Friday, July 31, 2009

Too foggy? Hope not

It was horribly foggy in the valley before the bottom lands. I would've figured the river bottoms would've been foggy but they were really clear. It took me a while to get there so I was hoping the bright sunshine would've burned off the fog I passed through 15 minutes earlier. Anyway, it looked good and I was short on time so I let them go. They circled up an started NW. I thought "That's strange all my birds follow the river from here, but they're headed across land. That's good! They must see the power station smoke stacks." Then, I looked towards where the smoke stacks should be, 5 miles NNW and noticed: They're not there! That was where the wall of fog started. Not good. About then, the birds veered south toward the river and started following it like they always do.

Yesterday's hawk attack scared two of the reds real bad. They didn't trap in until dusk. They didn't even hang around. Not sure where they went. The reds are a skittish lineage anyway. I tend to think the less calm birds are less intelligent - but they keep coming home. Despite that - they were really easy to box this morning. They know the drill now. They are calm and are handled easily. They drop to the loft floor and wait to be picked up. I think they can start self loading now. Last year, I would just set the basket on the ground open and they would just walk in towards the end. You get the sense they now what's going on and they're excited about it. They are so amazingly intelligent! Like dogs - maybe even smarter in some ways.

The Janssen blue bar cock that was attacked through the wire mesh had a gouge in his crop, under his wing. He was on a bottom perch, squinting and obviously feeling bad. Wow! He's a big guy. After handling young birds so much lately, it was an amazing contrast. The wound had already closed and scabbed over by the time I got there or I probably would've stitched it up. I put some triple antibiotic on it and put him in his nest box with his mate. He cooed and strutted a bit which I took as a good sign. He seemed to be doing okay this morning too.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

First Hawk Attack in Months

Loft manager reported in: A Cooper's Hawk chased off some of the young birds. It went after an old bird in the aviary - got him through the fencing (2" mesh). Drew blood - not sure how bad. "He was on the ground for a while and then went in. He had blood on his neck." Good bird. He went out 300 miles this year. He was a 2007 and sire to my fastest 08 young bird. Hope he's ok.

Note Wikipedia's "Conservation Status" on the Cooper: "Least Concern". Yeah, I feel the same! Grrr!!

I dropped them anyway

What's with the terrible weather forecasting lately?! I checked the Weather Channel on my Blackberry and it was supposed to be clear at least until 10am. Instead, after I box the birds, it starts pouring down. It let up but it was slightly foggy and overcast. I was going to take them out 12 miles for the 4th time anyway but chickened out and decided to drop from 5 miles NE instead (a new, odd drop designed to show them off to the scouts). I decided it was not a good day to drop from a strange direction and turned around and headed toward the 6 mile drop and then chickened out again and just dropped them from 4 miles. They circled once and headed straight home.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

No training day

Crummy weather. Only took them 6 miles east yesterday (it was on my way). For an unusual direction, I was impressed how quickly they took off in the correct direction. I want to get them used to the east in case they follow Evansville birds home. I will take them 5 miles NE Monday evening to drop them at the Boy Scout meeting. Who knows, maybe someone will become interested. Friday was supposed to be clear - they've changed the forecast. The weekend is now clear so I should be able to get them across the river Sunday.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Back to the 3.3 mile E of Seminary drop

Again, they flew east and got home (in the NW) on time somehow. One more drop from Seminary road and then I go across the river - Friday? Tomorrow and Friday are the ONLY days they are not predicting thunderstorms in the next 10 days. I have 12 more drops MINIMUM that I would like to accomplish in 3o days (and sounds like I'll lose 10 of those). That would get me to Crofton once but I'd prefer to do Crofton 3x and Fort Campbell once.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Pretty Day for training

It is a beautiful Sunday morning. There are a lot of bike riders out on the river bottoms this morning.

Following the river

They are definitely following the river. That's okay from this point, but Friday's drop, 3 miles east, it would've been better to take the diagonal across land. They did very well. I had only one straggler. Surprisingly, an older bird, the mealy I didn't get banded right.

Working the breakpoint

Moved the drop 3 miles west and a bit south back to my usual drop point on Seminary Road. Across the river, at Alt 41 and the Henderson by-pass is a point that looks like it will make a near perfect isosceles triagle of 3-3.5 miles per side. I'm going to alternate back and forth and then do 2 tosses plus a trio toss from the other point at Alt 41. The break point is here somewhere. By the time they get to Henderson, they should know exactly how to get home.

Friday, July 24, 2009

No smash - just a bit late

Whew! Scary! I don't know where they went but they got lost a bit. They found their way back within the hour and trapped in pretty quickly. They had been doing a lot of goofing off and grazing. I think the cats might've helped with that situation! I'll bet that's where the two broken legs came from. I have the cats put up in the garage. I think I'll keep it that way for the rest of the season: put up cats when flying. What a pain!

Twelve miles - Smash?

Uh oh. 40 minutes later and they are not home from 12 miles! I had a clear view of the north and the west - they headed east and, as far as I can tell, never headed back again. I let them settle 10 minutes. They took off in the wrong direction without circling like they knew where they were going. Ug! I am really kicking myself for moving the 3rd drop 2 miles east (to get it more across from Henderson, which I think is their break point).

Thursday, July 23, 2009

4th drop from 6 miles

I like this drop point down by the river. It's always so quiet - even when the barges go by. "Trio tossing" them this time. In a big hurry - morning thrown off by another bird with a broken leg. This is worrisome. Never had a YB get a broken leg before. Are the cats playing "catch & release" with them? Put a splint on it and then took the others to the drop. I was in a hurry so two of the tosses combined before starting home. (They tricked me and flew behind the trees and waited for the others). It is supposed to rain 7 of the next 10 days. Not sure when I'll get them out to the 12 mile drop.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Another 6 Mile Toss

Again, I did not basket them at night. I like to let them sleep in their comfort zone as much as possible. So, I awake to the dread of loading young birds in the daylight. HOWEVER, today, they were pretty much used to it. All were calmer and 3/4ths just held still and let me pick them up. I pet them and talk to each one when I pick it up and I don't basket them until they quit squirming. They are getting fairly tame. Tomorrow I have to decide if I want to trio toss from 6 miles or just jump up to 12 miles.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Jumped up to 6 miles

2.5 miles was really nothing for them. As it turns out, neither was 6. I took them to the edge of the river and turned them loose. They beat me home and all but two had already trapped when I pulled up. Of course, one of them was Dopey! Now I know - he wasn't being stubborn - he just didn't know how to trap. I have him a good 90 minutes. He crawled all over looking for a way in. Never occurred to him to follow the first 18 through the trap?

I also had been wondering why the pied blue check was laying down so much. She was laying down when I released her. I was worried she was sick, then I noticed her hobbling. I caught her - she is definitely NOT SICK. She put up a powerful struggle. She has a badly fractured leg. I ordered a cast, gave her some children's liquid Tylenol (for the swelling mainly) and put her in sickbay. She has been like this a while. She's worn off the feathers on her belly and has worn spots on her knees. If the cast comes (2nd day air) I might be able to train her out with the late hatches next month.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Rainy, foggy morning - no training

It was very overcast, a little misty and somewhat foggy so I held off. It was only their 2nd drop - no need to get in a rush. Turned out beautiful later and all day. Lots of loft flying - they loved the extra wind and played a lot. Just boxed them up for an early morning toss. (Well, I hope I get up early anyway).

Thursday, July 16, 2009

3rd Least Favorite Task Complete

All 22 young birds are now vaccinated against PMV-1. Man I hate doing that. It's right up there with cleaning the loft. I meant to do it Tuesday night, rest them Wednesday and train today so I'm off a day. Still, should have them out 6 miles by Monday morning.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Big Jump; 800 feet to 2.5 miles

I overslept and didn't box up last night. I still managed to coax the birds out of the aviary, catch & box them this morning in time for a 2.5 mile drop. They looked good! They went straight home with no problems.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Lots of red and white - but no blue!

This one and another are nearly solid white - or look like it in flight. My neighbors have even commented on how pretty the flock looks circling the house this year.
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2nd bird of the year

This one is REALLY painful! Unbanded again!! Off to a terrible start. The first round of eggs were either infertile or just didn't make it. We had some long, unusual cold snaps. Plus, I used clay nest bowls this year. Mistake, I think. The entire first round was lost! Most of the 2nd round went badly too. This one was a survivor of the 2nd round but by the time it came to band him, I had misplaced my 2009 bands - hadn't used them in so long! This time, I thought, I will put a 2008 band on it in case I cannot find the other bands until it is too late. Good thing! Another B team member.
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Another unbanded!

The first bird of the year! Or, the last bird of 2008. I tried to band him on January 1st. He was 10 days old. I am still kicking myself for not AT LEAST putting a 2008 band on him - could've flown him in old birds anyway! Absolutely beautiful bird! Until this last moult, he was perfectly silver all over. Now he has VERY faint red bars. I hope I get some more like him next year!
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Indigo bar

Okay, I was more impressed with this than anyone else. Just a weird looking color. Blue bar body with red bars. Levi's The Pigeon calls this an Indigo Bar. We had gotten in a habit of calling it "Chocolate", short for Chocolate Bar.
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Okay, I let a few blue bars go

Okay, I let a few blue bars and blue check on the team. You had to have some white splashes, white tips, pie, etc.
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Black Eagles

I have three pretty Black Eagle descendants. I like these because they were the only birds to make it back on the first day from the "big smash" last year. Plus, they're really pretty! (and not blue bars!)
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If I was going with a Disney theme, this one would be Dopey. Beautiful - but stupid! Okay, maybe he's just stubborn. I couldn't get him to use the trap for nothing. I gave him and extra 90 minutes of being trapped in the aviary before breakfast, coaxed, prodded, etc. NO WAY! He was NOT going through that trap! Grrr! I finally just opened up the loft and let them all out for exercise.
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Tortoise grizzle

I call this one "Chicago Snow". It's a white grizzle with a tortise base or almond base. I'm looking forward to seeing how this one does.
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Another pretty bird! As a squeaker, she was more yellowish or dun. We call her "Lemon". She's tinting more towards a very faint red now. Very pretty.
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My Favorite Color Result

Ug! Terrible picture of my favorite color result. A pairing of a solid black and a solid white. The other rounds were solid black - but this is what I was hoping for. He grew too much while I was away on a business trip. His growth was at the expense of his nest mate from the looks of it. It made me sick I couldn't band him. He was in mid blink here - he's not sick! He's one of the biggest and healthiest birds I have - and nearly the last round. I was worried he wouldn't be routing by now but he's doing great. Ah well - B team anyway.
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Why so many unbanded this year?

I don't know! Look at this beautiful silvery red bar. My first pigeon was a silver bar King. This guy was really large and I could band his nest mate - but not him. I think those bands are too tall. I miss the aluminim NPA bands.
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Started training young birds today

Last night, I boxed the birds and took their pictures (with some help from the family). Wanted to do this the previous two seasons - but didn't. I got in a rush and they moved a bit so the pics are not quite in focus.

I left them in the crates overnight - to get them used to it - and then released them 800 feet away. Tomorrow, I'll take them a kilometer away. It's supposed to rain Wednesday. I ordered vaccines for PMV-1. I was going to parter with another club member since I don't need 100 doses. Coordinating that was a hassle so I just bought some myself. It should last two seasons based on the expiration date. A bit late. It'll trow off my training schedule a bit. I'm taking it slow this year. Most of my birds are from the 3rd round - terrible winter this year!

Keep those colors flying!

The Young Bird Team 2009 are doing great so far. They love to fly and have been routing - except the last three. Two are still in the nest boxes. They should be weaned next week at the latest. I hope to train these last three out in time for the 2nd leg of YB season in October. So, I have 3 in reserve plus 19. Of the 19, four are not banded.

I really like breeding the prettier birds. There is a saying "Colors don't fly". My mentor told me I will find, at the end of the race season, I'll have mostly blue bars and blue checks left. WELL!, I thought, I can fix that! So I sent 5 blue bars/checks to a race in Louisville and gave another club member 6 blue bars/checks. So, I am racing almost entirely "colors". That way I'll HAVE to have colors at the end of the season. Of course, the next problem will be diluting. They have a strong tendency to produce blue checks, it seems.