Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Nesting Great Horned Owl and Sweet Northern Shovelers

Today at lunch, I headed over to Lake Isabella to see if I could see the female Great Horned Owl sitting on her nest, and I did…here she is!

Not much to see, just her little ear tufts.

At first, I could barely see the feathers sticking up, but when a couple of Canada Geese started making a racket, she popped her head up a bit so I could see both of the little ear tufts. When those little feathers came into view my heart melted!! I stayed far away from the nest to make sure she wasn’t disturbed. I learned about the owl’s nest on Susan Gets Native. Head over to Susan's site to see another photo and read about important nest site etiquette.

Here is one of the little rabble-rousers that woke up Mama Owl. 
Thanks, Mrs. Goose!

I was talking to one of the men who work there, and he told me about Baltimore Orioles that nest near the water. They grab little bits of discarded fishing line and use them to make their nests. He was going to show me an old nest, but Hurricane 08 and the latest ice storm really did a number on the trees and limbs in the park, and the limb holding the nest had fallen. I’ll have to keep watch this spring and summer to see if I can find an oriole’s nest!

A lot of wind damage is apparent throughout the park.

I just sat and watched the nest for a while and listened to all the birds calling and singing back and forth…most demanding were cardinals, titmice, chickadees and nuthatches, with a downy every now and then. There is nothing like slowing down and listening to birds singing their hearts out! I still had plenty of time, so I hopped in the car and headed down one exit on 275 to check out the gravel pits, parking in the Indian Hill Winter Club’s parking lot. Unfortunately, you're not allowed to walk down to the shore, so you can't get that close. I saw Canvasbacks, Buffleheads, a juvenile Mute Swan, and Northern Shovelers.

The Canvasbacks and Buffleheads were way out on the lake, and although I had great viewing through my binoculars, my camera lens wasn’t quite as cooperative. The shovelers were close to the shore, so I was able to get a fairly nice shot of them from up on the hill.

I love their super-sized bills, but even cuter, 
are their little orange feet visible under 
the water as they paddle around.

Just watching these guys swim made 
me happy. Their feet work like crazy.

Beak Bit
I really like watching Northern Shovelers, and they make it easy to watch them! Because of an adaptation to their bills, they mainly stay in the shallows. Using their bills like a shovel, they scoop up mud and debris and like a colander, strain small invertebrates and other food through the serrated edges of their bill. Since they have developed this special way to eat, they stay in the shallows more often for easier access to the muddy floor. Northern Shovelers are also devoted mated pairs, staying together longer than any other duck...the sweet-hearts! 


Chris said...

Hi Kelly,
I love this post and the pictures of the Shoveler. Well done.

I'm also giving you an award, so you should check it out on my blog. You are of course free to accept or reject it.

Kallen305 said...

Great pictures of the ducks! You are so lucky to have an owls nest near your workplace. I can't wait to read more about that and the orioles.

Jayne said...

Hi Kelly... lovely blog you have here. I came by from Kallen's blog. Have a great day! :c)

Shellmo said...

So cute to see those owl ears poking up! And love those shovelers - your photos highlighted them wonderfully!

Laure Ferlita said...

Just love those ear tufts! We have Great Horned Owls around here and they always come calling about 1:30 in the morning! They also sound like they're about 4 feet tall they're so loud!! I've not gotten to see them yet. Maybe one day!

Rob Ripma said...

Very interesting, I have never seen an Great Horned use a nesting platform like that. Gret shots of the Shovelers!

Phil and Mandy said...

Hi Kelly, Lovely photos once again. I had a view of 6 Shovelers at once today on my visit along with a 10-15 minute viewing of a Kingfisher. Phil

Warren Baker said...

That's such a clear lake Kelly. The lake on my patch is green and full of algae. What a beautiful piece of water.

rachete said...

I like your blog!


Kelly said...

Chris...Thanks! ....and thank you for the award!! That's so cool! I'll drop by to see what it is! Thanks, again.

Kallen...Thank you! It's not too bad..about 15 mins...

Jayne...Thank you for dropping by! I visited your site. I like your bird photos! That chickadee is cute and I like the photos of the birds eating the mealworms!

Shelley...Thank you! They are cute aren't they? I loved it when they popped up.

Laure Ferlita....I love when I hear the Great Horns hooting in the early morning hours. Their call is so pretty...

Rob...thanks! Me either...it's like a huge wash tub!

Phil and Mandy....watching the shovelers is so much fun. I love the watching those little orange feet paddling around.

Warren....it may be because the lake is from an old gravel pit and it's really, really deep. The sun was perfect when I took the shot and the water was a bit turquoise....

Rachete....Thank you!!! I'll drop by your site.

Heather said...

I don't know what it is, but those little ear tufts on that momma owl are awfully dang cute! And I love the Shoveler photos. What a brilliantly colored head it has!

Kelly said...

...Heather, I feel the same way. They are just cute...no other word for it!!

Steve B said...

Hwooo is in the nest? (Sorry, I could resist.) Fun post!

Kelly said...

hehehe--Thanks, Steve :-)