Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Point's Owlet!

Great Horned Owls start nesting in January and February and lay 2 to 4 dull white eggs in a borrowed nest of another raptor, such as a hawk or crow. Incubation lasts between 26 and 35 days, done by the mother, while the male feeds her and then the owlets for a couple of weeks after they have hatched. After the babies have their second set of down feathers, the male and female hunt and feed the babies together for up to 3 months, while the owlets grow very quickly and eat ravenously. They stay together as a loosely knit family through the summer, until autumn, when the juveniles disperse. The mated pair will remain in the same territory up to 8 years.

Here at the Point, a Great Horned Owl with nest and babies was reported over near Lake Lilly.  On the way, I spotted 2 birders and they led me to the special vantage point to get a glimpse. I came back in late afternoon, when the lighting was better, to take these photos:

I was surprised by the small nest size. Apparently, there had been 2 owlets, but now only one remains. The mother and baby can barely fit in the nest as it is. The owlet is covered in white fluffy down with a dark predominant beak. The mother is stoic and keeps a close watch on us.

Owlets start roaming onto nearby branches after 6-7 weeks even though they still are covered in down.  They are called "branchers" at this stage, but can't really fly until 9+ weeks. 

Here, the owlet tries out his quickly growing wings, teetering precariously on the edge of the nest, but  perhaps, almost ready to move beyond the nest. 

I stopped by again this morning for a quick peek and the owlet was tucked under the mother, shielded from the chilly wind, with only its tail visible. I guess, it decided to stay close for another day.


Monday, January 5, 2015

Birding Lists and Journals

Being a frequent visitor to Cape May, it is high time to start keeping track of all the birds I see. Where to start?  I bought a ABA Area Trip List at the Cape May Bird Observatory to first record all the birds I have ever seen. 

I would like a more permanent journal, but this is a start.  My list includes a rather meager number of only 130 species.

The 7.7 downloadable version for September 2014 of the ABA Birding Checklist can be found at this site and includes 987 species:

My goal is to increase my knowledge by participating in more birding classes in PA and NJ. I bought a Rite in the Rain All Weather Birder's Journal with a corresponding pen to use during these walks and classes and to keep track of what I see. 

I like what these blogs suggest for keeping a birding journal, such as:

a. Include the species name, habitat, weather, date, appearance, behavior, vocalizations, and flock size. 
b. Include a quick sketch. 
c. Note the color and size of the beak, the eyes, legs and feet.

The folks at 10,000 Birds Blog have an excellent post about why to keep birding lists:  I like how they have a digital running list for their life list and yearly list.

My goal is to at least double my number by the end of the year and keep a yearly list. I want to focus on shorebirds, gulls, warblers and sparrows.