Friday, March 28, 2014

"Lucky" Owl Survives 300 Mile Ride On the Front of a Train in the UK

This recent story by EMMA GLANFIELD from the Daily Mail online in the UK of a little Tawny Owl that survived a 300 mile train ride from Glasgow to Northamtonshire is even more amazing than last year's story reported here about a Great Horned owl stuck in the grill of an SUV while it drove around south Florida for two days!  In both cases, there is a happy ending!

The Tawny Owl was discovered exhausted and slightly injured clinging to the front of the train in the Stobart freight terminal in Crick, Northamptonshire. It was taken to the Nuneaton and Warwickshire Wildlife Sanctuary where it was diagnosed with wing damage and a slight concussion and was aptly named "Lucky". Lucky is making a rapid recovery due the efforts of the fine people at the sanctuary and is expected to make a full recovery and be released back into the wild, although not back in Scotland where is presumably came from. 

Owls are frequently in the news when they unfortunately collide with various modes of transportation, although they are often killed, there are many stories of amazing survival such as the owl stuck in the grill of an SUV . Owls bodies are not that big under all those lightweight feathers and the special design of their feather that results in quiet flight and their bulk probably helps to cushion them in some collisions. In this case, it is more likely that rather than coming the entire 325 miles from Scotland, at some point the owl collided with the train and clung on for dear life. To let loose and risk being tumbled by the wind and/or caught in the strong slipstream around the train may well have lead to worse injury or death. In any case, all is well that ends well. And as I've said in previous posts, if you love wildlife, be aware of your nearest wildlife shelter or rehabilitation center so if you find an injured wild creature you know where to take it - and also consider donating to help the cause! In most cases, these center depend heavily on donations and volunteer labor.

Lucky Owl survive ride on train in UK Photo: Peter Corns
"Lucky" the Tawny Owl after surviving 300 mile train trip!
Photo: Peter Corns   Source:

300 mile train route!

Lucky Owl survive ride on train in UK  Photo: Peter Corns
"Lucky" will be released back into the wild.
Photo: Peter Corns   Source:

Lucky Owl survive ride on train in UK  Photo: Peter Corns
Lucky took the ride on the front of this speeding train just below the drivers compartment!
Photo: Peter Corns   Source:

Cedar Waxwings Visit the Backyard

Cedar Waxwing pair take a short break high over the backyard on their way back north. Even at long range their unique color and profile sticks out! These birds have not been seen in the backyard for more than a few minutes - a chance sighting.

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Cedar Waxwing

Video: Cedar Waxwings Visit the Backyard

Northern Parula in Winter

Northern Parula - a unique type of Warbler and a bird I confess I had never heard of nor seen before. However, I caught a glimpse of this very small over-active bird working dense brush in the Backyard - notable for its blue, yellow and greenish coloring - and managed to get some video and closeup photos. You get more of a sense of its winter habitat than seeing the bird itself. This bird was probably beginning to work it's way back north after spending the deep winter in south Florida and the tropical islands south of Florida. I'm sure its been around in years past, but the odds of being in the right place and time to see and capture them on video are pretty small!

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Northern Parula Warbler

Video:  Northern Parula in Winter

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Downy Woodpecker Eating Loquats

Male Downy Woodpecker enjoys some ripe Loquats - a bird that doesn't sit still much - its always on the move working the trees. Heard more than seen around these parts, especially outside of breeding season. The Loquats are a pretty evergreen tree and a bit messy, but one can't deny their appeal to birds! A nice Downy Woodpecker call can be heard at:

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Downy Woodpecker Eating Loquats
Downy Woodpecker Eating Loquats

Haunting Screech Owl Calls

Classic low-frequency haunting trilling calls from mother Screech Owl Live From the Nest Box - March 24th. Her whole body will shake as she make this rhythmic call about every 45 to 60 seconds. Sitting on three eggs all day - Mother owl will be ready to leave the nest box briefly around dusk and meet the male who will be waiting for her with food. Before she leaves you will hear them call each other and make contact. She will go back and forth to the nest a few time during the evening and the male will likely bring her food several times. Some nights they can be a bit chatty, but mostly for now her focus is on incubating the egss. Hatching of the three eggs is expected to begin around March 29th.

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Red Morph Eastern Screech Owl Haunting Calls

Video:  Haunting Screech Owl Trilling Calls

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Relaxing Nature Meditation - Sunbathing Squirrels

Gentle, cute Sunbathing Squirrels - Relaxing Nature Meditation. Spend a relaxing 30 minutes with the gentle sunbathing squirrels!

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Green Anole Lizard Surviving in the Trees

A rare sighting of a big native male Green Anole Lizard looking to mate in the Loquat trees in the Backyard. Agressive and invasive Brown Anole Lizards have pretty much taken over the patios, house, tree trunks and ground areas of the backyard. See for example:

But it is encouraging to see a few true native Green Anole Lizards surviving higher up in the trees. Hard to believe, but the classic green lizard of Florida is becoming a rare sight in residential areas. Hopefully this one will find a mate!

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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Gray CatBird Mewing Call

The mewing call of a Gray Catbird. They are called catbirds for a very good reason - their habit of making cat-like sounds!

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Gray Catbird Mewing

Video:  Gray CatBird Mewing Call

Volga Dnepr Airlines Antonov 124-100 Flies Over Backyard

One of the world's largest airplanes, this Volga Dnepr Airlines Antonov 124-100 is no doubt the largest and rarest "Backyard Bird" ever seen over the Backyard. Heard a really BIG noise and by the time I grabbed my camera I could only shoot a few quick images before it was gone!

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Video:  Volga Dnepr Airlines Antonov 124-100 Flies Over Backyard

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Gentle Cute Squirrels

Gentle Cute Squirrels - they are not "morning people". On cold windy mornings the squirrels gather to warm up on the high branches of a tree that first catches the morning sun before they start their busy days. This clip shows some excerpts from a 30 minute video illustrating how these Gray Squirrels use delicate touch and smell to communicate with each other.

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Gentle Cute Squirrels

Video: Gentle Cute Squirrels

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Screech Owl Sitting on Three Eggs in Nest Box

Eastern Screech Owls are settling into a routine - looks like three eggs is it. Same as last three years. Hatching should begin around March 31st. Will start experimenting with some live broadcasts in the coming days. The owls have picked a different nest box this year with the older camera and the microphone is a little shaky but working. I have not located the male owls daytime hiding spot yet. He is no doubt hiding in the dense brush within sight of the nest, but their camouflage ability is amazing. Stay tuned!

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Video: Screech Owl Sitting on Three Eggs in Nest Box

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Eastern Screech Owl Calls - Third Egg in Nest Box

Eastern Screech Owls now have three eggs - some classic screech owl calls and Mr. Owl brings a big meal to the mother owl at the 1:40 mark. Not sure exactly what it was, it may be another bird. She will now spend most of her time sitting on the eggs after short trips outside at dusk and dawn with the male bringing food.

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Eastern Screech Owl Eggs in Nest Box

Friday, March 7, 2014

Eastern Screech Owl Call - Second Egg of 2014

Eastern Screech Owl Nest Box Callings

Mother Red Morph Eastern Screech Owl is returning at dawn and calling softly to the male nearby as is her custom. She will spend the day sitting on the now two eggs. She will likely lay another egg tonight. Last year there were four eggs and one didn't hatch. It is obvious from the feathers in the nest box that she has eaten another small bird the previous day - that is just the way of Nature. Most of their diet consists of lizards, small snakes and large bugs.

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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Endangered Red Cockaded Woodpecker Habitat - Artificial Nest Box Cavities

I noticed several of these clever artificial nest cavities on a recent trip to a Florida Wildlife Management area. Sometimes Downy Woodpeckers are mistaken for the extremely rare and critically endangered Red Cockaded Woodpeckers at a distance. The male RCW has just the tiniest spot of red on its head with big white cheeks and a black cap compared to the Downy. In theory, the RCW could live in the conservation area behind my backyard with its old growth Long Leaf Pines, but I have never seen one. The RCW has very narrow habitat requirements. It requires pines at least 60-years old (preferring 80-100-year old trees which are infected with red heart fungus). RCWs cannot persist in the long term without suitable cavity trees and adequate foraging habitat.  They also do not except typical nest boxes. If you are interested in how these artificial nesting cavities are installed, the Louisiana DWF has produced an excellent video showing an installation:

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Saturday, March 1, 2014

Feral Cat Hunting Squirrels in the Woods

This feral Bengal Cat and Tabby Cat mix hunts squirrels in the heavy wood and brush behind the backyard and is busted by squirrels and, ironically, Catbirds sounding the alarm. This event was part of the slow process of trying to tame/rescue this impressive wild cat. This cat was incredibly wild and photogenic and I hope to complete a documentary of the process of rescuing this cat in the near future!

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Bengal Cat and Tabby Cat Feral Cat Hunting Squirrels in the Woods

Bengal Cat and Tabby Cat Feral Cat Hunting Squirrels in the Woods

Red Bellied Woodpecker Enjoys Loquat Fruit

Male Red Bellied Woodpecker enjoys eating ripe Loquat Tree fruit. The woodpeckers unique long and raspy tongue is also prominently visible in this closeup. The female can be heard calling loudly nearby. The Loquat tree is an excellent choice for a landscape plant to attract birds as many of them feast on the ripe yellow fruit. It is cold hardy down to about 12 degrees and grows rapidly in Florida.

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Male Red Bellied Woodpecker enjoys eating ripe Loquat Tree fruit

Video: Red Bellied Woodpecker Eats Loquat Fruit