Western Screech Owls … Oh My

What can I say about owls?  I just ADORE them!  Whether they’re burrowing owls (as blogged about last post), or any of the other North American species (great horned, barred, northern hawk, northern pygmy, northern saw whet, snowy, great gray, barn, boreal, flammulated, ferruginous pygmy, long-eared, short-eared, spotted owl) … oh, and I can’t forget the screech owls – eastern and western species.

In Florida, we were graced with a pair of eastern screech owls which took up residence in our yard, or in a neighbor’s yard, and gave us the opportunity to watch their young grow up and eventually fledge.  One time, Tom even got to rescue a 2-week old owlet that had fallen out of its nest while its mom was sleeping.

So it’s safe to say I have a definite love for them.  So when I heard that there was going to be a public owl banding event in my area, I just knew that I had to be there for it.500_3025That’s right … the Grand Valley Audubon Society, who incidentally had the highest record of western screech owls in the U.S. in 2017, was going to be visiting some known nests in the area and banding the mom and the young owlets.  Most of the owls were from owl boxes that the Audubon group or residents had erected to promote good environments for them to breed in and raise their young.IMG_7444One of the coolest things to me was that this event focused on youth and so lots of children were in attendance.  I remember thinking how cool this would have been for me as I was growing up.  Once the owls were gathered, they would examine them for age, past banding (if applicable), etc.  Records are kept to aid in the scientific studies of the species.IMG_7440When one of the moms was held, Kim (the biologist who was banding them) educated kids and adults alike on many things, including the “brood patch” which is evident when mom is caring for her very young … keeping them warm.IMG_7438The young owlets, of course, were a bit unaware of what was going on, but they didn’t seem to mind too much.500_2959Once a band was placed, that number and location would be recorded on the record sheets.500_3008Each owlet of the brood would take their turn in banding and would then get huddled up together for security and warmth.  Here you can see 5 babies … which was a new one for me.500_2928Could these sweet little faces be any cuter?500_2968Mama would always keep a close eye on her young and though seemingly irritated at first, would calm down in no time.500_2876500_2989It was interesting to me to see the variation of number of young at each nest and also the timing of their new arrivals … as some were clearly older or younger than others.
500_2981500_3002One thing was for sure … they were all adorable!  Look at those iconic lemon yellow eyes and all of that down looking feathers.  I was in heaven as I happily snapped off images at each stop.500_3047Yes, I was bitten by the western screech owl bug for sure!  Can’t wait to do it again next year.  ❤500_3038Hope that everyone enjoyed it as much as I did.  I would highly encourage any of you owl-lovers out there to take advantage of any programs that you might have in your town to spend some time with this worthwhile educational event.  Be forewarned though … you might just have your heart melted.  🙂

Next Up:  More local birding action

© 2018  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com               http://www.tnwaphotography.wordpress.com

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Western Slope Birding in Late Spring

Back to checking out the local birds of the western slope of Colorado.  What I have found since being here is that you never know what … or where … you ‘re going to find our feathered friends.

Case in point, while visiting a local park, we saw a flock of birds arriving at the lake.  I looked and immediately declared (to myself) that these were glossy ibis.  After a quick check for CO birds, I noticed that they don’t get glossy ibis like we did in Florida.  Rather, these were white-faced ibis.  Very similar except for the white colored face … both species though are very beautiful with their iridescent feathers, especially in the light.850_1634Common terns also call my new area home and often seen flying overhead.500_3614One species that we never see in FL (I guess one should never say “never”) are the western grebes.  These birds tend to summer with us and are quite beautiful, especially with that red eye that they possess.850_1653850_1662850_1664850_1667American wigeon taking off across the lake.500_3626Of course, raptors pass through in numbers too.  Take the American kestrel for example … always flying by seemingly in such a hurry.850_1669-EditAlong the water’s edge one can find an assortment of shorebirds, such as this wonderful spotted sandpiper.500_9907Up in the trees, yellow warbler congregate as they flutter in an out of the branches.500_9484Western kingbirds are quite the noisy bunch and difficult to miss when they are present.  500_9872500_9866This male black-headed grosbeak is a routine visitor as well.500_9764While a western kingbird is a type of flycatcher, we also have ash-throated flycatchers.  I just love their head feather crest.500_9689Of course, closer to home, I can always count on the house finch, as well as a variety of other sparrows and finches.  We had so many outdoor cats in our neighborhood in FL, so we never did the bird feeders, but we have here … and also the bird bath fountain, which is a personal favorite of mine to observe.  🙂500_9954Next up:  3 letters … beings with “f” and they get me quite excited when I see them.

© 2018  TNWA Photography / Debbie Tubridy

http://www.tnwaphotography.com                www.tnwaphotography.wordpress.com

Back to Mesa County

First of all, sorry for the long hiatus from the blog posts … 2 months to be exact!  How in the world was that even possible?  I can’t even say that I had a good excuse.  I think I was just running on overdrive for some time and I have to admit, I’m having challenges in keeping focused.  Not much is the same routine since we moved out to Colorado.  Not that we have any regrets at all, far from it in fact, just working through the adjustments.

That being said, let’s head back up to the Colorado National Monument, which is precisely 4 miles from our home.  We like to head up there every now and then because the views are spectacular._DSC2900-EditOf course, besides the valley views, I always hope to find some of the desert bighorn sheep which reside there.  Desert bighorns are a smaller subspecies of the Rocky Mountain bighorns, though I’m not sure I would know the difference without them standing next to each other.  We’ve been pretty fortunate with our sightings of these beautiful animals.DSC_9468Sometimes we find them just off the roadside (as in the above above), but not always.  It’s always fun when they investigate us as much as we do them.  DSC_9497They are quite intriguing to me … as they have such big beautiful brown eyes, which stare intently while I’m photographing.  Usually, they just stand still, except for continuing to chew on some recently grazed edibles … and they stare … and stare … and stare some more.  LOLDSC_9501-EditOf course, the Monument and other areas are also filled with their fair share of rabbits.  In fact, we find them grazing in our yard most mornings.DSC_0403Predators, such as hawks are quite common as well.  While in Florida, our most predominant hawk was the red-shouldered hawk, but in CO you won’t find any of those.  What you will find predominantly are red-tailed hawks.  DSC_0240-EditSongbirds, such as the western meadowlark are commonly seen along the sides of the lesser traveled roads ….DSC_0416-Edit-Edit… as well as the horned larks.DSC_0431On day during the summer, we were out and about in the area and came across a small field of beautiful sunflowers.  Of course, I had to check them out and grab a few photographs.DSC_0106-EditDSC_0127DSC_0177-EditDSC_0164-EditYep, the area has lots to offer … hiking, biking, photography, you name it.  So many places to get lost (well hopefully not lost – LOL) and off the beaten track for some solitude and “alone with nature” time._DSC2905-EditCan’t believe that it’s almost the 365th day of 2017!  Where does the time go?  I guess it’s true …. time flies when you’re having fun!  As we approach a brand new year – 2018 – I want to wish everyone best wishes for that new year … and adventure, health, happiness, and love.

Next Up:  From my final Florida shoot in 2017.

© 2017  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography