Friday, December 4, 2009

A Day For The Birds

Recently, I've been trying to figure out the best tattoo for my dad. Aside from my paw prints, my other 3 have meanings attached to my Aunt Jean. Focusing on figuring out what would be a great design for my dad has been something to distract me from the way we're losing him. I've come up with all types of ideas - "The Tree of Life" symbol (I have Chinese symbols and a Mayan calendar symbol tattooed on me now), this really neat picture I found with a tree in all 4 seasons, the leaf of a japanese thread leaf (one of his favorite trees), etc. There's only one I keep coming back to... feathers.

My dad is crazy about bald eagles: he has clocks with them on them, pictures, even a nutcracker and, once sick, one of the things he stole (and we had to return) was the weather vain off the house he grew up in - which just happened to have a bald eagle on top of it. He also loves red tail hawks (me too) and constantly points them out when we see them while driving. So, the feathers of those large birds makes the most sense to me ... but finding photos of feathers seems impossible on the internet. Most are just feathers people painted to look like those of these birds. So, I emailed out a bunch of people hoping for some photos: bird clubs, photographers, rehabilitaters, etc. Everyone was very kind, but one woman, Terri, was local and nice enough to invite me out to the wildlife rehabilitation center she works for: Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge. What a trip!!

I'm bad with names and that goes for birds too, but I believe it was Aldora. I could be wrong. I can tell you for sure though that Terri was nice enough to hold on to this big guy so I could take some photos of him (I plan on framing some good ones for dad too). I want to say he was hit by a car (again, the foggy memory - I'm going to guess it was a bad meds day - stupid epilepsy of mine!) and it severely damaged his left eye - you can see a photo of it below. He was so handsome!!! I don't think I can say that enough. :) He was also apparently extra heavy. Terri took him to get a weight and he was 1500+ grams when apparently his max weight has been about 14oo grams or so in the winter. That's a big boy ... um, perhaps we can use the holiday season as an extra for the extra weight?? :) Whatever the case, he wears it well and Terri was nice enough to tolerate holding him for awhile. She was really nice.

My friend Beka was nice enough to meet me at the center that day to get some pictures herself and we were lucky enough to meet some other birds before they were put away, like this gorgeous owl. Look at those eyes! Too cute. His name is Squam and he is a Barred Owl. Terri tells me that Barred Owls have been on NJ's threatened list since the 1940's when we began to development their habitats of old growth forests.

Beka and I wandered around for a bit after meeting some of the birds and we took some more pictures of the other birds we saw there along the trails. Did you know bald eagles make the weirdest noise?! Well, it's true! The one started making this noise that sounded like a pig!! The photos below with the gloved hands holding the birds are the birds we were lucky enough to meet. The other photos involved trying to not get the cages in the photo shots and some cropping skills when I got home. The whole time we were there was really nice and a lot of fun, even though it was a little chilly out that day. Then again, of course I loved it - it was rescue in a whole new way that I haven't have the privledge of participating in yet. :) Check out more photos from our time there...

The other bird we met, Killy, an American Kestrel. They have recently been placed on the endangered list due to habitat development...

I highly encourage you to check our Cedar Run's virtual tour and consider making a trip there. I know I'm going to head back some time with my friend, Robin, at least who was excited for me to be going there. Cedar Run has trails to walk along, so many animals to see and a great deal of information. They seem to be a wonderful, wonderful non-profit.