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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Northern Harrier…

We watched this Northern Harrier several times making our way through Mormon Row in the mornings.  She would swoop and dive crazily after her prey and flew unlike any other hawk we have seen…IMG_0020 IMG_0021

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Cool Facts

  • Northern Harriers are the most owl-like of hawks (though they’re not related to owls). They rely on hearing as well as vision to capture prey. The disk-shaped face looks and functions much like an owl’s, with stiff facial feathers helping to direct sound to the ears.
  • Juvenile males have pale greenish-yellow eyes, while juvenile females have dark chocolate brown eyes. The eye color of both sexes changes gradually to lemon yellow by the time they reach adulthood.
  • Male Northern Harriers can have as many as five mates at once, though most have only one or two. The male provides most of the food for his mates and their offspring, while the females incubate the eggs and brood the chicks.
  • Northern Harriers hunt mostly small mammals and small birds, but they are capable of taking bigger prey like rabbits and ducks. They sometimes subdue larger animals by drowning them.
  • Northern Harrier fossils dating from 11,000 to 40,000 years ago have been unearthed in northern Mexico.
  • The oldest Northern Harrier on record was 15 years, 4 months old when it was captured and released in 2001 by a bird bander in Quebec.
  • For more information, please visit here…

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Yellow-rumped Warbler

WE had the pleasure of being by Fishercap Lake waiting for moose to come out when this handsome guy starting flying around.  I wasn’t sure what he was up to until I took the following pictures of him feeding a spider to… I am not sure if it’s a fledgling or a female or ?? But he was pretty entertaining watching him flutter about and pick spiders out of their webs in the trees…

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Cool Facts

  • The Yellow-rumped Warbler is the only warbler able to digest the waxes found in bayberries and wax myrtles. Its ability to use these fruits allows it to winter farther north than other warblers, sometimes as far north as Newfoundland.
  • Male Yellow-rumped Warblers tend to forage higher in trees than females do.
  • Yellow-rumped Warblers are perhaps the most versatile foragers of all warblers. They’re the warbler you’re most likely to see fluttering out from a tree to catch a flying insect, and they’re also quick to switch over to eating berries in fall. Other places Yellow-rumped Warblers have been spotted foraging include picking at insects on washed-up seaweed at the beach, skimming insects from the surface of rivers and the ocean, picking them out of spiderwebs, and grabbing them off piles of manure.
  • When Yellow-rumped Warblers find themselves foraging with other warbler species, they typically let Palm, Magnolia and Black-throated Green warblers do as they wish, but they assert themselves over Pine and Blackburnian warblers.
  • The oldest known Yellow-rumped Warbler of the myrtle race was 8 years 9 months old. The oldest known individual of the “Audubon’s” race was 10 years old.

For more information please visit HERE

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Immature Bald Eagle…

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Cool Facts

  • Rather than do their own fishing, Bald Eagles often go after other creatures’ catches. A Bald Eagle will harass a hunting Osprey until the smaller raptor drops its prey in midair, where the eagle swoops it up. A Bald Eagle may even snatch a fish directly out of an Osprey’s talons. Fishing mammals (even people sometimes) can also lose prey to Bald Eagle piracy. See an example here.
  • Had Benjamin Franklin prevailed, the U.S. emblem might have been the Wild Turkey. In 1784, Franklin disparaged the national bird’s thieving tendencies and its vulnerability to harassment by small birds. “For my own part,” he wrote, “I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly. … Besides he is a rank Coward: The little King Bird not bigger than a Sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the District.”
  • Sometimes even the national bird has to cut loose. Bald Eagles have been known to play with plastic bottles and other objects pressed into service as toys. One observer witnessed six Bald Eagles passing sticks to each other in midair.
  • The largest Bald Eagle nest on record, in St. Petersburg, Florida, was 2.9 meters in diameter and 6.1 meters tall. Another famous nest—in Vermilion, Ohio—was shaped like a wine glass and weighed almost two metric tons. It was used for 34 years until the tree blew down.
  • Immature Bald Eagles spend the first four years of their lives in nomadic exploration of vast territories and can fly hundreds of miles per day. Some young birds from Florida have wandered north as far as Michigan, and birds from California have reached Alaska.
  • Bald Eagles can live a long time, with a longevity record of 28 years in the wild and 36 years in captivity.
  • Bald Eagles occasionally hunt cooperatively, with one individual flushing prey towards another.
  • For more info please visit here…

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A Stellar Guy…

This guy decided to visit one morning while we were making breakfast in a campground in Yellowstone National Park…IMG_6962

Cool Facts

  • Steller’s and Blue jays are the only North American jays with crests. The Blue Jay is expanding its range westward. Where they meet, the two species occasionally interbreed and produce hybrids.
  • Steller’s Jays have the dubious honor of being one of the most frequently misspelled names in all of bird watching. Up close, the bird’s dazzling mix of azure and blue is certainly stellar, but that’s not how you spell their name. Steller’s Jays were discovered on an Alaskan island in 1741 by Georg Steller, a naturalist on a Russian explorer’s ship. When a scientist officially described the species, in 1788, they named it after him – along with other discoveries including the Steller’s sea lion and Steller’s Sea-Eagle.
  • The Steller’s Jay and the Blue Jay are the only New World jays that use mud to build their nests.
  • The Steller’s Jay shows a great deal of variation in appearance throughout its range, with some populations featuring black crests and backs, and others blue. One black-crested form in southern Mexico is surrounded by eight other blue-crested forms.
  • Steller’s Jays are habitual nest-robbers, like many other jay species. They’ve occasionally been seen attacking and killing small adult birds including a Pygmy Nuthatch and a Dark-eyed Junco.
  • An excellent mimic with a large repertoire, the Steller’s Jay can imitate birds, squirrels, cats, dogs, chickens, and some mechanical objects.
  • The oldest recorded Steller’s Jay was 16 years 1 month old.

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Barrow’s Goldeneye…

On a hike by Fishercap Lake in Many Glaciers…IMG_0131IMG_0120

We spotted a few female (what we believe to be ) Barrow’s Goldeneye…IMG_0097

They ended up getting a bit too close together and duck decided she didn’t want the other around…IMG_0093-Edit IMG_0092-Edit IMG_0091-Edit IMG_0090-Edit IMG_0089-Edit

And chased the other one away!IMG_0088-Edit

Cool Facts

  • The Barrow’s Goldeneye is rather long-lived for a duck, with one individual reaching 18 years of age. Most females do not breed until they are three years old.
  • Like the Common Goldeneye, the Barrow’s Goldeneye is not too particular about holding on to its own offspring. A female may lay eggs in the nest of another goldeneye or other species of cavity-nesting duck. Once the ducklings come out of the nest, the broods of different females often come together and are taken care of by a single female. The young ducklings are highly independent, feeding on their own, and require little parental care.
  • For a species with such widely separated populations, it is perhaps surprising that the Barrow’s Goldeneye shows little variation from place to place. Those breeding in North America are essentially identical on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Female Barrow’s Goldeneyes breeding in Iceland do not get as extensively yellow bills as the North American birds, but have only a yellow or orangish band on the outer third of the otherwise dusky bill.

For more information please visit Here…

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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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Eagle…

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Cool Facts

  • Rather than do their own fishing, Bald Eagles often go after other creatures’ catches. A Bald Eagle will harass a hunting Osprey until the smaller raptor drops its prey in midair, where the eagle swoops it up. A Bald Eagle may even snatch a fish directly out of an Osprey’s talons. Fishing mammals (even people sometimes) can also lose prey to Bald Eagle piracy. See an example here.
  • Had Benjamin Franklin prevailed, the U.S. emblem might have been the Wild Turkey. In 1784, Franklin disparaged the national bird’s thieving tendencies and its vulnerability to harassment by small birds. “For my own part,” he wrote, “I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly. … Besides he is a rank Coward: The little King Bird not bigger than a Sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the District.”
  • Sometimes even the national bird has to cut loose. Bald Eagles have been known to play with plastic bottles and other objects pressed into service as toys. One observer witnessed six Bald Eagles passing sticks to each other in midair.
  • The largest Bald Eagle nest on record, in St. Petersburg, Florida, was 2.9 meters in diameter and 6.1 meters tall. Another famous nest—in Vermilion, Ohio—was shaped like a wine glass and weighed almost two metric tons. It was used for 34 years until the tree blew down.
  • Immature Bald Eagles spend the first four years of their lives in nomadic exploration of vast territories and can fly hundreds of miles per day. Some young birds from Florida have wandered north as far as Michigan, and birds from California have reached Alaska.
  • Bald Eagles can live a long time, with a longevity record of 28 years in the wild and 36 years in captivity.
  • Bald Eagles occasionally hunt cooperatively, with one individual flushing prey towards another.
  • For more information visit here…

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Rurality Blog Hop #74

American Robin…

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Cool Facts

  • An American Robin can produce three successful broods in one year. On average, though, only 40 percent of nests successfully produce young. Only 25 percent of those fledged young survive to November. From that point on, about half of the robins alive in any year will make it to the next. Despite the fact that a lucky robin can live to be 14 years old, the entire population turns over on average every six years.

  • Although robins are considered harbingers of spring, many American Robins spend the whole winter in their breeding range. But because they spend more time roosting in trees and less time in your yard, you’re much less likely to see them. The number of robins present in the northern parts of the range varies each year with the local conditions.

  • Robins eat a lot of fruit in fall and winter. When they eat honeysuckle berries exclusively, they sometimes become intoxicated.

  • Robin roosts can be huge, sometimes including a quarter-million birds during winter. In summer, females sleep at their nests and males gather at roosts. As young robins become independent, they join the males. Female adults go to the roosts only after they have finished nesting.

  • Robins eat different types of food depending on the time of day: more earthworms in the morning and more fruit later in the day. Because the robin forages largely on lawns, it is vulnerable to pesticide poisoning and can be an important indicator of chemical pollution.

  • The oldest recorded American Robin was 13 years and 11 months old.

For more information please go here…

Going on outside our office window…

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Rurality Blog Hop #74

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

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