Hungry Bobbles at the Franklin Institute!

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These videos and pictures were taken on May 21 in the morning, on my first visit to see the bobbles (our endearing name for the babies!). This morning my friend Sandy and I watched T2 bring in a baby bird for their breakfast. Mom flew in and T2 stayed briefly then took off and Mom began to feed her bobbles. We left at about 8 AM after Mom flew off with the remains of breakfast. A wonderful morning in Philadelphia!

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Queen Athena Mobbed by Crows

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On May 3rd my husband and I decided to take a walk to the Enchanted Forest and try to locate the King or Queen.

They did not mate or have owlets this year.  I believe it could be due to their young age or lack of rodents (which is hard to believe) or lack of a good nest site.

On this particular night, we heard the crows cawing at something and we followed their calls only to find Queen Athena, high in a tree, being harassed by these pesky birds.  I’m sure the crows have their reasons to hate Great Horned Owls, probably they have lost many family members to the owls.  In this video you will see how close the crows get to the Queen.  I cannot believe how bold they are.  There are two crows that for about 15 minutes continue to fly by her and caw loudly and obnoxiously.   She snaps at them and dodges their threatening moves.  It was fun to witness this event.  My husband videoed and I took pictures. Together we collaborated and made a fairly good movie!

When I first observed an owl being mobbed by crows, I was worried and concerned for the owl.  Many months later I now know that the owl could take out the pesky crows with one swipe.   I hope you enjoy this video and the pictures I’ve included on this post.

with love,

Pam

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My latest video:   Queen Athena mobbed by Crows

Please Click on link below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9m3xI5OboZ4&feature=youtu.be

Cooper’s Hawks Get it On

This evening, April 20th, I was on my way to the park to pay a visit to King Tuft and Queen Athena, the two Great Horned Owls in my local forest. As I backed out of the driveway, I decided to stop the car and take a picture of my creek and the valley now covered in green grass and flowers. The sun was setting and it was a delightful cool and beautiful spring evening. As I was taking a picture of the stream, I saw a ground hog and decided to leave my car running and walk to get a better view of him. I walked along the stream I heard quite the racket coming from up in the trees above me. Lo and behold when I quickly looked up, I saw two hawks copulating on a branch. The male was on top of the female and flapping his wings and the intense mating lasted only a few seconds.
Cooper’s Hawks are monogamous and often mate for life. Their breeding season is in the spring and they make a nest of twigs and sticks high above the ground over a two week period. Their clutch is usually 3 – 5 cobalt blue eggs and the female incubates them for 30-36 days. Cooper’s hawks prey on small to medium sized birds and in the pictures below, you will see the female devouring just that! The hatch-lings are covered in white down and are brooded by the female for two weeks. During this time the Male provides the female with food. When the hatch-lings are about 25 – 30 days old they fledge, but will often return to the nest to eat. Eggs and Nestlings are preyed on by raccoons, crows and other Cooper’s hawks. Adults may fall prey to larger raptors such as the Red-tail hawks, Great Horned Owls, Peregrine Falcons or Golden Eagles. One threat that they also face is a loss of habitat. They can live to be 12 years old in the wild.
I hope you enjoy this series of pictures. I am very happy to say that I now own a new DLSR camera and I am hoping to see a higher degree of clarity in my pictures. This is my first post with my new “Beast”.IMG_7335cr

Female Cooper’s Hawk on the left eating a bird, and the Male Cooper’s Hawk on the right.

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This was a very interesting evening for me as they allowed me to photograph them for quite a while.  In fact they were still there when I left to search for the King and Queen.  I met my two dear friends at the forest, but tonight we were not able to find the owls.  I’m glad I had a good encounter with the Cooper’s Hawks to make up for not seeing my precious owls.  Each day is a new adventure in the Enchanted forest and in my own back yard!  I hope you are enjoying this spring season as the birds are mating and nesting.  I eagerly await new hatchlings and new life will be abundant.

Fondly,

Pam

Spend the Day with Queen Athena

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It is 10:00 A.M. on Tuesday March 26th.  Lacey and I begin our walk through the Enchanted forest and lo and behold we spot Queen Athena roosting in one of her favorite evergreens.   I have not seen her since St. Patrick’s Day, so I was pleasantly surprised to find her in this tree, safe and sound.

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She is not a sound sleeper, unlike King Tuft who sleeps through almost anything.  Athena is very aware of my every movement and I am very cautious so as not to spook her.  She remained in this tree as I kept my distance and captured these photographs.

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She is one of the most beautiful Great Horned Owls that I have ever seen.

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She began to get sleepy, so I proceeded to continue on my hike and visited King Tuft at the top of the hill.

ImageThe King, as I said before, sleeps through almost everything.  He never opened his eyes as Lacey and I visited and captured a few pictures.  He is a very regal fellow.

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ImageShe was still here when we left the forest.  I did not expect to find her here when I returned several hours later due to the location of this tree.  Many people walk on the path and she is skittish.  However today, she was high enough and possibly there were only a few visitors to the park, because she was just where I left her at 6:30 P.M.

ImageAs the sun sets, she continues to roost and enjoys this cool spring day in March.

ImageAthena spots me right away and keeps her eyes focused on the woman with the camera.

ImageIsn’t she lovely?  I am in awe of the Queen’s beauty!  She is very alert now as it it almost time to fly out and hopefully meet her King.

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At about 6:45 she flies to the tilted Spruce tree.  It is amazing how well she blends in to her surroundings.  The Great Horned Owl is a master of camouflage   This tree is where I took many videos this past summer and fall.  The “Mobbing by Crows” video took place in this very spot.

ImageCan you spot her?  The next few photographs show just how far I am from her so as not to disturb her Majesty.

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ImageTropical Storm Sandy caused this tree to lean a little more than it used to.  However it has made it though the winter and it seems to be doing well.  It must have a very strong root system.

ImageQueen Athena is listening for her King.  At about 7 P.M.  he begins to hoot and she responds four times and they carry on a very nice duet.  It however was hard for me to hear the King, but  she had no problems hearing him and responding to His Majesty.   I will include a video of her duet shortly at the end of this post.  After hooting back and forth, she flew to another tree and waited.   At about 7:30 it began to grow dark and rain a bit, so I decided to pack it in and let the King and Queen have time alone together.  This season it does not seem as if there will be a nest or owlets. This can be due to:  lack of prey, lack of a nest (GHO’s use other bird’s nests or hallowed out trees or snags) or they may be a young inexperienced newly mated pair.  I am not sure exactly, but I do know there is a hawk nest in the King’s favorite roosting tree.  The only problem with that tree is that it is located right near the park where people run and play and have picnics.   I think the Queen is not happy with that location. I have seen the two of them roosting together in that tree and adjacent trees, but less than a dozen times over the past four months.  I hope you enjoyed your day with the Queen and the video will be ready shortly.

Fondly,

Pam

Here is the link to my new video!

http://youtu.be/CT1WSOPmhig

The Great Horned Owl, Queen Athena, hoots to her King, and flies and catches a squirrel (I’m 99% sure that is what she caught) I didn’t see it until I got home and watched the video. Let me know what you think! Please read my blog that goes along with this video.’
pamdhawktalk A Day in the Life of Queen Athena

International Festival of Owls 2013, a Personal Perspective

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After flying from Philadelphia to St. Louis to Chicago and reaching my destination of La Cross, I then drove a short distance from Wisconsin across the Mississippi into the lovely state of Minnesota.  As I pull into the small town of Houson (population 979), I saw “Loken’s Sawmill Inn” on my right.  I knew even before I entered the Inn that this was going to be a special weekend.  On the window of the Inn was the Festival poster above and a lovely Barn Owl drawn by a student at Houston Elementary School.   Owls were a theme in the lobby of the Inn and there were many decorations and more pictures by the school students.

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This is a family run business and every evening I found a fresh loaf of banana bread in my room. John and Eileen Loken are the owners of the Inn and they went out of their way to be sure we had a nice stay.  They  told me exactly how to find a beautiful mountain road with a very scenic view of the town that leads to a trail head, where I could enjoy the fresh air and hike on a snow covered trail.

I arrived on Thursday February 28th so I could settle in and take a drive around the area.     I drove to the Houston Nature Center.Image

This nature center was constructed in 2001 to serve as the town’s trail head to the Root River Trail. In 1998, Karla Bloem acquired Alice, a permanently injured Great Horned Owl, to use in educational programs.  Alice was the center’s only live animal and she became a celebrity!   Due to the center’s goals:  environmental education and tourism it seemed only natural to have a Festival of Owls to celebrate Alice’s “hatch day” the first weekend in March.  This year marks the 11th Annual International Festival of Owls!

Day 1

Friday March 1st

On Friday morning, after speaking with the owners of the Inn, I took off on an adventure on a beautiful snow covered trail high up on a mountain.  I loved the weather in Houston, it was sunny and cold (25 degrees) and there was a lot of snow on the ground.  This is what I saw when I began my first hike:  Image

For about one hour I walked on the trail (snow mobile trail in winter and horse riding/hiking in summer).  The snow in combination with the forest was breath taking.   I wish I could have hiked longer, but I knew my roommate was arriving and the Friends of HNC members – only, reception was about to start.  I did see one beautiful raptor as I hiked and I believe it was a Red Tail Hawk.  Here are a few of the wonderful sights from my first day’s hike.

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At 2 P.M.  the festival began!  The Reception was quite lovely and held in the local community center.  The entire town was excited about this festival and everyone was so friendly and helpful. In fact, Karla, the director of the H.N.C.  said that almost 150 people from the town volunteered to help with the festival. The local garden club provided an  “owl themed” delicious buffet of finger foods.  Even a local family, that raises goats, made wonderful goat cheese (about 6 different types).  Another local family made and served delicious wine for this event.  It was a very nice time to meet and greet fellow supporters of the Houston Nature Center.  I sat with my friends that I met on the “Iris and Rusty” web cam.  We were known as the “Chatters”.  There were myself, June, Janice and Maxine.  My roommate, Janice, came all the way from Texas!

The spread!

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After this delicious meet and greet, I decided to take another drive up to the mountain to the trail head to see the sunset and possibly hear an owl or see other kinds of wildlife.ImageImage

My roommate  Janice and I, along with fellow friends June and Maxine went to the evening events.  Everything took place at the Houston Elementary School, which was beautifully decorated by the school children.  There were also many vendors selling their Owl nick nacks, clothes, jewelry, photographs, etc!  As I was looking around I saw a man walking with his Barred Owl.  I took a double take because it did not seem real!  Yet, among the crowd, this Barred Owl was calmly perched on his owner’s arm. The gentleman said the the owl did not mind being petted and I was lucky enough to get the chance to pet my first Barred Owl.Image

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He never took his eyes off of his owner, which he had bonded with and was imprinted to.  Imprinting is a long-lasting behavioral response to an individual or object.

Later that night we went to a program given by the Illinois Raptor center. The I.R.C. is a wildlife rehabilitation center  and hospital that takes in orfaned and injured animals.  Jacques Nuzzo and Jane Seitz from the Illinois Raptor Center presented a very educational program about Wildlife Rehabilitation.  It was  held in the gym of the Houston Elementary school.  Jacques first told us the problems raptors face:  loss of habitat, pollution, electrocution by power lines, trapping/hunting,  car/truck accidents, fishing line, barbed wire fences, and diseases like the West Nile Virus.  Jacques emphasized that dead trees are very important for wildlife.  1,500 species of animals require dead trees to nest in!  On the power point presentation we saw things that would upset manny people, for example:  One of the worst cases Jacques witnessed was when someone cut down a tree without checking if there were nesting animals and they sawed right though a nest of screech owls, cutting the face off of one sweet owl and it was still alive.  This brought tears to my eyes.   Jacques told us that most orphans come from cutting down dead trees and the babies spill out onto the ground.

Jane carries a Barred Owl that lost one of his wings do to an accident.

Jane carries a Barred Owl that lost one of his wings do to an accident.

In conclusion Jacques told us many success stories about owls that the I.R.C. has saved and released back into the wild.

Jacques also shared some data about the most common raptors that came into their center:  American Kestral, Coopers Hawk, Red-tail Hawk, Barred Owl, Eastern Screech Owl and Great Horned Owl. These are some of the common reasons the raptors came into their center:  Attacks (for example cats), Needless Rescues, Orphans,Trapped, Vehicle collisions, Window collisions and Wing injuries.

What can we do to help?   Give Money to organizations like Illinois Raptor Center or Karla and the Houston Nature Center, help with the preservation of natural habitat, help with research of owls, think before you do something to destroy the natural habitat (Does the tree really have to come down?), leave dead trees alone!, Do you really need that barbed wire fence?, install nest boxes, observe record and consult experts when you see something unusual, interesting or rare,  and practice sound conservation efforts and ideas.

This presentation really touched my heart and I learned a lot of important information to share with others.

OWL PROWL   On the owl prowl we heard a pair of Barred owls, an Eastern Screech Owl (he flew over out heads), and also heard a Great Horned Owl.  It was very cold (low 20’s) and it was an interesting experience for me.  When I go on an owl prowl in my forest, it is still dusk and I take my binoculars to find and follow the owls and I listen for their calls or for other birds such as crows that mob the owls.  In this Owl Prowl we  (40 people) got into a bus, drove to a remote area, exited the bus in pitch darkness, except for the beautiful starry night, and quietly stood still.  The bus driver turned off the engines and turned out the lights.  All was dark and at peace.  Then the leader of our prowl, Dan Jackson, vocally did a few owl calls.  Now that was a treat!  I had never heard someone do that before.  He was careful as to which type of owl he would call out to, for example you would not want to call Great Horned owls and Screech owls as one could eat the other!  The first stop he called Screech owls and one actually flew right over our heads and into a nearby tree.  The owl proceeded to hoot for a while and after listening in awe, we all boarded the bus and traveled to a new stop.  All in all we stopped about 4 times and heard several owls:  Barred Owls, Eastern Screech Owls and Great Horned Owls.  One interesting device that our leader used was an ipod that had owl calls recorded.  He would also use this device to call the owls.  He made a point to say that they only do this 1 or 2 times a year so it should not disrupt or confuse the owls.

DAY 2  March 2nd

 Saturday, started out very nicely with an Owl Face Pancake Breakfast.

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This yummy breakfast was served by the children of The Lutheran Church.

Good food and good friends!  The Chatters:  Jancie, Maxine, Janice and Pam

Good food and good friends! The Chatters: June, Maxine, Janice and Pam.

The day’s events went from 9 A.M. through 9 P.M. and we could pick from several different options and programs offered throughout the day.  There was a Photography contest and I entered 3 of my favorite pictures of King Tuft and Athena, the Great Horned Owls that live in my Enchanted Forest.   All the money collected from the entry fees went to the Houston Nature Center. About 30 photos were entered and the top 10 were selected. Then the visitors to the festival voted on their favorite one.  Mine did not make the top 10, but that is fine!  Helping the Nature Center is why the contest  is held each year.  My  vote went to a beautiful capture of a Great Gray Owl.  It was nice to see the top photographs displayed in the Houston Nature Center.

At 9:30 A.M.  I attended another Live Owl program given by the Illinois Raptor Center.  This was another wonderful program where Jacques talked about the characteristics of owls and we were able to see live owls in flight right in the gymnasium! Here are a few pictures of the birds that were in the presentation.

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Beautiful Red Tail Hawk

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Banshee, the Barn Owl

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Great Horned Owl, SPUD

This GHO has raised many many chicks at the Illinois Raptor center.  She is a fantastic surrogate mamma owl.  If the center cannot put the chicks back in the nest that they came from, Spud will take on the role of surrogate mom and will feed and care for all of the owlets!

Houston Elementary School children and their teachers helped to decorate the entire school for this very special Owl Festival.  I was amazed at how nice their art work was and would like to share some of my favorite decorations with you.  It is wonderful to see how the folks in a small town all work together to host such a fabulous and unique event to bring awareness to the world about owls.

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Later on Saturday (day 2 of the event) I attended another very interesting program:

A Who’s Hoo Guide to Owls in the Midwest given by Alan Stankevitz.  IMG_3939

Alan is a professional and award winning wildlife photographer.  He had the audience try and  guess the different owls based on their physical attributes and their calls.    At the end of the lecture we all got to try and imitate the calls.  He called it “Owl Karaoke” and it was very entertaining to say the least!  This lecture was followed by a Kid’s Owl Calling Contest and a cute little red head named Hailey won first place with her superb call of a  Barred Owl “Whoo cooks for you?”.

At 1:30 Karla Bloem presented her program all about the “International Owl Center”. This is a very exciting endeavor.  There is a National Eagle Center in Wabasha Minnesota, but this will be the first Owl Center in the United States.  I think this is a very exciting project and hope Karla is able to create this, but she will need a lot of donations and support from many people and organizations   This is the link to the International Owl Center Website.  http://www.internationalowlcenter.org/

The mission of the International Owl Center is:

Our Mission

The International Owl Center advances the survival of wild owl populations through education and research. We plan to accomplish our mission through biological and cultural programs and displays, green building design, citizen-science and other research, international exchange of information, the World Owl Hall of Fame, the International Festival of Owls, and other means.

Karla also breeds captive Great Horned Owls as part of a vocal study on the species.  There is a web cam that streams a video of these owls world wide so viewers can help with observations.  The two owls are named Iris and Rusty, and they cannot be released into the wild because they both are blind in one eye do to accidents, however they can breed in captivity!  Iris recently laid three eggs and on March 15th, the first egg hatched! People all over the world are watching as the eggs hatch and the owlet’s grow.  Link to the streaming video cam:  http://www.festivalofowls.com/livevideo.html

Following Karla’s presentation we celebrated Alice’s Hatch day!  Remember, Alice is the reason the Festival started!  Alice turned Sweet 16!

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Alice is a very special owl.  She lives with Karla in her home and commutes to work with Karla.  Her job is an education bird because of her personality. She is the focal point of Karla’s vocal study of Great Horned Owls. Karla considers herself to be the “mate” of Alice.

In my opinion, and I’m sure many other’s as well, Karla is an ambassador to GHO’s. She testified at the state capitol to earn protection for GHO’s under Minnesota state law.  She is the leading authority on GHO vocalizations. Karla was the woman who helped me identify King Tuft and Queen Athena as being male and female.  She took the time out of her busy schedule to watch and listen to my videos and come up with her conclusions.  I am very grateful to her and thankful for her expertise and devotion to Great Horned Owls.

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We all sang “Happy Hatch Day” to Alice and enjoyed a delicious cake!

After the party for Alice, I decided to travel back up to the mountain top again as it was a beautiful evening.  I  saw a Red-tail hawk, wild turkeys, a ring neck pheasant, and foot prints in the snow of coyotes.  Some of my favorite pictures from my Saturday late afternoon hike:

Trees at the "Wet Bark Trail".

Trees at the “Wet Bark Trail”.

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Saturday evening we attended a  banquet at the Valley High Golf Club. After a delicious dinner, Karla presented the World Owl Hall of Fame Awards which are presented to those who have made this world a better place for owls.

Dr. Lucia Liu Severinghaus from Taiwan won the special achievement award.  This award is given to a human who has made a significan contribution to owls through a specific project or for efforts in a specific geographic area.  Dr. Lucia devoted 25 years of study on the Lanyu Scops Owl in Taiwan.    She also has worked with the media and general public to change fearful cultural attitudes toward owls into an attitude of respect, understanding and value.

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Dr.Wolfgang Scherzinger won the Champion of Owls Award.  This is to a human who has had a broad geographical impact on owls in multiple fields such as conservation science, legislation  education and or rehabilitation, usually over a lifetime. Dr. Wolfgang has researched most of Europe’s owl species and has led reintroduction programs for two locally rare species.  He now, in his retirement, studies the Sichuan Wood Owl in china.

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Both of these award winners presented excellent programs after dinner at the banquet.

Day 3

Sunday March 3rd

In the morning I went on the Birding and Natural History bus Trip.  Dan Jackson and Brian Lee were our guides.  Dan specializing in Birds and Brian in the natural history of the area. I had a very good time and saw a Bald Eagle nest (Mom sitting in the nest), two Golden Eagles, many Red-tail Hawks, killdeer, beaver dams in the frozen Mississippi River, a Kestrel, Horned larks, and more!  After the trip we had a delicious German style lunch at a local Houston restaurant.

There were many activities that I did not get to do and hopefully next year I will be able to return and experience even more!  For example I wanted to take part in dissecting an owl pellet, but when I had the time on Sunday, there were no more pellets left!  Of course I could always search in my forest for one of my owls pellets!  I’ve yet to find one, but I’ve seen King Tuft and Queen Athena both cast quite a few of them over the past few months.

Now for the exciting ending to my weekend adventure!  

I was told by Dan Jackson, the leader of our owl prowl and the bus tour about the Great Gray Owl that was residing on the outskirts of a small town about 1 1/2 hours away from Houston. I HAD to make the trip and I was very glad I did.  I was in awe of that magnificent owl and was able to observe him for about 2 hours.  I created a video and took many photos.  I hope you enjoy them!   I was so excited that I could not sleep and stayed up working on the video until 3:30 A.M.

A few interesting facts on the Great Gray Owl – It is the tallest owl in North America, but both the Snowy Owl and the Great Horned Owl weigh more and have larger feet and talons.  The Great Gray is a big ball of feathers!  It’s habitat is the Boreal forest in Canada. I am not sure why it traveled so far south, into Wisconsin.  I do worry about it’s survival.  I was told it was  Juvenile GGO and possibly was hungry and came farther south to find food.  It eats small mammals and rodents.  It locates mice below the snow by hearing, then plunges down through surface to capture them.

On the day of March 3rd in the little town of Mauston, Wisconsin I spent over two hours visiting this amazing predator.  This Great Gray Owl was the most unique creature I have ever had the privilege to observe in the wild.  I hope you enjoy this video and I truly hope you can someday meet the Gray Ghost.   

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I hope you enjoyed reading about my experience at the International Festival of Owls.  Please consider contributing to Karla’s project:  the International Owl Center, to be built in Houson, Minnesota.  For more information visit:  http://alicetheowl.blogspot.com/

Until my next post, I wish you all good health and happiness as we head into the beautiful spring season.

Fondly,

Pam

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Meet the New Kids in Town and Mrs. Tuft

Meet the New Kids in Town and Mrs. Tuft

Dear friends,

I apologize for not writing for over a month. I was busy enjoying my family over Christmas vacation.   I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday and I wish for you a happy and healthy new year!

Thank you all for reading my blog over the past six months.  I am very happy to have this outlet that allows me to share my photos and videos with you.

I continue to be amazed by the Great Horned Owls. King Tuft is still roosting in the same tree that I mentioned in my last post. My daily routine includes a morning hike with my dog Lacey to visit the King’s tree and check to see if he is peacefully sleeping, tucked in safely behind the pine needles.  There has only been about two days when I was unable to spot him, but I believe he was there and just deeply buried with in the branches.  Each day if I am able, I return to his tree at dusk and patiently wait for him to wake and fly out.  Some days I am blessed with a wonderful show of stretching, preening, hooting and flying.  I continue to hope that his Queen will return for a romantic rendezvous.

About two weeks ago my friend mentioned to me that she heard another pair of Great Horned Owls duetting in a local forest so I decided to check them out.  However I must admit I felt a bit guilty, like I was betraying King Tuft by going to visit another pair of owls.  I however wanted to experience the possibility of seeing two Great Horned Owls mate and hopefully see owlets, even if it meant going to another location.

On January 10th at about 3:30 I went to the new forest.  Using the ESL (Experience, Skill, and Luck) that my mentor Mark Glenshaw shared with me, I was able to spot the first GHO in about 10 minutes.  Great Horned Owls love to roost in conifers, so my first instinct was to look for the pine trees.   A good pair of binoculars is a must when spotting owls and my pair fit the bill quite perfectly.  Also when looking for a GHO it is helpful to look for the whitewash on the trunk/bark of the tree and also on the ground.  Once I found that, I began to follow the trunk up, scanning with my binoculars and wouldn’t you know it, a beautiful GHO was staring down right at me!  My heart skipped a beat as I slowly moved to position my self so as not to disturb the owl, but yet be able to take pictures and video.  About 20 min. later I heard the 2nd GHO hoot and I could tell he was very near by.  I didn’t want to take my eyes off of the first owl, but I could not help myself. It had been so long since I heard a duet or even seen two owls together so I decided to walk in the direction of the 2nd owl.  After walking a few yards I saw the 2nd owl only a few trees from the first owl.  I believe the first owl I spotted was the female and the 2nd the male.  This may or may not be true, but was my educated guess based on the rhythm of the hoots.  After observing the 2nd owl, I decided to quietly walk back to the first which may have been a mistake because as I approached she flew out of the tree.  I then observed the male hoot a few more times and then he also flew out and traveled in the direction of the female.  I made my way back to the trail and headed back to my car, but on the way back I heard them begin to hoot back and forth.  It was very beautiful to hear, especially because I had not heard a duet  for a few months.   The male owl would hoot first (his 5 syllable hooting pattern, just like King Tuft’s) and the female would begin as soon as he finished or she would interrupt the male’s hoot and overlap his hoot. The female’s pattern has more syllables and has a few quick pick up notes in her hoot. You will hear this in my video that I will include in this post.  I thought I may be lucky and get to witness these two owls mate, but that did not happen.  At about 5:15 they flew across the creek and I decided to head home.  All in all it was an unforgettable experience seeing two new Great Horned Owls in a new territory.  You may be interested in knowing that these two owls are only about a mile away from King Tuft’s territory.  On January 11th I did not have the opportunity to visit the owls at dusk, but on January 12th something amazing took place!  At this time I am going to share with you the video of the two new owls, yet to be named.

Below are three pictures of these two new magnificent owls, the first two are the female, and the 2nd the male, in M. H.O.

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JANUARY 12TH, A MOMENTOUS DAY IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST

In the morning of Jan. 12th, I made my usual trip to visit the King with my dog Lacey by my side.  He was in one of his usual spots, with his back to me and facing west.  I never stay long on my daytime visits in order not to disturb his sleep.  It just makes me feel content knowing he is safe in his tree.  After checking on him, Lacey and I decided to hike the trail down into the forest and around the loop.  As we went down into the valley, and around the bend off to my right I spotted a very large bird flying silently back towards King Tuft and the conifers.  I could not believe my eyes.  I knew it was not a hawk and that meant it may be the Queen.  I said to Lacey, we are going back the way we came to check the tree where the King was roosting in hopes that we may see the Queen along side of him.  Well as we walk up the hill and into the clearing I gaze towards the tree and I spot an owl that I know is not the King!  I have never been so happy!  She was beautiful and I took a few pictures of this special Great Horned Owl.  Then to be sure I wasn’t imagining this, I double checked to see if the King was still facing west with his back towards me.  He was!  At that point I decided to leave and let nature take it’s course.   Here is the picture of the Queen that I captured on Jan. 12th at about 10 A.M.

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Below is King Tuft as he faces west with his back to me:

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This day was to be very special for me any my 11 year old God Daughter.  I had been promising her a day with me to visit King Tuft and watch him fly out of his tree.  We had this date set aside for a week.  Little did we both know how special this evening would be.  Rachel and I traveled to the forest and with camera and tripod in hand we quietly moved within view of the Spruce tree.  We spotted the Queen first (actually I thought it was King Tuft, until I heard the hoot).  Great Horned Owls look alike and it is often difficult to determine which one is which due to lighting and if they are fluffed up or not.  I really need to hear them hoot!  I can recognize the King by his 5 syllable hooting pattern.   I set up the video camera at about 4 P.M. and we watched and waited.  At about 4:15 Rachel spotted another large bird flapping his wings in the same tree.  We knew it was the 2nd owl (we of course thought that was the female, later to be proved wrong). At about 4:30 or so, the female flew out and down into the forest she went.  After about 5 minutes or less, the King flew out after her and landed in a deciduous tree not too far away.  Rachel and I proceeded down into the forest to observe the King and Queen.  We were in for a rare treat!  They proceeded to carry on a beautiful hooting duet and chase each other through the forest.  I will be producing a video that has the hooting duet and hopefully will have it done to share with you in a day or two.  We did not however witness any mating behavior, but all in due time.  I am very happy to know the King of the Forest is not alone and now time will tell if Queen Athena and King Tuft will become a couple and raise owlets!

Here are a few pictures from the evening observations:

Queen Athena

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King Tuft (next 3 pictures below)

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Thank you all again for reading my blog over the past few months.  I was amazed at how many people read my posts and from so many countries all over the world.  I am grateful to you for your support and your comments.  It has been a difficult past 2 years for me as  my mother passed away in 2011 and both of my daughter’s moved out of the house to pursue their dreams in California and Maryland, one now in the workforce and the other in college. My beloved collie Tristan also passed away suddenly in 2011, but I was blessed with Lacey whom I adopted one year ago on January 15th.  Watching Hawks, Owls and other wildlife has become my new hobby and it gives me great pleasure to view these birds, photograph and video them and then share my discoveries with you.  I am very thankful for you, my followers for you kind words and encouragement.  May God bless you with a happy and healthy New Year in 2013.

Fondly,

Pam

P.S.  Here is the promised hooting duet taken on Jan. 15th at 5 P.M.

King Tuft’s New Digs!

Dear Friends,

It seems like a long time since my last post.  Actually this is the longest I have gone without posting and now seems to be a perfect time to share with you the latest developments with King Tuft.  I have been posting quite a few pictures and videos to facebook, but I know not all of you are facebook viewers.  I will share a few of the newer videos in this post.   However I am about to share with everyone for the very first time my most recent video of the King in his new roosting tree!

Let me preface the video with events that led up to the discovery of this new roosting tree. The picture below is King Tuft on November 18th, the last day I saw him in the “Owl Tree” or the Weeping Spruce tree.  This tree’s integrity was compromised during Hurricane Sandy and is now tilting precariously, but still remains standing.  He only roosted in it a few times after the Hurricane.  There could be several reasons that could cause him to leave this beautiful roosting tree.  I however believe that it is not the tilt, but rather the absence of vines that have died with the onset of the first frost that caused him to leave this beautiful tree.  He is much more exposed in that tree now and thus vulnerable to crow mobbings.  Also people pass by that tree constantly as it is right by the walking trail and without a hiding place, the King probably is  not comfortable.

King Tuft on November 18th, the last time I saw him in his “Owl Tree” overlooking the creek at the bottom of the valley.   

Below is a picture of the King’s “Owl Tree” as it looks in December, pretty barren and quite tilted.  It may not make it through a heavy snow and  I will be very sad when and if this tree falls.  It was the first place I photographed and observed this dear Great Horned Owl.  I am hoping that it will make it through the winter and in the spring the King will return to it when the greenery comes back to life.

Below you can see how there is no place for King Tuft to hide in the Weeping Spruce at this time of year.

This is the last video I created of King Tuft in his “Owl Tree” on Sunday November 18th.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hoY9D_DNtTI

Ever since November 18th I searched the forest, checking each evergreen, but as you can imagine that was a very difficult task.  I would walk Lacey, my collie in the morning and always check the “Owl Tree” with no luck.  Then I would continue search for trees, checking their trunks for the white washing of the owls.  I found several trees with white wash, but could not spot any owls.  Then I would return to the forest at dusk to listen for King Tuft.  I was successful quite a few times and I will post a few of the videos taken in late November. I started to notice a pattern and he seemed to always start hooting at the top of the hill in the tall pines.

Below is a video from November 21st showing the King flying and hooting.  Notice the 5 syllable male hooting pattern.

I started to focus more on the area at the top of the hill, but did not find his exact tree until December 1st.

The day before on November 30th, I was walking around the area that I suspected.  I used my naked eyes and my binoculars and searched every tree with no success.  Suddenly I was very surprised when out of the blue he came soaring over my head and flew into the woods.  I was a bit frustrated because I missed seeing the tree that he flew from.  I was however happy to see him and created a short video from that night.

On the night of December 1st my strategy was to sit and observe as opposed to walking around the area.  That paid off big time!  For the longest time Lacey and I sat and searched the tree tops with no success.  Then at about 4:15 with my naked eye, I spotted King Tuft perched high in one of the tallest Spruce trees at the top of the hill, on the edge of the forest.  This tree has an incredible view of the hillside, forest and valley.  From the top of his new tree I believe he can see his old roosting tree in the distance.  Here is one of the first pictures I took of King Tuft in his new Spruce Tree on the mountain top.

On the night of December 1st I was able to photograph him but was unable to watch him fly out of his new tree due to a prior commitment.  However two nights later on December 3rd, I was able to watch him wake, stretch and fly out!  I also had the pleasure of sharing this experience with two friends.  The video is interesting as you can experience my excitement and the other’s as well as we witness an unforgettable event together.  So now I share with all of you:

The King, roosting in his new winter Spruce Tree December 3rd!

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGTlOfVGxEg

Enjoy Dear Friends!

I hope you and your families enjoyed a wonderful Thankgiving together and I wish for you all a very peaceful and blessed holiday season filled with love and joy.

Fondly,

Pam