Posts tagged: birds
WILDLIFE WATCHING — You say you've never seen a Western screech owl in the wild?
No wonder, says Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — The 2014 Tundra Swan Festival is set for March 22 in the Pend Oreille River Valley and the main attraction is already flocking in.
Bus tours hosted by the Kalispell Tribe are planned to Calispell Lake to view some of the thousands of swans resting in the area’s open waters as their spring migration kicks into high gear.
Participants will re-gather at the Camas Wellness Center in Usk for lunch and a presentation on the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act by Forest Service District Ranger Gayne Sears.
Cost: $10 or $5 for kids under 13.
Sign up by Friday, March 14. Info: 509 447 5286
WILDLIFE WATCHING — This morning's sunshine — capping the past week of weather extremes — seems to be bringing on an epidemic of spring fever.
A Mount Spokane landowner said he noticed the first bluebird of the season flying past his window this morning.
Within an hour, he emailed the photo (above) of wild turkeys that have been frequenting his yard for weeks. But today, love was in the air.
Just snapped this pic, first time this season I’ve seen them spread their feathers. There were 13 of them feeding and all of a sudden they started chasing one another in circles and back and forth, finally one stopped long enough to get a pic. Guess spring is really here!!!
Also, Melissa Rose in Ferry County reports:
We could sure tell the difference going out side this morning up here. While there had been very little bird sound/activity all winter this morning we experienced a riot of both!”
And this just came in from Spokane Audubon member Kim Thorburn
Yesterday morning when feeding the chickens, I caught a glimpse of an unusual bird hop up from the ground. Expecting western bluebirds any moment, I went to inspect and found a lovely male spotted towhee. While they breed in Riverside State Park nearby, I've only seen one previously in my yard during a fall migration. He's also a bit early. He spent the day foraging with the ga-zillion dark-eyed juncos underneath the feeder, escaping to our slash piles when necessary. This morning, he's sunning himself atop our Colorado blue spruce, a favored songbird roost tree.
The western bluebirds (a pair) did arrive yesterday at 4:00 PM. There was also a killdeer along the 9-Mile Reservoir in Riverside State Park.
Tundra swans are pouring into the region, hitting all of the open water from Lake Spokane to the Colville Valley and Pend Oreille River.
And this report just in from Ron Dexter, also in the Mount Spokane foothills:
This morning as I returned from getting our morning paper, I found a male Western Bluebird perched upon our 7 ft tall carved bear. I looked around and found the female on the TV antenna. I went into the house and walked over to the front window where I read the paper, and there on a Serviceberry bush just outside the window was our first of the year Say's Phoebe. The mate usually shows up in the next week or two.
Spring has sprung, I guess.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — A Florida research project on endangered species in the hammocks of North Key Largo uncovered an unwanted cast of video stars: Cats perched atop man-made woodrat nests.
“The cats are doing the things that cats do when they hunt,” Jeremy Dixon, manager of the Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge says in a story by KeysInfoNet.
“It's not the fault of the cats,” Dixon said. “It's the fault of owners who allow their cats to trespass into the refuge, or people who dump cats on North Key Largo.”
My stand on the issue of domestic cats that are let loose to kill birds and other critters:
Loose-running domestic cats kill for fun. These cats are not wildlife. They should be licensed and required to abide by seasons and quotas just as human hunters.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Groups tracking the reintroduction of the endangered California condor celebrated last year when a record four birds hatched near the Arizona-Utah border.
This year has brought increased enthusiasm with the possibility that a condor hatched in the wild will produce the first second-generation wild bird.
Eddie Feltes of The Peregrine Fund says he and others are keeping their fingers crossed.
Breeding is underway for the condors in the Arizona-Utah flock and the captive flock at The Peregrine Fund’s World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, Idaho.
Biologists are watching from afar as adult condors incubate an egg in the Arizona-Utah flock nesting at Vermilion Cliffs National Monument.
The captive flock is expected to produce up to 20 birds this season.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — For 22 years through 2009, only one trumpeter swan reliably returned to Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge each winter or spring — whenever enough open water was exposed by ice thawing at the headquarters-area ponds.
Now the legacy of Solo, the lone male trumpeter that finally found love in 2009, lives on in at least a baker's dozen.
Nesting is likely. Broods usually hatch around Father's Day.
Here's today's swan observation from Mike Rule, refuge wildlife biologist:
We watched 13 swans flying down the creek in front of the office this morning . They landed on Winslow Pond and Middle Pine. There were
5 cygnets and 9 adults.
Four of the adults are likely the 2 breeding pairs from last year. The age of other 5 adults is unknown. They could be any combination of the 9 swans fledged in 2009, 2010, or 2012. We potentially have four unaccounted for breeding age swans from Solo's 2 broods. Hopefully we'll get another nesting pair established this year.
This same group was seen for a couple days in mid-January during a short thaw.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — The spring bird migration often subtly comes to our attention. Other times, it's obvious even to the casual observer.
Here's a head's up from the weekend by birder Terry Gray in the Palouse:
Today in east Moscow there were many American Robins (300+) and many RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS (100+) moving through. Some of the male blackbirds were already perched on top of cattails singing for the girls!
WILDLIFE WATCHING — This chart, courtesy of the Spokane Audubon Society's monthly newsletter, helps you put your birding knowledge into perspective.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Digital photography has made it possible to shoot photographs in such quantity that virtually anyone will bag a good one sooner or later.
But when it comes to wildlife, you'd better be ready for the action because it's often fleeting.
To add consistency to your wildlife photography, check out these five detailed tips for taking better wildlife photos from a man who's made his career with a camera. Here's a summary of his suggestions:
WILDLIFE WATCHING — A hospital medical staff had a hoot overlooking this UPS driver's recent ordeal with a menacing wild turkey tom in Minnesota.
Note to self: When sending important packages to turkey country, go with Fed-Ex.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — The northern hawk owl that thrilled hundreds of birders as it ranged south to hang out around Moscow this winter was killed in a vehicle collision Thursday but will live on as an exhibit at Washington State University.
Judging from the emails, the first bird of its species known to have visited the Palouse made a personal impact on people who enjoyed its willingness to be observed and photographed for six weeks around town.
Here's the report from Terry Gray, the Moscow birder who monitored the hawk owl and made daily reports on its whereabouts to visiting birders. Gray ultimately took the mortally injured bird to university veterinarians who tried to save it.
The Northern Hawk Owl turned out to be a male. The bird is now at the
Washington State University Charles R. Conner Museum and will join two more
Northern Hawk Owls in their collection.
I want to thank everyone for you kind thoughts and words. I really
appreciate them and feel honored to have kept all in the loop on what was
happening with our feathered friend. I had a tough experience today when a
couple knocked on my door from New Mexico asking for directions to see the
owl and I had to tell them that they were a day late!
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Sad news: the northern hawk owl that's been attracting birders from far and wide to the Moscow, Idaho, area has been reported dead.
The rare visitor from the arctic has been hunting and hanging out in the area since it was spotted Dec. 3 near a Moscow shopping mall by raptor expert Erik Stauber, a retired wildlife veterinary professor from Washington State University.
Moscow birder Terry Gray, who's been watching and photographing the bird almost daily just reported the news.
The hawk owl, a bird of boreal forests in Alaska and Canada, became a sensation because of its willingness to stay in the same area and be photographed by many, many birders after Gray posted photos and began giving daily reports on where the bird could be seen.
Northern hawk owls have been recorded and documented farther south in Idaho (Hailey and in eastern Idaho) and several had been recorded for Moscow and Pullman around 20 years ago, says birder Charles Swift.
But the bird is a rare or maybe once-in-a-lifetime bird for many enthusiasts in this region.
Birders had expressed concern about the bird's lack of fear for powerlines and vehicle traffic as it hunted for mice and voles in the wild patches along the town's edges and roadways. The bird was found injured but alive on a road where it had been hunting. Apparently it was struck by a vehicle. It was taken to WSU veterinarians but did not survive.
Click Continue reading for more details about the bird and from WSU News. (Note the error in reporting that this is the first documented sighting of a hawk owl near Moscow):
WILDLIFE WATCHING — The hawk owl that's been luring birders to the Moscow, Idaho, area for more than a month continues to deliver for photographers eager to document a rare visitor to the region.
Spokane-area birder Ron Dexter offered this recent photo with interesting details from his observation of the northern Canada bird's hunting behavior:
It was hunting from a powerline on the north side of White Ave. A small creek runs along that side of the road. The banks are covered with weeds and grass and provide raptors a hunting ground for mice and voles.
The first two attacks from the owl came up empty except for claws full of weeds. Finally, it sprang from the power line and dove into the grass along the road only 20 feet from me and grabbed a vole. Then it flew into a nearby tree. It would pin the rodent to a tree limb and chomp at it with its beak, then pick it up and fly to another tree where it ate it. It did not swallow the meal whole like most owls do, but ripped off pieces. Hawk Owls hunt in the daytime and eat like hawks, thus the name.
HUNTING — When I heard the weather report calling for nasty weather today I looked at Scout and said, “Sounds like a perfect day to call in sick and go hunting!”
I was right. Perfect morning, except for the roads on the return trip.
My advice now: It's a perfect day to stay home!
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Yesterday, in the Idaho Fish and Game Department's 75th anniversary series of “reminders” on wildlife topics, I featured the second of a three-part post on migrations — Part 2: Fish. The first installment was on Tuesday, Part 1: Roadkill and how the carnage along highways pegs critter movements.
Today, we look at Part 3: Birds.
Mammals do it. Birds and fish do it. Even insects do it.
They migrate as part of their inborn strategy for survival, and the arrival of winter triggers a massive migration of all kinds of wildlife.
They may travel a thousand miles or a few feet. The distance is not what defines migration; it’s that animals move between habitats during the year to survive. They may move for many reasons – to find food, breed or raise their young. Migration is a tool they use when a habitat no longer meets their needs.
Migration patterns and routes are ancient and have been influenced by the natural features of the land, water and air. The same natural features that foster wildlife movement are also attractive to human activities. Roads bisect open spaces. Wind turbines pop up on ridgelines. Dams block rivers. Communication towers light up the night sky. Houses are built in key habitat. And human structures frequently become problems for migrating wildlife.
All types of birds migrate. Some travel huge distances and while others simply move up and down a mountainside.
In Idaho, we often associate migration with waterfowl. They migrate by the thousands and noisily announce their coming and goings. Idaho is part of the migratory route called the Pacific Flyway.
Structures, such as power lines, wind farms and offshore oil-rigs, have been known to affect migratory birds. Habitat destruction by land use changes is the biggest threat, and shallow wetlands that are stopover and wintering sites for migratory birds are particularly threatened by draining and reclamation for human use.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Talk about local. This annual calendar features images of local birds captured by local birder-photographers.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Can you ID these two birds? If not, you may want to attend one of the Audubon Society programs tonight and Wednesday on identifying wintering birds.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Excellent programs on winter birding are planned next week, a spinoff in the birding social event of the year.
Local Audubon Society chapters have tapped professional biologists to present special pre-Christmas Bird Count programs on identifying and understanding “winter birds:”
Whether you're gearing up for joining a group outing during the Audubon Society's 114th annual Christmas Bird Count or simply brushing up on your bird identification skills, check out one of these free programs:
Coeur d’Alene Audubon will feature Carrie Hugo, BLM wildlife biologist, on Tuesday (Dec. 10), 7 p.m., at Lutheran Church of the Master, 4800 N. Ramsey Rd. in Coeur d’Alene.
Spokane Audubon will feature Gary Blevins, Spokane Falls Community College biology professor on Wednesday (Dec. 11), 7 p.m., at Riverview Community Building, 2117 E. North Crescent Ave. Driving directions: tinyurl.com/SASmeeting.
The Audubon Chapters also welcome newcomers on the Christmas Bird Count field trips they've organized. Following are the dates and the leader contacts:
Coeur d’Alene: Dec. 14; Shirley Sturts, (208) 664-5318, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Moscow: Dec. 14; Kas Dumroese, email@example.com.
Lewiston: Dec. 15; contact Bryan Jamieson, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sandpoint: Dec. 14; Rich Del Carlo, (208) 265-8989, email@example.com.
Bonners Ferry: Dec. 28; Jan Rose (208) 267-7791, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spirit Lake: Jan. 2; Shirley Sturts.
Indian Mountain: Jan. 5; Don Heikkila, (208) 659-3389, email@example.com.
Pullman: Dec. 14; Marie Dymkoski, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Colville: Dec. 14; Barbara Harding, (509) 684-8384, Barbara_Harding@fws.gov.
Pend Oreille River: Dec. 15; John Stuart, (509) 447-2644, email@example.com.
Clarkston: Dec. 15; Bryan Jamieson, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chewelah: Dec. 21; Mike Munts (509) 684-8384, email@example.com.
Spokane: Dec. 29; Alan McCoy, 448-3123, firstname.lastname@example.org.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — The online alerts have been buzzing this week with news of a northern hawk owl hanging out out around Moscow — a rare sighting that's attracting life-listing birdwatchers from around the region.
The hawk owl was still there this morning, according to this post from Kirsten Dahl.
The Northern Hawk-Owl is still present as of 7:30 am this morning. It is perched on top of a bush just east of the Hwy 8/Blaine intersection, along the bike trail.
The photo above is by Moscow birder Terry Gray. Here's a story about the occasion by Eric Barker of the Lewiston Tribune:
MOSCOW - When Lori Nelson heard about the northern hawk owl, she quickly devised a plan.
She dropped her son off at school Wednesday morning in Richland and headed east to the Palouse. By noon, she was standing under a tree near the Eastside Marketplace and admiring the rare bird that normally stays well north of the U.S.-Canada border.
“He has feathered feet, that is so cool,” she said. “It’s (a) once-in-a-lifetime bird for me. I may not get a chance to see one again.”
Many avid bird-watchers keep lists of all the species they have spotted. When a rare bird is found, they spread the word so others can not only enjoy it but also add to their lists.
The rare visitor was first spotted Tuesday morning and positively identified as a hawk owl that afternoon by Terry Gray of Moscow. He filled out a rare bird report and news of it quickly made the rounds via email listserves and websites like ebird.org. Local birders from Moscow, Pullman, Lewiston soon showed up to take a look and perhaps add a bird to their life lists.
“It’s kind of cool. It’s amazing how fast word gets out there through the different listserves and ebird on rare bird sightings,” said Gray. “It’s kind of fun.”
Later in the day, people from farther away started to show up. Gray said he met a carload of women from Boise who headed north as soon as they got word.
Keith Carlson of Lewiston was one of the early arrivals and said the bird didn’t disappoint.
“He’s a real piece of work,” he said. “He just sits there and he’s an experienced hunter. I saw him try to, and to catch, two mice this morning. He just sits in one or two trees and watches. All of a sudden he launches off and boom, he catches one and flies back up and eats it.”
According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, northern hawk owls prefer coniferous or mixed forests near open areas. They live year-round in Canada and Alaska. When food is scare during tough winters, the birds sometimes move south in large numbers, known as an irruption. Gray said there is no evidence this bird is associated with an irruption.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — A Steller’s jay photographed in the foothills of Mount Spokane by Ron Dexter is one of 12 birds featured in the Spokane Audubon Society’s 2014 Birds of Eastern Washington Calendar.
The calendars are a bargain at $10.
Order them at the club's online store.