Thursday, May 8, 2008

Good Bird Week

Thursday May 8 2008

It's spring-summer, and the birds are in full swing in Owyhee. At the house, the starlings are nesting in a hole in the wall right by the front door again, with at least 3 babies. Every time we walk through the door they start cheeping for food at the vibration the door makes. There's another starling nest of at least 3 babies in the A.C. on top of the Silver bullet trailer. The four parents are crazy busy from dawn till dusk.

Haven't found any nesting ravens along the 2 creeks here, though some resident ravens continue to hang around... including my spirit protector Raven (not my puppet but a real Raven we rescued recently... but that's another story).

I snuck up Bates Creek without the dogs and only a short distance up from our house, I flushed at least 4 roosting long-eared owls. They weren't nesting, just sleeping till I disturbed them. A kestrel was also flying around there, sounding agitated, either at me or the owls, so he must be defending a nest around there.

I've seen and heard two resident kestrels around the two snags by the creek at the house, but wasn't sure where or if a nest existed. Had to be in a hole in the snag. I went out there in the evening and waited till the male came back to one of the dead trees... he was holding a lizard in his claws, but, he saw me standing down there watching, and he chittered at me, flew off in big circles, landed on another branch and chittered agitatedly. I didn't move at all, just stood and waited. It's not easy to wait out a kestrel, but finally, after a good 20 minutes, he changed his perturbed tone to a different one, communicating with his woman in one of the holes in the next tree, and finally, he flew there, hopped to a branch closer to the trunk, and closer, and I could now hear two kestrels chattering, and finally he flew to a hole. He passed off the lizard, and said something like, "Hey honey, come check out this freako human staring at us."

The female came out off the nest onto a tree branch and fluffed up and preened for a while. The male sat on a branch still staring at me. I didn't wait to see if the female went right back on the nest or if they both went out hunting, but I know where the nest is now.

There are busy screech owls (I hear at least one every night), robins, killdeer (who love the sprinklers), quail, magpies, flickers, yellow-rumped warblers, red-winged blackbirds, and a host of other birds I am lame at identifying, in abundance. The orioles, who keep the neat hanging woven nests, and Western tanagers have recently been spotted.

Today I went out with Karen the retired bird biologist - she still monitors golden eagle nests in the area. We hiked to a territory where a few weeks ago she saw a female sitting on a cliff nest - one of about 10 nests in this territory. The birds could probably care less about the grand sweeping view down onto the hills above the Snake River and the old Oregon Trail, and more about the somewhat secluded cliff nest, sheltered from the blustery west winds.

We saw at least 2 baby eagles on the nest, possibly three - fluffy white balls with big yellow beaks just starting to sprout black feathers. They just laid in the nest, the only movement the blinking of eyes. Karen estimated them to be between 4 and 5 weeks old. Karen will come back in a few weeks to check on them, to see if the nest has been judged 'successful,' which it is after at least one of the young has reached 52 days of age (which you can judge by their feathers and feather patterns).

This weekend Steph and I are off to the Eagle Extreme endurance ride near here, on Rhett and Jose, woohoo! It's their first ride since they come down with strangles in Arizona this winter. It can only be a good endurance ride with a name like Eagle Extreme.

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