Friday, July 20, 2012


Bruiser stepped on the keyboard and everything vanished. I can't retrieve my blog.  Bruiser is a very busy bird now and just has to satisfy its curiosity. It is quite the charmer in the barn and just likes hanging around with its human friends. It is resting on my chest very content, even if it was a naughty bird wiping out its story like that.

Stay tuned for more adventures with Bruiser...

Summary of Prior Posts Lost

How I acquired Bruiser is not unusual. Bruiser was either pushed or fell from its nest high in the rafters of our tool shed attached to the barn. It was too high for me to reach with a ladder and besides I don't like heights. I could hear this squeaky peeping in the corner of the shed that Marie had alerted me to. I decided to investigate and found this sorry looking baby pigeon.

Not normally a pigeon fan, the mothering instinct in me told me that I couldn't leave it to the perils of starvation, wild animals and barn cats. So I picked up the terrified ugly bird and cradled it in my hands. It was cold and hungry and needed to be fostered.

I took Bruiser home and placed it on a heated bean bag covered by a towel while ensuring the temperature was just right. It perked up and looked relieved to feel warmth and safety in its little basket. My next challenge was to figure out what to feed it. I looked on the internet and then called my veterinarian who just happens to raise racing pigeons. Since I had some duck pellets, Dr. M suggested I try these. So I used warm water and made a mash. Bruiser immediately went to town on the mucky mess. From then on it was feeding every hour or so until midnight.

Day 1 Rescue
In order to accomplish these regular feedings, Bruiser rode around in my pocket during the day. I always had to keep a tiny souvenir spoon on hand to give it its mash. Bruiser soon learned to drink from a water bottle and to this day, will fly to whoever has a water bottle in their hand if it is thirsty. It always was interesting when I went shopping. At times I couldn't leave it in the heat of the vehicle so Bruiser learned to hide in a carry bag. It kept our secret and never peeped a word.

At the same time I acquired Bruiser, I was fostering a beautiful baby barn swallow that I named Highflier. The two birds went with me everywhere. I must admit I was drawn to the little barn swallow and its plight. It reminded me so much of Fallen Angel, a little barn swallow I raised and survived the odds through fledgling. I was so hoping this little sweetness would do the same.

Bruiser meets Highflier

Bruiser Starting to Feather Out and its buddy Highflier
After only a few days in captivity, the two birds went on an adventure. A group of us from the barn were attending a polo match in Newmarket. We had packed the vehicles with our picnic supplies including two tiny feathered and not so feathered passengers.

I remember it was a scorching hot day and in order to keep the birds from overheating, we placed ice cubes under their bedding. (Panting birds is not a good thing.) Heat stress is a definite concern for these youngsters so water was offered on a continuous basis. We kept Bruiser in its basket under the table and Highflier in his sack under the umbrella.

Highflier at the Polo Match

  With all the commotion at the polo match, Bruiser just couldn't maintain its silence. Soon its peeping attracted onlookers. Many couldn't identify the type of bird we had in the basket since it was still rather naked and lacking many identifiable feathers. They were kind and didn't call it ugly. Of course little Highflier was the darling of the crowd and young Jenna took over fostering it that day.

Grandmother Jackie and Jenna having a chat with Highflier sitting in its pouch on the table.
As the days wore on, I started to grow a fond attachment to the ugly duckling that was transforming before my eyes. Its personality was flourishing and winning me over as our bond grew more intense. Sadly Highflier would not make it to the skies and my hopes of another Fallen Angel's success were dashed. Still Highflier lived longer than I could have foreseen. It found its resting place with our beloved horse Joy, becoming her spiritual winged guardian.

Bruiser was now my sole foster child. No longer did it have to share my affections with another bird other than my parrots. It had identified with me as its mother and so the story of Bruiser continues...

August 9, 2012

It has been days of pure discovery for Bruiser. Today it flew to the back of the barn and landed on a header board of a stall. It looked down on me as if to say "did you forget me?" As it perched high above, another pigeon flew in and landed beside Bruiser. You could see that Bruiser wasn't sure what to make of this strange  bird who invited itself into its space.

Bruiser also likes new landing sites. Lately it has been on Zoey's back, Coco's head (dogs) and Breezy's (the horse) back. It feels everyone is its friend and should tolerate it.

I'm learning more about pigeons than I ever knew. Did you know that they can hover like a humming bird? Bruiser hovers in flight when it gets excited and wants my attention. When I exit the car and take Bruiser in hand. It flies to the front door and waits for me to open it. Once opened, Bruiser flies to the banister waiting for me to take it downstairs to its favourite place, the footstool.

Its ability to fly is becoming quite advanced now. It is also learning to land and peck at seeds etc. on the floor in the barn. So far the cats look at Bruiser as if it is just another pet in the barn. I'm always a little uneasy when I see Scooner or Spats walk into the aisle where Bruiser is. Bruiser is quite large now so that might be a deterrent as they look for smaller prey like mice. The cats are used to Taboo my Moluccan Cockatoo and Bruiser is just a little smaller.


August 10, 2012

I spoke with Dr. M today and he said that the unusual colouring on Bruiser is permanent. It is described in "pigeon land" as a checkered pied. So Bruiser is quite distinctive in its markings. Dr. M will bring me a plastic band for its leg so if and when it decides to join its family of pigeons, we will be able to identify it. It can't be properly banded as it is too old now. I had subsequently asked about vaccinations and there is one for Newcastle disease that is sometimes given, but the incident of this disease is extremely rare in these parts.


August 11, 2012

Bruiser was right in with all the activity today with people bathing horses, painting feet and lots of other prep jobs for tomorrow's show in Sutton. Bruiser flew from station to station checking on everyone's progress. It would check out the arena and see how the training was going, then fly to the saddle rack to watch people cleaning tack. At the moment, it has flown on my lap and once again it is studying the keypad as I type away. Tomorrow Bruiser will have to stay in the house as we can't take it to the horse show, although I know it would like to be right there in the thick of things. Bruiser is becoming quite the darling of the stable. I think my next step will be to have DNA done so I can refer to Bruiser as he or she. It is virtually impossible to tell the sex of these birds as colour isn't a factor. DNA is the only way to go to determine its true identity.

Awe, if I could only take a picture right now.  Bruiser is curled with one very confused bird dog, Zoey Pearl. Wait, I do have my camera and here is the pic.

 August 14, 2012

Bruiser has been flying around the barn today. It follows me wherever I go. Cute little bugger... At the moment it is standing on my computer screen watching me peck away at the keys with my fingers.  Bruiser is finding loftier places to land now - high up away from marauding cats and dogs. I have a new found appreciation for pigeons, especially since I'm following two new chicks in the loft. Bruiser on the other hand seems more like a human and likes the company.

August  16, 2012

Another busy day at the barn for Bruiser. I'm just a smidgen concerned that Bruiser is not eating as much as it should. It pecks away at stuff on the floor in the barn and occasionally eats its pigeon food. Maybe it just likes a variety.  Bruiser rode around on old Coconut, my Chesapeake Bay Retriever. It tries to ride on Zoey Pearl, my ghost dog, but she is just too slippery with her short grey coat.

When I came home tonight, Bruiser flew up from the basement to greet me. At the moment it is resting on my left shoulder as I type away. It is busy pruning its feathers and taping at my ear. Guess it is hungry. Simply amazing how these wild creatures adapt to humans. I have a whole new appreciation for the common pigeon especially after this experience.

August 18, 2012

Too funny. Bruiser has decided it is better to ride than fly. Every opportunity it gets it is up on a horse or dog's back. Bruiser just loves to ride! So far the horses haven't objected to its strange equestrian. Tomorrow is a big day for Bruiser. I'm doing a driving clinic for a ladies riding club so I can just imagine their surprise when they meet the farm's new mascot. Who would have every thought that a lowly pigeon would be so personable!

August 19, 2012

What a celebrity! Bruiser entertained and said hello to all its new found friends today. The Renaissance Riding Club came to the farm this morning for a driving clinic. Bruiser was and instant hit with the ladies. It has a new motto now  "I'd rather ride than fly" and that is exactly what Bruiser has been doing whether it be human, dog or horse. Bruiser mingled with the ladies as they waited their turn to step into the cart for a quick drive around the arena. After all the excitement, Bruiser burrowed down in the sand and had a little nap while everyone chatted away. It has been an exhausting day for the pigeon and it is now home for the night.

Great Ride on Remmington!

Steady as She Goes!
Hitching a Ride on LE

It's a Blur of a Fast Ride -  Hang On

Hello Neighbour
Bruiser makes itself right at home.

Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed?

Dog Bed - No - now it's a Bird Bed

August 23, 2012

Bruiser has taken quite a fancy to Zoey Pearl. However her nemesis has attached itself a little too much to Zoey. Bruiser follows her everywhere, even when she goes hunting for pigeons. Like a decoy, Bruiser sits of Zoey's back while she silently stocks a pair of pigeons that are pecking away at the ground with little anxiety that the grey ghost dog is on the prowl. Zoey carefully holds her pointing pose as if frozen on the spot. Meanwhile one silly bird is watching from her back as the pigeons ignore the silent predator.

August 24, 2012

 It was a dangerous liaison for Bruiser today when it came face to face with a three foot garter snake whose girth represented the size of a quarter. That is a large garter. Bruiser cautiously stayed at a distance while the snake approached as its tongue smelt the air for identification. Birds are also prey for  these snakes. Barn helper Marie witnessed the event and chased the snake away. It retreated into a hole in the ground in the implement shed. I'm just glad I didn't find it. I would have had heart failure.

Bruiser walked to the van as I was preparing to leave and wanted to hitch a ride. I had to shoo it back in the barn. It is very comfortable with vehicles.

 August 25, 2012

Tonight is a test run to see how Bruiser fairs in the barn overnight. It is becoming more independent and with daylight still strong in early evening, Bruiser isn't so anxious to be picked up. The wild side of Bruiser is budding and that is a good thing for its own safety. It has full access to the barn so hopefully it won't be too worried when things go 'bump in the night.' It is Bruiser's first camping experience in confines of the stable.

August 26, 2012

 Bruiser met Bob in the morning and hung close to everyone during the day. I never knew how much a pigeon can affect someone's life and happiness. Its honest simple way of giving of itself and sharing its world with complicated humans is truly amazing. Bruiser evokes so many smiles from everyone who enters the barn. It is our barn greeter who takes its job very seriously.

Today Bruiser wanted to be with us as we filmed outside. It flew to the work ring and decided to get the greatest vantage point by sitting on Bob's head who had the video camera in hand. As Bob recorded the horses displaying their best action, Bruiser seemed quite interested in the activity as I wagged a plastic bag and spun an umbrella trying to get the horses undivided attention.

As usual, Bruiser took to riding the horses. Here is just one picture of Bruiser aboard Riddler.

August 28, 2012

I laughed so hard, for so long I could barely speak when we returned home from our cross country driving lesson.

Holly and I drove over to the other property to enter our cross country course. Holly (my student) held the lines with LE while Bob followed behind driving Rapper. We had gone up the road and were just about ready to turn off onto the other property when all of a sudden this white blur came flying up behind us. Bruiser wanted to come and so it had flown up the road then landed and perched on my shoulder as the horse drove down the path. None of us could believe it, but there it was - one lonely pigeon looking for its mom and going for a ride with the horse and cart.

Holly attempted to keep the pace slow for fear that Bruiser might lose its footing and fall off. For a time Bruiser decided that Holly's shoulder and chest were better suited for perching on. The ride was a little softer I guess. At one point we did dislodge Bruiser from its place of comfort. It flew right back on my shoulder and we continued our jaunt through the poplars and evergreen trees. When we caught up to Bob and Rapper, Bruiser decided to try riding LE's butt. Thank God LE is OK with a pigeon on her. Too much motion, so Bruiser decided to come back to my shoulder.

Every time we hit a rough patch and the cart would pitch a bit, Bruiser would peck my hand as if it was telling me to take it easy. Then we got on a straight path and LE picked up the pace moving up to a road gait. Instead of flying off - Bruiser pointed its beak into the wind and held its wings out trying to catch the air. It stayed on my shoulder while the horse accelerated her gait. Both Holly and I couldn't contain our laughter as we looked at the pigeon pretending it was an eagle soaring.

My God, what a sparkle of good cheer this pigeon brings to the farm.

August 30, 2012

Bruiser is a very clean bird. Today I found it bathing in the dog and cat's water bowl. It was having such a lovely time splashing the water about as Spats (the barn cat) slept away on the counter above. I shooed the bird out of the feed room telling it that it was tempting fate too much. The cats have been very good about not bothering Bruiser. I remind them that it is pet in the barn and they must heed my stern warning when they look at it. So far so good but I am always leery that they just might forget that Bruiser has immunity from predators in the barn.

September 1, 2012

When I entered the barn this morning, Bruiser didn't greet me. Bob had looked everywhere for it but no sign of it or even (God forbid) telltale feathers. All day long I looked for Bruiser as I scanned the property and fence posts for any sign of it. There wasn't much pigeon activity today and only one parent stayed close by to feed its young chicks in the loft. We didn't want to think that a hawk had got Bruiser but it was a strong possibility. The yard was very absent of birds today which made me feel uneasy.

I know that Bruiser has been hanging with some other pigeons which I encourage. I don't want to take the wild out of it but still I worry.

Later tonight Bob went down to the barn to get some tools and rang up to the farm house. Bruiser had returned to its usual nesting spot. I was roosting on top of the ball in the doorway. I went down to see it and offered it some water and food. Bruiser was very very hungry, but surprisingly not too thirsty. I was pleased that it was safe and in the barn for the night.

September 2, 2012

Bruiser didn't leave my sight today. It followed me around the stable watching my every move. Bob said it was a typical teenager, partying all day long then staying out too late and suffering from a hangover of missing the barn. Bruiser was its old self. This time I supplied a toffee tin as its bathtub and it frolicked in the water, splashing happily about. It spent the next two hours pruning itself.  Awe to have Bruiser back...

September 12, 2012

As I was about to leave for my flight to Atlanta on September 6th, I let the van's engine idle in the stable yard while giving final instructions to the "other boss" Bob. As we talked, Bruiser flew out of the barn and landed on the roof of the van. He tipped his head to the open window and peered in at the headrest on my car seat. We had to call Marie from the barn to collect Bruiser so he wouldn't follow me out. As she herded him into the barn I whisked away.

From time to time I checked in from Atlanta to see how things were going. I must admit I was worried just a little on how my family of animals would handle my absence, especially Bruiser. I learned that Bruiser had another day/night out with his feathered pals. But, he eventually flew back to his favourite nesting area and remained in the stable.

I learned his new thing is to follow Zoey Pearl and Coco out of the barn when visitors arrive. He makes up the third partner in the three musketeers. He flies and rides the dogs out into the yard and then perches on the top of the vehicle. Such a funny little bird.

As you may have noticed I referred to Bruiser as "he." My vet is pretty certain that Bruiser is a male so it if lays an egg - it will be Dr. M who has egg on his face. ha ha

When I rolled into the yard this morning, I was greeted by two dogs running madly towards my vehicle and one happy flying pigeon. They seemed so energized and glad to see me. Bruiser landed on the roof of my van and rolled his big eyes catching my attention. I think he was smiling.

I was glad to be home and also see that the babes in the loft are now capable of flying and soon will be full fledged pigeons ready to explore the world outside the barn walls.

September 26, 2012

It's been a couple of weeks since I last logged on to my blog. Life in the barn continues to be interesting with Bruiser. There have been so many low times lately but little Bruiser always seems to eek out a smile on my face. He is so entertaining and a true mascot of the stable. When I'm feeling down, he flies up on to the feed cart and watches me intently; he lands on my lap when I'm having lunch and begs for a taste;  flaps his wings and dances when I'm mucking a stall. He loves to torment Zoey Pearl by being her shadow even when she is down to the serious business of hunting other pigeons.

Bruiser makes himself quite at home in other people's vehicles too. He'll ride anything whether it is inside a car or on the roof. He greets everyone to the farm so if you have a bird phobia, beware! His bird friends have been walking into the stable as they figure it is all clear with Bruiser seemingly so relaxed and unafraid. And then Zoey Pearl shows up and the birds scatter,  frantically flying towards any open door to escape to the safety of the skies. Meanwhile Bruiser continues to strut down the aisle finding it hard to understand why everyone is so terrified of Zoey Pearl. After all he sits on her back and pecks away at her head most of the time as she tolerates his teasing ways with saintly intentions.

As an assistant coach, they don't come any better. Bruiser leaves his four toe scratches in the arena sand as he walks with me when I teach a lesson. When he's tired, he simply nestles down into the sand in the center of the arena and closes his eyes for a catnap.

When people are riding in the outdoor ring, he flies to the rail and perches there watching the horses and riders go by. When no one is riding, you can find him resting on a fence post watching the horses graze and play. I think Bruiser sometimes suffers from an identity crisis. He seems to feel quite comfortable in anyone's skin whether it is a human, dog, cat, bird or horse. I'm sure he doesn't really know what he is suppose to be. Still I try not to handle him too much as I want him to retain a little "wild" to keep him safe.

He is most active a night when everyone comes to the stable in the evenings. He loves the company and attention. When the lights go out, he roosts on a ball that is stuck on a tall tube of lunge whips and crops. Why he chose a ball to sleep on is a mystery. But there he rests

Bruiser in the office.

September 29, 2012

Bruiser spent the day with his best buds Zoey Pearl and Coconut while we attended Roseneath Fair. I told Bruiser that he was in charge while we were gone. He look rather quizzical when I gave him his orders.

On our return to the stable late afternoon, the dogs ran down the drive to greet us while Bruiser flew up on to the trailer's roof. He rode into the arena riding on the trailer. Bruiser supervised the horses being unloaded from the trailer and followed us throughout the barn as we did evening chores. Another day on the farm comes to a close.

October 3, 2012

Bruiser decided he wanted to visit his old stomping grounds back at the house. He kept flying into the van and I kept putting him out. Not to be deterred, Bruiser flew on to the roof of the van as I drove away. I tried to shake him off by zig zagging up the drive,. I could here scratching on the roof as I headed up the road and pulled into the driveway of the farm house. Bruiser was still there!! He hopped into the van and continued his journey sitting on the head rest of my seat Once home, Bruiser flew into the house when I left the door open for him.

He looked around and then came to the basement where I was working on my computer. He flew up and perched on the top of my laptop screen. After a while, Bruiser decided to snuggle down into a pillow next to Zoey.  After all it had been a very busy day watching those horses.

After dinner, I collected Bruiser and we rode back to the farm. He flew into the stable and surveyed things. The two cats were still there and all the horses were resting. As I left for the night, Bruiser was roosting on his ball.

October 4, 2012

Some pictures of Bruiser's propensity for riding anything,

October 20, 2012

"Have bird will travel" For those of you who are old enough to remember the western television series "Have Gun Will Travel, Paladin" that ran between 1957 to 1963 staring Richard Boone, you will easily recognize the theme song.... "Have gun will travel." It appears to fit Bruiser's need for cruising as I mentally hum the tune in my head. Whenever I open the van up and prepare to drive away from the stable, Bruiser will fly up and enter the van through an open door. He's made many trips into town, to the Coop when I'm picking up bedding etc., and to the restaurant. I get the strangest stares from people who simply can't believe what they are seeing. Yep... that is Bruiser sitting on the head rest and sometimes on the steering wheel when the van is parked. He takes his job seriously having a birds eye view while riding shotgun as we drive along. For some absurd reason, he loves to ride.

As Zoey Pearl's shadow, he will fly along the path way from the barn to the house following Zoey Pearl right into the buggy. He gets quite offended if you try to put him out. He will stubbornly hang onto the roof rack in protest as I drive away. What a whacky bird!

Best Buds

Bruiser's Siesta

Bruiser's Sibling - Dead Ringer for Bruiser!

Youngest Sibling of Bruiser just flown the Coop

October 26, 2012

It's been a busy week at the farm and Bruiser has kept me company throughout each day and evening. Lately he has taken a fancy to eating dry cat food - Taste of the Wild (Roasted Venison and Salmon) to be specific. I don't think these bite size round pieces are exactly good for him. The more I try to discourage him from pecking at them and swallowing them, the more defiant he is to eat the cat food. He's like a two year old going through that annoying "No" stage. I literally have to shoo him out of the feed room to block his access to the cat dish.

He's now taught Spats the cat how to ride the hay trolley. Spats has been paying close attention to Bruiser riding around the cart as I make my rounds in the barn. Yesterday Spats decided to try it out and seemed to love the noise of the thundering cart as it rolled up and down the aisle. He poked his head up over the sides and swatted at the vibrating hay shafts that danced along to the roll of the cart. It seemed like great fun!

When I'm ready to leave the barn, I quickly make my escape closing the door behind me. I have to beat Bruiser to the door, otherwise I would have a passenger in my van or on it. I feel so bad when I start to back up and drive off. There is Bruiser sitting on a narrow window ledge above the stable door looking through the glass pane, unable to follow me. 

October 27, 2012

I forgot to mention the other day that Bruiser attempted to take a bath in the horse's water bucket. I guess he didn't realize that it was deep water and that he WASN'T a duck. He quickly got out of the bucket before he drowned.

Below is a picture of Bruiser acting as my assistant coach today during a lesson.

Bruiser (center) observing the lesson.


October 30, 2012

We all survived Sandy the tropical storm last night. Winds were blowing like a gale but the barn was secure and safe. Bruiser has a little pigeon friend. He was outside this morning with little feathers. (Bruiser climbs under the gap on the big west sliding barn door to exit the stable.) Soon after my arrival, Bruiser came in to help me with morning chores.

The farrier was next to arrive and Bruiser immediately turned his attention to the handling of horses' hooves. He perched himself on Rhythm's back for the entire process of having all four hooves trimmed. It looked at times that Bruiser was inspecting the farrier's work. With the rise and fall of hooves, Bruiser kept his balance on the horse's hip and seemed intensely interested on what was going on below. By evening, Bruiser was played out and decided to rest on Bob's leg with Spats the cat, resting on his lap.

Bruiser Inspecting the Work

What You Doing?
Bruiser, Spats and Bob
November 4, 2012

I spent the day painting the apartment in the farm house. Marie had come up from the barn to help me hang some flower baskets from the window ledges. When we came back downstairs, there was Bruiser clutching precariously to the window trim while looking in from the back door. He wanted us to let him into the house. So we gave in to his pleading look and opened the door. He had a sort visit before going out on Marie's arm as they head back to the stable.
November 6, 2012

Today Bruiser did a lot of traveling in the van visiting the Coop for bedding, stopping at the restaurant and finally to the house for some warming up on this chilly day. As usual Bruiser was a busy bird in the house.

 I learned he is a real fan of Dr. Phil. While watching the popular show on my big screen TV, Bruiser showed a very keen interest in the television set. He has never done this before. Every time the camera panned to Dr. Phil, Brusier flew at the television screen trying to land on Dr. Phil's head! With each attempt he scrambled to get his footing on that elusive bald head. He couldn't figure out what was getting in his way of that tempting landing pad. I laughed so hard I thought I was going to roll off my chair.

Frustrated at not being able to perch on Dr. Phil, Bruiser decided to annoy Zoey Pearl as she slept on her cushion. He pecked at her until she snapped back. Then he caught her with sharp upper cut of his right wing. Zoey got up and left.

I think Brusier was getting restless with the warmth of the fireplace. I picked him up and packed him away in the van before going back to the stable tonight.  Sorry Dr. Phil, Bruiser just wanted to test out your shiny spot. You really made an impression on him!

November 12, 2012

One of my students commented on Bruiser and sent me this picture. Another fan of Bruiser.

"Here's a photo of Bruiser enjoying his new mobile perch (ie. moi) before I stepped into the car and he stayed put! In that one split second I was tempted to take him home with me ... but well, you know the rest of the story! I love this pigeon! " Maylissa

November 14, 2012

Bruiser is up to his usual antics. When Dr. M came to do a pregnancy check on the rescue mare, curious Bruiser perched himself on the vet's shoulder while he palpated from the back end of the horse. He (Bruiser) was very interested on where Dr. M's hand had disappeared to which he had inserted into the horse's rectum.

This morning Bruiser was flying with a flock of his pigeon family and friends. It wasn't until 11:30 this morning that he decided to fly into the barn to see what was going on. As I was leaving for dinner, Bruiser flew into the van. "OK. I'll take you to the grocery store  but you have to go back to the barn afterwards," I said to him. Bruiser rode on the dashboard. Upon exiting the grocery store, the young manager who had owned a Weimarander asked to visit Zoey in the van. I don't think she heard me forewarning her of Bruiser. She opened the door and immediately sat on the driver's seat to say hello to Zoey. All of a sudden she caught a glimpse of the winged warrior perched on the head rest. I thought her heart skipped a beat. He obviously startled her. It is not every day that you have a pigeon riding shotgun in your van.

November 21, 2012

Bruiser has been up to his spooking tricks. We were showing the apartment on the upper level of the farm house to some prospective tenants. While standing in the kitchen by the window the young woman shouted in amazement "look at the bird flying at the window." I turned to her and said  "That is Bruiser my pet pigeon. He's like a homing pigeon and not normally up here." I'm not sure she was convinced. Bruiser must have spotted me in the window and flew up to take a peek. I think she was too young to had seen Alfred Hitchcock's famous movie The Birds. If she did I can imagine the hysteria that could create. Not normal behavior for a pigeon.

Today Bruiser wanted in the van so badly that he hoovered at the window pecking at it while spying Zoey sitting on the seat. He was knocking at the door as if to tell Zoey to let him in. One crazy bird.

My Christmas Pigeon

December 3, 2012

I finally nabbed Bruiser so I could take his Christmas picture. He knew I was up to something today and kept avoiding me. Crafty little bugger.

Bruiser has been up to his usual routine, riding in the van, riding all the horses, inviting his pigeon friends in for a meal and turning heads at every corner.

I'm still at a loss of what to get him for Christmas. Any ideas from you bird lovers? It has to be healthy to pigeons.

The other day I was shoveling the "sh...t." and Bruiser got dumped on big time. It was the wet smelling straw that tagged him as he flew into the wheelbarrow at the exact moment I tossed the goods. Later that night while I was teaching a lesson, I could smell 'horse' very strong. Surely the horse working in the arena wasn't that stinky? Soon my nose directed me to a little bird on my shoulder. You guessed it, Bruiser!

A Bird in the Hand

Sweet Bruiser

What's This?

The Rescue Gang
December 13, 2012

As you read through the blog you have probably come to know that Bruiser's beak is in everything we do. He is just so nosey and wants to be included in all aspects of farm life. As my assistant coach, I can say that Bruiser takes his job seriously.

The other evening I was teaching a rather devilish young lady who likes to push boundaries. Somehow I feel that Bruiser sensed this mischievous behaviour. Bruiser decided to take control of the situation and flew into action. If I could rename him it would be "Batman."

First off, Bruiser rode out into the arena on the horse as the little girl led the mare out. When the brazen child rushed through her preliminary check list only doing cursory inspection, Bruiser placed himself squarely in the saddle. As the child attempted to mount putting a leg over the mare, he (Bruiser) would not budge from the seat of the saddle. Instead he pecked at the girl's leg and whacked her with his wing. The girl quickly retreated from the onslaught of Bruiser's attacks. She giggled in nervous reaction and then cautiously slid her leg over the horse's back for a second attempt as I warned her in no uncertain terms not to kick at the bird. This time Bruiser relented and flew off. Through it all, good old patient Mem the horse seemed relieved that a little bird was keeping an eye on her and protecting her from any rough treatment by an excited little girl who is still learning to listen, patience and respect for an animal larger than her. Bruiser is meant to be in the barn.

Bruiser supervises vacuuming Charm.

December 14, 2012

Heavens forbid. There is another baby bird in Bruiser's old cradle of a nest. You can hear it peeping as its mother approaches. Not a great time for a bird to be hatched during winter! What were those pigeons thinking! This one better not fall out or it will freeze to death as it has very few feathers.

December 16, 2012

Well today I found out that Bruiser has a gourmet palate. I put my Muskoka maple flavoured coffee on top of the kick boards in the arena as I went to assist a student rider. When I returned, I found Bruiser merrily drinking my coffee right out of the cup. He got a taste for it and didn't want me to take the cup away. Every time I put it down, he hopped over to the mug and helped himself.

December 27, 2012

Christmas has come and gone. Bruiser did enjoy his pumpkin seeds that Santa brought. He has eaten them all!!!! Lately I found Bruiser sampling the canned cat food of chicken. Almost cannibalistic when you think of it.

Two days before before Christmas another baby pigeon fell from the same nest that Bruiser came from. It had landed in my wheelbarrow below. How awful to be helpless in the frigid cold and wind that blew into the implement shed that afternoon.

Older than Bruiser was when I rescued him, this young bird should not assimilate to human intervention as much. It does have a strong sense of protection and survival. Of course I had to take it in just like Bruiser. Unlike Bruiser this bird was much more difficult to hand feed and water. By Boxing Day "Noel" (the name I gave it) was eating pigeon scratch and drinking on its own. It has started to perch and small bits of flight are taking place. Over the next few days I will slowly be introducing it to the barn and shed where it came from so it acclimatizes to the change in temperature. It should be able to join its parents and go back to its wild home in the skies.

Day of Rescue
Learning to Perch
December 30, 2012

Bruiser got to meet Noel today when we brought it to the stable. Noel soon found itself perched beside Bruiser on the "T" stand. Bruiser showed mild interested.

A little confused about its new home

Bruiser eyes his new young friend.

A curious pair.
January 3, 2013

It was a usual day at the barn as my routine clicked into normal rhythm. Bruiser followed me around from stall to stall landing on me at times to warm his feet. As he often does, Bruiser decided to join the dogs and I for lunch at home. He flew up to the van and then into its interior for the brief ride up the street.

In the afternoon the stark dangers of life on the farm were realized in one terrifying moment.

Marie had come over to help with chores. On one of her trips outside to Mount Trillium (aka manure pile) she witnessed a hawk swooping down and grabbing a pigeon off the roof. Its talons tore into the pigeon who struggled to free itself from the hawk's grasp. It (pigeon) fell to the ground . The hawk swooped in again to retrieve its prey. Marie screamed in a mother's protective voice staring squarely into the hawk's eye. The hawk retreated leaving behind the badly injured pigeon that struggled to take flight. Marie went to its rescue, cradling it in her hands as we rushed it to the vet station for a closer examination of its wounds.

It had damage under one wing that was bleeding profusely. It had possible broken bones. The poor creature was going into shock as we washed the wounds with saline. Within seconds, the bird slipped behind the veil of death.

Strangely enough two young traumatized birds perched stiff legged just inside the barn door. The rest of the pigeons had vanished from sight. We identified the two young pigeons as Bruiser and Noel. They had sought the protection of the stable. Bruiser once again was keeping an eye out for little Noel.

It was a huge reminder of how short life can be, especially if you are a pigeon. We are just thankful Bruiser and Noel were not victims today. The thought of losing Bruiser or Noel to a hawk is unfathomable, but yet it is possible.

Nap Time Today
January 8, 2013

An insurance salesman walked into the barn today and engaged me in conversation. He looked a little distracted. Finally he couldn't contain his curiosity any longer. He stopped in mid speech and looked down at his shoes. With scrunched eyes he asked me "is that a pet pigeon?" I nonchalantly told him it was just Bruiser. He (Bruiser) had been staring up at the man from floor level, showing great interest in what he had to say.

January 11, 2013

Bruiser has had another busy day at the farm with Marie. Marie had to go to the hay barn to pick up a round bale of straw. Typical Bruiser tagged along. After spearing the bale, she began to  drive the tractor back to the stable. Brusier first perched himself on Marie's shoulder. He must have been having some difficulty with his balance. He soon slipped off and flew onto the bale itself as it bounced around on the end of the spears. He rode all the way back to the stable clinging to the straw bale. Marie says she's going to video tape him some day. I think we should do a feature film for You Tube. You won't believe this bird unless you see him in action.

February 5, 2013

It has been almost a month since my last post. Bruiser has been MIA on one occasion. Everyone was quite worried about him. The temperature had dropped to -12 C and the wind came up. Twenty-four hours later he returned to the barn hungry and thirsty.
I surmised he was out flying with the boys and lost track of time. He's been hanging around since his little excursion.

Just a word of warning, eyeballs are a shiny and curious thing for birds. Unless you are very familiar with Bruiser, don't let him land on your shoulder. He did this to a stranger and poked her in the eye. Curious George he is.

Lately Bruiser is taking on a new resident with trepidation. I have a large black foster dog who is as friendly and adventurous as Bruiser. Bruiser is still sizing up this newcomer and is starting to approach him more closely. I expect very soon he will be hitching a ride on this dog as well.

A Watchful Eye on Deliverance

Getting Closer
Bruiser sizes up Deliverance
 February 7, 2013

Bruiser was having an in-barn day today. With the warnings of a bad storm brewing, he stayed close by and only went outside a couple of times>

Make My Day!

Top Hat
February 13, 2013

Yesterday, Bruiser accepted the new big dog, Deliverance. It was the first time that Bruiser went in the van with D sitting there with the other two dogs. Marie and I rode to the restaurant and left the four in the van. We could spy on them from our vantage point in the restaurant. Bruiser decided to take his post on the steering wheel. People walking by gave the strangest looks when they looked at our strange passengers on board.

Today, Bruiser needed to be rescued. Marie and Marilyn found poor Bruiser stuck between an outside stable wall and an inside stall wall. He had fallen all the way down to ground level. Cooing and calling for help, Marie lowered a horse muzzle down between the walls. It is sort of like lowering a safety basket down. When the muzzle bottomed out, Bruiser climbed in and was pulled to safety.He was one happy little bird, grateful for their life saving efforts.

February 16, 2013

Bruiser's life continues with challenges. Today another pigeon relentlessly bullied him. Bruiser tried to escape to the arena but the determined bird flew after him. When Bruiser landed, the bird grabbed him by the neck feathers and yanked on him. When he went to his perch, his attacker followed. Bruiser tried to fend him off with jabs from his wing. When we could, we intervened on his behalf and chased off the offender.

February 18, 2013

Bruiser is really warming up the new dog. He follows the threesome everywhere. He still has been smart enough not to try and ride the big black dog. I'm not sure what he (dog) would do if he had a bird land on him.

Bruiser in background
Bruiser listens in on a conversation.
  March 3, 2013

Not too much to report on the Bruiser story other than he's got a lot of fame. I think all the veterinarians at the clinic know him now. The attending vet the other day just had to take her own picture of Bruiser as she worked on the backside of a horse.

March 13, 2013

You know you are old when your bird and old dog take the same pain drugs you do. It's been an awful two weeks if you have been following us on facebook. Today only added more misery to the mix.

Zoey Pearl (my Weimaraner) had her sights set on a pair of pigeons pecking away on the concrete a few feet away. When she is in that zone, she seems blind to everything else, including Bruiser. She bowled over Bruiser who was minding his own business scratching at the floor as well. In her quest to 'get those birds' she caused serious damage to Bruiser.

I so worry about birds going into shock, because once they do, they are usually goners and I could see that Bruiser was not right.

For three hours I waited in my avian veterinarian's office. Both of us were in obvious pain as I sat, paced, sat and groaned in pain. Bruiser sat heavily on my shoulder closing his eyes in suffering. I hadn't had any pain meds today and had done a full day's work in the barn. Now the two of us needed some medical intervention quickly.

After closing the veterinary's office with our emergency and several hundred dollars later, we left the clinic. Bruiser's right wing is broken and another possible fracture. He's all bandaged up in purple vet wrap and on some Medicam for the pain and antibiotics for the next ten days. Tomorrow morning he goes in for radio-graphs to determine how bad the fracture is. Poor little guy is so out of it as he can't balance with his wing disengaged from his body. He only wants to be with his mom and have her take the pain away. We will see what tomorrow brings. Tonight he will sleep in his old hat box in my bedroom. It will be like old times so I hope he can finally manage some rest from the pain.

March 14, 2013

It's been a roller coaster day with the vet. The x-rays showed three fractures in the right wing. Below is a crude illustration of a bird's wing where the breaks are.

It is so disheartening to receive this news. I don't have a lot of options. If I just leave things be, it will heal to some degree but he won't be able to fly. In order for him to be flighted again, means orthopedic surgery to pin the bones in place. The final option is euthanasia. The bones that are broken are responsible for direction of flight and lift. They have to work together in order to achieve this.

Bruiser is on his meds to help with the pain. My back seems nothing when you look at his x-rays. They remind me of my broken leg and that was hell to go through. Bruiser is hungry right now pecking away at his feed. He wants to be on my shoulder so bad, but he can't balance without his wings so he is still in the carrier.The veterinarians are trying to get me a quote for surgery but there are not too many orthopedic surgeons who work on birds. They hope to have something for me tomorrow. I have a call into Dr. M who raises pigeons. Perhaps he has some suggestions for me.

Bruiser is a celebrity and farm mascot. He's not just a pigeon to everyone who knows him. So I've been going the extra mile for him. He's such a fighter, it makes my aches and pains pale in comparison to what he is going through. Animals are much braver than humans. I've seen it time and time again. We really are wimps.

March 15, 2013

Bruiser in a sock. Waiting to hear if a surgeon can be found to operate on Bruiser.

March 16, 2013

I had a few more leads today in finding a surgeon for Bruiser. The hard part is that no office is open until Monday. I finally heard back from local avian veterinarian who is also trying to find someone who might be open to doing surgery and as well,  the ever important cost point. Looks like the best bet is a clinic in Toronto.

It is very supportive receiving so many suggestions from total strangers who have been following Bruiser's posts on my blog and on facebook. At present there are more than 400 views to his story.

It is a very miserable time for Bruiser right now as we wait. He is on his pain meds and antibiotics, but the injury must be excruciating. He doesn't want to venture out of his carrier today so I presume he is resigning himself to the fact that he can't fly and just wants to be still. He is not as perky either and doesn't want anyone near him right now. Can't blame the poor guy.

One rescue looking after another. (Deliverance watching over Bruiser in carrier.
March 19, 2013

Bruiser made a trip back to the vet's office to have his wing rebandaged before his visit to the surgeon in Toronto tomorrow. We have a date for a consultation and possible surgery. To appreciate the severity of Bruiser's injuries I've attached a photo of his broken right wing below.

x-ray of Bruiser's right wing

I must say that he is a real trouper. He's lost a tiny bit of weight, but who wouldn't. The pain meds are helping him cope. At least the wing is stabilized with a good bandage holding everything together so that the spiral fractures won't puncture through the skin. My crude sock helped but having the senior veterinarian at the avian clinic rebandage the wing with her years of experience, makes quite a difference.

Deliverance has been kicked out of his crate so that Bruiser has a safe place and more room to recuperate. Deliverance isn't complaining. He's moving upstairs with the other dogs so he must feel like he is top dog now.

March 20, 2013

WOW! I know why I would never, ever be a city person. Rude people, total chaos, crazy drivers and expensive.... The dogs (Zoey Pearl, Coconut and Deliverance), Bruiser and I seated ourselves in the van for the trip to Toronto to see the orthopedic surgeon. When I pulled off the 401 and cruised the wealthy digs off Yonge Street, we arrived in a small plaza and entered the exotic veterinary clinic. I could just imagine the dollar signs being in this neighbourhood.

The clinic itself was small and dated but it did come with a good reputation for working with birds and one of the only ones that do surgery on birds. We arrived early and waited our turn. A small parade of rabbits and parrots came and went. The big city owners all talked, sometimes in a different language, silly talk to their creatures. And their we sat; the horse trainer and farmer from Orono with the lowly pigeon.

I passed the radiographs to the attending veterinarian that looked curiously at my pet carrier. As we awaited his consultation, I starred at the tile floor and steel examination table. The doctor turned to me and began to speak.

I think we started off on the wrong foot for sure. His first comment went something like this: "Do you know that it is illegal to keep a native wildlife as a pet?" I was waiting for the handcuffs to come out and have an officer haul me off to the Toronto Jail. His next question to me was "What do you hope to see happen with this pigeon?" I started to react to the rather rude dressing down I got. In my mind I was saying, "I'm his pet not the other way around." But I didn't. Instead I informed the doctor that Bruiser has never been in a cage and has free range of the skies and the farm. He seemed to back off a bit. As he looked at the xrays, the realization of the seriousness of Bruiser's injuries came home to roost. Surgery would be the only way to stabilized the fractures. Next came the sticker price for surgery: $2,000-$2,500. I just couldn't afford that since I have shelled out close to $1,000 already. The doctor also questioned me as to why I didn't see him sooner as the bones were probably starting to heal. Again I had to explain myself that I had difficulty finding a surgeon. The room went quiet for a moment.

Settling in on the options, I decided that a new set of x-rays would tell us how Bruiser has progressed. So off Bruiser went to the back room to be sedated and x-rayed.

I hung out in the waiting room a little crestfallen, feeling like I had failed my little friend and wished he would fly again. "We'll see what the pictures show and then decide our next plan without surgery." I said to myself.

Time passed and then I was called into the examination room. The news wasn't good. Bruiser's fractures were not healing and were easily manipulated. The doctor suggested that we leave the wing bandage off so that Bruiser's tendons don't seize up due to inactivity. He also felt that re-bandaging should be done under anesthetic as the pain would be intolerable. (Little did he know that Bruiser's bandage has been fixed about four times now.) His shoulder is not involved so it should help with movement. The hard part is that Bruiser must be confined for the next 3 months so he isn't encouraged to try and fly. His bones need time to mend without further stressing them. His diet will also include more calcium to help strengthen his bones. So for now Bruiser will be fed parrot pellets. We will let nature and pain dictate how far he can stretch his wing. I will be decreasing his meds a little so he doesn't feel too good and try and use his wing. So now it is up to Bruiser. It will be a long haul and he may not fly again. Still there is a slight hope that with management and a help from nature, he could fly with some degree of success by summer, but it will be a near miracle. Still I'm keeping the faith and know that this scrappy bird will give it his best shot.

He might not be a fancy exotic like my parrots Taboo or Mother, but he is one of God's creatures and suffering is suffering. I just hope I can ease some of it and give him another second chance at life.

March 24, 2013

I decided I should do an update on Bruiser's life in a dog pen. One word - BORING. I've added some straw to his kennel trying to simulate a more natural environment. He's not keen on the parrot food but picks away at it a tiny bit.

I've cut his pain meds in half and he seems to be coping. He's quite cranky when he sees the towel coming, knowing that his meds are not far behind. He tries to bat at the towel with his one good wing but to no avail. Out come the syringes and down the hatch it goes. The cherry and honey flavor medicines are swallowed without too much fuss.

I let him out of the crate the other day for a short time as I typed away at my computer. Bruiser seemed determined to get into those holes in my Crocs (shoes). A short time later he stole himself way without me noticing. I looked around on the rug below my chair calling to Bruiser. I took a larger scan of the area. No Bruiser. Where did that silly bird go. Off I went in search of the wayward flightless bird.

After a short gander around the entertainment room, I found Bruiser midway up the stairs leading to the landing and the upper level floor. Bruiser was hopping his way up heading for the kitchen. I quickly retrieved him and put him back in his cell. It is going to be a very long three months.....

I'm in the Clear

Quick... Got to hide before they find me!
April 3, 2013

I feel so bad when I gather the dogs and put on my barn clothes to leave the house. Bruiser watches with eagerness as he hops/jumps in his cage wanting to go with us. I let him out for very brief walks on the carpet. I have to close the door to the room as he makes a beeline for the stairs leading up to the kitchen. He'll hop up all the stairs if I let him. I CAN'T encourage him to try and fly so I'm afraid it is cage time for him. He greets me with vigor and coos when we come home. He's quite content when everyone settles in for an evening. Bless his downy soft heart..He's a fighter. Just love this little fellow. He is trying to fly but it is way too soon. Quiet and boring is the only way to heal.

April 10, 2013

I think Bruiser has been mimicking my parrots too much. He can climb up the side of the dog crate using his beak and toes. He wants to  be closer in height to me so up he crawls.

Bruiser has been making incredible progress. I let him out of the crate for a short period tonight. He was feeling so good, he actually took flight more than once when I tried to retrieve him to put him back in the crate. He was avoiding me at all costs or more precisely, the crate. I was simply amazed that he got some height with his flying ability. He is not suppose to be doing this. I quickly returned him to the restriction of the dog crate as I didn't want him re-injuring himself. If this is a sign of things to come, I think he will have some flying capabilities in the future. Good job Mother Nature and a big thank you to the Man upstairs.

 April 20, 2013

 Well Bruiser is handling his containment fairly well. It's been a difficult time for him losing his freedom so suddenly. He soldiers on with improvement everyday, At times he furiously flaps his wings in mock flight. It is like learning to fly all over again. If I can arrange for another xray  next month, I would like to see how the healing process is going. For now, his life in a dog crate will have to do. 

Bruiser Up to his Old Tricks Riding Zoey Pearl

Bruiser settles into his basket from the barn.

Ummmm.... Breakfast
May 2, 1013

After obtaining a very reasonable quote for reassessment of Bruiser's fractured wing, an appointment was made today with my avian veterinarian. Bruiser was put in his carrier for the trip to the veterinarian's office. 

On initial examination, the doctor was very pleased with Bruiser's overall condition and perkiness. He was being an excellent patient letting the veterinarian manipulate his wings. After about 40 minutes the veterinarian summoned me back into the examination room to view the radiograph. I could tell by the huge grin on her face that it must be good news. Good news was an understatement. The veterinarian couldn't contain her enthusiasm when showing me the remarkable healing that is going on. I was dumbstruck when I saw the x-ray. The mending is incredible. Better still, there is no fusing of the bones which was the major concern. As the veterinarian continued, we decided to give Bruiser's system a little boost with some added calcium. Bruiser will still require another 3 weeks to continue the healing, but he will regain some ability of flight. We all know what a slight chance of him regaining flight was on the initial prognosis. It is a miracle he has done so well. I guess all the prayers to St. Francis (patron saint for animals) must have helped. This is one very lucky bird who looks like he is on the road to a bright recovery. 

One section is mended and the other two are well on their way.

May 19, 2013

Today was the day that Bruiser was returned to the barn for some flight testing. He was so excited to be in the stable after such a long absence. He flew high and he flew often. He flew from fence post to fence post checking on the horses out in pasture. He flew on Memory's neck during a lesson. He flew on my head, my shoulder, my arm, other people's shoulders and rode the grain cart. He flew into the van and up to the front door when we called it a day and traveled the short distance home. It is simply a miracle to see with your own eyes how Bruiser has found the freedom of his wings once again. Given only a 10% chance of ever flying again, it is so heartwarming to see him enjoying life as a flighted bird once again!

May 20, 2013

There was a new revelation today. Bruiser was acting a little strange. Reminded me of my female parrot, Mother. When I got to the barn today, a big bold pigeon took a fancy to Bruiser. By all accounts I would say the our Bruiser is a Bruisette. I would bet my money that Bruiser lays an egg. She looks like she is trying to nest. I guess Dr. M will have 'egg on his face' as he predicted Bruiser was a male last year. That explains HER determination to fight on with resolve. Girls do that you know. And by the way, Bruiser is a year old now.

Bruiser wasn't as active today. I think she over did it yesterday. Her right wing looked a little droopy. I think I'll keep her home tomorrow.

A mate for Bruiser?
May 26, 2013

Bruiser spend the afternoon yesterday watching and seemingly judging our horse show. Once in a while I would look behind me only to see Bruiser looking up. Bruiser entertained the crowds with her flying antics as well as visits to the fence rail. Everyone was thrilled to see Bruiser. At the end of the day, Bruiser flew to the van and hopped in for the ride home. It had been a busy day with all the people and activity. Today I kept her home for a rest. She was not amused. 

June 18, 2013

HEARTSTRINGS MOMENT TODAY...I began chores as usual just ahead of the farrier coming to do another lot of horses. As I began to grain the horses I walked down the south aisle only to see Bruiser at the door. She's been gone for over a week now so I was so delighted to see her. Even the dogs and cats wandered out to see the long lost pigeon. Bruiser was aloof but hung around the stable for most of the day. I gave her the good pigeon feed which she gobbled up so I know she had a good feed. Then by four o'clock as I brought the last of the horses in, Bruiser sat atop the fence post. She looked at me one last time. Off she flew heading north way up above the tree tops. In a flash she was gone. I think that inherited wildness has taken over. Bruiser has chosen life as a pigeon which is what I had always intended her to be - a pigeon. I don't think I'll see her again. It was as though she dropped in to say thanks and goodbye. It's a bittersweet moment, but I had a feeling this day would come. 

Welcome Home

Maybe the Last Photo of Bruiser?


On July 2, 2013, Bruiser passed away from what appeared to be egg bound. She carried my happiness on her wings and took my heart to new heights. I miss her dearly.