Great Horned Owls – Apex Predators

An Apex Predator is one that is NOT preyed upon when it is a healthy adult in the wild. I have seen three Apex bird species in the woods and fields that surround our house: Red-tailed hawk, Common Raven and Great Horned Owl. The Coyotes here would be considered apex too because we don’t have wolves or bears.

The Great Horned Owl is the only Apex Predator in our woods lately. Last night, from 9:45  to 10:15 PM, I got to watch one adult Great Horned Owl hunt and three Owlets beg for food. I suppose the owlets are also learning to hunt.

The owls have now moved into our back yard. (Prior to that they were in the woods in the front of our property). There is an open area here with grass, flowers and ornamental trees. Beyond the fence (that protects my flowers from being eaten by deer) is native prairie grass. Beyond that is a grain field.

At dusk (9:45 PM) I spotted a flurry of wings as one owl lifted off from the grass near the playground. Then I saw an owl on the fence. Then another owl.

Four owls were flying from the fence to the playground and back again. Fortunately, I was able to get one photo of all three owlets perched on one of the boards at the top of the swing/slide structure.

I was quickly losing enough light to photograph the birds. My last photo was this one – an owlet and an adult.

After that, the adult owl flew down into the grass between the fence and the erratic (glacier deposited) rocks that you see in the background of this photo. Soon all three owlets flew to the top of the rocks and started to call for food.

A New Yorker visits Vermont and asks, “Where did all these rocks come from?” And the farmer says, “They were brought here by a glacier.”
“Well, what happened to the glacier?”
And the farmer replies, “It went back for more rocks.”
– Blacklock’s Reporter –

The playground, this morning, is the preferred resting spot for one owlet. An adult was there too, but it eventually flew off to a more secluded tree.

I’m going to have to rethink which area of the yard I can garden in today…

These were the owlets on May 28.

Here they are on June 1 when they started flying.

What Apex Predators live near you?

This is a ‘Six on Saturday’ post – thanks to The Propagator.

Great Horned Owlets Take Flight

The owlets ventured out onto a branch on May 27. Within a few days they were exercising their wings.

On June 1, wing flapping was more frenzied and occasionally one of them would even lift off the branch briefly.

One minute all three owlets were on their ‘home’ branch. Ten minutes later I checked on them again, and one owlet (the one on the left) had taken its first short flight.

This seemed to take all of them by surprise. The two owlets that were left behind kept looking down at the third.

The third owlet spent a lot of time bobbing its head/body and looking back up at the other two. (These movements help the owl judge the position and distance to everything around it.)

June 3 – All three owlets have left the ‘home’ tree. When I find one, it is always in the NW quadrant of our woods – about an acre of aspen, willow and a lot of spruce trees.

June 7 – The same owlet as the previous photo?! I don’t know. They all look alike.

June 19 – found all three owlets in the same area. Two were together in one tree.

The third owlet was in a nearby tree.

June 28 – one owlet and one parent were in a new part of the woods. The owlet is flying well, though it lacks some grace when it lands on a wobbly branch.

The adults are usually in the vicinity of the owlets. I often see them on an aspen branch at the edge of the woods. This is one of the adults.

The second adult was in a nearby tree.

The Feather Files
Name: Great Horned Owl
Species: Bubo virginianus
Date Seen: June 2018
Location: North of Airdrie Alberta, Canada

This is the Week That Was: June 28, 2018

A Little Bit About Ants

I bought an ant farm. I don’t know where I am going to get a tractor that small!
– Steven Wright –

Ever so Virtuous

Virtue signalling: when you express an opinion in public to show your moral superiority and gain approval – without actually taking a significant action.

(Isaac) Newton wouldn’t last long as a ‘public intellectual’ in modern American culture. Sooner or later, he would say ‘offensive’ things that get reported to Harvard and that get picked up by mainstream media as moral-outrage clickbait. His eccentric, ornery awkwardness would lead to swift expulsion from academia, social media, and publishing. Result? On the upside, he’d drive some traffic through Huffpost, Buzzfeed, and Jezebel, and people would have a fresh controversy to virtue-signal about on Facebook. On the downside, we wouldn’t have Newton’s Laws of Motion.
― Geoffrey Miller –

Gender Neutrality in Canada

Gender neutrality is a hot issue is Canada right now. One line of our National Anthem has been changed from “in all thy sons command” to “in all of us command.” (To be honest, I haven’t been able to sing our entire National Anthem since the unofficial English/French version became the ‘right’ way to sing it.)

Prime Minister Trudeau, at a recent Town Hall meeting, corrected a young woman who spoke about the “the future of mankind.” Trudeau interrupted her and said, “ we like to say people-kind, not necessarily mankind.” (Days later, he claimed he was just joking.)

Gender Neutral wording gets kind of tricky. Is the word ‘person’ gender neutral? (It contains the word ‘son’.) Are the words ‘woman’ and ‘human’ gender neutral? (They both contain the word ‘man’.) Last, but not least – the Province of ‘Manitoba’. Will we have to change that name to Peopletoba’?

Canada’s Government and Male Bashing

CBC Comedy (part of a federally funded Canadian Crown Corporation) isn’t all that funny sometimes. A recent post started off: “Air Canada announced this morning that as of 2017, passengers will be required to pay an extra fee to transport any emotional baggage they happen to be carrying with them onto their flight.”

While that is a funny line, the post goes on to condemn men in general: “When it comes to homophobia, misogyny, and deep-seated racism, we’ll be charging $500 per issue … the airline made the decision to introduce the fee last week after nine different businessmen on nine different flights loudly refused to turn off their electronic devices during takeoff and then proceeded to get blind drunk on tiny bottles of vodka and yell racial slurs at the person in the seat beside them.”

Internet Speed 

Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day; teach that person to use the Internet and they won’t bother you for weeks.
– Author Unknown –

Do you remember when you connected to the Internet by dial-up? It could take minutes, if not hours, to load web pages onto a computer! The majority of internet users today would be frustrated by the lack of speed, yet for many people in the world, a phone line, and the relatively low cost of dial-up, is either their preferred, or necessitated method of connecting.

Factors that affect the speed: 
Your computer (and any other equipment that connects it to the internet); interference or conflicts from other equipment (depending on your set-up.)
Your Service Provider – In addition to Dial-up, you can connect to the internet by Broadband (cable, DSL), Satellite or Wireless Tower. Each provider will have varying levels of service with faster Internet service billed at a premium. Independent of what you level of service you are paying for, the number of people trying to access the service provider can slow things down. (Our service is also dependent on weather, tower outages and a misaligned receiver dish!)
Internet Traffic – Access to any site will depend on the amount of traffic that is trying to access it.

Would you rather the world be warmer or cooler?

We have one of the big glacier rocks (an erratic) near us, so this Climate Change joke seems pretty funny…

A New Yorker visits Vermont and asks, “Where did all these rocks come from?” And the farmer says, “They were brought here by a glacier.”
“Well, what happened to the glacier?”
And the farmer replies, “It went back for more rocks.”
– Blacklock’s Reporter –

Personally, I prefer a warmer Canada – we are one of the coldest countries in the world. We are the 2nd largest country by land mass with .49% of the world population spread out across our entire width. We consume about .6% of the world food production, but we produce and export 1.5%. We emit only 1.69% of Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

A Joke about Government Being Out of Touch

A cowboy named Billy was overseeing his herd in a remote pasture in southern Alberta, when suddenly a brand-new BMW advanced toward him out of a cloud of dust. The driver, a young man in a Brioni® suit, Gucci® shoes, RayBan® sunglasses and YSL® tie, leaned out the window and asked the cowboy, “If I tell you exactly how many cows and calves you have in your herd, will you give me a calf?”

Billy looked at the man, who obviously is a yuppie, then looked at his peacefully grazing herd and calmly answered, “Sure, why not?”

The yuppie parked his car, whiped out his Dell® notebook computer, connected it to his Cingular RAZR V3® cell phone, and surfed to a NASA page on the Internet, where he called up a GPS satellite to get an exact fix on his location which he then fed to another NASA satellite that scaned the area in an ultra-high-resolution photo. The young man then opened the digital photo in Adobe Photoshop® and exported it to an image processing facility in Hamburg, Germany .

Within seconds, he receiveed an email on his Palm Pilot® that the image had been processed and the data stored. He then accesseed an MS-SQL® database through an ODBC connected Excel® spreadsheet with email on his Blackberry® and, after a few minutes, receiveed a response. Finally, he printed out a full-color, 150-page report on his hi-tech, miniaturized HP LaserJet® printer, turned to the cowboy and said, “You have exactly 1,586 cows and calves.”

“That’s right. Well, I guess you can take one of my calves,” says Billy. He watcheed the young man select one of the animals and looked on with amusement as he stuffed it into the trunk of his car. Then Billy called to him, “Hey, if I can tell you exactly what your business is, will you give me back my calf?”

The young man thought  about it for a second and then said, “Okay, why not?”

“You’re a MLA for Alberta’s NDP government!”, said Billy.

“Wow! That’s correct,” said the yuppie, “but how did you guess that?”

“No guessing required.” answered the cowboy. “You showed up here even though nobody called you; you want to get paid for an answer I already knew, to a question I never asked. You used millions of dollars worth of equipment trying to show me how much smarter than me you are; and you don’t know a thing about how working people make a living – or about cows, for that matter. This is a flock of sheep. Now give me back my dog.
– OLL –

A Few Poems

I like to have a martini,
Two at the very most.
After three I’m under the table,
After four I’m under my host.
– Dorothy Parker, The Collected Dorothy Parker –

The rain it raineth on the just
And also on the unjust fella;
But chiefly on the just, because
The unjust’s stolen his umbrella
– Charles Bowen

This is my Crone Voice

On one of my recent ‘wanderings’ I came across the word ‘Crone’ or more specifically, the Crone Archetype. Initially, I had a not so pleasant vision of a ‘Crone’, but further reading made me realize that some might say I AM a Crone! Perhaps you are too. (If you are a man, then your corresponding Archetype would be Sage.)

If you are a woman of a certain mature age, have abandoned the need for ‘properness’, are up front, and don’t mince your words – you might be a Crone. If you are seen as a being a straight talking mentor, occasionally a trifle crabby  and perhaps even  a bit flirtatious and sassy – you might be a Crone. If you have found an inner peace and accept who you are; if you are realistic and have practical expectations – you might be a crone.

I ticked off a lot of the ‘You might be a Crone’ boxes. When I reviewed the content of my blog, my ‘Crone Voice’ was evident in so many of the posts that had defied all my attempts to corral them into a single category. This was the birth of  My Crone Voice.

That resulted in a new Facebook Page, This is My Crone Voice. I began posting links to all my favourite stories from conservative, pragmatic environmentalist, climate change realist, garden variety, common sense folks like myself.

Apparently this alarmed an algorithm or actual person at Facebook, because within  a few weeks of starting the page, I was issued a warning that ‘Limits have been placed’.

I don’t know what these limits are, nor what I have done to deserve them. I can’t find any explanation or documentation other than this:

I’ve appealed it, of course. I pointed out to Facebook that I only have one follower, a Sage called The Car Guy,  and I only get one ‘Like’ on most posts. I don’t publish spam. I publish links to posts that I agree with.  I am not being misleading, fraudulent, or deceptive – unless those are the descriptors Facebook assigns to conservative pragmatic writers…

I eventually decided to delete the page. I’m getting real close to deleting Facebook from my life…

 

American Robin Welcome Wagon

Two years ago, a pair of American Robins built a nest on top of the electric meter box near our front door. (See this post: The Endless Quest for Food.) Yesterday, a pair of robins were checking out the same location, but almost immediately afterward, a magpie landed on the meter. This seemed to dampen the enthusiasm of the robins. They haven’t returned.

The Car Guy and I remembered, though, that the previous robins had a great deal of difficulty building a nest on the narrow, smooth surface of the box. It seemed to us that it might be a good idea to mount a platform on top of the box that would make it easier for the robins to anchor their nest.

This is what The Car Guy came up with. Just to make it very clear to the magpie that this was for the robins, The Car Guy added the name of the intended occupants.

A wall, an electrical meter box, the robin platform – do you see anything else in this photo? I didn’t until I finished editing it and uploaded it. I’m kind of in the photo too! Can you see me?

Update: The robins started building a nest this morning!

Your Blog – What Do Your Visitors See?

I give my blog a make-over now and then. (WordPress.com has so many themes to try). When I test drive a new one, I ask a few friends to let me know what their browser thinks of the change. Does my blog load fairly fast on their computer, phone or other device? Can they read the blog easily? Does anything seem to be ‘broken’?

Why does speed matter?

My frog connection – photo dimensions are 302px by 219 px. The size is 23.9 KB

We might live in a fast paced world, but our internet connections vary from rabbit to turtle. I sometimes have a frog connection – fast leaps alternating with “really, you’ve stopped completely!?” pauses. A fast website loads completely in my browser while my frog is leaping. I can read the site while my frog has stopped to admire the scenery. A slow website doesn’t load completely during the leaps. I often get tired of waiting and abandon the site.

Apparently search engines also use load speed as one of the factors in search ranking. You can test the speed of your site with a free tool called Pingdom Website Speed Test. The test will tell you how fast your site is. If you scroll down their page, you will be able to see exactly what is slowing your site down.

If you click the Home button on my menu above, you can check my new landing page. According to Pingdom my Performance Grade is 90 and it loads faster than 83% of sites tested from New York City.

How does your Home Page compare?

One way to speed up your site – reduce the size of your images

Your theme choice dictates the size your images will display. Resize your images to match your theme – your images will then be the best the theme can offer AND the fastest to deliver to your readers.

The original of this frog photo was 2756 px by 1991 px with a size of 2.82 MB. The content width for this theme (default post) is, however, only 640 px.  (I’ve been using a maximum image size of 700 px for quite a few years).

This frog photo is 702 px by 508 px. It is 72.5 KB in size.
This frog photo is 902 px by 652 px. It is 107 KB in size.

As you can see, the frog photo on the bottom is of no better quality than the photo above it, but it takes up more space in your WordPress account. If I had uploaded the full size photo, it would have taken a lot longer to load, and would not have looked appreciably better than the smaller size photos.

Is your font choice working for or against you?

Speaking of size, is your font large enough to be read easily? What about colour? Dark text on a light background is easy to read. Light text on a dark background is harder to read. Check your site on a computer, a tablet and a phone. How readable is it?

If you a Frog Lover

The frog in the photo is a Northern Leopard Frog. They are no longer common in Alberta, though we often used to see them at the cabin.

Right Place, Right Time

Every now and then (but not if I’m in a line-up at the store) I’m in the Right Place at the Right Time! Here are three photos to illustrate what I mean.

In 2011, I wrote a post titled Lady’s Slipper Orchids – Surprise in the Ditch. At that time, the orchids were growing in a ditch – about a 5 minute walk from us. Not a great distance, but they were easy to overlook in the tall weeds and their blooming season was short. I only saw them once again after that.

A few days ago, I was very surprised to find the pretty yellow orchids again growing in the ditch –  but this time right at the end of our driveway!

It would have been easy to miss their yellow flowers, surrounded as they were by clumps of yellow dandelions. But, they must have whispered to me… “It’s your lucky day – we’re your  neighbours now!”

I’m a Canadian ‘Snowbird’ who spends part of the winter in the USA. Last winter I went to an Estate Sale at the house next to our Arizona home. One of the items for sale was an old sewing machine in a cabinet. I ignored it – I already had a sewing machine.

The next morning, after the sale had ended, the sewing machine had been moved out to the garage, en route to who knows where. The sales agent appealed to my thriftiness by pointing out that the machine, the cabinet and a box of sewing supplies could be mine for a mere $10. Sold!

Later, when I opened the box of supplies, I found this small Canadian Flag lapel pin nestled in with the bobbins and thread. I’ll never know why the elderly American woman who owned the machine had this lapel pin, but I do know that the pin whispered to me – “This sewing machine was meant for you!”

Here is the link to my story about the Great Horned Owl Family  that has been living in a tree near the front of our house. Though we have often seen the adult owls on our property and last year I briefly glimpsed a pair of owlets, it has been a once in a lifetime event to watch three owlets ‘branch’ and eventually fledge. The owl parents really did pick the right place and the right time for us!

Do you have a ‘Right Place – Right Time’ story to share?