Sunday, February 01, 2009

Raptors are better than Prozac!

Did you know grouchiness evaporates at the sight of birds of prey? It's true.

Red-shouldered yard
The local red-shouldered hawks have been seen perched next to each other for the last few days. Yes, it's February, but birds and other wildlife know that Spring is getting closer. I've seen red-tails perching very close, too. When they can tolerate each others presence, you can bet those dirty thoughts aren't far behind. (Kind of like when you meet a guy in a bar, and if your standards aren't too high, you might realize that this weird-looking guy might just get to see the inside of your apartment.)
Okay, maybe I stretched that metaphor a bit there.

It got up to 49 degrees today, and I HAD to get out of the house. (did anyone notice I have access to the Interwebs? That stupid router, the one that the CUSTOMER SERVICE GOON said wasn't "pinging", is just fine.)

*Let me get this off my chest...I boycotted the Super Bowl today. I didn't watch ONE commercial. I was sickened to think of all the millions of dollars being squandered just for 30 seconds of advertising. Families are being thrown out of their homes (and that hits very close to home for us...we came very very close last year) and all that money is filling NBC's coffers. Why couldn't a company stand up and say, "Hey. Instead of being greedy bastards, we are going to donate this big pile of money to a homeless shelter, or feed hungry children, or {insert good cause here}"?

End of rant....for now.

Armleder Park, the stage for past Raptor-Paloozas, was quiet yet crunchy today.
Though the short-eared owls were off sleeping somewhere, two Northern Harriers were hunting with a vengeance.

N Harrier 1
Trick to photographing harriers (whose erratic, moth-like flight makes them unpredictable):
Just stand in one spot and be still. They will eventually fly right by you. This one got as close as 30 feet from me. The air was so calm, I could just barely hear the swoosh as it passed.

Look closely at the pictures...the owl-like facial disc that harriers possess allows them to hunt not just by sight but also by hearing.
N Harrier 2

They fly with their face pointed down, all the better to hear those juicy meadow voles, my dear!
N Harrier 3

I met a local photographer while we were both watching the harriers flow back and forth.

He was good enough to hip me to a screech owl roosting cavity and also a natural great horned owl's nest across the river, both of which I will be visiting when the park's other road is cleared.

Traffic cop harrier
Some birds of prey are rather civic-minded...this one was trying to direct traffic.

And the other harrier decided to go after larger prey:
Giant harrier eats human
A red-clad human!


Lynne said...

I love those Harrier pix. I've never been able to get a decent photo. I'll remember you tip!

Patrick Belardo said...

Sweet photos!

mon@rch said...

sounds like the most perfect and needed day to be out! Glad you enjoyed it with such great birds!

Kallen305 said...

What great bird photos! I am glad you have your router working and got dug out from all that ice!

Richard said...

Great pictures and that opening paragraph is one of the funniest I've read in a long time...:-)

NCmountainwoman said...

I loved the photographs. What's the deal with the red-clad human prey? Did someone get buzzed?

KGMom said...

Glad you are back in the cloud.

A quick response on your Super Bowl ad rant--as my daughter said when she was little and I tried to get her to eat by reminding her of starving people around the world: "Mom, the food on my plate won't get to the people in __ (insert starving country)."
So, no Super Bowl ads--the money won't get to the place that needs it. Sorry, but true.

Now, your raptors. I want to be standing in that field with you. I find raptors endlessly fascinating. And I love to see them gliding on the updrafts.

Owlman said...

You're tip would have been useful BEFORE this weekend..... :-) Patrick and I saw a bunch of Harriers but strangely many of them were sitting in the grass most likely chowing. We both missed an incredible Dark Morph Rough Legged Hawk which made both of us VERY sad ;-( Anyway, the point is your flight shots ROCK! I will try the statue approach the next time I see a Harrier. Now if I can just bump into a helpful birder to telll me about the owls.

Joy said...

Just beautiful photos!! I very much enjoyed them. Thanks for sharing.

RuthieJ said...

Awesome harrier photos Susan! Hopefully ours will be heading back soon and I can hardly wait to see them and try photographing one again using your "stand still" tip.

dguzman said...

Wow on the photos and the photo tip! I'm so sick of winter! Every time we get a day of warm (above freezing) temps, I'm at work--dangit! But I hear we're having a good weekend, so I may get to go out and do a little raptoring myself! These pics are downright inspirational! Lucky you.

Angie said...

You go, girl, on the disgusting amount of $$ spent on those commercials and all of the good that could have been done with it! I agree wholeheartedly!! Your Harrier photos are awesome!

Kathiesbirds said...

Nice harriers! What a sweet eye that red-shouldered has.

Mary said...

I'm green with envy that a Harrier came that close to you. Did you hear the gust of wind? Hawks are amazing and will take your mind off all kinds of crap.

Good job, Susan!

Kyle said...

Great post! And you would be proud of me -- after the pointers I learned on my own Harrier post last week, I recognized that white rump and V wing pattern right away before I even read the post. Harrier! Gotcha! :-)

Now, just remind me to never wear red if ever I visit your neck of the woods. Those giant raptors would have a feast of me!