Cooper’s Hawks in our Woods

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.

Here is my other story about a family of Cooper’s Hawks – Cooper’s Hawk near Calgary, Alberta.

This is the Week that Was: Rescued Owl Update

Great Horned Owlet in April 2022

The Rescue Owl
In April I rescued a Great Horned Owlet that had fallen out of a nest that was in the Palm Tree in our front yard (see Great Horned Owlets in April.) We took the bird to the ‘Wild at Heart’ Bird rescue center in Cave Creek Arizona.

In early June the Director of Wild at Heart  sent us an update about our owlet.

Group Photo Great Horned Owlets

‘Our’ owl is one of the ones in this group photo. The birds will continue their stay at the Center throughout the summer. They will finish their live food training sessions and in late summer and throughout the fall they will be released into a suitable habitat.

So, do you think my owlet is the ‘tall’ curious one in the back row… or maybe the shy one huddled up against the owl next to it? For creatures that look so much alike, they do seem to have distinct personalities!

Social Media – the Information Gatekeepers

Being effective at social media, whether for business or personal use, means capturing people who have short attention spans. They’re only a click away from a picture of a funny cat, so you have to make your thing more compelling than that cat. And that can be a high bar.
— Alexis Ohanian –

There are many things of which a wise man might wish to be ignorant.
― Ralph Waldo Emerson –

#Take Box

We call the Amazon Drivers ‘Andy’. They visit us quite frequently. The Car Guy has found that he can buy a lot of stuff for his work shop from Amazon. Their warehouse isn’t far from our place and they have items that the hardware stores have not had for some time now.

As quickly as Andy delivers things, other stuff is exiting our house. We are  in the ‘never ending’ downsizing mode. We are at that age where it is highly unlikely we will ever use many of the things that we often used 20 or 30 years ago!  When I saw the following idea,  I thought it sounded like a good one:

What Happens in the Bedroom…

Speaking of Beds, I recently saw this ‘Flower Bed’.

Do You Remember When?

Are you old enough to remember the Indian Head Test Pattern that was shown on your TV screen just after the channel had signed off for the day?

The test pattern was used to tune the brightness and contrast settings, either by broadcast engineers to make sure broadcasts were being sent correctly; or by TV owners or repair shop technicians to correct the image.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian-head_test_pattern#/media/File:Indian_Head_Test_Pattern_with_Labels.png

To Sum Things Up

The upside of Facebook, besides knowing what things your friends and family are doing that they don’t otherwise tell you about, are tidbits like this one (I couldn’t find the original source, which might have been clearer):

If you are of a certain age you will remember Jim Croce’s song, ‘Operator’:

Operator, oh, could you help me place this call?
See, the number on the matchbook is old and faded.

The hypothetical comments that might come from young people today – what is an ‘operator’ or a ‘matchbook’ – could explain why that person would think the song makes no sense!

That’s okay. The few times I’ve listened to the words of some new song, I didn’t understand all the references either!

Watching Them Watching Me

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)!

While I don’t have any phobias and I don’t think I Hate anyone or anything,  I really dislike certain creatures like Snakes, Scorpions and a certain politician.

If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have at least to consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family anatidae on our hands.
– Douglas Adams –

Silence is golden…duck tape is silver.
– Author Unknown –

I heard the Secret Service had to change their commands. They can’t say “Get down!” anymore when the President is under attack. Now it’s “Donald! Duck!”
– Joke during the Presidency of Donald Trump –

Great Horned Owlet Walks Around the Neighbourhood

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.

Great Horned Owlets in April

Update on the Owlets:

Rescued Great Horned Owlet at the Raptor Centre on April 7.

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:

Great Horned Owlet April 10
Great Horned Owlet April 17
Great Horned Owlets April 21

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…

The Camera
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.

Great Horned Owl – Rescuing an Owlet

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.)

The baby owlet being held by a person at the ‘Wild at Heart’ Raptor Center.

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’.

 

Great Horned Owlet – First Photos

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:

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.

The Egg Escaped

We are eagerly waiting for the arrival of baby Great Horned Owls. The parental units have nested in a Palm Tree in our front yard. (Snooze All Day, Hoot All Night). Sadly, one of the owl eggs escaped from the nest.

We sure hope the owl laid more than one egg! The escaped egg will never take flight!

Nature recognized that the Egg was eggsactly the type of ineggspensive, eggstremely simple container needed for many housing situations. With an eggsternal shell that would survive eggstreme conditions (barring eggsplosions), the egg was an eggsellent choice where eggsessive sharp edges were undesirable for the eggspectant mother when it was time to eggspell it.
– Margy –

Speaking of flight –

Here is a link to some of my other Egg posts: An Eggsellent Arrangement of Eggs.

Snooze All Day, Hoot All Night – Great Horned Owls

There has been a Great Horned Owl (or maybe owls, plural) in our Arizona yard for several weeks now. It (or they) have been hooting almost every night. Sometimes one sits on the top of the chimney – then they sound like they are in the house!

Several days ago I heard a few short hoots as I was sitting on my back deck. I traced the sound to the large old Willow Acacia tree. Initially the owls eyes were closed, but as I slowly circled one side of the tree to take some photos, the owls eyes opened – then closed again. Maybe it was responding to the crunching noise I was making on the gravel that is our yard, or maybe it was looking at the hummingbirds that were pestering it.

At night, we often hear an owl in front of our house too, so yesterday I inspected our Palm Tree more carefully. To the naked eye, it was hard to tell whether an owl was nestled in a notch made by the stumps of palm fronds. I had no problem seeing the owl once I had my camera with the zoom lens!

I’m hopeful that this is a nest! If so, we should be here in Arizona long enough to see the owlets. If that is the case, then our ‘once in a lifetime’ chance to watch baby horned owls grow up will be a ‘twice in a lifetime’ event! (My Alberta Great Horned Owl is at Owl Family.)

They will usually start their nesting behavior around late December to early January in Arizona…Their clutch size will range anywhere from 1-6 eggs… incubation period of about 28 – 35 days… The hatching of the eggs will typically happen in mid to late February through March. Both parents will bring the young owlets food in the nest, and both parents will tend to the young for the first several months of life.
Arizona Game and Fish

12th Blog Anniversary and 1000 Posts

Two milestones to celebrate – my 12th Blogging Anniversary and my 1000th post on this blog; (another 87 posts – the more serious and political ones – are at my alternate identity, Counter Current)!

Highlights (and a few low lights) of the past twelve years:

Morgan or Montana Moose – though Mandate Moose would have been a better name…

How many people can say they get frequent visits from the  Munching Moose Tree and Hedge Maintenance Service?
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Three Great Horned Owlets

Our property was also home to a Great Horned Owl family that nested in a large spruce tree on the edge of our driveway.

I also did 138 Wild-life stories that document all the birds, bugs and animals I saw and 88 posts about Plants.
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On the Humour front, I did 95 posts of funny Quotations and 1000 posts that had at least one moment of happiness embedded in the verbiage.
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I’ve posted 45 Craft Projects.  The interior decor of the Red House reminds me of the front of the family fridge when there were school age kids in our house: a bunch of crafts that sometimes only a ‘mother’ can love…
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“Into each life a little rain must fall.”

In 2012, The Car Guy was in a bad motorcycle accident. Man and bike both recovered, though the Harley looked like new after the restoration and The Car Guy  – not so much.
In 2013 there was a lot of rain. Our entire Cabin Community was destroyed. Though we weren’t able the save much from our cabin, the Car Guy did manage to salvage   our old lawnmower!
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My review wouldn’t be complete without a mention of  Covid-19. I did about 40 posts about the virus, none of which went viral…

2, 4, 6, 8… Who Needs to Isolate?
My blogging life started in November 2009 during the peak of the second wave of the novel virus H1N1pdm09 pandemic. It was also known as the ‘Swine Flu’. The Cornell Daily Sun joked about the pig connection with the headline: ‘It’s the End of the World As We Know It, And I Feel Swine…’

I’ve also lived through two other relatively serious pandemics – two Avian flus: the  Asian flu of 1957-1958  and the Hong Kong Flu of 1968-1970 . How did all three of these pandemics compare to Covid-19? No one will ever really know. Covid cases, hospitalizations and deaths have been tracked differently and the collateral damage from lock downs, reduction in non-covid medical treatment and school closures will be difficult to measure.

Is “Baby It’s Cold Outside” a Deeply Offensive Song about Climate Change Denialism?
My blogging ‘career’ also coincided with COP15 (Conference of the Parties) which was held in Copenhagen in late 2009. COP26 (the 2021 version) is in full swing in Glasgow.  21,000 delegates, 13,000 observers and 3,000 members of the media will talk about how to cut emissions… do they understand the irony?

I’ll end this retrospective with this:

My blog is a collection of answers people don’t want to hear to questions they didn’t ask.
― Sebastyne Young –