there is a simple. explanation. for why I look like my head. is stuck. in a box: my head IS stuck in a box
but there is a simple. explanation for how. that happened, I was checking. to see if it was true that. all the biscuits were gone.
and even if they were all gone. maybe there were crumbs. that had to be eaten before the box got. recycled. it was a very deep box and when I. couldn’t reach the bottom with my tongue I stuck my head in. just a bit farther then I was stuck.
the two leggers didn’t laugh they didn’t even take a picture they. just pulled the box. off. but here’s the thing, the box was talking to me it was saying. there really are some crumbs stuck. in the very bottom of the box so I put my head in. again. and got stuck again.
apparently that is when the picture. was taken and if the two leggers hadn’t taken the box off my head. and put it out of my reach. there is no doubt I would have got stuck. a third time.
In what I can only describe as perfect timing, I witnessed the initial attack of what I now call the ‘Invasion of the Six-Plume Moths.’
We were getting a new furnace installed and I happened to be in the furnace room as the installer was removing the filter from the old furnace, an action that released hundreds, perhaps thousands of tiny moths. The insects had decided to spend the winter in the relative warmth of the air intake duct (mid efficiency system). They had not been able to infiltrate the house (because of the filter) but once the filter was removed they were free!
The furnace man was fiercely batting them away from his face, but that only helped to disperse them more quickly. The moths are now in every room in the house and though they are very small (only 1.2 cm or .47 in from wing tip to wing tip), they are very persistent and annoying little critters.
Every day we do a ‘Moth Sweep’ with the vacuum and suck them off the surfaces they have landed on. I’d like to say we are winning the battle, but as I sit here typing I’ve scooted three moths off my monitor screen. On several occasions I’ve scooped them out of a beverage. There are usually a few of them on my pillow when I go to bed. They keep crossing the line from being a tolerable house guest to being unwanted pests…
Our moths are likely the Alucita montana or Six-plume Moth. The moths in this family are quite unique in that their fore- and hind-wings each have about six rigid spines with flexible bristles, which create a structure similar to a bird’s feather.
one thing that
superior to men
is the fact that
insects run their
elections and so forth
– Don Marquis, “random thoughts by archy,” archy s life of mehitabel, 1933 –
The Flutter Files Name:Six-plume Moth Species:Alucita montana (Family Alucitadae) Native to:southeastern Canada and western provinces and states from central Alberta to western Texas (but not in desert regions.) Date Seen:September 2022 Location:North of Calgary, Alberta, Canada Notes:pale grey with faint, transverse banding of dark brown and tan, more distinct on the forewing, especially the costal edge.
The Cooper’s Hawks nested in our woods again this year. They built their nest high up in one of the tall spruce trees (though it was probably the male who did most of the work.)
The Hawks are stealthy and quiet. We don’t even know they are around until the baby birds have fledged. Then the parents get very peevish if we venture too close to their home base.
The two ‘youngsters’ (pictured below) are still being fed by the adults. They are always hungry. Their calls for food are almost non stop all day long. The parents feed them medium-sized birds and small mammals.
Cooper’s Hawks are very agile, powerful birds that pursue prey in the forest. They are very adept at threading their way through tree branches at top speed.
Both birds are venturing out further and further and are becoming very good fliers.
In a few months they will head for warmer climates. They are generally short to medium distance migrants which means they might winter somewhere in the central United States.
The upside to having hawks as summer residents is that they keep the rodent population in check. The downside is that we don’t see many mid-sized birds in our woods… except a family of crows that nested in our woods too. I don’t like crows very much. They are so noisy and their ‘caw, caw, caw’ is not a pleasant sound.
Gary Larson , of Far Side Comic fame, invented a phobia – Anatidaephobia. He defined it as “the fear that somewhere, somehow, a duck is watching you.” (Anatidaephobia comes from the Greek word “anatidae”, (referring to ducks, geese or swans and “phobos” meaning fear.)
If I was inclined to have a phobia, it could certainly involve geese and ducks! Every spring, a pair of Canada Geese stand on the rocks behind our house. They do this every morning for several weeks – assessing, I suppose, the probability of whether there will be a slough around the rocks this year. I watch them and they watch me.
If the geese aren’t on the rock, then Mallard ducks might be. They watch me and I watch them.
On the other side of the house, Ma and Pa Mallard settle down on the driveway each morning. I can’t begin to guess why they do that, but… I watch them and they watch me.
The Geese and Ducks certainly don’t make me fearful, but if I try to approach them – they fly away. I suppose you could say they have Anthropophobia (fear of people)!
On April 23 the Owlets were still in the nest, looking far less fluffy and much more feathery!
Their ‘ear’ tufts were more visible too. Owl experts don’t really know what the purpose is for these feathery tufts. They don’t have anything to do with how well the owl hears since an owl’s ears are on the side of the head, not the top!
The first owlet left the nest on April 25. Several alert neigbours reported seeing the young owl walking from one front yard to another!
I finally caught the ‘walking owl’ in action at dusk on April 27. The owlet was perched on a rock, then hopped down and continued it’s walkabout.
One parent owl was in a nearby palm tree hooting, while the second parent distributed the evening meal.
One owlet was still in the nest, maybe enjoying how roomy it’s quarters are now.
On April 28 the owlet in the nest was still looking down from it’s high perch.
The Adaptability of Great Horned Owls
Now that I’ve watched baby Great Horned Owls in both Alberta and Arizona, I realize there are differences in the behaviour of the owlets once they leave the nest. In Alberta, the owlets learned to fly from spruce branch to spruce branch. They didn’t spend time on the ground until much later when they were learning to hunt. The Arizona owlets are starting at ground level and will only become tree dwellers if they can hop/climb up something, or when their wings are strong enough to get them airborne!
Some interesting things I’ve found about Great Horned Owls.
– though an owl might dive at cats, dogs and people if they have a nest
in the area, it is unlikely they would take a dog or cat to eat. They
cannot lift much more than their own body weight, which is 2-3 pounds. Apparently it is urban legend that birds of prey hunt pets…
– an adult owl will have a wingspan of just under 4 feet. The female owl
will be bigger than the male.
The Great Horned Owl (that nested in the Palm Tree in our front yard) laid four eggs. One egg ‘escaped’ the nest, so didn’t hatch. Three owlets hatched, but one fell out of the nest when it was about 2 weeks old. I rescued it and gave it to a Raptor Center to raise.
The two remaining owlets are growing quickly. Feathers are replacing the fuzzy down. Watch the transition below:
The Drop Zone
The downside to having an owls nest in our front yard is the mess. You can see the accumulating owl droppings (at nest height) in the photo above. At ground level, there are more droppings, owl pellets (regurgitated bones, fur and feathers), and for some reason two dead rodents…
All photos were taken with a Canon Powershot SX50 HS camera. It has a single fixed superzoom lens. That means I can fill the photo with the owlet’s face while standing across the street.
Great Horned Owl Nest Timeline:
March 5 – mother owl is sitting on the nest. One egg has escaped the nest. (incubation time is 28-35 days.)
March 24 – broken egg found at base of tree. Owlets have hatched?
April 4 – first sighting of owlets, nearly 2 weeks after probable hatching.
April 7 – Owlet falls out of nest and is relocated to Raptor Center.
April 22 – Owlets starting to exercise wings. They move to the shady side of the tree during the heat of the afternoon.
The owlets might stay in the nest for about 6 weeks after hatching, though they could try to fly to nearby branches when about 5 weeks old. After they have left the nest, they may also be seen walking around on the ground for awhile before they can fly. The parents will continue to feed them for some time.
Snakes have emerged from their winter nap in Arizona. Here is how one snake (a harmless gopher snake) interacted with the non-toxic traps that are reducing the number of digging rodents (that were turning our yard into swiss cheese…)
Ratsss, Ssskewered. Sssun baked in a Ssslate dark oven. Boxxxed to go!
Sssweet and juicccey, a gassstonomissstsss treasssure. Ssslither into thisss hole.
Big sssnakey bite – but the boxxx won’t let go of my sssupper! Reverssse! Reverssse!
Ssso clossse! A mouth full of fur for my effortsss!
Sssearching elssswhere for my nexxxt Sssquare meal.
In my previous post about the Great Horned Owl nest in our palm tree, I introduced the First Owlet.
Over the next few days we saw at least two more baby birds.
In the photo above there are two owlets to the right of the unhatched egg, and one just above the egg. I don’t think there are more than that, but time will tell!
In this photo, one owlet settles in to it’s temporary home in an Amazon Prime cardboard box lined with a fluffy white towel. The baby bird fell out of the nest. I found it sitting on the road near the bottom of the palm tree. It could not walk or hop very far without tipping over.
There was no way I could get the baby back into the nest and it was much too young to live without the warmth and care of the mother owl. I didn’t know how long the bird had been on the ground, but I knew there were many predators nearby. So I donned my trusty leather gardening gloves, quickly found the box, took a deep breathe – and gently guided the bird into a safer place.
I’m not sure whose heart was beating faster now – the bird’s or mine! For such a small bundle, it had a big beak and long sharp talons – and it was not happy with me at all! We both calmed down once the owlet was safely in the box and I had added a fluffy towel so the bird had something to hold onto. I closed the flaps on the box (many thanks to the box maker because when the flaps are closed there is a large enough gap to allow good ventilation.)
Several hours later The Car Guy and I delivered the bird to the Arizona Wild at Heart rescue center. An experienced staff member checked the baby for broken bones, gave it a rehydration needle, then explained their baby raptor program to us.
They will care for the owlet in their ‘wild fostering’ program. The baby will be raised by another Great Horned Owl – a foster parent – that will feed it, teach it to avoid humans and predators, how to communicate and hunt. The baby will not imprint on people and as long as it grows up to be a healthy bird, it will be released into the wild when it is mature enough.
I sure know a lot more about baby owls now (they really don’t smell that great when they have been in a box for a short while…) So, although it is exciting to have a nest of baby birds nearby, sometimes it comes with the obligation to make sure that ‘No bird is left behind’.
The Great Horned Owl that is nesting in a palm tree in our yard (in Arizona) has successfully ‘hatched’ at least one owlet.
The photo above shows Mother Owl with the small white bundle of feathers that is the owlet. Near the bottom centre of the photo is the egg that escaped from the nest.
This photo shows the baby more clearly. The round black area is the eye. We think the owlet is almost 2 weeks old now.
This photo shows the owlet’s already impressive beak!
The Arizona Owl Family:
Mother owl on nest
The male owl in a tree near the nest
The Alberta Owl Family:
In 2018 we watched what we thought was a once in a lifetime event! A Great Horned Owl nested in a tree in our front yard. We first saw the three owlets when they had left the nest and were venturing out onto a branch each day as they prepared to fly for the first time.
Triplets before fledging
Mom and one of the owlets
Two of the owlets
One of the owlets after fledging
The Triplets – almost as big as the parents, but still being fed by their parents!