All Photos posted on this blog unless otherwise noted were taken by me with my Canon Rebel XTI using a 300 mm zoom lens

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Some Time for Birding

It seems like it is getting more difficult to get time to go Birding. I did a Cub Scout workshop yesterday so I took off work a couple hours early so I could get some birding in first.
The Great Egret that has been hanging around this winter is still there
Here is a list of the birds I saw yesterday at Farmington Bay:
Great Egret
Great Blue Heron
The Great Blue Herons are nesting now.
Northern Flicker
White-crowned Sparrow

Song Sparrow
American Avocet
Red-wing Blackbird

American Robin
Marsh Wren
American White Pelican
American Kestrel

Canada Goose

Northern Shoveler

Cinnamon Teal
Green-wing Teal
American Coot
Eurasian Collared Dove
Pied-billed Grebe
Red-tail Hawk
Northern Harrier
Sandhill Crane
European Starling
Black-billed Magpie
California Gull
American Wigeon

This Morning I took a drive up to Ogden and Bues pond to see the Mandarine Duck that was reported. Though Mandarine Ducks cannot be counted because they are not established in Utah and are most assuredly result of escaped pets they are becoming more common. I did see it but unfortunately he wasn't in the mood to have his picture taken, and I was unable to get closer that about 75 yards. He is hanging out with the Wood Ducks and even seemed have a female companion.
Birds seen at Bues pond were:
Wood Duck
Mandarine Duck
Belted Kingfisher
House Finch
Black-capped Chickadee
It was good to get out and I will make a point over the next couple of months to get out more often.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

2011 Birds of the Month

January 2011 Northern Harrier
Several years ago I took a road trip to Illinois with my family, at a rest stop in Nebraska there was a stuffed Black-crowned Night Heron mounted in a glass case. I was admiring it when the lady in the small gift shop said "oh you like our bird". I told her yes and that we have many Black-crowned Night Herons where I live. She asked where I come from, I told her Northern Utah and that I was a volunteer naturalist at Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area on the shore of the Great Salt Lake. She was amazed that we had shore birds in Utah. She said she thought Utah was just a big desert void of life. 

One of the reasons I do this spotlight each month and select a Bird of the Month to spotlight is to show the great diversity of birds that live here in Utah especially around the Great Salt Lake. The Great Salt Lake is such an important area for migrating and nesting birds that it is a Western Hemisphere preserve. I love Utah, the Great Salt Lake and Farmington Bay which has been my playground since I was a child. I hope those of you who visit my blog enjoy the birds and the place.

February 2011 Sharp-shinned Hawk
March 2011 Short-eared Owl 
April 2011 Barn Owl
May 2011 American Robin
June 2011 Willet
July 2011 Brown-headed Cowbird
August 2011 Eastern Kingbird
September 2011 Yellow-rumped Warbler
October 2011 Horned Lark
November 2011 Hermit Thrush
December 2011 Redhead Duck

Sunday, March 4, 2012

March 2012 Bird of the Month Great Horned Owl

Years before I got my camera I drew pictures of the birds I ID'd to keep my life list. I drew this picture to document my first sighting of a Great Horned Owl during a Scout training camp near Tooele Utah in 1996

The great horned owl is the most common owl of the Americas, easily recognizable because of the feather tufts on its head. These tufts resemble horns.
Great horned owls are adaptable birds and live from the Arctic to South America. 

They are at home in suburbia as well as in woods and farmlands. Northern populations migrate in winter, but most live permanently in more temperate climes.

Nesting season is in January or February when the males and females hoot to each other. When close they bow to each other, with drooped wings. Mutual bill rubbing and preening also occurs. They do not build a nest of their own but utilise the nests of other birds such as the hawk, crow and heron. They may also use squirrel nests, hollows in trees, rocky caves, clumps of witches broom, abandoned buildings, or on artificial platforms.  They are extremely aggressive when defending the nest and will continue to attack until the intruder is killed or driven off. Normally, two to four eggs are laid and incubated by the female only for 26-35 days.

I took this picture of this youngster last spring  at the Fielding Garr Ranch on Antelope Island
This picture is of it's very attentive mother sitting just a few branches above the baby and keeping a close eye on it and a close eye on anyone who came close.
Great Horned Owls eat a broad diet of animals, from small mammals to rabbits, geese, and herons. Some birds, amphibians, reptiles, and invertebrates, but mostly mammals.The Great Horned Owl will take large prey, even other raptorial birds. It regularly kills and eats other owls, and is an important predator on nestling Ospreys. A couple of years ago the people out at Garr Ranch said that the Great Horned Owls killed and ate the Long-eared Owls that were nesting there. The Great Horned Owl is the only animal that regularly eats skunks.

I often find Owl Pellets around trees and on the deck of the Nature Center at Farmington Bay
Pellets are very large, about  7.6 to 10.2 cm (3- 4") long and 3.8 cm (1.5") thick. Pellets are dark greyish-black and compact. Skulls as wide as 3 cm (1.2") are regurgitated whole. Pellets are regurgitated 6 to 10 hours after eating.

Great Horned Owls are nocturnal and become active about dusk. I have seen them flying over my neighborhood in Woods Cross Utah and have observed them at Farmington Bay at dusk many times. I see them regularly at the ranch at Antelope Island sleeping. When I walk by they will usually partially open one eye and watch me very carefully.

A truly magnificent Bird the Great Horned Owl in My choice for Bird of the Month for March 2012