Month: January 2013

Convoluted Competition

The past two days has really confused our point system with our (me and my wife) competition.

Yesterday,we had a get together down in RI to go too, but that would be ending before 3pm. So through a little online research found a nice little place to walk around with some evergreen stands that had long-eared potential, Ninigret wildlife refuge, that we could do a family walk afterwards before we headed home. Anyway as we were driving down the highway to the event, along with the usual road side red tailed hawks, my wife announces “barred owl” as we zoomed by it, no one else could confirm it. After the event as we were ending our family walk of ninigret (it didn’t disappoint as far as its potential but alas no long-eareds to be found but…) I announced “short-eared” but it was up ahead and flew by an area blocked by a little lot of trees,so no one else got to see it either. So we decide these two cancel each other out. and unfortunately no pics…which brings us to today, a walk around the inner trails Cranes Beach, and I quickly spotted a Barred owl hunting above the dunes
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(time to update the bird books?), it didn’t take to long before the family objection was announced that this was probably the same owl that was here the last time we were here. They had a point as it was only a couple hundred yards from where we saw the one back in November. No Point For Me! Well… until we were driving on the way home, I got this nice obliging barred along the road side that we all got to watch for a while as the snow was falling.
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Time to Update the Links

A couple of links to bring to your attention.
First is a new twist on a ‘old’ site. Owlwatch.org, has a new blog and a live ustream of nesting barred owls in Florida, because they are in Florida they are on eggs already.
http://owlguyy.blogspot.com/

Next is a newish New Jersey blog, which I found out about over the summer, but was waiting to make sure it would be updated again this season, and thanks to Jim Wright over at Celeryfarm blog for his post informing that it was active. It too has a live ustream view of the eastern screech owls which are using now roosting in the box, hopefully to nest in March.
http://njscreechowl.blogspot.com/

Winter Bluebirds Checking the Box

Site 8

Very cool update from the owner of site 8, of note the owls have been consistent as well, but a little surprise for thursday Jan. 17.

Hi Scott,
We had another flurry of birds in our backyard this afternoon: not only lots of the usual yard birds, but also about a dozen bluebirds and at least one redpoll (probable). The bluebirds were VERY INTERESTED in the round hole owl box! I watched as 2 – 3 females fly up [one at a time] and peeked in the hole and at least one male also perched & peeked [it flew off as I snapped the pic]! Because they were QUIET, I don’t think they suspected an owl. Instead I think they were sizing it up as a night roost box. The flock moved on, but I think they would be very surprised to wake up with an owl right next door.

Cheers
2013-01-17bluebirds (6)

2013-01-17bluebirds (4)

Thanks for the update!

Vision Training

Site 1

This barred owl has been hanging out at least since Nov. 20. probably since October. Its been roosting here and there, the last roost was used fairly consistently for a couple weeks. Then it seems to have switched things up a little over a week ago. So I have found myself scanning, trying to find it in this wood lot, sort of like owl roost sighting practice. Was able to successfully find it in a new roost.
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also for the site update, the male screech owl has still not been seen on site here this season, which is quite unusual. The female still is in the nest/slot box frequently, so she may be available now.

Persistence Pays

Not one to give up, my wife took our kids out in the afternoon to look for the barred owl we flushed yesterday. Now we weren’t 100% sure it was a barred, just based on the clues and the limited looks flying through the woods near dusk, it was about 95%. But the 5% uncertainty was enough for a second visit. Anyway I got a call, she excitedly taunted me that she and the kids had found it, while I was at work. So after work they all showed me where it was, except it wasn’t there in the exact tree, but it was close by, and it looked like it was doing some evening hunting.
So its nice to confirm it was in fact a barred as it was in the same location as yesterday.

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Eagles Galore

Not often you have 6+ bald eagles with-in 10 minutes of our house, so an easy time to take a look at them. they were still ~200 yards away on a mostly frozen Wenham Lake (they were first reported Jan 4th 2013) and even appeared in some local papers, before we had the time to look for them, but had fun watching for awhile on cedar st. with a couple of other people. A total of 6 were seen at any one time, but I think there has been reports of more.

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and its becoming an family owl challenge as my daughter gets a point for following a flushed barred owl, and my son get a point for first hearing a pair of duetting great horned owls both at appleton farms yesterday afternoon/evenings on a family walk.

Long Barring Musings

For the last few weeks I have been trying to put some thoughts together on barred owls. As you may have heard Massachusetts has seen a steady population growth of Barred Owls over the years (among other factors, farms seceding to forest has benefited the barred owl), but with in this growth there have been winters such as this, that are seeming booms where barred show up in what seems like abundance. There is a general (through some online investigation) thought there was a good nut/acorn crop last fall, fed lots of rodents + warm winter and spring, good year class of Barred’s this fall not so much nuts/acorn, lots of rodents with not much to eat, population diminish, lots of Barreds looking for food..sites like http://www.adirondackalmanack.com/2012/08/stacy-mcnulty-beech-nuts-mice-and-bears.html
seem to support such thoughts.

Now, Last year I struck out trying to find some long-eared owls (oh since I haven’t revealed the answer yet, the answer to the mystery I am pretty sure is a Immature Great Blue Heron) And recently I went back this year again to the area to find long-eared only to find a Barred Owl! It flushed before I got with in 100′ but I got a good but brief look at it as it landed in the open and quickly took off again, so I didn’t get a chance to get a pic.

As this happened a Picture popped into my head, I had recently admired doing some online research/information gathering on long-eared owls and barred owls. It really is an extraordinary photo, of a barred owl with a long-eared owl as prey. So I am glad I have an excuse and more importantly permission to use it here.

This photo was taken Nov 4th 2012 in Toronto,ON by Richard Sigesmund needless to say the photo and all copyrights remain his/ mr.sharp-photo.com. and the photo is used with permission. (Very much appreciated too). It is known that Barred owls will prey on smaller owls (including long-eared) but seeing it in this photo brings home the point.

So the Barred owl at least in part could explain the why there were no long-eared owl to be found that day I went looking.

On a larger scale, This barred population growth/expansion (and the supporting environmental factors) seemingly will make life more difficult for long-eared, (I won’t even go into the barred vs. spotted owl debate of the pacific northwest). I guess its a wait and see how Long-eared populations will survive long term.

So now its become a sort of goal, find a long-eared(s), it is encouraging that there has been a couple sightings recently at a very popular/easy access place that tends to get a couple-few sporatic sightings a year. But the challenge of finding them off the beaten path is more what I am talking about, and will make the friendly owl finding challenge with my wife all the more interesting.