Great Horned Owl…

A couple of months ago in the evening we would hear the hooting of an owl, so we decided to go on a little walk toward the sound and low and behold we found her…_Z3A3476_Z3A3467_Z3A3528_Z3A3587_Z3A3691-Edit

 

It seemed each evening she would end up in the same tree…_Z3A2844_Z3A2853_Z3A2854

 

Then we noticed an old nest a couple of trees down.  A couple of weeks ago I decided to look for her again and found her IN the nest and last week see what I spotted…_Z3A2293_Z3A2269_Z3A2253_Z3A2257

 

A fuzzy, wuzzy little owlet!!

 

Cool Facts

  • Great Horned Owls are fierce predators that can take large prey, including raptors such as Ospreys, Peregrine Falcons, Prairie Falcons, and other owls. They also eat much smaller items such as rodents, frogs, and scorpions.
  • When clenched, a Great Horned Owl’s strong talons require a force of 28 pounds to open. The owls use this deadly grip to sever the spine of large prey.
  • If you hear an agitated group of cawing American Crows, they may be mobbing a Great Horned Owl. Crows may gather from near and far and harass the owl for hours. The crows have good reason, because the Great Horned Owl is their most dangerous predator.
  • Even though the female Great Horned Owl is larger than her mate, the male has a larger voice box and a deeper voice. Pairs often call together, with audible differences in pitch.
  • Great Horned Owls are covered in extremely soft feathers that insulate them against the cold winter weather and help them fly very quietly in pursuit of prey. Their short, wide wings allow them to maneuver among the trees of the forest.
  • Great Horned Owls have large eyes, pupils that open widely in the dark, and retinas containing many rod cells for excellent night vision. Their eyes don’t move in their sockets, but they can swivel their heads more than 180 degrees to look in any direction. They also have sensitive hearing, thanks in part to facial disc feathers that direct sound waves to their ears.
  • The oldest Great Horned Owl on record was at least 28 years old when it was found in Ohio in 2005.

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Happy Winter Solstice

It’s been so very busy  lately that I haven’t had much time to update my blog.  We received about a foot of new snow last night, so this morning Markus and I headed out to take some snow pictures.  We found these Bison and thought they were beautiful wearing their snow coats…_Z3A6029-2_Z3A6070-2_Z3A6081-2

Happy 60th…

It was my mama’s 60th birthday yesterday!  She was able to get the day off and spent her morning with me, so we were up at about 3ish a.m. and hit the road to Glacier National Park to watch the sun rise, ate breakfast at Lake McDonald Lodge, and then did some walking, exploring and did lots of picture taking throughout the day…IMG_1601 IMG_1598

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We finished up with a nice lunch and headed home.  It  was so much fun to get to spend time with my mom!

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Western Tanager…

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Cool Facts

  • While most red birds owe their redness to a variety of plant pigments known as carotenoids, the Western Tanager gets its scarlet head feathers from a rare pigment called rhodoxanthin. Unable to make this substance in their own bodies, Western Tanagers probably obtain it from insects in their diet.
  • This species ranges farther north than any other tanager, breeding northward to a latitude of 60 degrees—into Canada’s Northwest Territories. In the chilly northernmost reaches of their breeding range, Western Tanagers may spend as little as two months before migrating south.
  • Male Western Tanagers sometimes perform an antic, eye-catching display, apparently a courtship ritual, in which they tumble past a female, their showy plumage flashing yellow and black.
  • Around the turn of the twentieth century, Western Tanagers were thought to pose a significant threat to commercial fruit crops. One observer wrote that in 1896, “the damage done to cherries in one orchard was so great that the sales of the fruit which was left did not balance the bills paid out for poison and ammunition.” Today, it is illegal to shoot native birds and Western Tanagers are safer than they were a century ago.
  • The oldest Western Tanager on record—a male originally banded in Nevada in 1965—had lived at least 6 years and 11 months by the time it was recaptured and rereleased in Oregon in 1971.
  • For more information visit here…

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Sweet, Sweet Song of Spring…

Nothing says spring like the song of the Western Meadowlark…C96A3306 C96A3303 C96A3278

Cool Facts

  • The nest of the Western Meadowlark usually is partially covered by a grass roof. It may be completely open, however, or it may have a complete roof and an entrance tunnel several feet long.

  • Although the Western Meadowlark looks nearly identical to the Eastern Meadowlark, the two species hybridize only very rarely. Mixed pairs usually occur only at the edge of the range where few mates are available. Captive breeding experiments found that hybrid meadowlarks were fertile, but produced few eggs that hatched.

  • A male Western Meadowlark usually has two mates at the same time. The females do all the incubation and brooding, and most of the feeding of the young.

  • The explorer Meriwether Lewis was the first to point out the subtle differences between the birds that would eventually be known as the Eastern and Western Meadowlarks, noting in June 1805 that the tail and bill shapes as well as the song of the Western Meadowlark differed from what was then known as the “oldfield lark” in the Eastern United States.

  • John James Audubon gave the Western Meadowlark its scientific name, Sturnella(starling-like) neglecta, claiming that most explorers and settlers who ventured west of the Mississippi after Lewis and Clark had overlooked this common bird.

  • In 1914, California grain growers initiated one of the earliest studies of the Western Meadowlark’s diet to determine whether the bird could be designated a pest species. Although they do eat grain, Western Meadowlarks also help limit numbers of crop-damaging insects.

  • Like other members of the blackbird, or icterid, family, meadowlarks use a feeding behavior called “gaping,” which relies on the unusually strong muscles that open their bill. They insert their bill into the soil, bark or other substrate, then force it open to create a hole. This gives meadowlarks access to insects and other food items that most birds can’t reach.

  • The Western Meadowlark is the state bird of six states: Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, and Wyoming. Only the Northern Cardinal is a more popular civic symbol, edging out the meadowlark by one state.

For more information visit here…

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Rurality Blog Hop #74

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!