Friday, 22 April 2016

Earth Day 2016: celebrate the Barred owl

Here it is Earth Day. Every day is Earth Day for me! We must get off fossil fuels, and go for renewable energies. I wish we could afford solar power, as our bungalow roof would be perfect for it. Usually, in anticipation of Earth Day, I walk our ditches and pick up garbage, but I noticed someone already did it! I have the day off, besides, it is raining!

Frog pond critters

I adore our 16 acres, and appreciate the critters in the deep forest and wetland. My frog pond has been such a joyous place, with Mac Muskrat still popping up, as well as our Wood ducks (4 pair, plus two more males), mallard pair, and a phoebe pair about to nest (somewhere)! Yesterday, I spotted several huge bullfrog tadpoles. There are hundreds of them, and they are fat things the size of my thumb, ready to morph into frogs.

The mating frogs are numerous: Wood frog (100s), Gray tree frogs (4 for now), and Chorus frogs (2). Then, on a sunny day, I spotted a salamander swimming amongst the dead leaves. A photo was IMPOSSIBLE!

Our Barred Owl

Archived winter photo
I shall celebrate another critter. I was awake at 4:00 a.m. when Dorah was after a deer mouse in the house. I heard our Barred owl in the backyard, likely looking for dinner.

I cannot find his nest, usually a cavity in a tree, despite seeing lots of hollow trees. There are certainly two of them, and they are consistently in the same locale, our back 40. Daisy helped me look. She brought back two ticks. (Five, total, for this year!)

They tend to hunt after dusk, in the night. This one was quite sleepy-looking, thankfully, although eyeing Daisy.

They tend to stay within a 6 miles radius, All About Birds says. This is likely the Barred owl we found beside the frog pond in winter (right). They do not migrate, as my photo shows!

They like all sorts of food
Barred Owls eat many kinds of small animals, including squirrels, chipmunks, mice, voles, rabbits, birds (up to the size of grouse), amphibians, reptiles, and invertebrates. They hunt by sitting and waiting on an elevated perch, while scanning all around for prey with their sharp eyes and ears. They may perch over water and drop down to catch fish, or even wade in shallow water in pursuit of fish and crayfish.
You can sometimes locate them by finding the remains of their dinner, in a food pellet, coughed up later. They swallow their small prey whole, regurgitating fur and bones they are unable to digest.

Their only predator is the Great horned owl. (We have one not too far away, they nested a couple of years ago, across the highway in the forest.) Horned owl on nest in April, 2012  Hubby found a Barred owl, killed by a car, likely swooping down for a mouse by the side of the road.

Jos accidentally upset him, and he spooked. I heard him calling back and forth to his mate a day later.
'Who-cooks-for-you? Who-cooks-for-you-aaallll?'
I was hooked! Daisy and I went on a hunt.
Can you see him in the first photo? I was so proud of myself for finding him!

This shows how hard he was to spot, sitting high over the bog!
Barred owl from Jennifer Jilks on Vimeo.

See the tick on her cheek?! Telltale sign! The mature adults are quite large. Soon, the nymphs will be about. They are teeny and hard to spot. Their cycle includes: egg, larvae, nymph, adult. I took it off of her, and put it down the toilet! (We're on a septic system!)

I dug out another from her lower lip that evening, a larvae, when we snuggled. (Tick count: #5 for 2016)


Debbie said...

i started to read and i thought dorah was chasing a DEER!!! on my, don't read too quickly!! i appreciate my 1 acre and would LOVE to have 16. the owl is beautiful!!!

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
Oh well done - what a handsome hooter!!! Love the shot of Daisy on the fence too... YAM xx

William Kendall said...

Yes, I can just make out the owl in that first shot. He or she would want to keep a close eye on a cat.

Nancy J said...

Great zoom, and I wonder how far his eyes focus, could he see you so easily? Ticks? Are they worse in your summertime? 16 acres, what a haven for you and your family, felines and little girls all included, and it gives you privacy, peace, and a sanctuary.

Out To Pasture said...

You are so lucky to have such a fascinating bird as the Barred owl on your patch. Great video with it's mate calling in the background! Really appreciate your sharing this gem. Those dratted ticks! Just another day in paradise, huh?

Red said...

Owls are very interesting birds. It's too bad there aren't more of them but their prey is limited

eileeninmd said...

Hello, great sighting of the owl. They can be hard to spot, they blend in well with the woods. Cute shots of your sweet Daisy! Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend!

GreenComotion said...

I love your photos of the owls and Daisy.
And, so glad you found the tick on Daisy and removed it.
We have a black indoor & outdoor cat. It will be hard to find a tick on him.
Have a Happy Day!!
Peace :)

The Furry Gnome said...

What a wonderful visitor to have around for Earth Day! Neat video too.

Anvilcloud said...

A suitable earth day post.

RedPat said...

How thrilling to spot that owl!

Jenn Jilks said...

The ticks hibernate, and come out when it is 6 C. or more. They are dreadful in spring, then lessen in the dryness of August.!