Tag Archives: raptors

Summer 2019 CalNat Class #4, 06-28-19

After an early morning meeting, I was totally exhausted by the time the naturalist class started. But I didn’t want to miss Hillary Kasemen from West Coast Falconry and her talk on falcons. 

She brought with her “Cubby”, a male Anatum Falcon (Falco peregrinus anatum) a subspecies of Peregrine Falcon also called an American Peregrine, “Aerial”, a female American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) and “Islay”, a female Lanner Falcon (Falco biarmicus).

We learned, among other things, that because they fly so fast (up to 200 mph in a dive) falcons have an exaggerated tubule in the nose to help channel air so they can breathe better. Jet engines are made with the same kind of “baffle” (nose cone) in the center. “This example of biomimicry is very retrospective in that engines weren’t first designed this way.” Nature never ceases to amaze.

And we also learned that the hoods often used in falconry help to calm the birds. Falcons take a lot of information in through their eyes, and can get visually over-stimulated at times. Put a hood or other covering over the eyes helps to cancel out some of that stimuli.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos and some video snippets. #CalNat

Some students asked why we have presentations like this during the naturalist classes, and the reason is two-fold: (1) we want to introduce students to live specimens of species they might not otherwise encounter, and (2) we want to provide students who capstone ideas and volunteer opportunities.

CalNat Class, Week 4, 03-01-19

The naturalist class went very well again today. Roxanne, our volunteer couldn’t come, but co-workers Nate and Bill did all the heavy-lifting so I didn’t have to rearrange furniture to get the room set up and taken down again. I so appreciate their help and support.

Nate had brought our spokesbears, Berry and her cub Essa [as in “Berryessa”] so the class could meet them. Berry goes to our tabling events, and Essa goes with Nate on most of our hikes and outings. They make for great conversation starters and photo ops. Nate had also purchased some home-made cookies from the local Cookie connection shop to share with the class.

Our guest speaker for the afternoon was Kate Marden, the owner and founder of West Coast Falconry, who brought along four owls to share with the class. Some of her birds have been featured in movies and documentaries. She brought: a male Great Horned Owl named Tigg’rr (because these owls are also known as “Tiger Owls” for the barring on their chest and belly); a female Barn Owl named Amadan. Her whole name is Amadan Ban Bheag, which is Gaelic for ‘Little White Fool’. A female Eurasian Eagle Owl named Cailleach (pronounced Kay-leesh). Her name means ‘Wise Woman’ or ‘Crone’ in Gaelic; and a male, gray morph Eastern Screech Owl named Wee Hamish. He was very afraid of Berry, so I had to carry her out of sight behind the projection screen, and all the while Hamish was watching me with his eyes real wide. He was also something of a bad boy. As Kate was lifting him out of his carrier she realized he’d chewed off and swallowed one of his jesses. Hah!

Kate was wonderful, as usual. Her talk was very heartfelt and informative, and she walked around the room with the birds so the students could get a close look at them and take photos if they wanted to. We always love having West Coast Falconry come out for a lecture.

CLICK HERE to see the album of photos and video snippets.

You can see a longer video of Kate and Cailleach here: https://youtu.be/0jEc7gIqiJk

You can see a longer video of Kate and Tigg’rr here: https://youtu.be/n1Uk1B9UviA

#CalNat

Not Many Good Photos Today, 12-02-18

I got up around 6:30 this morning, and decided I’d try going out to the Sacramento and Colusa National Wildlife Refuges. It’s a long drive and I wasn’t sure how Wilson (my tumor)  would react to sitting in a vibrating thing, accelerating and decelerating for hours at a time. I tried going without any pain pills, too, but that didn’t last. Around 9:00 am I had to take one of the ibuprofen. Otherwise, Wilson pretty much behaved himself.

It was foggy in some spots along the highway, but otherwise chilly and mostly sunny all day. It was about 38° when I headed out and remained in the 40’s at the refuges. When I got back to Sacramento in the afternoon, it was about 54°.

On my way to the refuges, I counted 24 raptors along the highway. Most of them were Red-Tailed Hawks, but there were also 4 Turkey Vultures and 3 Kestrels in the mix.

I got to the Sacramento refuge around 9:00 am, which is really “too late” to see anything really good. Most of the birds had finished their breakfasts already and were hunkering down to digest their meals. I didn’t feel like I got any really good photos of anything, and I also felt I was rushed because there were so many other cars on the auto-tour route. So, it was kind of a disappointing day.

The Snow Geese and Ross’s Geese are dominating the landscapes right now, and their noise was defending at times. Soooo many birds!

I was hoping to see some eagles, and I did, but they were about a block away form the car on a small island in the wetland area adjacent to the last park-and-stretch point.  There was an adult Bald Eagle and two juveniles who were eating what looked like a downed Snow Goose. The juveniles looked like they were different ages; one about 2 years old, the other about 3 years old. When they were done eating, they flew off, and the adult eagle moved over to the carcass. While it was eating, it was approached by a seagull, then a Turkey Vulture, then a Raven… and the eagle was actually pretty tolerant of them. I got some of it on video, but because of the distance of the birds, the images aren’t very crisp.

I WAS able to get some nice scenery shots along the route and was happy to see snow on Snow Mountain (the northernmost end of the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument).

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos (even though I’m not really pleased with any of them.)