Fly Away Home

For the last several years, I have visited the same friends in the Texas Hill Country and I still need directions. Even so, I will inevitably make a wrong turn at the last fork in the road. My favorite friend to visit is a four year old Vulture named Buffy who was orphaned and had to be hand fed and cared for until she learned to survive on her own. Even after she learned to fly and was able to soar with the other Vultures she never needed a map to find her way back to her birthplace. Our friend Bruce has a way with birds and has rescued and rehabilitated numerous species through the years. They remind me of dogs with feathers. As much as I have read about birds, especially birds of prey, I am still clueless as to how they are able to migrate. I can’t even drive to the north side of San Antonio without a map. If you call someone a birdbrain it is supposed to be an insult, but more and more I realize how fascinating and complex birds are. Two weeks ago, Buffy and another Vulture were brought here to our ranch to be released so that they would have a safe environment free of the dangers of highways and power lines. We kept them confined to the aviary for a week and then according to plan we released them hoping that they would stay within a mile or so. Not a chance…..Yesterday, my phone rang. I did not recognize the area code or number. “Buffy is here perched on my shoulder” The call was from Dave, a neighbor of Bruce’s. My little birdbrain had flown 100 miles.

I can see for miles and miles

There’s no place like home……

It was A Dark and Creepy Night….

Go Away!

Go Away!

We love it when we spot an owl. Seeing two was a special treat late one  afternoon, trail riding in a wooded area of the ranch. We always carry our cameras with us on our saddles, but these two were long gone before we had a chance to capture them. This is a big painting  in oil that I have started that reminds me of that day. If we had been lucky enough to get that shot, the depth of field would have been shallow and the image pretty much out of focus and underexposed. I will never forget the eyes, though.

American Kestral Pan Pastel Painting

We see these Falcons hovering over our pastures and diving down at awesome speeds, doing flips and dives attacking their prey. They are flashy and beautiful and fun to watch. I am working on this pan pastel painting to add to a series of Falcon paintings that will be part of a fund raiser for Last Chance Forever a rescue operation for all birds of prey…To purchase this painting or any other paintings please click here: leicalady.etsy.com Thank-you!

Mexican Eagles

We have lots of these birds around the ranch, but these two we call Chilly and Willy have been coming back for the last two years and raising their young in a nearby nest. We supplement their food supply in exchange for the pleasure of watching them soar and show off for us.

Con Alas Rotas

 Pobresito Bujo!  Poor little owl. She was orphaned as a brancher. One that was a fledgling that could not yet fly. Due to permanent injuries, she is unable to survive in her natural habitat in the wild, but she is not in pain and serves as a ambassador for Last Chance Forever a rapter sanctuary that rescues and rehabilitates all birds of prey, including  eagles, hawks, vultures, owls, falcons. The sanctuary is a 501c non profit organization that is always in need of donations. We are planning a benefit in the fall. For more information and assistance in the event that you should find a rapter in need of help. Their web-site is:

http://www.lastchanceforever.org

This did it for me…..Seeing a baby vulture that thought she had been rescued and gone to heaven when Last Chance Forever answered the call that brought her to the sanctuary. A hunter entering a deer blind was startled by huge flapping wings and shot the mother without realizing that she was protecting her nest in a dark corner of the shelter. He discovered the little baseball sized ball of buff covered down in the nest shivering and scared to death. His kind nature led him to change his plans for the day and seek out someone to help give this little rapter a chance.With our involvement through the years with John Karger, the master falconer and veterinarian technician who started the rescue center, we have been able to acquire a respect and awe of these birds as well as the staff that dedicates hours and hours to their well being. Of the 150 to 300 birds of prey that are brought into the center each year, from 65 to 80 percent of them are able to be released back into the wild. Melissa Hill is the primary veterinarian with the gift to perform delicate surgeries that few animal physicians would even attempt. 

   The birds are not given names and are not treated to respond to humans as pets. All attempts to ready them for life in their natural habitat are insured. Those who have suffered permanent disabilities that would prohibit their survival in the wild, yet are not in pain, are used in extensive educational programs throughout the year. Children and our ecology are especially important to John and Melissa. These programs have educated over 500,000 people each year since the inception of the Rapter Rescue. 

 Not one to ever spoil an animal whether furry or feathered, I can’t help but seek out a few that I have unavoidably bonded with. They have names, but I just whisper them to myself…..

The Operation Was A Success, but

The patient is spoiled rotten!

When your much loved pet is sick or injured you would do anything to insure the best possible care and a speedy recovery. But would you or could you care for about 150 to 300  orphaned or injured birds in a year? We are not talking cute little parrots or love birds. How about hawks and vultures and other birds of prey? Up until 1971 a bounty was paid for shooting a hawk. They were getting a bad rap from farmers for killing chickens. Eagles have been known to kill sheep, but to wipe out a whole species has proven to be detrimental to the planet. Through the educational efforts of Last Chance Forever, a raptor sanctuary, the public is gaining knowledge as to the benefits that these birds contribute to our environment. Demonstrations by LCF held throughout the United States provide a means to enlighten 500,000 people each year to the role that these raptors play as indicators of our ecological health. Master Falconer and Veterinarian Technician, John Karger founded the organization in 1978. Each year due to the care these orphaned, sick or injured birds receive, 65 to 80% of them  are able to be released back into their natural environment. Surgery and medical care is provided for these birds by Melissa Hill, the highly skilled veterinarian for LCF. Raptors that are rescued, but sustain injuries that prohibit them from surviving in the wild, are used as ambassadors to increase awareness of their virtues to the public. During one of the exhibitions conducted by the staff of Last Chance Forever, we were treated to a demonstration which included  a Red Tailed Hawk, a Harris Hawk, a Bald Eagle and a Great Horned Owl. On another occasion we were able to see a Lanner Falcon and a Barn Owl.  Superstitions and myths surrounding owls were dispelled for me, the first time I looked into the eyes of this beautiful female barn owl that had been rescued as an orphaned owlet. She appeared healthy and strong, but malnutrition that she experienced before her rescue had caused a deformity that would prevent her from flying and  surviving outside the sanctuary.  

Information and advice for anyone who needs assistance in aiding wildlife of any kind can be found at their web-site  Lastchanceforever.org. They primarily provide care for Birds of Prey, but are able to direct you to organizations that will help other species of birds and animals.