Friday, January 27, 2023

Birdwatching - the Hobby You Can Do Anywhere

Sandhill Cranes practicing a mating dance--or just trying to look cool? Although with something hanging out of your beak, you might not look as cool as you think.

We kept a Backyard Birdlist for 2022 and saw or heard 40 different species in our yard. The two previous years we had gotten to 45 species-Covid helped with that, as we were home more. I still feel pretty good about the 2022 total. 

For 2023, we're up to 16 species so far. The species I'm most excited about so far is the Bald Eagle that was flying overhead. 

I didn't take as many photos of birds in 2022 as some years, but I certainly have some. 

The elusive white turkey. Wait! It turns out there were three spotted in the area this past year. One in the Lehman Creek drainage (this one), one in the Snake Creek drainage, and one near Rudolph Canyon that was later seen carried away by a raptor. The white is good for camoflauge in the winter, but not so good the rest of the year!

I love having chickens--or my mini dinosaurs, as I sometimes call them. They have fun personalities and definitely know when I'm around and talk to me. Here are three of the seven we currently have. The overhead netting on their run is currently down due to snow collapse, so they are more vulnerable to Cooper's and Sharp Shinned Hawks invading. Once it stops snowing long enough, I'll put it back up!

Some burrowing owls! These are just the coolest birds.

A surprise Golden Eagle when we were backpacking up North Schell Peak near Ely, Nevada.

A California quail seen in Ely during a Christmas Bird Count. There was a large flock of them, and I'm wondering if one of the nearby residents is raising a free-ranging herd, as I've never seen that many. They are adorable!

My companions for part of the day on the Snake Valley Christmas Bird Count. You're never too early to start birding! Wait, you can't see birds because you're facing your mom? You can still hear them. LOL

Prairie falcon on a power pole. 

This hawk looks so demure. Just wait until it gets hungry!

Mature Golden eagle. They sure are big birds!

And now the best for last: the Great Horned Owls that nest in our backyard.

Mama owl after a snowstorm, incubating her eggs and ignoring all the snow on her. Based on photos, it looks like she started nesting between February 15th and 23rd, 2022.

Before too long, fuzzy owlets peeked up from the nest in the crotch of the tree. To our great surprise, there were three owlets!

It was a tight fit for all of them in the tree, but they managed it. It appeared to us that the parent owls successfully fledged all three owlets. Way to go!

I'm hearing the mama and papa owls hoot outside the window every evening. I'm wondering if they will pick the same nest again this year? I hope so, as I sure enjoy watching them. 

I plan to continue birdwatching into the foreseeable future. Everywhere I go, there are birds (even in caves we find bird bones, sometimes of species that are now extinct). 

One last story about birds--when I was in Hungary in May, I heard a distinctive cuckoo. What?? Where's the cuckoo clock? Nowhere, it was a real cuckoo bird I was hearing. I was so amazed. I was familiar with cuckoo clocks, but never had given thought to the bird that influenced it. Now anytime I hear the sound of a cuckoo, I think of camping out in Hungary and the bird that surprised me so much!
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