and they spent the last two nights with us. They come back regularly to be fed. About mid-day today, they stopped coming back as often and when they did, they would not come close. They would sit on the gutter and beg for food. Since I can’t fly, they are out of luck. I have a variety of foods available to them if they are having trouble on their own. Tonight, at least two of the bluebirds came to the back of the house but did not come to the cage or in the lanai to spend the night. Since I see them out there, I know they are okay and I am glad they do not need me anymore.

The beginning of the video shows that the little bluebirds that almost died are doing well and the second part of the video shows that the released bluebirds come back to the cage to eat mealworms.

Yesterday, one of the released bluebirds showed up for some food with something sticking out of its mouth. Fortunately, we were able to grab it and see that it had attempted to eat some stringy vegetation that got wrapped up in its insides. Even more fortunately, Regis was able to pull it out without a problem. I never realized how much difficulty young birds have figuring out what is edible and what is not.

I let the grackles out all day today and they hung close by. I left the cage on the patio and occasionally one or both would sit in it for a while. There were some mealworms in the cage and at one point I saw an adult grackle enter the cage with one of my young grackles and eat a few mealworms and leave. Tonight I brought the grackles in. At some point, they will feel more comfortable and not want to hang around us.

The younger bluebirds that were near death when I got them are a difficult bunch of birds to handle. They still need to be force fed. I feed them a formula that has all the nutrition they need to get going but it can be a mess if the bird does not participate in the feeding. Since these birds do not make it easy to feed them, they have formula on them. I wipe it off after every feeding, but they look terrible. I hope they turn around soon so I can work on getting them cleaned up. They turned out to be a much bigger struggle than I expected but I am grateful they are still with us and I will put up with them being royal pains.

The motorhome is for sale at North Trail RV and they posted some pictures. We have had awesome experiences in it. If you want to do the same, hop on down to Fort Myers and buy it! Click here.

I got my incredible Mavic 2 Pro drone last Wednesday and life has been too crazy to even open the box until recently. I pulled it out and charged the batteries and attempted to fly it yesterday. What a mess. It was very difficult to get things going and I had to remove the otter case from my phone so it could be inserted in the controller. I drop my phone regularly, so I am certain I will have to buy a new phone soon. Ouch. It took so long to get it connected and the firmware updated that I had to go back and feed the little bluebirds and Regis was able to take it for its first flight. When I came back, I took it for a flight and apparently did not have the settings correct on the camera. Following is a link to my maiden flight. All I did was have it go up and take pictures. But, it was doing video and not pictures so nothing worked the way I had planned and it is over exposed. If the weather is good I will try again tomorrow. Today got a way from me with the 9 birds I’m trying to handle and my poor dog who is still not himself.

Bird Release

Today I released the four older bluebirds and the two grackles. It took a while for the bluebirds to leave the cage, but once they did they all left. I sat in the backyard a few times during the day and saw at least 7 baby bluebirds out back and two adults. We have a some bluebird parents that recently fledged some birds and they are almost the same age as our bluebirds. The adults did not bother the babies so all was well. Whew! I could not tell our bluebirds from the wild ones but all seemed well with the world.

Later in the day, I did not feel comfortable that the grackles were ready for release so I gathered them up and brought them back to their cage. It was good for them to get some time outside exploring the world so it is all good.

I kept the lanai door open and later in the day one bluebird flew back in. I grabbed it and placed it in a cage and went outside and easily got two more. Regis was able to get the fourth bluebird. They are spending the night safely with us and I will let them out again tomorrow to explore their world.

The youngest bluebirds that I got that were near death a few days ago have come back to life today. I had to move them to a cage because they are exploring and perching. Unfortunately, they are still hard to feed but I hope that changes soon. I hate to force feed them. I am thrilled to see them jumping around and exploring their surroundings. Wahoo!

Dart continues to intermittently eat. I don’t know what is going on. If he is still not eating regularly by Monday, I will get some blood work done to see if that tells us what is going on. This precious dog is so important to me that I will do everything I can to help him.

Regis’s mom is improving well. Yay! We look forward to her joining us at home at the end of the month. I think she will enjoy sitting on our patio and enjoying the natural world in good weather.

After I put the birds to bed last night, I got a glass of wine or two and well after 9:00 I got an emergency call about an owl that had been hit by a car near to us. Since I had some wine, Regis drove while we retrieved the bird. The hope was that it was slightly concussed and could be released the next day. If so, we would hold it overnight and let it go. Sadly, it had major injuries and we transported it to the emergency vet. We do not know the outcome at this point.

I got my drone last Wednesday and have it ready to go. Tomorrow looks good for a test run. I’m very excited to see what kind of photos I can get. I can’t fly it in high winds and that happens often here. We shall see. It is crazy that I am more stressed about flying this drone the first time than the first time I flew an airplane by myself. I was sixteen when I flew the plane and may not have been smart enough to be more concerned.

Still Alive

These baby bluebirds are struggling to live and making progress. Their eyes look much better today.

The little bluebirds are still alive. I got three baby bluebirds that were barely alive yesterday and was concerned they would not make it through the day. I was certain at least one of them would have perished during the night. All three of them pulled through. They were still very weak this morning but have been getting stronger throughout the day. Their eyes look better. Nevertheless, they are still weak and it may take a couple more days before they behave the way they should for their age. They are still difficult to feed but have been participating more with each feeding.

I put the bluebirds and grackles in the open area of the lanai so they could stretch their wings and sit on real branches. They did very well together. They often sat together on the same branch. One of the grackles was hopeful that the bluebirds would feed it.

Grackle looking for the bluebirds to feed it.
The six older birds that should be ready for release soon. The bluebirds are more ready than the grackles. It is cute to watch them snuggle together.

Dart to the Rescue

Unbelievably, while feeding the near death bluebirds this evening, one escaped. Okay, that one was in the best shape. After feeding the other two, I went to look for it. I couldn’t find it. Regis helped. We couldn’t find it. I engaged Dart. He let us know it was under the couch. Indeed it was. All is well. Dart is my hero.

Baby Bluebirds Near Death

Baby bluebird that is struggling to live.

We have been discussing selling the motorhome and decided to pull the trigger recently. Following is a picture of Dart in his usual spot while I emptied the motorhome and cleaned it one last time. This is where he spends his time while we are driving and when I am putting the slides in and out. I drove the motorhome to North Trail RV in Fort Myers last Friday and towed the Jeep so I could drive home. It was a long day. For reasons I do not understand, I spent that final trip down there waiting for something to happen like a flat tire. Since I was by myself and it was the last leg of our wonderful trips with the RV, I became convinced something would go awry. It didn’t. I pulled into the lot safely and turned it over to North Trail to take it from here. We have had a great experience with them and they think they can sell it in 30 days. They have the motorhome up on their website with no pictures yet. Once they have the pictures, I will post a link in case any of you are interested in a well-maintained RV to have your own adventures.

Dart in the motorhome.

Regis was not with me because he is being very attentive to his mom who is in the hospital with a broken leg. It is heartbreaking. She is a lovely person and should be sitting outside enjoying this lovely Florida weather. We are hopeful for a good outcome and wish the best for a speedy recovery.

Dart did not eat anything all day yesterday and most of today. He was so lethargic and not himself that I made a vet appointment for this afternoon. At lunch, I heated up some salmon and bean salad and his sniffer kicked into gear. I gave him some salmon and he ate it. He wouldn’t eat salmon or chicken yesterday. I gave him the rest of my salmon and settled for a bean salad for lunch and then fed him some chicken. He perked up, wagged his tail, and was ready to go to the mailbox. Whew!

Because things are a little out of the norm at home right now, I decided to not take on any more wildlife for the near term. But, I got an emergency call this morning about some baby bluebirds that survived a disaster. I was the closest rehabber and was asked if I would take them. Of course I said yes. Their story breaks my heart. Their mom and dad built their nest in a home under construction. The workers installed a glass door the other day, shut it and left. The next day their was a dead bluebird by the door. It apparently flew into the glass and died. They heard baby birds cheeping in the house and could not get to them until this morning. Brian, an amazing guy from Eagle construction, brought the nest with three bluebirds to me.

The babies were near death. They likely had not eaten in almost two days and they were cold. I force fed them and put them in a cozy nest that a lovely woman makes for baby birds. An hour later, they were warm and easier to feed. As I write this at 6:15, they are still alive. I have been getting food into them but they are not out of the woods. I can tell by looking at them that they are on the edge between living and not.

Baby bluebirds barely holding on.

Please join me in wishing Regis’s mom, Dart, and the bluebirds a healthy future.

Hanging by a Thread

Rescued red-bellied woodpecker that continually plucks his feathers.

Around the beginning of the year, we took in a rescue adult red-bellied woodpecker who had gotten himself into trouble. He was found with a sticky substance all over him and cleaning him required the removal of many of his feathers. In particular, he lost many flight feathers. He came to us to stay safe until he could fly and we could release him.

Being an adult woodpecker, he is troubled whenever we come near him. We leave him alone as best we can to keep him calm. We started off letting him on the lanai once a week to check his flying capability. This required capturing him and placing him back in his cage after the test which was traumatizing to him and painful for us. He pecked and screamed.

We thought his feathers were growing in too slowly and eventually held him long enough to see that his flight feathers were not growing back in. His feathers were broken, so his body did not know to replace them. We will not remove his feathers, so we have to wait for him to molt.

He has removed all his body and tail feathers at least three times since we got him. Recently, the weather cooled a lot for Florida and he was naked wherever he could reach his feathers. I was concerned about his ability to keep warm, so we brought him into the house.

Not only did he remove his body feathers, but he plucked out all his tail feathers also.

He is getting better about me being near the cage without him hiding as long as I don’t get too near. Last night, as I was letting the dog out, I noticed the bird was hanging from the top of the cage like a bat. This was not unusual. Later, I let the dog out again and the bird was still hanging in the same spot. I jokingly asked if he was stuck and then realized he was. We had a towel draped over half the cage to give him some privacy. He had gotten his toenail stuck in the threads of the towel. Poor guy.

I had to grab him while Regis got scissors to cut him free. We had to take him to a brightly lit room to remove the threads from his leg. The whole time, he was screaming and pecking at me. I felt terrible that he did not appreciate how we were helping him. He did not make the connection and hates us. The good news is that he is back to being his regular crazy self. He throws his bark butter bits, crickets, and mealworms out of the cage. He is a major cleanup issue. Does anyone know when red-bellied woodpeckers molt?

The woodpecker hiding from me behind his log.

On another note, we released a mockingbird and blue jay last May. I have seen the blue jay, Topaz, on several of my walks over the last week. He has always been with a mockingbird. (I do not know what sex the bird is but have taken to calling it a he.) There are so many mockingbirds on our street that I can’t be sure it is our mockingbird, but the bird allowed me to stay close to video.

I do not think it is possible for a mockingbird and blue jay to mate, but I have recently wondered what mocking jays might look like.

Mosquitos at Sunrise

Regis and I went to the Palencia boardwalk at the Palencia salt marsh yesterday morning to capture sunrise pictures. The mosquitos were out in full force. Regis sprayed his Off all over himself and I sprayed Skin so Soft all over me. It kept them at bay, but did not get rid of them entirely. The most frustrating thing was listening to them buzz in my ear. I was concerned one would fly in and take up residence. With the oil all over me, it got on the camera and binoculars and everything had to be cleaned when I got home. But, the sunrise was beautiful and we were fortunate to be there.

Sunrise at the St. Augustine Inlet

I mentioned in yesterday’s post that I planned to launch the kayak before sunrise in another location today. I launched from the boat ramp at the Villano Bridge. The winds were calm. It was the kind of trip where it did not matter whether I got good pictures because the experience was amazing. I love the beautiful colors of the sunrise reflected on the water. Regis and I usually look for the gifts of the day having no expectations of what the experience will bring and being delighted with what shows up. Today was like that.

As I was leaving the area around the boat ramp, I found some dolphins frolicking in the water. I have never launched out of this boat ramp and not seen dolphins.

I saw a flock of black skimmers flying.

There was a snowy egret beautifully illuminated by the morning sun.

I have been wanting to get a picture of a bird taking off from the water in the morning sun. I got this picture today. It is a double-crested cormorant.

I stopped to watch the gulls, etc. making a raucous on a sand spit. A single picture would not do, so I pulled out my cell phone to get some video.

Remember that I am bouncing around in a kayak with these pictures. In spite of that, I managed to get this picture of a pelican flying.

As I was heading back to the launch, I found this red-breasted merganser. I have never been this close to one and I was thrilled at the opportunity.

Little Blue Heron

I went kayaking this morning and launched on the Guana River 1/2 hour before sunrise. This is the first time I launched in the dark. It was amazing. The birds were vocalizing, the water was calm, and the colors of the sunrise reflected beautifully in the water. I am already planning to do a before sunrise launch in a different location tomorrow. It is a great time of day to be out there.

I never know what I am going to see when I kayak. I expect one thing and something else shows up. Today was a little blue heron day. I saw several of them and parked myself in the marsh grass to watch and take pictures. Sitting still gives me a great opportunity to watch their behavior. I was too far away to see what they were catching in the water to eat. Following are a couple favorite images.

On the way back to the boat ramp, I found this juvenile tern sitting on a float. I think it is a juvenile royal tern since that is the tern most often seen in this location, but I am unsure. I tried the Merlin app and it thinks it is a common tern which I think is unlikely for this location. I posted it in iNaturalist and will see whether experts can identify it.

Juvenile tern.