Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Western Screech-Owl that I found dead

I found this dead Western Screech-Owl several days ago next to a very busy street on the edge of my town where traffic drives 50 or so in a 40 zone. I am sure it had tried to fly across the road and been hit by a vehicle--no blood, head twisted and signs of neurological trauma. It was near the Arkansas River which is habitat to Western Screech-Owls in this area. The middle pic is an enlargement of the top pic.
The bottom pic shows the amazing little feet on these tiny owls--they have good sized claws for the size of their feet and body. I find the bottom pads of it's feet interesting-not sure the purpose of those little papillae,. Poor owls, this species and others tend to fly low to the ground and are at risk from being hit by vehicles. This one had been hit not long before I found it as it's body was supple and still warm. Darn. SeEtta

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Both tan and white morph White-throated Sparrows visiting my yard


Earlier this past week I was delighted to find my first yard bird White-throated Sparrow species and not just one but two. And to top that off, one was a white morph and the other a tan morph. I learned from some research I did that birds of this species typical mate with a bird of the opposite morph-that is called "negative assortative (disassortative) mating" according to Birds of North America online.
While this species is known to use urban areas during migration and to come to feeders, I only observed them using my bird bath--and they used it often but only for drinking when I was observing. I do have feeders that they may have fed from or beneath when I was not observing. I found them by hearing their 'seep' calls, used for contact, which were different from birds I was familiar with-and while they were hear they gave the seep call often. They stuck together, coming to the bird bath together and perched in a large shrub near each other. Since this seems late for them to be migrating I hoped they might decide to winter in my yard but I watched them fly off at dark earlier this week and have not seen them again. SeEtta