Red-winged Blackbird…

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Cool Facts

  • Different populations and subspecies of Red-winged Blackbirds vary markedly in size and proportions. An experiment was conducted that moved nestlings between populations and found that the chicks grew up to resemble their foster parents. This study indicated that much of the difference seen between populations is the result of different environments rather than different genetic makeups.

  • The Red-winged Blackbird is a highly polygynous species, meaning males have many female mates – up to 15 in some cases. In some populations 90 percent of territorial males have more than one female nesting on their territories. But all is not as it seems: one-quarter to one-half of nestlings turn out to have been sired by someone other than the territorial male.

  • Male Red-winged Blackbirds fiercely defend their territories during the breeding season, spending more than a quarter of daylight hours in territory defense. He chases other males out of the territory and attacks nest predators, sometimes going after much larger animals, including horses and people.

  • Red-winged Blackbirds roost in flocks in all months of the year. In summer small numbers roost in the wetlands where the birds breed. Winter flocks can be congregations of several million birds, including other blackbird species and starlings. Each morning the roosts spread out, traveling as far as 50 miles to feed, then re-forming at night.

  • One California subspecies of the Red-winged Blackbird lacks the yellow borders to the red shoulders (epaulets) and has been dubbed the “bicolored blackbird.” Some scientists think this plumage difference may help Red-winged Blackbirds recognize each other where their range overlaps with the similar Tricolored Blackbird.

  • The oldest recorded Red-winged Blackbird was 15 years 9 months old.

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Linking up with:

Wild Bird Wednesday

The BIRD D’pot

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Lambing!

To say it’s been a busy past week and half around the farm is a bit of an understatement!

Our first delivery was a horrible, terrible, no-good thing.  Aubrey was absolutely huge, we figured she would have two large lambs or even triplets.  I noticed she was starting to go into labor and was chasing other ewes and chickens out of one of the hoop houses we had built.  She would lay down, push, get up, lay down, push, get up… but she wasn’t progressing.  I could tell she was tiring and was having a hard time getting up so we jugged her and checked her.  She was only dilated just a little bit, so we let her keep working.  We checked her again in about a half hour and found she was pretty much fully dilated but her membranes where still intact.  So my husband decided to the dead and break her waters and oh my… There was soooo much fluid, we could visibly watch her shrink and were afraid we would get washed away in the flood.  I have never seen so much fluid out of a sheep.

We checked the ewe to see how the lambs were presented but could only feel the tip of a hoof way in deep, so we let her work a bit more.   When we checked her again, things had not changed and had to really work at getting the lamb out.  At times we thought we had parts to two different lambs… After working hard for two hours we were finally able to get the little guy out.  Unfortunately he didn’t make it, and after checking her again we found that was the only one.  :(

After some research we found out the ewe developed Hydrops, which means there was most likely something wrong with the lamb that made the ewe produce so much amniotic fluid. And since the ewe’s uterus was so stretched out from the amniotic fluid her contractions were ineffective. Almost always the lamb dies and the majority of the time the ewe dies as well.  It has been reported in cows to actually split the pelvic bone from so much pressure.  Others report that mamas die from malnourishment, once again caused from so much pressure of the amniotic fluid squishing the stomachs and the ewe not able to eat enough.  So we felt fortunate enough that ewe lived, generally this won’t happen again and she will hopefully go on to have normal sheepy pregnancy next time.

Oiy, after that ordeal, I was a bit hesitant for the next ewes to lamb but so far just about every delivery has been about perfect!  We have had a couple of deliveries with only one hoof and a head and have had to fish out the other leg.  Lambs have been vigorous and up within minutes of delivery looking for food.  We’ve had a couple of first-timers that weren’t too sure about this whole mama thing, but with a little time and a little help have turned out to be great mothers.

This picture was of one of our first deliveries that a few of the kids had gathered to watch…IMG_4076IMG_4034 IMG_4036 IMG_4042

A very handsome black grey spotted ram lamb…IMG_4048 IMG_4053 IMG_4060

A little watcher…

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A handsome moorit (brown) mouflon ram lamb…IMG_4077 IMG_4086 IMG_4090 IMG_4098

A sweet little  white patterned ewe…IMG_4102

A beautiful black mouflon ewe lamb…IMG_4107

Ella and her two ewe lambs… IMG_4115 IMG_4124

Lots more lamb pictures to come!

Springing Out…

Sure has been feeling like Spring around here, yesterday we had almost 80 degree weather!  It’s ‘only’ 62 here today, and we can really feel the difference.  IMG_5076

Some of the trees are budding out…IMG_5073 IMG_5074

Even the bushes are growing plump buds…IMG_5106 IMG_5106 IMG_5099 IMG_5111 IMG_5115

The Service Berry bushes and starting to leaf out, this one even has an old berry still attached that the birds missed.IMG_5123 IMG_5134 IMG_5201 IMG_5156

Crocus are popping up too!IMG_3675IMG_3671

Oregon Grape is starting to get flower buds on it too!IMG_5176

Macro Monday

Today’s Flowers

Shine the Divine

Snow Geese at Freezeout Lake, Choteau, MT

On March 30, we were able to head over to Choteau, MT and watch the annual migration of the Snow geese.  The weekends before it sounded like was their peak time but we were still able to watch some take off in the morning to go visit neighboring fields in search of grain.  During it’s peak it sounds like they are well over 30,000 geese meeting at these ponds, on their way to breeding grounds.

There was an AMAZING sunrise that morning.   The sky started to change color 45 minutes prior to the official sunrise time, the kids ohhed and ahhed the whole way to Freezeout Lake.  At it’s peak it was splendid!!

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Add some Snow geese to the sky…C96A2925 C96A2927 C96A2936 C96A2943 C96A2951 C96A2961

My husband shot this of myself, a few of the littles and my oldest daughter, all of whom were taking pictures!IMG_6583C96A2995 C96A3002 C96A3005 C96A3010 C96A3034

Cool Facts

  • Snow Goose hunting in the eastern United States was stopped in 1916 because of low population levels. Hunting was allowed again in 1975 after populations had recovered. Since then, their populations have continued to grow, to the point that some areas of tundra nesting habitat are starting to suffer.

  • The dark color of the blue morph Snow Goose is controlled by a single gene, with dark being partially dominant over white. If a pure dark goose mates with a white goose, the offspring will all be dark (possibly with white bellies). If two white geese mate, they have only white offspring. If two dark geese mate, they will have mostly dark offspring, but might have a few white ones too.

  • Snow Geese chicks are well developed when they hatch, with open eyes and down-covered bodies that already show whether the adult will have white or dark plumage. Within a few days they are able to maintain a constant body temperature on their own. They grow very quickly, with the males outpacing the females.

  • The creamy white eggs of Snow Geese stain easily. People can sometimes tell what order the eggs were laid in, just by the color of the shells (the dirtiest shells belong to the oldest eggs).

  • In wintering and migrating flocks that are feeding, lookouts keep an eye out for eagles and other predators. Upon sighting a threat they call out to the rest of the flock, which may take flight.

  • Snow Geese make epic journeys by air, but they are impressive on foot, too. Within the first three weeks of hatching, goslings may walk up to 50 miles with their parents from the nest to a more suitable brood-rearing area. Molting Snow Geese can outrun many predators.

  • Females forage up to 18 hours a day once they arrive at breeding grounds, but eat little once they begin incubating the eggs.

  • Food passes through the Snow Goose’s digestive tract in only an hour or two, generating 6 to 15 droppings per hour. The defecation rate is highest when a goose is grubbing for rhizomes, because such food is very high in fiber and the goose inevitably swallows mud.

  • The oldest Snow Goose on record, shot in Texas in 1999, was 27 and a half.

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Some of the other waterfowl we saw that morning…C96A2917 C96A2912 C96A2903 C96A2895 C96A2904

Linking up with:

Water World Wednesday

Wild Bird Wednesday

The BIRD D’pot

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