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.
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 ChanceForever a rescue operation for all birds of prey…To purchase this painting or any other paintings please click here: leicalady.etsy.com Thank-you!
“What in the world is she doing in there?” The horses are looking through the window into my studio wondering why their breakfast is late……it’s not that they NEED to be fed. It’s just comfort food to compliment their gourmet pasture salad that they were bred to thrive on. A carrot or two and a scoop of sweet feed is what keeps them spoiled…..So, in the meantime I’m trying to complete at least one pastel painting a day to get ready for an art show/benefit that we are planning for our friends at Last Chance Forever the birds of prey rescue and rehabilitation center in San Antonio……
They are always watchful of their babies and very protective. The coyotes and other predators hardly have a chance with the way that these Mamas aggressively guard their babies. We love to see the Egrets around the cattle and they are as beneficial as they are beautiful to watch. They follow the cows and eat the insects that are disturbed by the footsteps of the livestock.They especially love grasshoppers. The head honchos of the pecking order have the prime spot closet to the cows. They will even pick ticks off of them which is a big help in eliminating tick borne diseases in cattle.
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:
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…..
Hey Mom. Look at us! She must be so proud. Three boys and a girl! Mama duck does it all by herself. All we can do is paint their picture and laugh at them when they take their first few summersaults trying to land for the first time. We love it when they make their first full loop around the house. “Babies flying!” Tom says and our world comes to a halt as we sigh in awe of how thrilling it is to see our ducklings in formation for the first time, every time. It may be four, six , eight or more. Sure they are a target up there, or when they are swimming in the tank, but aren’t we all. Faster, stronger, tougher. A duck’s gotta do what a duck gotta do.
The original watercolor painting is for sale. Please click on leicalady.etsy.com for pricing and shipping information. Thank-you!
I forgot how wonderful our Canon 300 mm lens is, until I switched from the 70 to 210 zoom to take pictures of the Falcons that were showing off for us. They were the opening act before the fireworks display that we had later the night of the 4th of July. They knew that they would be rewarded with a treat left on the fence post…..