Posts tagged: owls
WILDLIFE WATCHING — The life history of the snowy owl will be described in a free program by Denver Holt, founder of the Owl Research Institute, Tuesday (March 12) at the Lutheran Church of the Master, 4800 N. Ramsey Road in Coeur d’Alene, sponsored by Coeur d’Alene Audubon Society.
Read on for good background on this arctic visitors to this region supplied by the Institute and the Audubon Society:
WILDLIFE WATCHING — The great gray owl, widely distributed in the boreal forests of the north, also is found in a narrow swath of home range that runs south through far Eastern Washington, the Idaho Panhandle and Western Washington.
But seeing them is rare. I know birders who'd drive hundreds of miles to watch a great gray owl.
That's why Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson knew he was privileged to spend hours on three different occasions last week — shooting thousands of frames from his cameras — with a couple of the owls as they fed in a Montana forest meadow.
This particular bird kept flying and landing near me. She would then sit quietly listening. Often, she would look directly toward the snow and then lose interest.Every once in a while, she would not lose interest. She would silently fly and dive into the snow on the ground. She would go completely under the snow – Just her wing tips would stick out. Then, she would right herself and enjoy the fruits of her hunt. Sad for the mouse, but it is the circle of life.
She was probably 20 feet away on this dive. One cool thing, check out the bottom half of the beak – cool curve!
Even though great grays are huge owls, they have a taste for small rodents. They locate hidden prey with the help of large facial disks that funnel sound to their ears. Using their heft, they've been known to dive for a rodent with enough force to crash through a snow crust that's thick enough to hold a 180-pound person.
WILDLIFE — At least one bird species in the Inland Northwest was way ahead of the crowd on the procreation front, as I mentioned in today's Outdoors column.
But birdwatcher reporting from Pend Oreille County Wednesday said they a raucus bunch of hungry nestlings proved that common ravens weren't far behind.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Some wildlife photos happen spontaneously, the product of being ready to capture a surprising moment.
Other great photos are the product of planning, such as this great horned owl image by Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson:
We knew where this guy was, so we packed up the camera gear, tripod, light stands, lights, Radio controls and did a 5 mile hike in 8 inches of snow to get to where he was roosting.A three second burst of images and it was all over….
WILDLIFE WATCHING — The snowy owl that's been hanging out on or near Mt. Spokane High School for the past month is showing no signs of giving up what must be a great hunting area — and a certain celebrity status.
Here's today's report from local birder Craig Goodwin, who's been having fun visiting the area with his camera.
The Snowy owl at Mt. Spokane High School was on a light post in front of Mt. Spokane Church yesterday afternoon before moving to the light poles across from the high school and then heading to the top of the small grain tower. A friend who is a teacher at the high school told me the students and teachers have been very interested in the owl and they plan to include it in their upcoming school newsletter. The school secretary has named the owl Henrietta.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — An arctic migrant snowy owl continues to treat birdwatchers near Mount Spokane High School, not only by perching and modeling for photos, but also by letting people watch as it hunts nearby for rodents.
Of course, most of what goes in must come out.
You don't need a degree in anatomy to guess that bones are expelled easier from the front end, rather than the rear.
Owls have a cool way of internally wrapping the sharp bones they ingest in the fur and feathers of their prey. This neat little package, called an owl pellet or casting, is regurgitated — a prize for the curious, picked apart by many biology classes.
Local birder/photographer Ron Dexter caught the snowy owl in an act with his camera. The photo above might leave you a little breathless to see the size of that pellet. To the owl, it's just another moment of relief.
Here's Dexter's Monday report:
This is the Snowy Owl that is still hunting early morning and late afternoon at the Mt. Spokane High School on HWY 206.
I captured these images of it a few days ago as it regurgitated the large pellet from it's stomach after acids had eaten all of the meat and blood leaving just the fur and bones to be expelled.
I collected the pellet and disected it at home and found 5 rodent skulls and skeletons. Two of the skulls were twice the size of the other 3.
School students sometimes using charts can identify the exact type of rodent. I suspect the large ones are voles and the smaller ones mice. Lots of fun.
Afterthought: A reader wonders about the timing of reading these Outdoors Blog posts.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Here's the latest snowy owl sighting from Lincoln County:
At 3:09 p.m. Wednesday for about 30 minutes we had very close-up eye level views of a Snowy Owl sitting on a wooden fence post approximately 1.1 miles west of Hwy. 231 on the south side of Detour Rd. in Lincoln County.
Marlene & Bob Cashen
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Reports of snowy owl sightings have been coming in from all over. Snowshoers reported two of the arctic migrants making a brief pit stop on the towers on top of Mount Spokane.
Another observer found one hanging out at Reardan Ponds at the town of Reardan.
The Mount Spokane High School bird is hanging around the school long enough to letter in some sport.
They've been seen locally from Lincoln County to the Rathdrum Prairie.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Local birders have been watching a snowy owl for the past few days in the Spokane Valley. After a long winter migration from the arctic, it's taken a shine to the Mt. Spokane High School area.
“The Snowy Owl on Mt. Spokane Rd continues to feed successfully in the field across from Mt. Spokane High School,” Terry Little said after his Friday outing, noting that the owl perched once on the school. “It is also beginning to perch atop a small silver barn behind the house across from the school.”
On Saturday, Ron Dexter said the snowy owl was still hunting from the Highway 206 light and power poles right in front of the High School. “It appears to be a juvenile female—heavily barred on wings and front,” he said. “It is not disturbed by auto traffic. It is hunting a CRP parcel on the south side of the road.”
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Getting personal with wild birds is tricky.
Verifying whether a swan is male or female requires a hands-on fairly invasive peel-it-back and look.
Western Washington raptor biologist Bud Anderson offers these observations to people he's heard declaring the age and sex of snowy owls that are migrating into Washington and catching attention:
Here is some recent information on ageing and sexing snowy owls from www.frontierscientists.com, an Alaskan website. Note the article by Mat Seidensticker.“Birders usually want to know: Is it Male or Female? Denver Holt, an owl researcher who has spent the last 20 years studying the Snowy Owl up in Barrow, is cautious about identifying the sex.“The more experience you get the more questions you have,” Holt says. Yet the Journal of Raptor Research Dec 2011, Vol. 45, No. 4: 290-303 has just published an article “Sexing Young Snowy Owls” by lead author Mathew T. Seidensticker, co-authored by Jennifer Detienne, Sandra Talbot, and Kathy Gray, and Holt.Seidensticker and fellow researchers based their paper on a study of 140 owls from 34 nests (at Barrow). Specifically they looked at a secondary flight feather #4 on the left wing. Then they compared their predictions with blood tests. The model that correlated their data said they were 98% correct, actually they were 100% right. In short what the secondary feather #4 told them was: the female owl had a marking that they called a bar because it touched the feather shaft, while the male had a marking they called a spot or blotch that did not touch the feather shaft.”So I think that it is really important to understand how challenging it can be to age and sex these birds in the field. If Denver Holt is cautious, I would be too.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Birders have been reporting more and more observations of snowy owls showing up in Washington. Although they routinely venture this far during their winter migration from the arctic, Last year's big number of snowy owls across the northern tier of states was recognized as an irruption.
It could be happening again this year, experts say.
Read on for insight posted on Inland Northwest Birders by raptor biologist Bud Anderson in Western Washington:
BIRDWATCHING — The first snowy owls of the season are being reported in Washington as their annual winter migration from the arctic is underway. The mostly-white owls have been spotted from Seattle to Asotin County this week, bringing back memories of last year's “irruption” of birds that saw snowy owl sightings soar across the northern tier of the United States.
Birder David Woodall found a snowy owl in Asotin County Thursday morning off Halsey Road near a stubble field perched on a “Hunting by Permission” sigh. When he posted the sighting, Keith Carlson pointed out that's a hot spot for the birds each year.
“There is something magic about this location,” he said. “The first Snowy of last year's Asotin County irruption was in this same location. On 31 March of 2007, we found a Snowy at this location.”
The Davenport area of Lincoln County also is a perennial host for snowy owls.
BIRDWATCHING — Janet Swinton of the South Side of Spokane enjoyed a rare birdwatching experience today — from the comfort of her third-story bedroom window.
This barn owl was perched on a tree in her yard early in the morning and was still there in the evening.
“Other birds are pretty flustered by his presence,” she said.
Owls of the year fledged weeks ago, so this could be a juvenile looking for its own territory.
Time will only tell if there's one less free-roaming neighborhood cat by morning.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Most people interested in birds know there was an unusually high number of snowy owls that migrated south from the arctic to winter along the northern United States this season.
People were devoting a great deal of effort into taking advantage of the opportunity to see the majestic owls.
But two Spokane birders stumbled into one the other day, a winter leftover among spring migrants. Here's their photographic proof above, and the report below.
My husband and I were driving home from taking pictures of the upper falls when the sun was coming up on Saturday, April 14, 2012. As we turned on to Lincoln Road we always watch the power poles because we sometimes see a red-tail hawk sitting there. However, this time we noticed a female Snowy Owl on the pole.
We hurried home to change out lenses. Then drove back to where we saw the Snowy Owl. We spent time earlier this year looking for Snowy Owls over around the Davenport, Washington area without any luck the last few years. This year the Snowy Owl came to us.
Snowy Owls come down to our area in the winter and go back north to the colder area in the spring. This bird is probably a female as adult males are totally white. Picture was taken with a Canon T1i with a 400 mm Canon L lens. We used a tripod.
BIRDWATCHING — The latest report on this season's snowy owl irruption aired last night on MSNBC.
It features snowy owls at Damon Point near Ocean Shores, Wash., with Brian Bell, the Washington Birding Trail chair for Eastside Audubon, and bird photographer Paul Bannick, author of “The Owl and the Woodpecker.”
WILDLIFE — Hypnotizing.
Could you ever get tired of looking into a snowy owl's eyes?
The nifty image above was captured over the weekend by wildlife photographer Jaime Johnson of Lincoln, Mont.
See a video with some details of this season's snowy owl irruption.
BIRDWATCHING — You've heard of a murder of crows, a pride of lions and a exhaltation of larks, right?
What is the term for a group of snowy owls?
Click “continue reading” for the answer.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — The diminutive pygmy owl stands less than 7 inches tall, and it's easy to miss.
Birder Teri Pieper of Twisp used her eagle eyes to spot this little guy as she skinny-skied behind friends who had swooshed past the owl in the brush just above their heads without seeing it. She was skiing near Sun Mountain Lodge on the Methow Valley Sport Trails Association trails.
The pygmy owl is an aggressive little bird that preys on rodents and other birds as large as a mourning dove.
With her radar out for the best opportunities, she recently traveled to Boundary Bay just south of Vancouver, British Columbia, to capture “thousands of snowy owl photos” as she put it.
Get the details in my Outdoors section feature story about Milliken.
The two photo's with this post are highlights of Milliken's expedition, especially the one above featuring 11 snowy owls in one frame, including the heavily barred owl that looks grayish in the background.
Here are more links to check out related to snowy owls:
See Sandy Milliken's flickr photo site.
BIRDS — A video released by WSU Veterinary School today offers insight into a migration spectacle as well as the treatment being offered for a migrant snowy owl injured in November by a collision with a car near Davenport.
Snowy owls are making news as they've showed up in ones and twos all over the northern United States this winter as they migrate in larger than normal numbers from arctic homes to winter hunting grounds.
The beautiful, white birds are a common winter attraction in this region, especially in Lincoln and Stevens counties. But their easiness around civilization can be detrimental when they leave the tundra.
Snowy owls spend most of their lives in treeless habitats, where they’ve evolved to launch their rodent hunts from the ground or low perches such as fence posts.
Many snowy owls migrate thousands of miles over wilderness only to meet doom in a vehicle collision as they cross a road.
Washington Fish and Wildlife police officer Curt Wood picked up an injured snowy owl from the roadside just northeast of Davenport on Nov. 25. (This is the owl in the photo and video with this blog.)
The bird was taken to the Washington State University Veterinary School, where it’s being treated for a fractured wing and dislocated elbow.
“It’s probably not going to be releasable,” said school spokesman Charlie Powell. “It’s a little too warm during summer to keep him comfortable, but snowy owls are very easy to place in zoos, so it will be in good hands.”
A few days later, officer Wood picked up another ailing snowy owl, also near Davenport on the Sunset Highway. He had to make a stop in Wilbur first, so he let the local third-graders get a close look at the migrant before bringing it in to the Ponti Veterinary Hospital.
Wood said the kids were intrigued by the white owl.
Unfortunately, the Ponti clinic staff said they were unable to save the bird.