Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Way Back Wednesday

     I won't be posting for some time, and I promise that when I do get the chance to write up a blog post, it will hopefully be a goodie. But I can at least share something before then, a flashback, hrowback, way back, whatever the cool kids call them these days (ew, did I just do that? Yup, I did!)...

     I had not posted these, but they are from this past winter and a Great Horned Owl pair I was able to observe (from afar). Owls in winter are nesting, and sharing information about them is generally frowned upon as they are sensitive, especially if nesting. So here are my version of super cool pokemon that I caught this winter (on camera).... enjoy! :)

Again, to respect these birds, I will not be sharing their location- but generally owls roost by day in coniferous trees as they are evergreens, and therefore provide cover from crows, jays, and other animals that would pester them by day.

A comparison of plumage to trunk, pretty spot on!

The "horns" are feathery plumes, used to communicate or allow the bird to look a certain way. The ears of owls are located within the facial disk-- the circular shape of their face. Like a satellite dish, the birds can focus sounds into their ears and hear pretty darn good. Some owls can even hear their prey's heart beat, or them scurrying below snow.
GHO's are nocturnal- but by day they sometimes keep an eye open just to make sure they are safe. They are inactive by day, unless threatened. By night, great horned owls are top predators in their portion of the food web, but by day, if discovered by hawks, crows, and other birds, they will get bullied to the point of fleeing their roost.
All images are super zoomed and cropped, a lot. I wanted very much to mind my distance so the owls could not be stressed as so they could do their natural thing, without my disturbance.
I love owls a lot, they are a bird I seriously respect. Those talons are massive and I have had the privilege of knowing how powerful they are. I used to work with non-releasable GHO's and when on they glove, even through the glove they can out on the death squeeze. Those talons are killing tools, killing animals as large as rabbits and skunks.

With 14 neck vertebrae, owls can turn their necks 270 degrees, allowing them to turn their heads quite a ways. Owls have no muscle behind their eyes (since they are so large) and therefore cannot move their eyes like we can in their sockets, so head turning helps them see or focus sound to their ears.
And those eyes, their work is illuminated at night with just the light of the stars. Owls have supreme night vision, if our eyes were comparable in size to an owls, they'd be the size of baseballs!
Another super owl power-- they have silent flight. With frayed flight feathers, their wings don't make a "woosh" like those of other birds. With amazing hearing, superb sight, and stealthy flight, their prey will never have the chance to know those talons were even coming!
The great horned owl, one of my favorite badass birds!