Posts Tagged ‘owls’

How To ID Owls By Sound

Friday, November 17th, 2017
 
Colder weather means Owls!  But while they may be around, its more
barn_owl
Barn Owl
Photo credit:Stan Tekeila

likely you will hear rather than see them. So, get a jump on owling this year by learning the sounds of some of the more common species of owls which may be in your area.  The best part about owl sounds is that they are very distinctive. Your kids might love learning them as the sounds are also pretty easy to replicate. And who doesnt want to hoot “who cooks for you?” They will love learning that Screech Owls don’t really screech at all, which owl makes a blood-curdling scream and which one makes that classic deep owl hoot.  

 

Check out this Audubon Owl ID guide for sounds and be ready when you make that first owling trip this winter.

Join The Christmas Bird Count

Friday, November 17th, 2017
Join the Christmas Bird Count

 

 

Make your holiday season extra-special this year and do something important for bird conservation by participating in the birdwatching Christmas Bird Count. Every year from December 14 through January 5 people around the world get outside and count the birds in their area or even just their yard.  When you register and participate in the count, you are part of an organized counting of birds at a specific time each year and the information which you report is added to all the historical data from over 100 years of bird counts. The data supplies scientists with critical information on where birds are, the health of bird populations and helps direct conservation efforts. Plus, its lots of fun to do with friends and family!

 

The origins of the Christmas Bird Count are interesting. In the 19th Century, there was an organized hunt called the Christmas “Side Hunt” where hunters would shoot as many birds as they could — the winner was the one with the largest number of birds shot. As people were slowly becoming more aware of what wanton hunting for sport was doing to populations of birds and animals, on Christmas Day 1900, Frank Chapman, the head of the magazine Bird-Lore (which became Audubon Magazine), proposed an alternative to the Christmas hunt with a Christmas bird count. And that Christmas, 90 species were counted by 27 people. Now, there are nearly 70 million birds reported and 75,000 people worldwide who participate – you can be one of them!  It’s easy to do and a lot of fun! Won’t you join the longest-running bird citizen science project in the US this year?  Registration takes place in November – don’t miss out!

 

More Nestcams!

Friday, May 27th, 2016
More Nestcams!

arctic_tern_chick_nestcam


‘Tis the season!
Birds are still nesting, and this month, there are a few new nestcams including

Atlantic Puffins, Arctic Terns, Allen’s Hummingbird, Peregrine Falcons, Osprey and Double-crested Cormorants.

atlantic_puffins_nestcam

NEW nests with lots of chicks and behavior to watch!

CATCH UP on what’s happening with the chicks:

More Nestcams!

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016
More Nestcams
long-eared_owlets
We can never get enough of nestcams! Nesting season continues with new great views of nesting condors, lots of Great-horned Owlets, and this nest of seven seriously adorable Long-eared Owlets.

NEW nests with lots of chicks to watch!

CATCH UP on what’s happening with the chicks:

More Nestcams

Monday, March 28th, 2016
More Nestcams
red_tailed_hawk_nestcamCan’t keep your eyes off the nestcams? You are not alone! Keep tabs on the birds you saw hatch and check out some new nesting birds. This month we have new Barred Owls, Red-tailed Hawks and more Bald Eagles.

NEW!!

CATCH UP ON YOUR FAVORITE BIRDS:

NESTCAMS!

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016
NESTCAMS!
It’s that time of year again!allens_hummingbird_nestcam_explore
Get a front row seat and the best view of these early nesters from across the US and  Hawaii  — hummingbirds, albatross and some very cool raptors:

Family Fun: Owling Adventure

Monday, November 23rd, 2015
FAMILY FUN: Owling Adventure
What kid (or adult for that matter), wouldn’t love to eastern_screech_owlsee an owl in the wild? Due to their nocturnal habits (most owls are only active at night), and well-camouflaged feathers, owls can be difficult to spot. During the day, owls roost in thick trees and shrubs, and often hold completely still to avoid detection from predators, and other birds that might mob them and disrupt their daytime nap. Owls are more common than many people realize, and are often found close by. If owls are around and you know what to look for, you might have a great surprise in the trees near your home.  Several species of owls are habituated to urban areas, including Great Horned, Barred, and Eastern Screech Owls.

Fall and winter are the best times to go owling, as owls are actively looking for mates or nesting.  So, be prepared for a chilly evening walk and bundle everyone up. If you are taking kids owling, they might be excited, so it’s important to make sure that they know the best way to find an owl is by being still and listening.  This is essential, as owls are very wary and know how to make themselves invisible. Before taking a trip owling, you may want to scout out a location ahead of time where owls have been seen/heard before, as this increases your chances of detecting one. If you hear an owl, try returning at the same time the following night, and the chances are good that you’ll hear it again. You may even catch a glimpse!

Be sure to bring flashlights or headlamps, hats and gloves, and wear lots of layers as it often takes patience standing outside listening for owls! Once you hear an owl call, continue to be quiet as he may move closer to you. To stack the odds in your favor, learn the vocalizations of the owls found in your area, and practice imitating them. Often a good imitation of an owl call will elicit a response. Recorded owl calls can be used to trigger a response, but during the breeding season (in winter), owls become territorial, and will fly in towards the “intruder” which is actually your recording. This takes extra energy and time away from their normal habits, which can stress an owl if done repetitively.  Be a good owler and don’t use repeated recordings or shine the light for more than a few seconds at the owl once found.

Keep an eye out for other night animals, tracks in the snow, and eyes reflected in the light of your flashlight. Being in the woods at night — owls or no owls — can be an exciting experience for a budding naturalist!

Check out the children’s book Owl Moon by Jane Yolen for an exciting indoor owling adventure!  This story about winter owling perfectly prefaces your own foray into the woods!

Snowy Owls and Airports

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013
IN THE NEWS:  Snowy Owls and Airports

snowy_owl_flying Snowy owls are coming into the US in record numbers this year, and are being seen as far south as South Carolina! If you enjoyed reading about the current irruption of Snowy owls last month in our newsletter, you might be interested in this news story.

Snowy owls like hunting for food in open areas, like airfields, and birds and jet aircraft don’t mix well.  If you saw the news story in early December about the Snowy owls at JFK airport, you may recall that the Port Authority who manages the airport, decided to kill 5 Snowy owls that were near the field, much as they do Canada geese and other birds who pose a potential safety hazard to aircraft.

Birdwatchers who had come long distances to see the owls were shocked at this decision, as Snowy owls at other airports, such as Boston’s Logan airport, are trapped and released.  Additionally, the biggest safety issue involves birds in large flocks that are sucked into jet engines and can more readily cause an accident.  Snowy owls are solitary and pose far less of a threat than do flocking birds, so this decision to shoot the owls near JFK was perceived as a bit extreme.

With the help of many NGO’s including NY Audubon and Friends of Animals, as well as many New Yorkers who contacted the Port Authority protesting this inhumane treatment, the Port Authority very quickly agreed to stop shooting the owls and provide for a non-lethal way of getting them off the field. JFK will now be safe from owl strikes and it will be done humanely.  Thanks to everyone who made their feelings about this known to the authorities.  New Yorkers don’t want owls killed!

Owls in Mythology – Wise or Sinister?

Saturday, November 16th, 2013
Owls in Mythology – Wise or Sinister?

northern_hawk_owl Owls capture our imagination. Their silent nighttime stealth and unusual lifestyle has made them the stuff of folklore since ancient times.  Many cultures revere the owl as a symbol of wisdom, protection and prophecy, while others see them as harbingers of death and as bad omens.


Owls first began appearing in human history in Greek mythology when Athena, the goddess of wisdom took on the owl as her companion.  The Little Owl was her chosen species  and coins were minted with Athena on the front and the owl on the back.  This is likely the beginning of the ‘wise’ owl connotation.

Considered sacred by the Native American Hopi tribe, the Burrowing Owl, who nests under ground, is revered as the protector of the underworld, and the Dakota Hidatsa Indians see him as a protective spirit for brave warriors.   A Zuni legend tells us that during a ceremonial dance, owls were burrowing_owl laughing at a coyote who was trying to dance, causing them to spill white foam on themselves and creating the speckled plumage for which they are now known.

Many African cultures believe the owl is directly associated with sorcery and magic. They believe that owls are a bad omen and when one crosses your path, death is soon to follow.  In the 18th C, owls were also considered evil throughout much of Great Britain. Superstition dictated that nailing an owl to a barn door would keep evil at bay or protect from lightening. And British Barn owls were said to predict weather – screeching owls were thought to foretell of oncoming inclement weather.

These days, Snowy owls take front stage as heros in “Harry Potter” and Barn owls in “Legends of the Guardians”, continuing to charm and impress us with their wisdom and magical powers.  But no matter whether we think these birds are wise or sinister, they continue to be a part of every culture and always a great find for any bird watcher.

 

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