Great Horned Owl Renesting Effort


“Is it worth all the effort?” a reporter asked.  My reply, even though the question wasn’t directed to me, was “how is it not??”.  I was too busy documenting all that was going on around me to elaborate on what I meant.  I’ll briefly do it here.  What I meant was, we as humans take and take and take from this planet.  So at the very least, when an opportunity presents itself to give back.  We should give back.  Without question.  Putting “Baby” as I call “it” (we don’t know the sex) back in the wild where it will have the best chance for survival is the right thing to do.

It started with a caring citizen noticing an owlet on its own with no siblings or parents in sight on the ground and what appeared to be a destroyed nest.  Not a good scene.  It appeared as though a predator had trashed the nest and preyed upon (I’m being gentle here…the circle of life is hard for me.  In my fairy tale world, everyone lives and everyone is safe and happy.  Sunshine & unicorns.  Yes.) the other owlets.  This little owlet was brand new.  Maybe five days old.  Eyes weren’t open yet.  Teeny weeny fuzzy little thing.  The gentleman who found it reached out to the right place for help.  Hoo’s Woods Raptor Center (

Dianne Moller, Executive Director of Hoo’s Woods and my friend, shared the story with me.  Her rehab center does amazing rehab and education work for our feathered friends.  I got to meet Baby and take some pictures of this cute little fuzzbutt.

GHO and Snowy_7820blog

GHO and Snowy_7816blog

Dianne explained that Baby’s best chance at surviving was to be put back in the wild with a new family.  That meant renesting the bird.  Time was of the essence here…since Baby was now starting to open it’s eyes.  If Dianne continued to feed it, soon she would have to pretend to be a Great Horned Owl and used a sock puppet to fake the little guy out.  We (ha!  How do you like how I inserted myself into the story!) had to move fast.  Networking with friends, a nest was found.  SCORE!  HWRC (Hoo’s Woods Raptor Center) put up a Facebook post looking for help to get the bird into the nest high up in a tree.  The people who knew about Baby shared the post and folks…this is where it gets amazing.  Within hours, like less than two, of posting that Baby needed help, a plan was hatched (yup…I went there).  We had people from the community offer their services to get Baby back home again.  And about 24 hours later….Baby was home with it’s new family.

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Enjoy the images from Baby’s big day.


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Vic Merrifield, also my friend (man, I have good people in my life!) works for LP Tree Service offered his assistance.  Vic, his fantastic team along with the support and equipment of LP Tree Service gently placed Baby high up in its nest with its new siblings.

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Vic said that the nest had the worst smell he’s ever experienced.  No thank you.  I only like good smells.  Thanks for the sweet nest view shot Vic!!!

This entire effort was done quickly and as quietly as possible.  Baby needed to get back into a nest STAT.  Mom & Dad GHOwl needed to accept Baby as their own and start to feed & care for him/her.  We needed to get out of there so Mom & Dad GHO would come back to the nest.  Its still pretty cold out for the littles.

Baby GHO_8079

Mom or Dad was nearby watching us.

What I learned was:

  • GHO can’t count.  They don’t notice another mouth to feed.  Sidenote, you don’t want to over tax the parents by giving them too many mouths to feed.  Actually WE don’t want to do this at all.  Always get the help of a reputable rehab center to handle renesting (or any questions you have).
  • Birds can’t smell.  So the old wive’s tale that they’ll smell a human on their babies and reject them.  Not true.  Only turkey vultures can smell.  Which is why they are the clean up birds.  They smell rotting flesh and have at it.  Nom nom nom.
  • Owlets are born and hatch at intervals.  Like in the nest picture above you can clearly see the age difference.  Which is why this family was a perfect fit for Baby to join.
  • Owlets at a certain point in their growth will spend some time on the ground.  The parents will bring them food and teach the owlets how to catch, kill and eat their prey.
  • These same owlets can ‘run’ up a tree with their talons.  So if you see an owlet on the ground, and its eyes are open…it has fuzzy feathers…leave it and get away from it.  Mom and Dad are in control.  Its being home schooled on the ways of being an owl.  Now with that, if you seen an owl on the ground and you just aren’t sure (eyes aren’t open, appears hurt)….call Hoo’s Woods (608) 883-2795) and Dianne will help to assess the bird’s situation.
  • The biggest lesson I learned was that the people in my life are straight up amazing.  In record time we got a plan in place to get Baby back home.  I got to witness human kindness and a massive outpouring of support for sweet Baby.

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I have incredible respect for Great Horned Owls who just do what it takes to raise the young.  No matter the circumstances.  Not even if they are biologically theirs.  If by chance one of their young falls from the nest, they will feed and care for it on the ground.

Last lesson.  Respect the wild.  If you come upon something you aren’t sure of, call for help.  (Google rehab or wildlife rescue for your area.)  Ask questions.  Watch from a distance.  Most of the time, nature has it covered.  But if you are like me and can’t rest until you know things are ok….call for advice.  Then everyone can rest easy.

Hoo’s Woods has checked on Baby.  The parents are back at the nest taking care of their family.  All is right in the world.  Give them a “Like” on FB.  For more information on raptors, check out one of HWRC’s programs.

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Tammy [Big Fluffy Dog Rescue]

I had the privilege to help with adoption photos for this sweet Border Collie mix pup.  Her name is Tammy.  She LOVES other dogs and people.  From her bio, she loves cats a little TOO much.  She’s a high energy dog.  So she’ll need someone who can keep her physically and mentally active.

I met her and her foster human Mike today for a quick photo shoot out in the non-stop wind here in fabulous Wisconsin.  Here are some images from Tammy’s session.  If you are interested in her, she can be found on Pet Finder.


Come on…seriously?  Lookit her lips.  She’s ready for kisses.


Her ears flap around in the wind.  Its adorable.


She plays really well with her foster brother.


She clearly adores her foster human.


I adore her ears.


These two waited patiently for Mike to come back.


This image cracked me up.  Neener neener neeeeener!


Tammy would be a great addition to an active family!!  Even if and especially if you have another dog.  Good luck to you Tammy!!!  I hope you find your furever home soon and live happily ever after!!! ❤

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Saving Lives…One Dog at a Time

Today I participated in another “transport”.  See a quick video of the first one I participated in here – Hope on Wheels!!  What that means is, this group Starfish Animal Transport arranges the rescue of animals from high kill shelters down south and transports them up north where they’ll have a chance of being adopted instead of “euthanized”.  I have that in quotes because its not being “put to sleep” as we might think.  Its horrific and inhumane in my opinion and I’ll spare you that weight on your mind and in your heart.

This was a pretty large operation today.  TWO trucks filled with dogs (and a few cats) all hauled up from Hazard County Kentucky to meet with shelters & rescues up here who want and can help.  Its pretty amazing the effort everyone puts in to make this happen.  All people with day jobs, volunteering their time and hearts to help make a difference in these animal’s lives.

For so many dogs being in one area, every one of them seemed to know they were getting a second chance just as their time was running out and behaved so beautifully.  No aggression, just lots of sniffs and a few licks acknowledging their second chance.  One of the dogs we took for our shelter (HSSW) was scheduled to be “euthanized” yesterday, and got a second chance just in the nick of time.


This is Lucky waiting patiently in his kennel for us to pick him up.  The cool part about this operation is that there are many, many volunteers working their tails off (pun intended) to help these dogs.  They are all grouped by the organization that is picking them up.  They are all taken out to relieve themselves, fed and watered and given a little bit of walking time before they continue on their journeys.  There are people cleaning kennels once they are emptied out.  There are people dishing up food and water.  There are tiny puppies to be fed, like this little guy here…




The Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin picked up eight dogs today.  One is pregnant, her name is Candice.  She’s in foster care till she has her puppies and they are old enough to be adopted.


You can tell that everyone working together in this operation LOVES these dogs so much.  If one of them is scared or seems to be having a hard time with all that is going on, they get special attention and lots of loves.





When Lucky got sprung from his kennel he seemed to know just exactly who made his second chance possible.  Clearly he is grateful.


This sweetheart is having a little treat while we wait to get everyone loaded up for the trip home.


Looky this face.  Come on?!!!!  She He (I believe) is going to make a WONDERFUL companion for someone (she’s he’s available for adoption at our shelter or will be very soon!!!).  This is FREDDY!!!  I think Freddy got his name changed to Melvin.


Millions of companion animals euthanized every year in the United States alone.  Always, ALWAYS consider adopting a shelter pet.  They are forever grateful and so full of love you’ll never regret it.

Want to help?  Every little bit counts.  There are so many ways to help.  Adopt, donate (money, blankets, towels, Kongs, toys, see our wish list), foster, volunteer, sponsor a pet,  SHARE this post, like us on FB, follow us on Pinterest….really every little bit helps.  Every time you share a post or a pin it pops up in your news feed and someone else sees it.  That someone might repin or share your post or send a check or drop off some necessities.  See how it works and how cool it is?

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for taking the time to read this and support our shelter.  Our staff, board of directors and volunteers appreciate every little and big way people support us.

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Washington Whisker Whisperers Part 2 [Janesville, WI ROCKSTARS]

An update on this amazing group of little people.  You may remember a while back (eh-hem!  Only two blog posts back slacker!) this group of kids who read to shelter cats a the Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin.  (See that post here.)  The program was struggling to meet the financial demands of transportation to and from the shelter.  Some FANTASTIC people stepped up and helped fund this program for the rest of this school year.  I am in awe of you fine folks.  Really.  There was a need and BAM!  Ya’ll took care of it.  Makes my heart feel warm and fuzzy.


I asked their teacher to share her side of what this program is and means to her.  So let me introduce Mrs. Hayward!!!   These are her thoughts about this program and how it got started.


When Margie asked me to write about how Washington Whisker Whisperers came to be I was only too happy to oblige. As a teacher I’ve always felt that service learning projects should be part of our curriculum. Each school is an important part of every community. Providing children with the opportunity to become involved in their community teaches them responsibility for themselves but also for others. Community Service allows them to see how their actions impact the lives of others. While there are many great projects such as Make a Difference Day in the fall and the many opportunities to clean up and recycle that surround Earth Day in the spring, I was searching for something that was more than just a single experience. I also wanted to connect the project to a subject at school but what and how?

As I was reading one-on-one with a student, who was stumbling over every other word it seemed, the student suddenly stopped in the middle of the passage, looked up at me and said, “This is why I never volunteer to read aloud because I make so many mistakes. I don’t want to be laughed at.” While I would like to say that my students don’t laugh at each other the plain truth is they do. Oh they don’t do it out loud, as they would be heard by everyone, but they snicker, roll their eyes, and volunteer the correct answer so quickly that the reader doesn’t even have a chance to try and figure out the word. No matter how many times we talk about how everyone has different strengths and talents they seem to forget this fact when a fellow student doesn’t read a word correctly.


Reading fluency is such a big part of comprehension. When students spend more time trying to figure out the words they are reading they don’t have time to comprehend what they are reading. They get to the end of the story and they are completely exhausted as they have spent all their energy attempting to figure out words instead of understanding what they have read. The only way you get better at reading fluency is to practice, but when you know you aren’t good at it who wants to practice and know that others are judging you. Enter Washington Whisker Whisperers. The idea of kids reading aloud to the shelter cats just popped into my head one day shortly after this students comment to me.

While I knew the idea would work I had to figure out the logistics. Fortunately I have a principal, Scott Garner that embraced my seemingly wild idea and gave me the go ahead. Brett Frazier, director of the Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin, was on board as well. Our LMC director, Karen Biege helped me make a presentation to show to the students and Washington Whisker Whisperers was formed. The aspect of this program that is hard to describe is the enthusiasm of the kids. Each week they bring their favorite book and run up to the door of the Humane Society laughing and giggling. Once inside they spend a minute or two looking at all the cats and saying how sorry they are the cats are there. I remind them that if the cats weren’t here they would not have the opportunity to find a new and loving home. This pleases them and they are set to get to work.


Once inside a room with their new feline friend the magic begins. I call it magic because they have no reason to be apprehensive about reading aloud. They open their book and start reading. Some cats are more receptive to them than others but they just keep reading. This is the part that never ceases to amaze me. In the classroom setting they would read as little as possible but here they keep reading no matter how many words they stumble on. You see the cats don’t judge them on how many mistakes they make. They just love the attention they receive and most wind up on the laps of the kids purring while they are being read to. When our time is up I quietly tap on the glass and say it’s time to go. They respond with, “But we just got here.” or “No, not yet.” They unwillingly say their goodbyes to the kitty and gather their things. We board the bus back to the school and our time is done for another week.


[Three kittens laid quietly in a kitty condo directly across from this student, watching and listening to every word.]

While our time with the cats is finished for the week, we meet as a group for lunch the next day in my classroom. As the kids were reading to their cat yesterday they were marking any words they didn’t know with a post it-note. During our lunch together they take turns discussing these words. They do an amazing job supporting each other with the unknown words. In this small group setting they don’t judge each other. Their discussion resembles that of a book talk between friends. Another wonderful aspect of WWW is that our group is diverse. We have kids with a wide range of reading levels and some that don’t struggle while reading aloud and those who do. It is in this safe arena that the joy of reading is shared.

One part of the program that remains a struggle is finding the funding to provide transportation. We began by renting our own bus for $110.00 a trip. We now share a bus with the Boys & Girls Club thanks to the suggestion of Al Fugate, General Manager at Van Galder Bus Company. Sharing a bus has brought our cost down to $45.00 a trip which is a considerable savings. We have had tremendous support from my principal Scott Garner, The Washington PTA, and members of our local and extended community. To date we have received donations totaling $700.00 from Colleen McKearn, Anne Nack, Katharine Buker and Heather Bricker. These generous supporters are friends I don’t even know. This is truly humbling for me. I would be remiss not to thank Margie Duerr and Allison Hokinson for their countless hours of work, suggestions, and financial support. I could never find a way to repay everyone for all of their kindness and support.

I am excited about the future of WWW and can’t wait to see where this journey takes us. Please follow us on Facebook and share our program. We couldn’t continue to do what we do without wonderful supporters like you.

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Thank you Mrs. Hayward, for your dedication to the students and your service to the community.  You are helping to raise outstanding human beings.

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Snowball [Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin]

How such an adorable creature finds it’s way into our shelter is beyond me.  Sometimes, I run across an animal I just connect with.  This little guy and I just clicked.  I met him on Christmas day when I was helping out at the shelter.  He was sweet and brave and gentle and attentive.  I thought to myself, oh man, he’ll go fast!  He’s so cute and good.  There’s no way he’ll be here more than a day or two.  To my surprise, he’s still there over a week later.  So I knew it was time to take action.

Armed with my shelter photo assistant Lisa, off we went to do a special photo shoot with Snowball.  (I think his shelter name is hindering him getting noticed.  People you can change their names!  I think BUSTER would be good.  Or Otis.  🙂  )


I’ve spent a little time with this fella, and let me tell you this.  He IS sweet.  He doesn’t bark much.  He LOVES stuffed toys.  He likes to hold them in his mouth and show them to you.  I don’t know how he is with other animals, but I do know he is smart.  He would be extremely trainable.  He likes to go on walks, and since his coat is very short right now, he needs to wear a sweater or coat when he goes out.  He likes having clothes put on, and seems to know what to do (he doesn’t fight it).  I noticed he held his head down when I was taking his sweater off.  I asked him what was wrong?  Then I realized, he knew what was happening, and was making it easier for me to get his sweater off.  I on the other hand, didn’t realize how smart he was right off the bat.


He’s very attentive.  He likes conversation.  When you talk to him, he listens.  Probably THE most attentive dog I’ve ever photographed.


I couldn’t resist posting this shot.  Even tho its not really focused…it shows you how trusting and sweet this boy is.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again.  We have the BEST animals at the Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin.  Little Snowball is living proof.



Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin – See Snowball’s info here:

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