Saturday, January 19, 2013

Flammulated Owl: it's eye open a bit

As enjoyable as it is to see the Flammulated Owl with it's eye open some, I was happy it didn't stay open as it needs to sleep in the daytime so it can go hunting come dark. SeEtta

Flammulated Owl: better views


I went back to So Padre Island when the weather was at least better (warmer for me and some sun for photos) in hopes of better views. Thanks to Scarlet Colley, who has spent many hours hosting the birders who come to see it and making sure it does not get disturbed, the little owl is still being seen daily. The Flammulated Owl has been roosting in different locations every day in the Warbler Rest Stop habitat at the So. Padre Island Convention Center. The owl was much more visible today though it still had branches in front of it's face most of the time--but that is necessary for the owl to reduce it's visibility to predators so you just need to consider it a challenge to get the best photos possible.

I liked the close-up in the bottom pic as it shows the owl's bill nicely, with the nostrils (located in the cere) clearly seen. More pics above. SeEtta

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

This Zone-tailed Hawk is a juvenile

When I looked more closely with my spotting scope at this Zone-tailed Hawk at El Zacatel, I could see it was in juvenal plumage. The bottom pic shows the tail up close so the dark irregular bands on the dorsal (upper) surface are visible. And on the far left of the tail feathers is one tail feather showing the ventral (lower) surface that whitish with dark black bands (only 2 visible). Note the 2 wingtips that are showing below the tail feathers, another feature of this species is their wings being very long. Also note the jaggedness of the tail feathers--I also saw this on the juvenile I followed as it perched and roosted at Frontera Audubon. I suspect this is the same juvenile bird because this location is less than 10 miles from Frontera, well within range for foraging for such raptors, and the ragged tail feathers would be consistent.
The bottom pic (head is turned away from camera so viewing back of head) shows white on it's head, lots of white showing because the wind blew the feathers on it's head and nape apart. Researching this I found that Birds of North America online states that this species in juvenile plumage has "...white bases of feathers of at least part of head and upper body more or less exposed...." This bird clearly has a lot of head feathering that has a whitish base. Interestingly Raptors of Western North America says, "Head is black or has a variable amount of white mottling on the nape and hindneck." (p. 309)-I am not sure why there is this difference in these sources but this bird clearly has white bases to it's head feathers. SeEtta

Zone-tailed Hawk, perched in new location


Two days ago I drove by El Zacatel where a series of resacas provide excellent habitat for a good diversity of waterbirds, waterfowl and other species especially when there has been enough rain to fill them. Though some are dry now due to the drought there is still enough water to draw a lot of birds. Shortly after I arrived I spotted a hawk perched in a deciduous tree that looked very familiar--when I checked it with my binoculars I saw it was a Zone-tailed Hawk. Interestingly this location is about 10 miles from Frontera Audubon Center where I found and followed 2 Zone-tailed Hawks. Though not a known location where they are found as was Anzalduas County Park but it is only a few miles from the Rio Grande River and Mexico.
Clearly shown in both pics, the head and body are blackish. The bottom pic shows the white lores, black bill, and bright yellow cere as well as some of the umderside of the remiges that are gray with dark barring (the latter not well visualized). The top pic shows the white forehead and yellow legs. More in next post. Note: I did not post this until today as I wanted to check at sunset to see if this location might be a roosting site as I would not identify the location if it was since I do not want to risk disturbance after the experience I had with the juvenile Zone-tailed Hawk apparently abandoning the roost site. I did not want to be at this location the last two evenings as it had been misting/light raining and I didn't want to drive back on wet roads in the dark. I checked tonight and did not see the hawk there at nightfall. SeEtta

Juvenile Zone-tailed Hawk @ El Zacatel, TX

Short video clip of the juvenile Zone-tailed Hawk I spotted perched in a deciduous tree in the El Zacatel,TX area. The hawk demonstrates a high level of attentiveness to other birds/etc around it as it turns repeatedly to look around providing nice views of it's plumage and characteristics. Video can be enlarged to fit screen for close-up viewing by clicking on box in far bottom right above. More in posts above. SeEtta

Monday, January 14, 2013

Windows are a danger to birds: short video clip

(while this is a comic video clip, there is a serious problem with window strikes by birds so if real birds are hitting your windows go to ABC Bird Tape webpage to learn what you can do). SeEtta

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Flammulated Owl, the view today


These pics show the view, albeit enlarged, that we had of the Flammulated Owl at the Warbler Rest Stop habitat next to the So. Padre Island Convention Center. It's eyes, usually closed that made it harder to discern, were only visible when the tree limbs and leaves moved away in the wind, and then quite briefly. I was unable to get a photo showing it's eyes. Though I could see it's toes, talons and some of it's feathers, most of the views were of a dark shape usually referred to as a blob. SeEtta

Flammulated Owk, bits and pieces

A rare Flammulated Owl was found by Larry and Vicki Kirby and Jim and Brenda Martin several days ago next to the Convention Center on So Padre Island. After not being seen a couple of days then seen yesterday afternoon then again this morning. I drove out there, arriving a little after 10:30 this morning and found a place to park my car only a few hundred yards away (there was this big market thing at Convention Center and hundreds of cars so some had to park a quarter mile away along the road outside the entrance). The wind was murderous, hard to stand in one area I had to walk through. Fortunately the owl had perched in a grove of trees in the Warbler Rest Stop habitat that was mostly sheltered from the winds so it was just cold and breezy (and gusty occasionally) while we watched. The owl was essentially embedded in a tree towards the back side away from the path so viewing consisted of seeing bits and pieces of the owl at one time and from one location.

So these pics show 2 views of pieces of the owl. The top pic gives a view of the owl's talons. What I found interesting in this photo and in my binocular views was that the owl usually had it's claws hung loosely over the branch on which it was perched while I only occasionally saw one or more claws gripping the branch. That surprised me as I would have thought it would be clinging tightly to the branch due to the strong winds that sometimes shook the branch the owl was perched upon.

I posted the bottom pic here as I think it shows the owl's small tail best. According to Owls.com it's tail is just 2 1/4 inches long. Since the owl is only about 6 inches in length, it's tail is 1/3 it's length. More pics above. SeEtta