Tag Archives: Eurasian Eagle Owl

Summer 2019 CalNat Class #6, 07-12-19

Around 11 o’clock, my co-instructor Bill Grabert and I took all of our stuff over to the library to set up for the Certified California Naturalist class, and our guest speaker arrived around the same time: Jenny Papka of Native Bird Connections.  She’d done a lecture for our winter class earlier this year so she kind of knew the drill. She set up her bird stuff while we finished setting up the classroom.

Jenny brought a Peregrine Falcon, a Swainson’s Hawk and her Eurasian Eagle Owl with her this time. Since she was ready to go when the students arrived, we just let her go first and did our announcements when she was finished. We also to a break when she was done, so the students could get photos of the owl and the props Jenny had brought with her.

 About halfway through Jenny’s presentation, our volunteer Roxanne Moger arrived with a box of bird’s nests she’d gotten from a retired teacher, and a HUGE live sphinx moth caterpillar in a jar. She’d been cutting down some grape vines for her neighbor and found the caterpillar on them.  Super cool.

CLICK HERE for the album of photos.

It kind of looked like a tomato hornworm, but was gray instead of green and had a eye-spot on its rump. I’m not sure but I think it’s the caterpillar of an Achemon Sphinx Moth (Eumorpha achemon).  They’re the kind of caterpillar that pupates underground, though, so Roxanne will have to put a couple of inches of dirt in the bottom of the jar, so the caterpillar can bury itself when it’s ready.  It might overwinter under the dirt, so we may not be able to see it until next year…            

After the break, Bill did the chapter on forest management, and I did a module on bird species identification.

Naturalist Class #3, 02-22-19

The Certified California Naturalist class that I teach for Tuleyome in Woodland, CA was jam-packed with things today. First we had a great presentation by Jenny Papka and her crew from Native Bird Connections. They came in from the Bay area to do the presentation for us which included live birds: a Peregrine Falcon, a Swainson’s Hawk and a Eurasian Eagle Owl. The talk was punctuated with interesting and informative stories and lots of props such as sample wings, eggs, pellets and other materials.

CLICK HERE for the album of photos.

Then we had a break during which the students wrote down some of the species they aw during the field trips and shared their field journals.  Our super volunteer, Roxanne, had purchased cookies to share with the class so those were gobbled up during the breaks.

After the break our co-instructor Nate did a presentation on how to enter observations into iNaturalist online, and I did a short presentation on how to enter hours into the University’s volunteer portal. Then co-instructor Bill went over Chapter 2 (geology), and I did a short half-hour of species identification with the class.  That’s a lot to cram into 4 hours! I was hoping, again, to get an all-class photo taken, but there just wasn’t time for it. I think I’m going to have to do that at the very beginning of the next class while we still have all of the students “captive” for a while. Hah!

I have to say, I’m loving how helpful and supportive Bill, Nate and Roxanne are being with the class. They provide so much valuable input for the students. It’s a great collaborative effort.

Visit to West Coast Falconry

I slept in until almost 9:00 this morning; that was nice.  When I got up I did my morning ablutions stuff and brewed a pot of coffee, and then went through email, photos and journaling stuff before heading out to Marysville around 11:30 for my Owl Encounter at West Coast Falconry.  The write up for the encounter read: “…The most primitive and perhaps fascinating of all raptors is the owl. Its large, round eyes made ancient man feel as if it could see into his soul, and the mythology surrounding this stealth hunter from the land of our dreams is replete with images of arcane wisdom, to the fearful expectation of death.  Learn the facts about the most primitive raptor on the planet, its role in nature, its habitat, and how falconers have related to this enigmatic bird in the past and now in the present. Our Eurasian Eagle Owl is representative of the largest species of owl on the planet. Attending the experience gets you up close to this giant, silent flier. You will witness her grace in flight as her trainers take her through her exercises…”

I had to stop first to put some gas in the car.  I’d never been to Marysville before and the place I was going to was actually a residence, so I had some trepidation about going there and getting there in time for the appointment.  On the way there I saw a lot of ponds and flooded fields with huge flocks of geese in them, and a couple of them had SWANS in them, too.  It was so hard not to pull off to the side of the road to get photos, but I didn’t want to be late for my owl encounter.  I made it there just fine, and in fact got there about 15 minutes early.

There were 7 other people who attended this encounter.  We were all expecting it to be just about the Eagle Owl, but they actually had three owls there to show us the difference in size, facial composition, and feather colors.  Along with the Eagle Owl (which was huge!), we also got to see their Barn Owl and the young Speckled Owl, “Owlsey”… and we all got to “glove up” and call Owlsey to us, having him land on and take off from our hand, while others took photos of us.  The whole thing was soooo interesting and the birds were so beautiful none of us wanted the session to end.  Hah!

The Eagle Owl’s name is “Cailleach” (Kay-leesh) and means “Old Wise Woman” or “Crone” in Gaelic.  And she was magnificent; her large orange eyes were just mesmerizing.  She was totally silent during the demonstration, so I don’t know if she hoot or screeches.  Owlsey had a couple of different calls including a “knocking” click he made deep in his throat when he wanted a treat.  (We were told that other owls make a similar noise right before they kill something.)  The Barn Owl was “Amadan Ban Bheag”, a female whose name means “Little White Fool” in Gaelic; she was screechy, not hooty.

I also saw a lot of their other raptors, including “Zopi” the Yellow Headed Vulture, “Enkidu” an Aplomado Falcon who (as he’s still a baby) was very noisy, and several Harris Hawks, a Swainson’s Hawk and a Finnish Goshawk, etc.  Just gorgeous birds.  The visit was both entertaining and very educational, and I really, really enjoyed it.  I’d love to go back there and try a falconing lesson or an owl walk in the future.  So much fun!

When the session was over, I hung around afterwards to thank all the ladies for the presentation – and also asked them if they’d be interested in doing a presentation/lecture for Tuleyome next year.  They said they’d be happy to, so now I have to send them our open dates and get them onto the calendar.  Yay!

I got back home a little before 4:00 pm so it was kind of a long day… and I was hungry when I got home (as I’d only had a piece of toast and an apple during the day).  So, I made myself some BLT’s and then crashed for the rest of the day…

Oh, and here are some short videos:

Amadan the Barn Owl:  http://youtu.be/iBOk573BRkQ

Cailleech the Eagle Owlhttp://youtu.be/fIrNul3u9-w