Good birding in the woods today. Ubiquitous wrens, sparrows, robins and warblers are everywhere with another year of many, many cardinals throughout the woods, too. Back in the rushes the red wing blackbirds are loud and clear.
There was a first today. A turkey in the woods, walking in stride with a young deer following behind a pace or two.
Woodpeckers seem to be common this year, too, and they don’t easily spook. Unusual. I got fairly close to what might have been a yellow bellied woodpecker before it flew off into the woods. The real treat was a large pileated woodpecker. I got within two yards of the bird which was feeding on the ground. I spooked it, but it didn’t go far; it just hopped up the trunk of a nearby tree seemingly unconcerned about me.
And a Great Horned Owl is back in the woods.
Often the best way to find birds is to hear them first. A year ago I explained how to use a form of audio triangulation to locate owls. But let me suggest an even better way. Let the crows to the work.
Crows don’t seem to care for owls and they make an enormous fuss when an owl is in the woods. I thought I heard the soft hoots of an owl, but I couldn’t tell for certain because the owls were causing such a fracas. That’s when I put two and two together…
Off the trail a bit a dozen or more owls where gathered in a tall tree and if my hunches were right, that’s where I would find the owl. Sure enough, there he was. Spotting an owl can be tough, especially when the trees leaf out, but you want to look for something about the size of a basketball perched on a branch.
If you’re lucky, as I was today, the owl will be very active and move about, spreading his wings and grooming. This behavior surely is nothing but taunting behavior. The crows hate it. As long as the owl remains still, the crows remain relatively quiet. As soon as the owl does so much as twitch, the crows lose it.
Crows are cowards. They won’t get within 10 feet of the owl, but I can’t imagine the crows are much fun for the owl.
Today was double-lucky day. The owl chose to fly to another tree while I was watching. As he glided off the branch a string of noisy crows, like a string of tin cans tied to a car bumper, trailed behind.
Crows are fairly large birds, too, and it is amazing to watch the owl and these large crows move through the branches so easily. Ducks are a little less skilled at flying through clutter. I saw one more or less crash through low branches last year. He appeared unhurt, even a bit smug about his less-than-graceful flight, so I figure it’s just what ducks do if they find themselves in the woods.
It is well known that crows are fairly intelligent birds. Eventually a few of them got bored with the owl and flew off to find something else to harass, perhaps some road kill or something.
I took pictures of these birds with my phone. Unfortunately they show nothing. I really do need a better camera.
Out on the lake a pair of loons is back. I didn’t notice the migrating loons this year though. In recent years a group of a dozen or more loons would appear on the lake for a few days. Not this year. Or I missed them. In the back of my mind I cannot help but think about that oil spill…
Thanks for wandering with me. I am just killing time. I am not sure what you’re doing, but you should be scrolling through this blog and finding better things to read. Tell your friends and family what you find!
- Great horned owl (apostcardaday.blogspot.com)
- Owl species may be making a comeback in New York City (seattletimes.nwsource.com)