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

Advertisements

Neighboring Birds Just Outside

Since moving to Colorado, I have learned a lot about hawks.  I’ve learned that not every hawk is a red-shouldered hawk … in fact, out in CO, it’s highly unlikely that any of them would be.  🙂  However, one thing that’s for sure is that all of them are quite remarkable and beautiful.DSC_2522While I thought that Florida had a lot of eagles, there are plenty of them here as well.  The biggest difference is that here in CO, we have bald eagles, but we also have golden eagles, which I have found completely fascinating!DSC_2502We also have Cooper’s hawks, in addition to sharp-shinned hawks, which are both smaller hawk species … the type that are likely to hang out in your yard looking for some unsuspecting birds.DSC_2681While in Florida we had eastern screech owls, here we have western screech owls.  They are just as beautiful to hear late in the dark of night and even to witness as they peek out of their cavity or owl box dwelling on cold days as they sun themselves.  We have so many western screech owls out here … that on the Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count day, the 15-mile circle from Grand Junction, we found 93 of them … the highest in the nation!DSC_2554-EditSometimes the wildlife is right outside your window, as was in this case.  This beautiful sharp-shinned hawk was poised right outside my window standing on our rain gutter downspout._DSC4581We have a variety of woodpeckers and I was quite delighted when I found this gal at a nearby state park.DSC_2436The rivers are full of a variety of ducks and other water birds … some residents and some migratory.  These common merganser ladies are fairly common and often found in the company of other waterfowl.DSC_2679The views ain’t too bad either … as evidenced by this shot of the Book Cliff Mountains … only only of the mountains in our distance, of which we also have the Grand Mesa and the Colorado National Monument.DSC_0001-Edit-EditSome nights you can see pairs of predator birds, such as these two bald eagles or great horned owls, as they roost in the early evening.  DSC_3279-Edit-EditOf course, the sunsets can be quite colorful and very relaxing as well.  Ahhh!DSC_0017Yes, western Colorado is quite a magnificent place to call home and is close to many other equally fascinating locales.  Yep, we love it here.  🙂

Next Up:  Let’s go search for raptors!

© 2018  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

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