2/23/2008

Interaction reminder

For all you out there who read this blog via RSS readers, iGoogle and any other of the myriad of options I'd like to invite you to my blog to interact with me. I have two things going on:

Firstly, pop in and introduce yourself to me and let me know about your birding background and interests.

Secondly, pop in and vote on my latest poll. The poll is up on the right hand side of the blog. I'm interested to know what you think about the status of the Ivory Billed Woodpecker (IBWO) - so stop in and vote. There's a great discussion going on about this poll and the status of the IBWO over here and I’d like to hear your 2 cents worth. I'm learning a lot from this discussion and your thoughts are appreciated!

Thanks for all the recent comments, it tells me that there are real people out there in cyberspace who enjoy reading this blog. I hope you're having an AWESOME birding weekend!

2/22/2008

Kiss my flying.........




I've been trying to take some photos of birds in flight with VERY limited success. Actually it's not really measurable on any scale, never mind the Richter scale. For some great examples of birds in flight check this out and this. The reason I am struggling is because I need a faster lens - no really that's my story and I WILL stick to it.


Any takers on bird ID's?

2/21/2008

Owl fever


Now you know why owls are SOOOO hard to find

Never mind spring fever I have MAJOR owl fever at the moment. Don't get me wrong much of my time is spent thinking about owls, checking my owl cam and looking at stick nests wondering if there's a hidden GHO (while zipping by at 80 mph..). What's surprising to even me, is the fact that at the moment it is even worse than normal - which is pretty bad ;-) To make matters worse I got a tip today on Short eared owl as well as Saw whet. The location is only about 45 minutes away from me. Given my current hectic schedule I will only be able to check the location out next weekend. How the heck am I going to wait til then? Any ideas on how I can distract myself.


Monarch's post on owls, especially the awesome Short eared's hasn't helped.... Well next weekend is slowing coming.... Ok, let see if small talsk helps: How about that approaching snow storm tomorrow. Apparently we are getting up to 3 inches - wow! Nope, that didn't help! I need you people. IdEaS?

Platform feeding

An obvious, but sometimes overlooked aspect of attracting birds to your feeders is variety. This means not only a variety of food sources, but also a variety of feeders. I have most of the essentials, but I was desperately missing a platform feeder. When we moved into the house I was reluctant to take the washing line posts down as I had an idea to use them for my bird feeders. Over time I have screwed feeders onto the washing line tops, but I really wanted to do some more permanent and effective. Unfortunately I haven't had either the time, energy or materials to do it..until now.

Last weekend I made a nice 2 foot platform with some of the left over 2x4's from my basement project. Initially the birds were avoiding it like the plague, but they pretty quickly came to realize that this is now bird heaven central. I'm getting a major kick out the fact that my purple finch male (a new garden bird for me) is spending a lot of time on the new platform feeder. I am hoping to use the platform to attract some Orioles in the spring. I've had them in my garden but haven't had much luck attracting them to oranges. There is stil lsome cleanup to do with the new platform to make it look a little more estehtically pleasing, but that will be sone in spring.

2/19/2008

Saw whet owl

I was unable to track down any Saw whet owls during my personal owl prowl, so I'm sharing some pictures I took of these cute little owls in 2006.






Spring and Brett Favre

Two questions are mulling around in my head at the moment. Firstly, when the heck is Spring making its grand appearance already and why would it take Brett Favre so long to announce that he's coming back to the NFL for another season? Come on Brett you had an amazing season in 2007 and nearly led the Packers to the Superbowl. The two amazing aspects of this are that you're one of the oldest quarterbacks in the league leading one of the youngest teams. Honestly this is a no brainer man.
Prior to the playoffs beginning, Brett's daughters even took him out to lunch to convince him to keep playing. Ok so the family is on board, you still have the skills and the fans love to watch you play come - what's to think about? Brett, get on the phone and call Mike McCarthy (GB coach) and tell him you're coming back. Then take a step outside and kick old man winter in the .... butt and tell him to move along. His time has come and gone and we're all tired of snotty noses and weezing coughs. Enough is enough and he needs to know that it's time to go already! Who better to tell him than the toughest guy in the NFL!

If birds were people.....

I read a blog last week where I blogger referred to the Red bellied woodpecker as the rock star of the birding world. Hey, let’s face it these guys are sporting red mullets with a ‘coat’ that would make Elton John envious. This got me thinking about what other birds would be if they were people. Some of them are a little abstract so see if you can get them. Can you think of any other connections? Do you agree with my representations?

American crow: American idol drop out
Bald Eagle: President of the USA
Black-capped Chickadee: Special events co-ordinator
Black vulture: Assistant undertaker
Blue bird: Super model
Blue Jay: Practical joker
Cardinal: Super model
Carolina Wren: Recording artist [American idol winner season 1]
European Starling: Criminal [Theft, breaking and entering, Assault]
Golden Eagle: Air Force General
Great Horned Owl: Legal council
Long Eared Owl: Night club bouncer
Loon: Recording artist [American idol winner season 2]
Mockingbird: Comedian [Impersonator]
Nothern Mockingbird: Politician
Peregrine Falcon: Fighter pilot
Pileated Woodpecker: Artillery specialist [50 caliber]
Red bellied woodpecker: Rock star
Red breasted Nuthatch: Stuntman (stunt person?)
Ruby throated hummingbird: Athlete [Sprinter]
Snowy egret: Fashion designer
Tree Swallow: Acrobat
Turkey vulture: Undertaker
Yellow billed cuckoo: Con artist

2/17/2008

My personal owl prowl

Yesterday I finally managed to get my act together and go birding. Although the backyard bird count was going on I only had the morning and my goal was very centered on locating some owls. I wanted to see if I could get a hat trick by spotting Long eared, Saw whet and Great horned all in one day. Yip, I believe go big or go home. My first location was a farm that a neighboring county bought, which is now a county park. The park has some nice open stretches of grass with pretty decent woody areas around it. The park also has some pretty nice patches of Cedar stands which are prime roosting locations for both LEO’s and Saw Whet. My goal at the first stop was to track down LEO, Saw Whet and maybe a bonus Short eared owl or two. I had seen both LEO’s and Saw Whet at this location a few years back. Unfortunately the Short eared’s went out the window because it took me longer to drag my sleepy head off the warm pillow.

My first nice bird of the day was a Northern Harrier which welcomed me to the park as I drove in. This was a great start to the morning I thought, as I sipped my last bit of coffee. With coffee and an orange in my tummy I went off in search of the LEO’s. Unfortunately this wasn’t going to be easy. I stared looking in the area where I last saw them but no dice. I checked out some other cedars (ouch brambles digging into my legs) and found lots of pellets, but no owls. When I went back to the firs location, I tried some trees on the edge of the grassland and BINGO! Four LEO’s roosting in some VERY thick tree cover. Some of the LEO’s were in the cedars, while two others were in some thick deciduous tree cover. I managed to snap a few pics which aren’t great, but you can see the owls.
[Side note: For some reason it looked like my lens wasn’t focusing correctly which set me off on a tangent snapping pics of anything and everything…. I was also annoyed that I decided to leave my video camera at home as I could have shot some awesome video of the LEO’s.]
After snapping the LEO’s I left them in peace and headed off to try to find some Saw Whet. After traipsing around like a man on a mission for several hours (ouch lots more brambles and sticky things) I came up empty handed in the Saw Whet department. I did find some more LEO-sized pellets, but no Saw Whet nor any evidence of any…hmmm. Not sure whether I was just unlucky or what the deal was.
[Side note: Upon reflection today, maybe my eyes are shot and that’s why I missed the Saw whet. I looked at the pics I snapped so furiously yesterday and they are in focus. What the best stuff for improving your eye sight again? I know I should have listened to my mom when I was small.]
After leaving the park I headed off to see if I could find some nesting Great horned owls (GHO’s). I checked out several Red tailed hawk (RTH) nests but they were all vacant with a few having a lot of RTH activity.
So I struck out on Saw Whet and GHO but came up pretty on the LEO’s – hardly a bad of a birding! As they say even a bad day of birding beats a good day of working! I was so happy to see LEO’s again as it’s been several years since I been fortunate enough to track them down. Now I just hope that I get REALLY lucky and a Screech owl moves into my owl box this Spring.





Incredible photos shared by the Flickr community group - Owls of North America. Click on the play button to begin the slideshow - ENJOY!