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  #11  
Old 12-04-2008, 09:36 PM
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Jim that reminds me of my son, who'd not like to know I'm reporting this (teenager),when a preschooler we went owling and he said he was afraid that the owls might "hoot on us".
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  #12  
Old 12-04-2008, 11:20 PM
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My wife developed a working relationship with one of the lesser horned owls that was really a hoot. As she is a night owl, so to speak, and didn't work, so she usually was the one to go outside with a shotgun when some critter (usually skunk) set the chickens off in the hen house. When she managed to shoot one of the critters, she would leave the body insitu for me to dispose of the next morning. After a while, the bodies started disappearing; the mystery was solved one evening when, after she ventilated a skunk, an owl swooped out of a nearby tree and carried off the carcass. After the owl developed enough trust, it would even flush skunks out of the high grass so she could get off a clear shot. It seems that lesser horned owls are one of the few predators of skunks.....which is just fine by us.
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Old 12-05-2008, 12:01 AM
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Very cool Darwin. My owl story isn't quite as neat as that. Anyway. I fancy myself as a bit of an impressionist (voices, not paintings). When I was about 8, I went on a night hike with the county naturalist and we heard some Barred owls. I quickly learned the call. It's sounds like your saying "Who cooks for you, who cooks for y'all." At least I think that's what he said. It was nearly 20 years ago. Anywho, I made a point to drag my dad out to the woods fairly regularly after that. Every time I would make the call, and every time I would get replies. I still do this every once in a while. My wife thinks I'm nuts, but likes when the birds call back.
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Old 12-05-2008, 12:13 AM
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I really like owls but I almost never see them.
When I was in Olympic NP we arrived at 3am or something, and many owls started calling. I forget which species it was. It was insane, for a few hours you just hear these creepy (awesome) things echoing all through the forest.

Around my house we once ran into a long eared owl. We were sort of following it, and it would just move from tree to tree. Came really close... awesome stuff.
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Old 12-05-2008, 12:23 AM
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The most common owls near me have been burrowing owls. There used to be a parliament* of owls living in the median of the road through the local airport, but I haven't seen any since they redid the landscaping.
Wee little things that usually came out during the day.


*or the representative political body of your choice
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  #16  
Old 12-05-2008, 07:47 AM
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Ashrunner, I did not take the photo of the redwinged blackbird. I saw it in the magazine and found the photo on the NWF website.

A few years ago a mockingbird would always show up when I mowed the lawn. I would start the lawnmower up and within 10 minutes the mockingbird would be perched high on a wire watching. When some insects would be disturbed by the mower passing, the bird would swoop down and grab a tasty snack. I kept waiting for the bird to perch on the bill of my ball cap, but it never did. It just hung out on the wire each time. That went on for a few years, then stopped.

I have seen a hawk take a small bird three times in my backyard. All of the small birds would hang out waiting to eat at the birdfeeders. The hawk would hang out waiting to eat one of the birds. The first time the hawk took a bird was very startling. Just as I stepped off of the patio out back I caught a quick movement out of the corner of my eye to the right with lots of noise. The hawk had swooped down into some of the bushes and tall shrubs and took the bird then flew up into a nearby tree to feed. Purty neet for me, but maybe not so neat for the small bird. The other two times were basically the same, quick movement, loud noise, hawk eating the bird.

There is always a large herd of sparrows hanging out around the house. I have trees and bushes and tall shrubs that provide natural food and hiding places. You can tell when a hawk is around when you go outside because the sounds the birds usually make changes significantly. Instead of the loud and frequent chirps there is a kind of timid occasional cheep. When you hear that, look up in the trees and yep, there the hawk would be, perched high and looking around for some fast food.
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  #17  
Old 12-05-2008, 11:59 AM
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That is very well described, Doug. Ya know, everybody's got to eat. It's a birdfeeder right?:D
(reminds me of a pygmy owl that took a house finch off our feeder a couple years ago, very quietly compared to the hawks (usually a Sharp-shinned), but couldn't carry it's prey so ate it on the yard in the snow)
Darwin Great horneds love to eat skunks, don't ask me why. I'm not sure they have any other natural predators.
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  #18  
Old 12-05-2008, 01:21 PM
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Just got through feeding the flock on my back patio. Mainly a mixture of mourning doves, smaller gray doves and sparrows; but occasionally will get a finch or 2. Neat watching them jockeying for feeding positions. Living in the middle of desert suburania guess that's about the best I can hope for.
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  #19  
Old 12-05-2008, 02:34 PM
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Don Boose Don Boose is offline
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Thanks for starting this thread, Glen. Now you can continue your DH4 mailplane thread in peace.

I've enjoyed knowing about the nature that I was walking and hiking through since I was a boy, but became a bit more serious about learning about birds when we washed ashore from Japan in Carlisle. Pennsylvania, in 1990, bought a little frame house that backed up on a low bluff overlooking the bottom land of the Conodoguinet creek, and discovered that we had constant backyard visitations from most of the mid-Atlantic backyard birds and the occasional pretty out of town visitor. Two years later, we began making two-three times a year visits to Cape May, New Jersey, and hooked up with the Cape May Bird Observatory.

I'm sending this from Cape May, where we have been enjoying a 12-day holiday. A couple of days ago, I posted the following in Glen's DH4 thread:

"Yesterday, Lil and I walked Two-mile beach, a stretch of unspoiled dunes and flat, hard-packed sand running south along the Atlantic Ocean from Wildwood to the Cold Spring Inlet, the entrance to Cape May Harbor, which is flanked by two long black stone jetties. It is a pleasant walk because of the flatness of the beach gradient (which would make it lousy for amphibious operations -- the landing ships and craft would run ashore a half mile from the beach).

Yesterday, there were thousands of semipalmated sandpipers, sanderlings, and dunlin with a few ruddy turnstones and semipalm. plovers mixed in. Six American oystercatchers flew in -- bright black and white with long orange bills. Offshore, we saw the first of the northern gannets and inshore there were skeins of scoters and black ducks headed south with scoters, loons, and cormorants bobbing on the surface and great black backed and herring gulls ghosting along the edge of the jetty.

"We sat for a long time on the jetty, watching the birds and the in and outbound trawlers, one of which was painted blue and white in a way reminiscent of US 1944 dazzle measures."

Now anyone who knows anything about mid-Atlantic coast birds will have said, "Semipalmated sandpipers at Cape May in December? Say what?"

Let me correct that: the birds I saw were western, not semipamalmated, sandpipers.

Meanwhile, the woods at Cape May Point are full of yellow-rumped warblers with lots of Carolina wrens, Carolina chickadees (we have black-caps in our back yard at Carlisle), mocking birds, and the occasional ruby-crowned kinglet. There are hundred of ducks on the ponds, mostly green-winged teal with a fair number of gadwall, widgeon, and mallards, and a few pintail and hooded mergansers. And coots.

There have been huge kettles of turkey vultures with one or two red-tail or rough-legged hawks in among them. No day goes by with a few sharp-shinned hawks and a sighting of a northern harrier low over the marshes.

It's a very pleasant place to spend time. We rent a cottage at Cape May Point, where I also do some writing and even a little paper modeling from time to time. Eventually will come some photographs when I begin my Cape May thread.

Back to Carlisle on Monday.

Don
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  #20  
Old 12-05-2008, 03:32 PM
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That is a great bird spot. Thank you Don for the nice descriptions, really who would say a "peep" about a semipalmated sandpiper? Very quiet here, not working today except about the house (lights) our migrants are long gone, now winter residents and wintering visitors are here. I can't complain about varied thrushes winter wrens and tounsend's solitaires, though. When the lake may freeze, then no surface feeders (few) only diving ducks, who can move to open water at the river or larger lakes. We are indeed blessed with birdlife here, but still relatively few look around to see, as anywhere. Some numbers of hunters here, but I find that most birdhunters have respect for birds much as I do.
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