Wednesday, August 08, 2007

August sucks so bad, it can suck a softball through 25 feet of garden hose

It was around 100 degrees today. Or 96. Or whatever. When the temp gets in the nineties, it all becomes academic anyhow. But I did make it rain. How? I washed the car. Murphy's Law.

While I did my RAPTOR thing last night, Swami was taking photos:


Elvis. The Evil One.


Poor Rufous.
You know, it's not that his feathers are coming in too slow...you can see pin feathers all around his eyes and head. It's that he is dropped the old ones too fast. But the public loves him anyway. They can't believe this is Ohio's most common owl. When I do outside programs, and there are trees nearby, I walk over and put up next to the bark (the gray SO is even better with this) and tell people to imagine him about 20 feet up in the tree, sitting perfectly still. That's why you don't see screech owls. Or any owl, very often.
Now, to educator mode:
Eastern Screech Owl (Megascops asio, formerly Otus asio)
Eastern screech owls have a pretty rapid flight pattern, about 5 beats per second. They are an "edge" bird, hunting along open fields and wetlands, using what I call the "Perch and Pounce" method. They will swallow small prey (like deer mice) whole, but take larger prey to a perch to rip it to pieces. Some song-and-woodland birds that SO's eat are Northern Bobwhite,
Rock Dove, and Ruffed Grouse. (!)
Other prey include: small fish, small snakes, lizards, and soft-shelled turtles, small frogs, toads, and salamanders, and invertebrates such as crayfish, snails, spiders, earthworms, scorpions, and centipedes.

Breeding season for Eastern Screech Owls is generally around mid April, but may range from mid March to mid May. They have an elaborate courtship ritual: Males approach females, calling from different branches until they are close. The male then bobs and swivels his head, bobs his entire body, and even slowly winks one eye at the female. If she ignores him, bobbing and swiveling motions intensify. If she accepts him, she moves close and they touch bills and preen each other. Pairs mate for life but will accept a new mate if the previous mate disappears. Gray and red color phases will mate together. They nest almost exclusively in natural tree cavities, but can be enticed to use large nest boxes.
They aren't quite the top of the food chain... they can be preyed upon by great horned owls, barred owls, long-eared owls, great gray owls, short-eared owls, snowy owls, mink, weasels, raccoons, skunks, snakes, crows, and blue jays.

Okay, onto other stuff:

One of the lovely event coordinators brought over a fan for the birds, so I kept spritzing Lucy and she would spread her wings and revel in the breeze.
(That fan was farther away than it looks, by the way)

And a pic from Sunday lunch:

Swami takes a picture of me taking a picture of a ground hog.
Fascinating stuff.

The Will-Yum of the day:
Isabelle said to me today, "Oh, Mommy...you are the best Mommy we have ever had."
***
Please, in the name of all that is good and holy, make it cooler so I can go birding and not fall over when my bones dissolve into a large puddle of goo.

4 comments:

Lynne said...

SO's will prey on grouse??!!?? Wow- they must be tough little buggers.

It's so cool how you care for our program birds.

I love the picture of you doing your thing.

Wishing and hoping for cool/rain for all.

Mary said...

Very interesting, Susan. I chorkled about the "wink"! What a flirt.

I love that picture of you and your camera. Is your hair getting redder?

Stay cool :o/

Rurality said...

Do screech owls tend to vocalize a lot? I've only heard one here once or twice. We hear the barred owls all the time... maybe they ate all the screech owls!

mon@rch said...

Love your screech owl photo! Looks like something right out of the cartoons! LOL! Speaking of screech owls, heard my first one (in a long time) the other night! I think the barred owl hanging out in the area has chased them away!