Monday, February 23, 2009

Searching for Wintering Owls

My husband and I enjoy many things together and one hobby we've developed over the past few years is birding. Our local bird club announced an Owl hike in a stand of pine trees on the western side of our county and we immediately put it on the calendar. Saturday was the day, and I was closely watching the weather. I don't do high winds, or precipitation, whereas that would not stop the hubs.

It was a beautiful day with temps pushing the high forties and the sun was shining. The morning was filled with busy activity packing the birding backpack with the following: Binoculars with straps for hands-free hiking, Field Guide for confirming identification, Camera to record sightings, fiber bars for gurgling tummies, and extra hats and gloves.
The club asked a local expert on owls to speak to us before the hike. Here he is explaining about why owls regurgitate every evening the undigested bones, feathers, fur etc. from the white-footed mice, meadow voles, and song birds they ate the night before.He's getting out his pocket knife to dissect one of the pellets.

The long-eared owl pellet contained a cardinal beak, identified by it's orange tint.

The above photo is the pellets Jay found on his early expedition. The pellet closest to you is that of the Saw-whet owl, which is a small owl which lives in the woodlands and their daytime roosts are designed to avoid larger owls. The larger pellets are those of the long-eared, and the skull on the right is that of a Meadow Vole.

Not too deep into the forest we found the Saw-whet trying to nap after a long night of feeding. It was precious as it peered down at our cameras, scopes, and awe-filled faces. It's very tame and was not spooked at all by our activity.

After two hours of tromping in the forest, satisfied at the addition of this sweet bird to our year's list. On the way home we drove by a favorite farm and I spotted a Kestral, another to add to the year's list.

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What a fun way to spend the afternoon exercising our minds and bodies together.
And God said, "Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens." So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:20-21


Amy, a redeemed sheep said...

I think it's so neat that you and your husband are birding together. I think it's something I could get into, as well. I love birds. :o)

Renna said...

What a fun day, Dana. The pellet part sounds a little gross, but interesting, nonetheless! ;-Þ

Congrats on adding new birds to your list! :-)