O is for Owl

The Barred Owl, who keeps watch in our neighborhood!

And maybe O is for Oops! Sorry we’re so late this morning, but now I bet you see why we weren’t too enthused about today’s Blogging From A to Z Challenge letter. We could only thing of something dangerous!

Yet as dangerous as owls are, they are endangered themselves. You humans don’t seem too keen on keeping dead trees around, and dead trees are where many owls nest. Have you considered putting up an owl box on your property? They can be purchased or made from plans…and it seems like most of the plans we are seeing in a online search are for barn owns, which need lots of open land.

In spite of our squirrel instincts to avoid owls, we’re going to hunt down some plan sources for your humans. In the meantime, here’s a good overview of why you should want owls in your life from Rodales Organic Life.

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One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

These aren’t the sharpest photos, but I must admit both Nutmeg and I had to run for cover and were shaking more than a little when we nearly bounded into the path of this hawk on the golf course.

Mystery #144

Mystery #144

Mystery #144

Question is, what kind of hawk is it? Can any of you humans make out the markings well enough you have a better guess than we do?  (Yes, we’re also admitting this is a mystery for us!)

I’ll check back in later to see what guesses you have!

~~~

Well folks, we don’t have a firm identification on this one. Our best guess is the bird is a Northern Harrier. We studied Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology page on the Northern Harrier and like the match of the V-shped wings as it glides and the black wingtips. There is a hint of a white rump patch in the flight photos. Possibly this bird was a juvenile and didn’t have all his white feathers there? The male Northern Harrier does have a white underside.

Thanks for playing along!

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

Now that most of the leaves are off the trees, we’re seeing more birds.

Mystery #143

Have a guess what these fellows are?

Check back with you later!

~~~

Sorry for the delay, folks, these short days really go by quickly!

Black Vulture

As one of our readers guessed, these are vultures–Black Vultures.

Like the Turkey Vulture, these birds have a featherless head…but the skin on it is black instead of red, an easy way to tell the two apart. Both  species feed on carrion–that’s dead animal bodies–so a head with no feathers is easier to keep clean than a feathered head.

We squirrels have heard that the Black Vulture has a poor sense of smell, so can’t find those rotting bodies as easily as the Turkey Vultures can. So the Black Vultures are often seen following Turkey Vultures around in hopes of getting an easy meal.

Visitor!

Hickory is twitching his tail something fierce! A hawk flew into one of his favorite feeding stations and had an accident. He flew into the human’s window.

IMG_3040

While we sat frozen behind other leaves, the hawk wavered. Then he flopped to a branch.

“What’s he doing?” Hickory hissed.

Sitting, I guess. It’s a Cooper’s Hawk, not very old, this year’s hatch.

“But that’s my branch!”

Do you really want to go over and tell him that?

Hickory started to chitter and stopped when the hawk turned our way. “No. Let’s go.” But before we could, the hawk raised his wings and flew off…and seconds later Hickory let loose with his chittering. I ran off to hide. No way was I going to attract a hawk, even a young one.

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there,

One of our readers sent this photo along, and it’s a view you humans don’t see every day.

Mystery #94

This is one of those mysteries that we may not be able to solve: Why did this bird fly inside?

We welcome your theories. And do any of you recognize this species? Double mystery!

~~~

We are told this Sharp-shinned Hawk–oops! It’s a Cooper’s Hawk–skimmed right through the open door of a shop that had many large windows. He didn’t hit anything, and sat for some minutes just looking around. We squirrels surmise he was surprised, just like we would be upon finding ourselves ‘inside’.

So how did he come to go inside? Miz Flora thinks it was the windows.

“They reflect the trees, the sky, making a look-alike woods,” she says. “He didn’t know he wasn’t flying into a grove of trees.”

Hey, wasn’t he lucky he didn’t hit a window, or flounder around in there?

Predator Visitor

Hickory and I were making a trip over to the table in hopes of more treats when two decks over the birds abruptly scattered. In case you didn’t know, that means one thing: Danger!

We froze.

The shadow swooped low, fluttered his wings and rose to perch on a vine trellis, not three feet from the table!

Cooper's Hawk

“Cooper’s Hawk,” whispered Hickory.

“I know,” I muttered back. We didn’t move our pressed flat bodies from the gray camouflaging rails. For long minutes he sat and stared, turning his head this way and that. Finally, he lifted off.

We watched his wings beat in perfect stillness, waiting just like every other hidden critter in the backyard. As he rose over the row of townhouses and disappeared, we looked at each other, mirror images of bristly fur. Hickory shook first, then I did, and we ran to our leaf nests.