Saturday, January 30, 2010

Freeze Frame!

Not quite as chilly as it was when I got up this morning but still a bit on the crisp side.  Even at this temperature, the birds are happily feeding away at the seed and suet feeders.  It amazes me that with the earth frozen, the house creaking with cold, the trees snapping with frost and those little birds just carry on doing what they do every day of the year.  Eat, sleep and try to stay comfortable in their living quarters while we try to do the same.  Like the birds, some people like the cold, some fly south and some like to do a little of both.  What kind are you?  Comments and feedback are welcome.  

Sunday, January 24, 2010


I am almost certain this is a Northern Shrike.  It has been many years since I have seen one here but this one has been feeding on a mouse and has ignored the seed feeders.  It has been here for about a week now and as we have a lot of chickadees and goldfinches as well as mice and moles, perhaps this one will join the owl and stay around.  If anyone thinks it might be something different - please let me know.   

Sunday, January 3, 2010


This beauty is a barred owl and it is waiting patiently for a mouse to come along.  One of our feeders is close to the ground and as usual, the birds tend to leave a few bits on the ground at the end of the day.  The mice come along to eat the leftover seeds and the owl waits patiently for his dinner.  In the past we have seen many barred owls and one very small screech owl here. 

Over the years these barred owls have come around mostly during the winter months, but occasionally in other seasons as well.  One of them was sitting on a branch in the hemlock tree beside the house and appeared to be watching us in the house.  The next morning I assumed that it had flown away.  In the afternoon my daughter was coming home from school and asked why the owl was sleeping in the snow under the tree.  I took it to a bird expert who informed me that owls often starve to death during the winter from lack of food.  I think that is one of the reasons, all these years later, that I feed all the birds especially during the harsh winter months.  Other than attracting the mice for them, I have not discovered another method for feeding the owls.

 This update is a daytime picture of the barred owl in a oak tree.  He should be sleeping!

SCIENTIFIC NAME     Strix varia
Class: Aves
Order: Strigiformes
Family: Strigidae
Genus: Strix
Species: varia
Length: Male: 17-20 inches
  Female: 20-24 inches
Weight: Male: 1-1 1/2 pounds
  Female: 1 1/2-1 3/4 pounds
Wingspan: Male: 40-46 inches
  Female: 45-50 inches
APPEARANCE:  The Barred Owl is a medium-sized gray-brown owl that is streaked with white horizontal barring on the chest and vertical barring on the belly. They are round-headed with a whitish-brown facial disk that has brown trim. There are no feather tufts. The eyes are brown, and the beak is yellow and almost covered by feathers. The dark brown back is spotted with white and the long tail is crossed with six or seven sharply defined bands of pale brown. There is no difference in plumage between the males and the larger females.