Tag Archives: Great Horned Owls

Met Three Raptors on Thursday

I facilitated a lecture at the Davis library on the 20th, with a representative from West Coast Falconry.

CLICK HERE to see the full album of photos.

The talk was led by a young woman named Amber, who brought three birds. Amber had somehow gotten the time frame mixed up, and arrived at the library at 4:30 pm… the lecture didn’t start until 6:30 pm. So when I got to the library, the bird boxes were already set up on a table in the front of the room, and one of them was squawking. I learned later that it was a young, hormonal, male Great Horned Owl named Tigger. Just a little over one-year-old he was still making baby “feed me” calls, expecting Amber to give him treats. Hah!

His calls were pretty loud, and other people in the library kept stopping by the room to see “what is making that sound?”

Despite the minor snafu at the beginning, the lecture itself was excellent. Amber talked about falconry as well as providing attendees with detailed information on the birds she’d brought with her: Cubby, a male Peregrine Falcon; Cora, a dark-morph female Red-Tailed Hawk; and, of course, Tigger, the Great Horned Owl.

A Visit to the Woodland Science Center Site, 04-19-17

My coworker Jenifer took the staff on a tour of the site where we hope the new Woodland Science Center will be built. Jenifer spearheaded this project for Tuleyome and has been working for the last two years to pull all of the community stakeholders together.  She’s pushed the project forward to the point where she already architectural drawings of the site and is starting to look for funding to build everything.  I’d heard her describe the site several times, and had seen some photos of it, but they don’t even begin to elicit the same response as actually stepping onto the site and looking at it.  I can see soooo much potential there, and am now more excited to see the center get built and the site protected and utilized. My coworkers Nate and Kristie came along with us, and we all got so involved with taking photos and recording sounds that the 1-hour site visit turned into a 2 ½ hour hike! We walked all the way around the borrow pit (which was full of water and looking great), and up to one of the high points on a hillock.

Jenifer said she really enjoyed being out on the site with us because we were so excited about everything, and were able to point out to her things she hadn’t seen or noticed before.

CLICK HERE to see an album of photos.

Because I had thought it was just going to be a short site visit, I hadn’t brought my “field stuff”, like my notebook, insect repellant, walking stick, etc.  Still, I was able to mentally keep track of many of the species we saw there, and I got some photos, too.   I told Jenifer that to get really good images I’d need to get onto the property at dusk and dawn when the light wasn’t so glaring (and it was cooler)… so I suggested she ask Sara if staff could do an overnight campout on the site (before the heat of summer was on us and all of the plants were dried up). We’ll see…

Of the species we were able to identify we saw: Purple Salsify, Annual Yellow Sweetclover, Silverpuffs, Soft Blow Wives, several different kinds of Lupine, Storksbill, California Goldfields, Cowbag Clover, Popcorn Flowers, Canary Grass, Dock, Italian Thistle, Bull Thistle, Milk Thistle, Oat Grass, Squirrel-tail barley, willow trees, cottonwood trees, and what I thought might be Alkali Milk Vetch (although that’s pretty rare).  We saw Variegated Meadowhawk dragonflies, Exclamation Damselflies, Northern Bluet Damselflies, Black-Fronted Forktail Damselflies, and Pacific Forktail Damselflies.  A coyote, rabbit, signs of otter slides along the banks of the borrow pit, a Green Heron, Tree Swallows, Barn Swallows, Western Kingbirds, Great-Horned Owls, Red-Tailed Hawks, Swainson’s Hawks, a small flock of Long-Billed Dowitchers (that “attacked” Nate), Mallards, Mourning Doves, Mockingbirds, Red-Winged Blackbirds, Western Meadowlarks, and Bullock’s Orioles.  We also heard the call of Pied-Billed Grebes and came across two hawks’ nests (one with a mama sitting on her eggs), and an owl’s nest. We also found some very large burrows… but couldn’t tell what lived in them because the tracks around them that clear.  We did find a lot of cow tracks, some deer tracks, coyote tracks and raccoon tracks. I think if we had more time on the site, we’d be able to better document a lot more (thus, the request for the campout).

What’s neat about the site is that the area around the borrow pit can be reformed into a beautiful pond / wetlands area, and there are also alkali sinks and vernal pools on the property, so it can be turned into a real environmental “learning space”.  And even though it’s “wild”, it sits right near rice farms, schools, and suburban housing, so it will be easy for the public to get to. I was really excited about the whole thing!

Came Across the Owlet!

This is the first day of my mini-vacation.  I don’t have to go back to work until Tuesday next week.  I slept in a little bit and got up around 7:00 am.  I was off to the American River Bend Park by about 7:30.

The first thing I saw when I got there was the Great Horned Owls… three of them this time; mama, papa, and their fledgling which was almost as big as the adults but still had a lot of its fluffy down on its body.  I think this might have been one of its first flight days.  Mom and dad would fly from tree cluster to tree cluster, and when the baby had bottled up enough courage, it took a short flight after them.  Because they were moving so much, I didn’t get pictures of the adults, but I was able to get pictures of the youngster when he stopped in a tree to rest for a few minutes.  So kewl-looking with his huge yellow eyes.  After that, I saw more of the usual suspects: Acorn Woodpeckers, Western Bluebirds, Wrens… and lots of butterfly chrysalises including some bright green ones left by Tiger Swallowtails.  At one point along the trail I spotted a jackrabbit, and paused to video it.  It made its way through the tall grass and shrubs, and stepped right out onto the trail in front of me.  It paused for a second when it saw me, like “oh shit!”, and then took off in another direction.  Hah!  There were also a lot of lizards out today: alligator lizards and blue-bellies.  I walked for about 2 ½ hours and then headed back home.