Clyde’s Tales


(these links are Pinkey’s own internal website)

 Pinkey talking to Clyde

Pinkey and other Screech Owl Tales

from Master Storyteller Clyde (AKA “dirt”):
Funny, Touching E-mails from June 2005 to June 2007

10-10-03: (in an earlier message from Clyde, describing the death of a red-tailed hawk in his care)
The loss of a bird, to me, is like the loss of a stand of trees to a person who fights for saving the forest… there are constant setbacks….at times it seems like the dark  forces are winning the fight, then there is that shining moment when you release a bird…see ya….rich dirt

I have been rehabbing a little screech owl orphan for a few weeks, and he is now living loose in my workshop… his names are Pip Squeak and Pinkey. I can’t decide which… anyway, when I ease the door open and slip in, he flies to me and lands on my hand, arm, shoulder, head or beard until I give him a bit of food… he is completely fixated on me and thinks I am his momma… he is an incessant beggar and will do anything for food… after he eats, he sits on my shoulder and preens my beard… we are big buddies right now…see you, love ya, momma dirt

Pinkey, wing spread

I will have Pinkey for about another month… in fact, he may be living
outside loose on the porch then if all goes well… you could do a Little
Pearl about him if you like but I would prefer to remain anonymous. Tell the
story from Pinkey’s perspective, falling out of the nest, being abducted by
humans, adopted by a bearded giant, etc… He’s very photogenic and active.

There is always the chance that the rehab could go horribly wrong at some
point. But if you want to film him, then wait to be sure he is released
safely (before you edit it), that would be good… Today he rode around the
house on my shoulder for awhile… he’s just naturally goofy-looking… the
feds do not approve of unorthodox rehab techniques and do not want people to
treat the birds as pets… but I have found that the bird has to trust you
enough to return for food after he is released… this means taming them a
bit… the feds also do not like people to give names to the birds, just
numbers… but it is hard to call him number 5678. sounds like a jail

Right now he is sitting on a coat rack and digesting two big earthworms…
also he is particularly silly looking when he closes his eyes to take
food… he has hairy eyelids..owl dirt

 Pinkey trying to eat a worm

Save this for future reference in the matter of Pinkey the screech owl…


If you would like to see them, they are here at 8 pm each evening for a few
minutes before they start their night hunt. it appears now that Pinkey is a
male and Little Bit is a female.  They are from different clutches and may
mate. staying together will help them to find and share food… Pinkey
sometimes arrives soaking wet, which leads me to think he is hunting in the
creek… Pinkey has turned brown but Little Bit is light grey… let me know
if you’d like to come down and see them or film them some more…momma dirt

Last night Pinkey did not come in for food and Little Bit only ran in and
out with a little tidbit… soooooo, it looks like they are probably out of
here and real wild screech owls now… sorry you did not see them in
person… Michael’s video should have some real good bits in it.  I haven’t
seen it yet… but I will get it from him and send it to you…empty nest

We went out with friends and did not get home till after 8 pm… no Pinkey
or Little Bit in sight… last night they came at 7:45 and I assume they did
the same tonight but no mom or food… so I think they went on to hunt…
probably they will be here in force tomorrow to make up for the missed
food… anyway, I’ll let you know if they come Sunday night… it’s 50/50 if
they will cooperate on Monday night.  But just to be sure, be here at least
by 7 if you can…..dirt

Thanks for coming last night.  I’m glad you got a chance to get to know the
two sillies… sorry I was so tired, I had a long day remodeling the laundry
room. it’s especially good that this rehab has gone so well… it is not
always so… I’m sure you will come up with a great way to present this
Little Pearl… these two are so different that you can see they have their
own little personalities… Pinkey is a total mess and Little Bit is all
business… perhaps they will mate and stay together……
“Pinkey, how did you meet your wife?”
“We were captured by aliens and thrown into a cage together.”
“Little Bit, do you think this relationship will work out?”
“Well, I am hopeful that Pinkey will mature, get a job, and learn to hunt.”
“He’s a good male but he has no direction.”  “He begs too much and is too trusting of the alien mom.” ..empty nest dirt

 Pinkey & Little Bit, getting scared

Yep. gut level raptor rehab is very much a down and dirty, as well as a rewarding, thing… they eat living things, yet they have a very high sort of funny intellectual side… all predators, as well as man, have a very logical and inquisitive mind. they need it in order to hunt and strategize… simply put, owls are able to think and learn… and  interact with humans on an equal level… tonight, Pinkey waited till late and then came in. followed shortly by Little Bit. both had at least a tidbit… twice now, I have heard Little Bit make an unusual call after eating… it is unknown to me… it is raucous and a bit scolding. and both times… Pinkey was still eating on the rail and Little Bit was waiting in the bushes…

Pinkey does not make this sound… as of yet… I think it is one more sign of their sexual difference… oh well, we are always comparing our various children….owl dirt

Last night even Pinkey would not hold still to take food.  Little Bit never
even came to the porch, so all is going well BUT, there has been a new
development… two nights ago, Mike and I discovered that it was not Little
Bit making the weird raucous call… it is another male owl interloper… he
is interested in Little Bit… this gigolo owl made his intentions obvious
with his daring flybys and loud calls… I do not know if Little Bit is
interested…from her point of view, this wild man from the forest might be
a good match. after all, he has a home and a good job.  He is a good
provider compared to wimpy little Pinkey…
Pinkey, by the way, is totally unconcerned about the male owl hunk that is
making moves on his girl… maybe Pinkey feels confident in Little Bit’s
loyalty or he just may be in a fog and doesn’t know what the new guy wants.
At any rate, Little Bit now has a choice of mates… will she stay with
silly, socially maladjusted, and safe little Pinkey, or will she elope with
this handsome, well-to-do, worldly and charismatic new man?  The choice as
always is with the female…… curious dirt

PINKEY UPDATE… last night neither owl came to the porch or even called
from the bushes… no feedings for about 3 days now… my children have left
me… and if all goes well, someday there will be many small Pinkeys… I do
not expect to feed them again though I do hope to catch sight of them again.
Mr. Pinkey and Ms. Little Bit have run off together into the big wide wild
world… good luck to them..empty nest dirt

We haven’t seen the owls in a couple of days… Adrienne thought she heard
one this morning early… I do not know what happened with the gigolo owl.
Little Bit hasn’t taken any food in about a week, and it has been about 4
days for Pinkey… they are now part of the screech owl gene pool.. they
have as good a chance as any owl…dirt

Tonight after not showing himself for 5 or 6 nights, Pinkey called to me
from the dark bushes… we spoke for a bit… he never showed himself or
took food of course, but it is good to know that he is still around… he
whined some and I whined back and that seemed to be enough encouragement for
him…. I think he just needed a bit of momma contact… I did not hear
Little Bit… not a surprise…childless dirt

Some sad news… the new owl I have in rehab, an old male, died yesterday. He had a head injury, probably from a car.  Sometimes the last favor you can do is offer the bird a quiet place to die……dirt

9-5-05: (responding to a new focus on Katrina Pearls, instead of editing Pinkey’s Pearl)
The owl photos are great. I particularly liked the one of the two of them and the silly one of Pinkey on the bamboo… I’m sure there are a thousand good Little Pearls in the tragedy of Katrina… the scope of it all is overwhelming…dirt

Tonight just after dusk, Pinkey showed up… it was definitely him… in all his whiney glory… we spoke a bit, then he moved off into the night…….dirt

No sign of Little Bit… but Pinkey must be getting enough to eat since I have not fed him in a few weeks… it was too dark to see him clearly. Little Bit was always more independent and has probably moved farther away. Mr. Pinkey as usual is just more needy…dirt, Cedar Creek Audubon director

I got another screech owl…. his name is Little Ted and he has a wing problem… he was tangled in some string and his wing is a bit mangled… anyway, his prospects are good and he is being a good patient…dr. dirt, owlologist

Pinkey has not taken any food from me since about the time you were here last. a couple of months… he has graduated to WILD SCREECH OWL status even though it was a GED program..owl-less dirt

Pinkey comes just close enough to be seen with a flashlight… and no, I do not think Pinkey will ever be a good husband for a real wild screech owl… once you have been abducted by aliens, it tends to make you a bit of a misfit… no one wants to constantly hear about your out-of-the-wild experiences… although only time will tell.  Pinkey’s little brain may eventually forget the abduction experience… and there is someone out there for each of us….fall dirt

It would probably be very difficult to record Pinkey’s call-and-response with me.  He stays about 50 feet away and I am not sure a mic would pick him up… but if you’d like to try, come down any nice evening when there is no rain or wind… you’d probably like to see how he’s doing even if you can’t record it…chilly dirt

Pinkey has shifted from coming around in the evenings to occasionally showing up just at dawn when Adrienne is leaving for work… we’re not sure why… today Willie makes his weekly trip to ArtSpace school to teach
reading…..dr. dirt

Here is the latest dirt on Mr. Pinkey… he has at long last overcome his handicap of being raised by aliens and he has disappeared into the great wilds of Appalachia, never to be heard from again… we have not had a visit from the little miscreant in about a month… Pinkey has returned to the owl people… maybe he found a wild girlfriend who would not allow him to visit the horrible aliens. at any rate, he is now off being a real owl.  He has been rehabilitated except for the occasional reoccurring dreams of being kept in a cage.  He may always have a touch of post-traumatic stress.  Yours truly, Pinkeyless dirt

Pinkey, the little screech owl who hasn’t been seen here in awhile, has shown up again.  Maybe it was the ice storm, which sent all the prey to ground… Pinkey needed food.  I got two new screech owls today: one from
the Nature Center (he has a bad eye from crashing into a window)…and an older female from a local vet (she has a broken leg)… anyway, I brought them home and put the two of them in a cage on the porch rail… just after dark, I noticed another wild screech owl coming to the cage to investigate… as you know, screech owls are very communal and investigate anything to do with other owls… so.the wild owl, Pinkey, came to the cage
to check out the new arrivals… I put meat out on the porch rail for him… anyway, all three owls got something to eat for supper. That is the latest owl update….dirt

I’ve had Tuesday for about 3 weeks… he is an old male and very calm… he came in with a head injury and it was touch and go for the first week… but he was a tough little owl and made a speedy recovery with the help of 2 mice a day… we released him here… I haven’t seen him since… I am sure the other owl calling from the bushes is Pinkey. it is very whiney and needy and talks back to me just like Pinkey…. I’ll keep you posted….dirt

I don’t have a recorder and I have no idea how you could record Pinkey… he is always off a ways in the bushes and not very loud. and I never know when he will be around.  He does not come every night…dirt

1-3-07: (after Dr. Willie and his Pearl won awards in the MY HERO Short Film
Festival in Los Angeles):
There is a good chance that you will win another award with the Pinkey Pearl
because he is just so cute. der dirten

A new little screech owl came in for treatment yesterday, Friday… so I
have named it Friday. it is a young red one, less than a year old… after
taking a long look at it, I think it is a female… I don’t know exactly
why… but she seems like a young female….
She is fairly calm for someone who has been injured and abducted by human
aliens. I spent the evening sitting out on the porch near the cage and
getting to know her, and listening to her story about how she happened to
get hurt…
Now I am convinced that it’s a female and so I changed her name from Friday
to Fridee… she insists that she is an owl princess of royal blood in the
bug clan… she is demanding that she be addressed as Princess Fridee…..
Last night Princess Fridee was able to get comfortable with me and the dogs
but she refused to eat.  Maybe because I could only offer her chicken liver
instead of the royal fresh mouse dish that she is accustomed to… she and I
had a long talk and I gave her the “welcome to rehab boot-camp” speech…
she accepted her fate with dignity and grace, even though she obviously
considers me a common lowly human with no royal background….
Princess Fridee politely refused to eat all evening.  But when I checked her
boudoir this morning, the food was gone… she was embarrassed to admit that
she would eat such common fare…….
At first she appeared to have a broken wing, but after listening to her
story and taking a closer look at her royal wing, I determined that it has
suffered an impact wound or bad bruise… so I have prescribed exercise
therapy, herbal poultices of boneset, and bed rest… Princess Fridee claims
that she was exercising her royal right to hunt mice in the grass when a
great huge metal box of some kind came speeding along a wide stone pathway
and knocked her flying… she even claims that the metal box had two great
bright shining eyes. Princess insists that the horrible thing smelled of
burning oil and was spewing out fumes from it’s backside.
According to the princess, the big metal box sped away without so much as a
backwards glance at the damage it had done to an innocent royal personage…
she lay in pain until a second huge noisy metal box stopped beside her, and
two human aliens got out and scooped her up.  Fearing a horrible death,
Princess Fridee swooned into a royal faint, only to wake up later inside a
structure called the Western North Carolina Nature Center, where she was
probed and prodded and finally given to me.
I was finally able, after much discussion, to assure her highness that I am
only trying to help her to recover.  She agreed, on the condition that I
keep my distance, provide better gourmet mouse dishes, and do not wake her
while she is enjoying her beauty sleep each day from dawn to dusk. Also, I
have been told to address her as “Your Highness” or “the honorable Princess
Fridee.”  I agreed.
I will keep you posted on the honorable princess’s condition, after I give
her a talon manicure when she arises this evening… she is also demanding a
mirror in the form of a dish of water, and dry maple leaves for towels.  She
claims she cannot eat her main mouse dinner without first having a choice
bug as an appetizer…
This may be a difficult rehab for me due to the many demands..Doc
Hollifield, alien human

Two days ago, just after the bad rain and wind storm, and just before this
last snow and wind storm,  the owl delegation made it through to Cedar Creek
to check on Princess Fridee… the delegation was made up of an elder grey
medicine woman owl named Bee-o, her two apprentices, and two worker/guard

The two original guards who arrived a day earlier were immediately
dispatched back home to let the entire Princess Owl Clan know that Princess
was safe… Grandmother Bee-o went into seclusion with the princess
immediately, in order to examine her and access her condition.  The next
morning, yesterday, the old medicine owl finally informed me of her
findings.  Here is what we know so far:

Bee-o thanked me for my help, but pointed out that it had been the bare
minimum. and that Princess Fridee is in very serious condition. Fridee has
an injury to her left wing at the elbow, and some damage to her left leg,
along with internal injuries to her left side.. all the result of an auto
impact. the wing injury is of the most concern to Bee-o.
It is too early to tell if the princess will be able to regain the full use
of her left wing.  The leg and body injuries are healing well but the wing
is continuing to get banged about from time to time… so we now have her
cage covered completely to keep her inactive…
Bee-o’s estimate is that it will take at least one moon cycle for the wing
to heal enough to tell if it will have a permanent disability… this is
Bee-o’s main concern.
Sooooo, we are in a holding pattern until enough time passes to allow a more
detailed diagnosis. Then, of course, there will have to be some physical
rehabilitation of the wing with a program of exercise.  So keep Princess
Fridee in your thoughts and prayers until we know more… she is getting
expert care now that Grandmother Bee-o is on the job… another update will
follow in a week or so.dirt, the human

1-12-07: (in an e-mail to Little Pearls)
Here is the news for today… the universe sometimes plays tricks on me…
as you know, I have been making up silly stories about how the other owls
have come to take care of her royal highness Princess Fridee….. WELL…
For the last two mornings when I have gone out to feed Princess, there has
actually, factually, for real been another screech owl beside her
cage!!!!!!! Yesterday I startled him and he sped away… he buzzed right by
This morning I snuck out to have a look and there he was again.  I got to
within 15 feet of him before he flew away.
I suspect it is Mr. Pinkey (former inmate and parolee #7212006) but I cannot
be sure.  I called and spoke to him but he did not answer like Pinkey
usually does… maybe Pinkey has gotten lucky and he sees that I have a nice
young princess owl and possible mate who will be released into Pinkey’s
waiting wings… he certainly is checking her out… and getting his hopes
I don’t mind trying to fix Pinkey up with a girl friend.  You know he is a
little slow in that area..owl dating service

1-14-07: (in an e-mail to a larger group of women, including some local
Cherokee friends)
The Fridee saga continues but has taken an amazing turn… as you know, I
have been making up silly stories about how the royal owl delegation has
come to care for Fridee…
Well, truth is stranger than fiction.  And now the story has changed… some
of you know that I released a young male screech owl 18 months ago named Mr.
Pinkey.  His story and picture can be seen at Little Pearls… Pinkey
has never left the area and I hear him from time to time and we call back
and forth.  The following is not a story but the actual, factual truth…
4 days ago, Mr. Pinkey showed up beside Princess’s cage one evening.  The
next morning, he was back. And each night since, Pinkey has been coming to
visit Princess.  He will allow me to get within about 8 feet of the cage
while he is busy courting Princess Fridee… Pinkey struts and flits about
and Fridee comes over to the side of the cage to be right next to him.
Last night Adrienne and I watched in the dark as Pinkey showed up for his
nightly courting. He made all sorts of weird sounds that I have never heard
a screech owl make.  But then I have never been this close to courting
owls… he would chirp, trill, peep, and even make little coughing sounds…
Princess Fridee is obviously pleased with all this attention.
After about half an hour of evening courting, Pinkey goes off to hunt for
the night. As some of you know, Pinkey is not the brightest owl around and
it takes him practically all night to find enough bugs and worms to feed
himself… then just before dawn, he is back at the cage for more cooing and
sweet talk with his new girlfriend. it is just amazing that Mr. Pinkey has
not found a wild screech owl mate in the 18 months he has been free.
Perhaps it is the time of year that owls find mates for the coming season.
Pinkey is so caught up in courting that he pays hardly any attention to me
standing nearby and laughing…..
Here is the tricky part. at dawn this morning Pinkey showed up with a little
gift for his sweetie… he had a bug in his beak and tried to push it
through the wire to Princess.  It was still almost dark and I could not see
if she got the bug but I think she did.
PINKEY IS FEEDING MISS FRIDEE! Of course we all know what he is up to and
what he hopes to gain… he doesn’t seem to care at all that she is in a
cage and handicapped at the moment….
Mr. Pinkey is a total HOOT in how he is lolly-gagging around the cage and
trying to show off his hunting skills and fine physique… after he leaves
the cage, Pinkey flies to a nearby bush and calls back and forth to me in
his long-standing fashion… this talking to humans makes Princess a little
uneasy and she jumps around the cage as if to say, “look out, it is a nasty
human… be careful.”
Pinkey is now roosting during the day in a nearby tree where he can keep an
eye on Fridee’s cage…
Twice in the past, I have had wild screech owls come to my cage when I had
baby screech owls in it.  The adults were trying to adopt the orphans… but
in 25 years of doing this, I have never had an owl come to court and feed a
nice lady owl who was hurt.
Keep your fingers crossed for these two lovers.  Maybe Mr. Pinkey has
finally found a mate. Princess’ wing is looking a little better and with
Pinkey’s help, she may be able to hunt again…. I’ll keep you posted and I
will try to get a picture of the two lovers to send to you…dirt,

This morning just before dawn, I was able at last to get a photo of Pinkey
courting Princess… it took 3 days of sneaking up before I got the shot…
I was only successful because Pinkey is back full force into courting after
a 3 day slack period… he’s a man with a mission… I will send the photo
by email tonight… happy dirt.

As you know, I will lose my federal bird permits on March 31, so I will
probably not have but maybe 1 or 2 more birds… I wish the photos of Pinkey
were better.  I just have a little camera and had to stand about 10 feet
away… and it took 3 days to just catch him at the cage…, dirt

Pinkey close, looking up

Here’s the local update on Princess.  She has somehow managed to re-injure
her wing… probably from jumping around the cage… so we have had a
setback in the rehab… today I am going to get her down and have a good
look, and I may bind the wing if it looks to need it. I am reluctant to do
this because it can also present problems… Princess gets very active when
Pinkey comes around and she climbs all over the cage, trying to get out…
this may be part of the problem. or something may have frightened her and
she crashed into the wire. who knows?   Pinkey continues to come each
morning and visit… Fridee may have gotten a talon caught in her wing by
accident… I have seen this before when a bird is dragging a wing and steps
on it… the exam today should tell me more about what is going on… more
to follow when I know more….dirt

I am trying to video Pinkey and Princess with a night vision camera this
morning…. I will be sending out a Princess report later about her

Yesterday Mike and I got Miss Princess down and gave her a good going over.
I decided that the flight feathers on her left wing had to be clipped. They
were ratty from dragging around the cage (she lets that wing droop). also,
she kept stepping on the long feathers and causing more trouble. and pulling
on her wing… here’s the concern… with the wing clipped, she cannot fly
until she molts and grows new feathers, that will be in the spring….
soooooo it looks like I will have her at least that long…..
Next we bound her left wing to her side with special (stick to itself)
bandage… I could detect no broken bones or external injuries to the
wing…. but alas, this morning she has wiggled out of the binding and is
now wearing it around her neck like a bandana… so much for binding….
The good news is that she is doing much better with the wing feathers
clipped. It is no longer dragging and she is holding it up better…..
Pinkey was here this morning and I was able to video tape him with a night
vision camera… the video is grainy and of low quality, but it caught
Pinkey coming to the cage several times.  At one point he appears to give
Princess a kiss… they touch beaks through the bars….
I am going to try again tomorrow morning to film them again….. I will buy
a fresh tape and hope it works better.  Keep your talons crossed for the
little owl lovers.

I got some video of the two lovers visiting… the night vision makes it
look green and grainy though… it may be something you can use… I am
going to have Mike put it one DVD and I will send it to you… the two of
them actually look like they are kissing through the bars… Pinkey comes up
and they touch beaks almost every time…..Clyde

Screech owls are very social and relate to every other screech owl within
their range… I have had old screech owls adopt orphans that I have had on
two occasions… they come to the cage and try to feed the babies… they
freely adopt any orphan… but this is different… it seems to be two
adults who are adopting each other… or courting.  I will send you a DVD of
the courting…..

2-3-07: Pinkey still comes ever morning just before dawn to check on his
jail-bait girl friend… love and respect, dirt whositsalot

Last night little Princess injured her wing again. This is the second time
she has done this and it definitely is a setback. Some birds just can’t
adjust to being in a cage and jump around a lot… which is what she is
doing… I have taken the top perches out so she can’t get up very high but
she still climbs up the wire and crashes back down.  I tried an even smaller
cage but it was worse because it stressed her more and she fought even
harder to get out… in a bigger cage,  she would likely get up more speed
in her short flights and crash into the wire even harder. I’ve tried binding
the wing but it only works for a short time till she wiggles out of it.
Today, I am going to clip her good wing to see if it helps her balance. I
covered her cage but she still moves around too much… I am at a loss to
know what to try.  I fear that this will all lead to a bad outcome for her.
If you have any suggestions, please send them….working in the dark, dirt

Princess is now living in a glass aquarium with glass all around with screen
wire only on the top. She has two very low perches. Let’s hope this will
make a difference… I’m sure it will help as long as she doesn’t fly into
the glass. The aquarium is laid on its side, so that Pinkey can still visit
and look in through the wire… keep your fingers crossed, macnaughty

2-7-07: (in an e-mail to the women getting Princess updates)
Princess had a good night in the new cage.  She seems much quieter and is
not jumping around so much… when working with wild animals, anything can
go wrong… this Princess saga is no different. it is not just a pleasant
story with an assured happy ending… this is real life in a dangerous
world… once included in the story, you become a part of it and risk a
tragic outcome or a wonderful ending… only time will tell………
I am sorry if I got you involved in something that may eventually make you
sad… and if you would like to opt out of future updates and not be so
involved, just let me know and I will take you off the list… of course I
will still let you know the ultimate outcome but will not bother you with
weekly updates on every situation… rehab is often a roller coaster ride
with an open end.
Rehabbing raptors is not all glory or fun and games… you see all the hurt
and pain, infections, injuries, death and failures, as well as the
successes… releasing a bird back to the wild makes up for the
disappointments… but rehab can never be all favorable experiences…..
This situation with Princess and Pinkey can go either way. This is real
life, not a rehearsal. It’s a big wild world out there for us all. Even we
humans have no guarantee of a perfect life………
Whatever happens, at least Princess has had a second chance. Keep up the
good thoughts and prayers.   ….doctor dirt

Thanks for all your help and ideas for Princess… she is doing much better
in the aquarium cage.  Today I am going to give her a warm bath… and a
quick exam.
I am considering ideas for some sort of partial release for her in case her
wing does not heal well. If she can’t fly I can’t just release her in the
normal fashion…. My federal permits will expire in about 6 weeks and at
that time I will no longer be able to keep her in captivity………
I am feeling better about retiring from rehabbing… it has been 25 years
and a lot of work… it is time for someone else to do it. I will always
have my memories of all the special birds I have had. bee good, dirt, dog,
and bird

The video is bittersweet. Turn the sound up so you can hear the owls

Yep, the filming was done all in one morning… I set the camera up and let
run for about an hour. Then Mike cut out the parts where Pinkey was not in
the shot and he put it on DVD… now that Princess is in a glass cage, she
is not so crazy when Pinkey comes by… there is no place for her to
climb… getting excited when Pinkey visits is definitely not good for her,
but I just didn’t have the heart to deny her these nuptial visits.
Mr. Pinkey is definitely a success.  He has been out on his own for a year
and a half and has managed to feed his sorry self and stay out of trouble…
I give him 3 gold stars for effort… did you notice how the two of them
always touch beaks through the wire? …little owl kisses.  I felt like a
voyeur spying on the lovers… I hope you can add a bit of this to the
Pinkey piece. It shows a whole other side of our boy… all grown up and
courting… I don’t understand why Pinkey did not find a wild mate in the 18
months since release… maybe, he is just too odd for the wild ladies.  He
has had to wait till we rehabbed him a girlfriend… all the cooing and
trilling between the two of them must be owl pillow talk… Princess is
holding her own health wise… she is definitely strong and hardy but her
wing is still not fully usable… We can only wait and see what happens.  I
hope this can all resolve itself in the next month. I lose my permits in 6
weeks and will not be allowed to keep Princess after that, unless she is
outside the cage.  I am racking my brain to try to devise some sort of
release where she is technically not in captivity yet is close by so I can
help feed her. If I just turn her out she would probably wander off and get
in trouble… I may try releasing her in my little barn… if she stayed
there, I could monitor her… if she does not recover her ability to fly, I
will have to place her in a permanent facility like the Nature Center…
that would be a tragic love-lost story.  Mother Nature will decide.  And you
know it is Valentine’s Day now.  Ye old owl watcher, dirt

And today Mike suggested putting Princess in a big open-topped aquarium so
Pinkey can go in to her… I am considering trying it if I can find a tall
sort of aquarium that she can’t fly up out of.  Yet Pinkey could.   Then on
the other hand, more action and activity with Pinkey could be a bad thing…
rest and quiet is what she needs…owl dirt.

Sometime last night, Princess Fridee succumbed to her injuries.  It is a
loss for me but even more so for Pinkey.  I have wrapped and bound Princess
in a red cloth with cedar.  Sometime today, I will bury her in the orchard
with a mouse for her trip to join her ancestors.  Thanks for all your
prayers for her over the last month.Clyde

As you know, Pinkey has not been around since the night Princess died… he
is off dealing with the pain….
Today the nature center called with another screech owl. I almost did not
take it but I still have a few weeks of permit time… so I went and looked
at the little owl to see if it stood any chance of quick recovery.
I was happy to find that it is in very good shape, with only a head bump and
a bloodshot right eye.   All wings and legs are ok… it is also not
starving yet. so I brought it home and put it in Princess’s cage.  I am
calling it Tuesday… right now…
I do not know if it is male or female… I hope Pinkey will tell me that…
keep your fingers and talons crossed for Mr. Pinkey… this bird looks to
only need a few days or a week of care… but who knows.  I misted water on
Tuesday’s bad eye so it could open, and as soon as it got dark, I put a
mouse in the cage.  Tuesday caught and killed it immediately… a very good
At daylight I am going to sneak up and see if Pinkey comes to check the new
owl out. At this point, little Mr. Pinkey has a 50/50 chance of meeting a
new girl tonight… let us all hope… there is no internet dating service
for wild screech owls….
I decided to take on this case because I’d like to leave this rehab work on
a good note…. the highway goes on forever, but the story never
ends..hopeful dirt

No sign of Pinkey.. in 4 weeks, I will be a civilian again and I do not care
what you say or publish about me.  I definitely want to get this message out
there. that birds need help and can be at times very special or spiritual in
their connection to people who are helping them… people need good positive
stories… it might just draw someone else into rehab… thanks for all your
efforts.. dirt

Here is the Pinkey update. there has been no sighting of Pinkey, neither
hide nor feather, since the new owl came in… I am now convinced that the
new owl is of no romantic interest to Pinkey. I am not sure why, but
remember, Pinkey has been flying free for a year and a half, and during that
time I have rehabbed 15 or 20 other screech owls in the cage on the porch.
Yet Pinkey only responded to one owl, Princess….
So it seems to me that all the other owls were unacceptable to him. Maybe
they were males, maybe they were females that were too old or maybe they
were already mated for life to someone else. Or, maybe there just wasn’t
that special something that makes a young fellow fall in love.
Or Princess may have been the only young, unattached female that I had
during the last 18 months. Who knows. at any rate, I think Pinkey would have
shown himself if he was interested in the new owl.  By the way, this new owl
is exactly like the one I had a couple of months ago named Fearless Tuesday.
Except that it is brown instead of gray… this owl is the exact opposite of
Princess. He is especially calm and does not thrash around the cage at
all… he is practically lethargic. I can get close and eye to eye with him
and he just sits there… he even prefers to perch in the open during the
day instead of retreating into the covered top of the cage… every bird is
different… Princess was very hyper and just couldn’t settle down.
Pinkey will have to find his own true mate on his own now. It is part of
being a wild screech owl….
On another front. my dog little Pip Squeak caught a vole yesterday under the
porch.  He was very proud and after I explained how much the owl needed a
fresh vole, Pip Squeak donated his catch as owl food.
Sooooo, Mr. Pip Squeak is now an “official rehab helper dog.”  A big title
for a little guy… too bad I am getting out of rehab just as he is learning
to provide the bird food…. haaaaaaaa.. love ya all, macnaughty, up close
and personal with the little owls……..

The new owl is recovering nicely and will be released in 4 days.  That is
how many mice I have left for him… Pinkey has not shown up, or if he has,
he has not stayed or made a connection with the new owl. so I think the new
guy must be a male…..
This one is a beautiful red phase screech owl and has the calmest nature…
I expect that he will hang around the farm as they often do. So there will
still be a chance for him and Pinkey to meet…
I hope you are all well as we start into the early spring… March flowers
are up here and beginning to bloom…. A couple of nights ago, I heard the
great horned owls mating in the forest.   Spring is just around the

Owls are very social… they are aware of every other owl around. and they
all talk back and forth… I suppose they fight a bit like all animals but
there is little competition for food because they eat such small prey and
all kinds of it, from bugs to mice… they can overlap ranges very well… I
do not worry about Pinkey… in a fight, I am sure he can hold his own,
being the wild screech owl that he is… and remember, he is not the only
owl I have released here, yet he has carved out a space for himself…owl
kisses, macnaughty

I released my last little owl, who I called Tuesday. He recovered quickly
and was an ideal patient. He was extra calm and did not complain… in fact,
he was so calm, he did not want to leave.  He stayed in the cage with the
door open and would not put a toe outside until I put a stick inside that
stuck out the door, so that he could ease out a bit at a time. this morning,
he was no where in sight.
Little Tuesday and I had a long talk and a short ceremony before he left. to
honor my 25 years of raptor rehab.  I told him stories of many special birds
and he looked interested and noble.
Even though most people are not official wildlife rehabbers, I hold this
truth to be self evident: that all people have the inalienable right to help
any injured creature, any place, anytime……….
I am going to get a new little tattoo somewhere on my body out of sight. It
will probably be a tiny raptor talon or feather.  I have earned it, and when
I die, the spirits will see it and they can throw me in with all the other
bird people…stands with birds

Pinkey’s Pearl looks fantastic… Skye’s voice is just great and the ending
shot of Little Bit flying into the camera is stupendous… congrats on a job
well done… the owl sounds really make the piece and Pinkey eats a worm
just as the audio says I helped him find food… I think it tells the story
just right… I can’t wait till it is online and I can let my friends
know… both owls are as cute as the law allows… love ya and all your hard
work, owl boy

I am happy to not be seen in Pinkey’s film. After all it is about the
owls… but of course the choice is yours… that shot of Pinkey looking
into my face is definitely powerful. and the web page will have pictures of
me anyway… I think you have outdone the Dr. Willie Pearl with this one and
it will definitely take first place at the little film fest next year. It is
a winner… that last shot is awesome… Skye’s voice is perfect.  If I ever
get another screech owl, we should make sure Skye gets a chance to see it
close up.  Thanks a ton, owl dirt

I think I like this latest Pinkey Pearl draft the best. Even though Pinkey
does not look up at me as in the first one, it looks like he is listening
intently to whatever I am saying to him, which is funny. This Pinkey thing
is going to get more response and web hits than Willie got… and some sort
of film award.  It is really good..old owl parent

This is absolutely great…perfect for a tiny film award winner…the owl
call at the end is the topping. ….mama dirt

All this email looks just fine to me… and it presents things as they
honestly developed… I’m sure it will be striking to some people and maybe
it will even inspire someone to get into bird rehabilitation… and it
describes what a “soft release” is. Too often a raptor is rehabbed, then put
back to the wild only to starve, because it is unable to catch food during
the critical first week that it is back in the wild. Simply put, it has been
injured, stressed, confined, and is not in top flying trim. A few missed
catches and the bird is starving again and too weak to fly.

A soft release offers the bird a bit of food while it is getting back in
good trim, and on its wings, so to speak. The rehabber can always cut the
food off if the bird seems to be getting too dependent… the fact that
Pinkey survived 18 months in the wild after a soft release is testament to
it’s effectiveness.  By comparison, a hard release is a quick sink or swim
approach……….   Raptor rehabilitation as a science is only about 50 years old

and I have done it for half that time.  Rehabbers are still learning what

really works on the ground.  Love, dirt

NOTE: As we were preparing Pinkey’s pages and other website changes, an e-mail arrived from Clyde on July 9, 2007:

For the last few nights, Mr. Pinkey has returned (after an absence of 5 months) and has been calling from the darkness…he comes about 11 pm.  I am usually in the bed but Adrienne sometimes goes out and talks to him.  I guess he has gotten over the loss of his sweetie…. seeya, owl dirt

Clyde Hollifield, AKA “dirt”, lives on a farm in the Western North Carolina
mountains, southeast of Asheville, with his wife Adrienne, three dogs
(Willie, George and Pippin), several chickens, trout in the pond, and  until
the end of March 2007, the periodic raptors he rehabilitated (mostly screech
owls). Clyde is a gifted inventor, storyteller, artist, puppeteer, wise
woodsman and Renaissance man.

You can help orphaned or injured wildlife in many ways: by supporting
educational and rehabilitation programs in your area;  by learning about how
you might become a wildlife rehabilitator yourself; by helping organizations
protecting habitat; and by donating to Little Pearls to help us get Pinkey’s
story out to the public.

Everyone can do something to ensure that our children will always have
wildlife to enjoy, and that wildlife can live as they are meant to live:
healthy, wild and free!