Friday, March 27, 2009

Went a Birding and Heard a Lot

The weather was so lovely today that I couldn't stand it. I had to get out. I went to one of the birding spots that my friend, Chris, had first shown me, and I walked around. Rather, I trudged a bit through mud...and saw nothing, except for a few crows and other birds that would not sit still long enough for me to even begin to guess ("hmm, loopy flight, long tail, I think I saw a white patch....")

However, I did hear interesting things. First, I could ID the mourning dove. And I heard such a ruckus down the way, that I risked my life around boggy water to get closer to it. I think it was a bunch of frogs, but I couldn't identify them either. They were so loud that I had to cover my ears. I did have the bright idea of using my cell phone to capture the sounds on my home answering machine, but I was not able to figure it out.

Later, after being bitten by something, I decided to head back from the meadow I was standing in and I took a rest on the only manmade object in the forest. I think it was some sort of water manhole thing. I dunno. So, I sat there waiting for the stupid birds to show up. But then I heard the call of a Great Horned Owl (and then the predictable caws of the crows who were looking for it to mob). I jumped up and ran over to the area where I heard it. Okay, it took me a few minutes to climb through the brush but I thought that since the trees were still bare, I might have a chance of finding it. Though nocturnal hunters, these big owls (nearly two feet tall) roost during the day and you can see it just like one would see the one below --

I didn't see it anywhere, and I waited a long time to see if it would hoot again. Of course, it was probably a foot above me, wondering what I was doing. I even looked at the base of trees for coughed up fur and bones. Nature is so wonderful at hiding these guys. If only they didn't blend in to the tree trunk so well. I gave up. But maybe I will see one there again.

So, I went home and did a little research. According the Cornell U. site "All About Birds"
"The Great Horned Owl is the only animal that regularly eats skunks."

In a completely unrelated tidbit, but still on the topic of birds, did you know that bluebirds are not really blue? It's air pockets in the feathers that refract the light. Also from the Cornell site:

Tiny air pockets in the barbs of feathers can scatter incoming light, resulting in a specific, non-iridescent color. Blue colors in feathers are almost always produced in this manner. Examples include the blue feathers of bluebirds, Indigo Buntings, Blue Jay's and Steller's Jays. If you find the feather of a Blue Jay or Steller's Jay you can see for yourself how this works. First, observe the feather in normal lighting conditions and you will see the expected blue color. Next, try back-lighting the feather. When light is transmitted through the feather it will look brown. The blues are lost because the light is no longer being reflected back and the brown shows up because of the melanin in the feathers.

No bluebird of happiness for you.
This beautiful picture is from the site "Images of Colorado." It's Mountain Bluebird and you won't find it in Connecticut so don't even try.


Anonymous said...

The Black Goat in The Woods Zone say:

ah, but there are *ALL BLUE* Indigo Buntings around here...and Bluebirds of Happiness? They ARE too...=}


Besides, colour perception is all relative to light reflecting etc ETC AD NAUSEUM

"It is better NOT to miss NATURE for the 'SCIENCE'"

K. A. Laity said...

Way cool hearing the owl, though yeah -- it would have been nice to see it. Or evidence of it. I see endless amounts of raptors but no owls. I wants to see owls!

Blue birds appear blue so they are blue enough for me!

Cranky Yankee said...

Hey Joey, remember when we went to see the horned owl some years ago?

We were tipped off by the local bird watchers for an active next off of Browns Rd. There we were, two dubious looking people in black leather jackets, standing by a dirt road with binoculars.

But we did see it! yes we did!

Wendy said...

Maybe I should have kept the blue bird comments to myself. My mother was very upset when I told her!

But yeah, Joey, color is just light and angles anyway so no big deal.

Wendy said...

btw, anybody interested in doing an owl walk? I could look into how much it would cost to do a private group.

From the info at Trailwood (Hampton, CT) Private Guided Bird or Nature Walks

This service is offered year-round. Each walk can be geared toward your expectations and locations. Sanctuary Manager Andy Rzeznikiewicz can take you to your next life bird, to local hot spots, or just use his knowledge to find birds and wildlife for you. Owl walks are very successful in small groups. This is an excellent gift for that outdoors enthusiast who has everything.