Posts Tagged ‘Owls’

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Barn Owls: The Ghostly Rodent Destroyer

Barn OwlHow do you describe Barn Owls? To begin with, what birds are stranger than owls? The oddly inelegant shape, the seemingly humorless and serious demeanor, the hostile and insistent beak snapping, the strength all out of proportion to their sizes?

And then there is the barn owl, with that heart shaped, almost alien, face, the head wagging when surprised or threatened, the long, gawky legs, and that arrestingly loud, drawn out and raspy hiss, like a cobra with a microphone.

Barn owls are a weird and fascinating species, even within the ghostliest of raptor orders, Strigiformes. The Martians have landed, and they have come for your rodents! In an interesting observation, the Carolina Raptor Center, speculating on the origin of ghosts and goblins in people’s minds, and mindful of the link between old barns, church steeples and agricultural fields, in other words, the proximity of villages to barn owl nesting sites, wonder whether the ghostly appearance, odd hisses, screeches and screams of the barn owl, helped foster such nightmares.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, April 5, 2021

Who cooks for you, barred owl?

barred owlThere are many species of owls in the Adirondacks, with barred owls being the most common, and the most frequently seen.

We mainly hear owls calling between Autumn and early Spring. Great Horned Owls nest earlier than other owls, and their deep staccato HOO-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo-HOO call, sounding most like the stereotyped call we associate with owls generally, is resonant and vaguely threatening.

The Long-eared owl, which resembles a smaller, perpetually startled and skinny great horned, has a call which reminds you more of song bird calls, stretched out with longer pauses between notes, which may be single syllable “ooo” or raspier pleas, sounding almost cat like. Screech owl calls are shrill and loud, sharp and abrupt. If you ever watched the comedy “My Cousin Vinny”, there is a funny scene where the Joe Pesci character, surprised by a screech owl’s scream in the dead of night, runs out of the cabin firing a pistol, followed by a close up of the screech owl. Tiny saw whet owls make a “toot-toot” call, like a small truck backing up. 

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Snowy Owls Are Tundra Terminators

female Snowy Owl by Joe Kostoss of Eye in the ParkThirty thousand years before Harry Potter immortalized the Snowy Owl in popular culture, our European ancestors were drawing them on cave walls. Snowy owls breed on the treeless northern tundra of Alaska, Canada and Eurasia, using scrapes on snow free boulders, hummocks or rises as nests. Males select and defend their territory, while females choose the nesting site.

In a typical year, when adult snowies consume an average of 1,600 lemmings each, half of their clutch of four to eight eggs will survive to adulthood.  In a banner year, when the constantly fluctuating lemming populations explode, the female may lay a larger clutch, up to 12 eggs, and all the chicks may survive, and many head south in what are called “Irruptions,” in search of territory or prey, which is why we may see some in the Adirondacks in Winter.

» Continue Reading.


Friday, November 29, 2019

Owl Meet-up, Book Signing in Saranac Lake

Mark Manske and owlThe Village Mercantile (formerly The Community Store) in Saranac Lake is set to host Adirondack Raptor proprietor Mark Manske for a book signing and a meet and greet with one of his owls on Saturday, December 21 from noon until 2 pm.

Mark Manske has written two mystery novels for youth centered around Marvin Stone, “Stoney,” and his buddy Bill Short as well as a mysterious owl, a modern-day treasure hunt, and a skunk. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Saw-whet Owl Banding at John Brown’s Farm

Saw-whet owl immediately after its release from banding Dr. Nina Schoch, Executive Director and Chief Scientific Officer at the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation and conservation biologist, zoologist and photographer Larry Master will be banding saw-whet owls at the John Brown Farm during October.

This banding is part of Project Owlnet. Project Owlnet facilitates communication, cooperation and innovation among a rapidly growing network of hundreds of owl-migration researchers in North America and abroad. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, March 18, 2018

Watchable Wildlife: Great Horned Owl

great horned owl Now may be a good time to see great horned owls (Bubo virginianus). They are year-round residents, but start sitting in their nests as early as January or February.

Great horned owls are large birds (adults can be 18-25 inches in length) and have large ear tufts on their head and large yellow eyes. Their feathers are usually a mix of colors: white, reddish-brown, gray, and black with a white patch on their throats. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Champlain Area Trails’ Owl Prowl Is Back

owlChamplain Area Trails (CATS) is holding an Owl Prowl on Friday, December 15, at 5:30 pm at the Black Kettle Trail in Essex.

Naturalist and teacher Gregg VanDeusen will teach participants about the various species of owls in the Champlain Valley area and will make owl calls to elicit their responses.

VanDeusen will also discuss other types of wildlife in the area and copping with the dark. All ages are welcome on this family-friendly hike. » Continue Reading.


Friday, March 31, 2017

Owl Prowl at Lake George on Saturday

Our family always enjoys the opportunity for a night hike, snowshoe or ski. Being able to unwind at the end of the day helps us focus on our other senses, to listen to nature, and reconnect. One favorite way to unwind is calling in the owls. That activity wasn’t something that just showed up on our radar. It began with a local Owl Prowl and it has become part of an evening routine.

According to Lake George Land Conservancy (LGLC) Land Stewart Alex Novack, the LGLC’s April 1st Owl Prowl is a perfect opportunity to learn more about these nocturnal animals. The location for the free night-time hike was chosen because of the potential for interactions with owls. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Great Gray Owls in Northern New York

2017 Great Gray Owl Larry Master PhotoIn most winters great gray owls remain in their great north woods home in Canada, the mountains of the western U.S., northern Europe, and Siberia. But every four years or so, apparently motivated by a shortage of food (primarily voles), many of these owls will move southward in search of food.

In northeastern North America, the owls usually stay just north of the border, apparently finding suitable vole populations in southern Quebec and Ontario, but a handful of individuals will sometimes move further south into northern New York and New England. This is one such winter with a number of great gray owls being reported in southern Quebec, two reports from central Maine, and reports of several great gray owls in northern New York. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, January 14, 2016

Owls In January: The Courtship Begins

TOSLong_eared_owlI’m an enthusiastic, if laid-back, bird watcher. One of the things I love most about spring and summer is the effortlessness with which I encounter a wide variety of birds. Sitting in my backyard, I’ll catch sight of an indigo bunting in the apple tree or watch a pair of phoebes flying to and from their nest. On an afternoon hike, I might spot a Baltimore oriole or hear the sweet sounds of a wood thrush.

Not so in winter, when the cold curtails my outdoor activities and so many birds have departed for warmer climes. The dearth of birds and walks leaves me feeling doubly deprived, and I count the days until red-winged blackbirds will again greet me on my morning stroll.

But January is far too early to dream of spring, so I’ve decided to put thoughts of seasonal songbirds out of my mind and focus on some of our region’s year-round residents – owls. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, December 19, 2015

Owls Hunt In Winter With High Tech Audio Systems

TOS_Barred_Owl_winterFor several days last winter, a barred owl perched atop a dead white birch tree in our field. As winters go, last year’s was very cold, and the owl puffed up against the stubbornly below-freezing temperatures, its streaky brown and white feathers fluffed and fluttering in the icy breeze. Occasionally the owl would move its head in a slow turn, from east to west to east again, dark eyes gazing at the field blanketed in deep snow.

The owl was most likely listening more than watching, straining to hear the scratching of tiny feet moving under the thick layer of white. Owls are remarkably skilled at finding and catching prey, but even they struggle to survive a long, cold season. » Continue Reading.


Monday, December 15, 2014

Wildlife Animosity: Crows and Owls

crowsAnimosity is an emotion not solely restricted to humans, as several forms of wildlife occasionally display an outward aversion to specific creatures, even through such an antagonistic attitude seems to have little to no value to their current survival.

Perhaps the best example of such an overt repulsion of one animal for another is the crow’s reaction to seeing an owl at this time of year. Upon detecting one of these round-faced predators, a crow quickly starts producing a squawking caw designed to summon any other crows in the immediate area. It is believed by some naturalists that a crow, upon hearing this alarm sound, will relay the information to others unable to hear the initial call that an owl has been spotted. This is an attempt to assemble as sizeable a mob of birds as possible. » Continue Reading.


Monday, June 30, 2014

Owl Pellets: Down the Hatch and Back Again

Owl_Pellet“She’s so cute!” a little girl coos to the snowy white owl. The owl blinks languidly, ignoring her admirer. No doubt she is used to human attention, as she is one of the more popular raptors housed at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science Nature Center (VINS) in Quechee, Vermont. She likewise ignores the decapitated rat in her food bowl, chirruping softly as if dissatisfied with what’s on the menu. I wait patiently, hoping to witness the moment when she gulps it down.

Owls eat their smaller prey whole, or tear larger prey into chunks with their beaks and talons. Sooner or later, that owl will grab the raw rat out of her food bowl with her sharp beak and knock it back like a shot of whiskey. It will slide down her esophagus and into her two-chambered stomach. The first chamber, called the proventriculus, or glandular stomach, secretes digestive enzymes to break down all the easily digestible parts. Much like our own stomach, this chamber will liquefy the soft tissue (the gooey stuff, including muscle, fat and organs). Whatever isn’t digested in the first chamber, such as the bones, fur and teeth, will pass through to the second chamber, called the gizzard. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Great Horned Owl: Greatest Adirondack Predator?

GHOWbyTerryHawthorneWhen you ask most folks, which animal is the greatest hunter in the Adirondacks, they’ll usually say “fisher” or “bobcat”, or some other charismatic predator, but I believe the great horned owl may be the most efficient predator that has ever lived on earth period.

Its approach to hunting is based on a combination of stealth, remarkable powers of prey detection and location, and the application of strength all out of proportion to its size. Victims of a Great Horned Owl’s silent aerial attack typically are not aware of the owl’s presence until they are within the vice-like grip of the owl’s talons. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Cabin Life: The Owl’s Meal

owl crop2The sun is shining later and later each day, and some of the snow is melting and dripping off of the roof in front of the big window.  It’s officially been spring for almost a week now, but don’t bother telling Mother Nature that.  The forecast of thirteen degrees below zero tonight isn’t as bad as the negative twenty-three we got a couple of nights ago, so I guess, in a way we are getting more spring-like temperatures.  But again, temperatures in the negative teens aren’t that spring-like to me.

I’ve been back at the cabin full time, and having a few weeks off from living out here was definitely nice.  After three winters having to haul in water and use an outhouse no matter what the temperature, the shine of living off grid has worn off.  I still enjoy many, many aspects of it, but this winter has definitely been a mood killer for me.  I was able to tap a few of the maple trees the other day and start collecting sap, but it’s been slow going with the cold returning.  And the hike up the driveway isn’t any easier than it was in February. » Continue Reading.



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