Sunday, June 26, 2011

Hueston Woods State Park hawks at the Nature Center

Here is the screech owl being talked about and shown off. Later on that afternoon, we took a hike with this naturalist. We learned a lot about the trees of Southern Ohio.
Here is a hawk. I can't believe it was only a few days ago and I don't remember his story:

Same hawk looking stately and handsome.

The hawk below is a Rough-Legged Hawk. Normally, he only visits Ohio in the winter and then goes up to Northern Canada the rest of the year. A man saw this hawk hit by a car in Miamisburg and stopped. He put the hawk in the car and drove the hour to the park. They took the hawk in and cared for him, but he is injured too much to be released successfully. The veterinarians say he will be fine in the hotter Ohio summers, but they're still working on getting him used to being around them, let alone all the human visitors.

I got this photo of his feathers, too.

There is another Turkey Vulture that lives within the compound. He chooses to be there and has been for years. He isn't made to stay, but he does. I wonder what makes a bird decide to stick around like that. There's a colony of Turkey Vultures by the lodge and it was relaxing to see them ride the thermals all afternoon and evening.

Owls at the nature center at Hueston Woods

This cute little screech owl, Elvira, is nibbling on the naturalist's finger. She was hit by a car and lost her eye. Since she can't hunt, she lives at the nature center.
Here's another photo where you can see her eye a little:

Here's an owl (with both eyes) getting some affection. You can see in this photo that he had a serious injury to his wing. Notice that it has been amputated:

This owl just looks angry, but I think most owls do. What do you think? All the animals here have been injured. Most of the birds have had wings amputated or have shoulder injuries that prevent them from flying. I believe this is the owl that was found after being shot with a shotgun.

Here's the bobcat again:

I'm a little surprised, but I didn't get photos of the eagles. They have a bald eagle and a golden eagle. They're both pretty old. The bald eagle has had lead poisoning, so his brain isn't quite right. I think the golden eagle had a wing injury, but I'm not sure.

We left a donation for the care of these critters. The cougar alone takes about $3,000 a year.

Ralph the Turkey Vulture in Ohio

All these shots are from the Nature Center at Hueston Woods State Park. This little bird ate some of the cougar's food. He was flying inside the bobcat's cage and the naturalist said he has seen the bobcat take out a bird that flew around too much!
Here's Cougie taking a bow:
Here's a close up of the hot dog leftovers. You're welcome:
We learned a lot about Turkey Vultures. They're really quite smart and also a good example of how we're built for our purposes. His head, for example, has no feathers. But that makes it easier for him to keep clean since he eats dead things. His nose also has a huge, open nostril so he can better smell his lunch:
They vomit when they feel trapped, so they're often named Ralph or Chuck. I had my camera zoomed in as much as it would allow, so these photos are grainy. The shot below doesn't show his feathers off as nicely as I hoped, but he is really a pretty bird.
His name is Ralph and here is his story. Ralph is 41 years old. He was hatched at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio as part of a psychology experiment. Who needs to understand the psychology of a turkey vulture is my question. But after the experiment ended and because he was imprinted, he didn't know how to hunt for himself, so he was given to the Nature Center back in the 70s.

Early one summer he spent an entire day standing in a dish of water. They all thought he was just hot and didn't think much of it. But the next day, he was gone. The leathers on his legs had softened to the point where he could get out of them. He flew over to the campground and spent the summer there eluding the naturalists and stealing hot dogs and other food from the campers. He spent that summer out and about, but when it began to get cold again, he came back home and he's been there ever since.

A cougar and a bobcat walk into a restaurant...

This past week I spent a few days at Hueston Woods State Park with my niece and was I ever impressed! We stayed at the Lodge with its spacious rooms that had excellent mattresses and bedding, microwave, refrigerator, DVD player and VCR. Plenty of storage space, which is usually wanting in hotel rooms and a large balcony with a view of the lake. It was nice.

We went over to the Nature Center on the grounds and met some very interesting animals.

First post: the cougar and bobcat. The cougar's name is Cougie and if you're like me, you may initially wonder why in the world a state park in Southern Ohio keeps a cougar. This place is a sanctuary and Cougie, who is 17 years old, was bred on a farm in Colorado where some loser breeds exotic animals for pets. Cougie is declawed and was confiscated from an owner in Ohio. Cougie eats "things left over from when hot dogs are made." OK: gross.

The bobcat, shoot, I can't recall his name, was also bred as a pet. He is 21 years old and also declawed. He had killed the family dog and was locked in a bedroom in an apartment where he lived with a family of human idiots and fools.

You'll get no apologies from me for a strong opinion on this.

He was taken into custody and turned over to the state park where he also eats hot dog leftovers! The bobcat is shy and the first time we saw him, we didn't. We saw what looked to be an empty cage. When he was fed, the naturalist put the food into the enclosure and then told us that he wouldn't eat until we left. Others moved on, but we hid behind the fence and I put the camera up to record him eating. You can tell while he eats that he is watching all over to see that no one sneaks up on him.

Cougie is on YouTube because the video is so long. You don't need to watch the whole thing to get the idea, but the naturalist is speaking and so I kept recording. See the video here.

Here is the bobcat:

Friday, June 17, 2011

Learn more about AIDS orphans

Take a look at this newsletter to learn a little bit about the organization I'm working with to raise money for AIDS orphans. Read it here.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Where have I been?

I've been blogging somewhere else, but it isn't a permanent move. I'll be back.

See the posts so far and what I'm up to these days.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Nature Notes: impromptu bird bath

Visit Michelle at the home of Nature Notes.

I planted this rose bush only last year. It came it a gallon jug, so you can imagine how small it was. It went insane, didn't it? Also, I've put out water for the robins that hang out in the front yard. This photo is from my cell phone and as is typical for that, it isn't a good photo. But mostly it doesn't do the roses justice. Everything bloomed at once and it isn't quite as awkward looking in real life as it looks in the photo!