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Thread: Backyard Wildlife

  1. #361
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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    hey this is the place to ask. Last two mornings we were awakened at dawn, about 4.30 by two rooks pecking at the glass and making a lot of noise. Then we found large droppings on the stones outside the window, large, about 1 inch diameter and 1.5 inch long and apparently made of wood chips four items. What was this, owl? Could an owl have decided to poop on our back step and upset the rooks? Twice~? We have open country, farmland and woods nearby.
    The droppings you describe sound like owl pellets. Many birds, particularly the birds of prey (hawks, owls) regurgitate "pellets". These contain the indigestible parts of their prey, like bone, fur, etc. The linked article has a picture and you can find many others on the web. Though I am a little confused by the "wood chips"; were there actually wood chips in them? Birds will eat weird things some times, but I'm not sure that jives with my explanation.

    One thing people do is dissect pellets, to figure out what the bird has eaten.

    I'm not sure what was up with the rooks, or if that is related. But rooks are in the crow family and crows love finding things. If they were actually wood chips, I wonder if the rooks were doing something with the wood chips.
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  2. #362
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    Our swallows have fledged!
    For the first time since fifteen years ago when some swallows tentatively visited our garage but didn't nest, a pair came, built a nest and have fledged four nestlings! The parents have been swooping in and out through the wide open garage door and then the doorway into the second garage for six weeks. Now the young birds are doing the same, but like novice pilots they repeatedly abort their approach, and circle to try again. While in the air they they chase the parents and squeak for food, then go back into the garage to rest on the rafters, where they all roost at night. We have magpies and jackdaws too, and the swallow parents mob them if they come near the garage.
    After the swallows originally visited, I set up artifical nests, and a wireless TV camera, but of course they didn't use those. So this winter, I must relocate the camera, and get the link working, so we can watch them next year. Fingers crossed!

    Also, I seem to be wild animal wrangler in chief this weekend. Passing a fisherman on our local canal towpath (I've always thought they were hopeless optomists) he had a strike. It was clearly a big one! He had 2 oz (?) line, he said, and no catchnet, so I deployed a handy plastic bag and landed an enormous tench for him. 5lbs, he estimated, and I believe him, 'coz I held it! It want back in the canal to grow some more.
    And last night, I saw out of the corner of my eye a scuttling across the garage. Thought it was a rat, but the spiney back hiding under the bench showed that it was one of our hedgehogs, taking an unwise diversion. Gloved, I took it outside, to where its cousin was feeding, and the cat comes up, chasing a frog! Strange that while the cat was interested, the frog's piercing cries were most distressing, yet when I picked it up, it was silent.
    How does a frog know that a cat might hurt it, but this human wouldn't?

    John

    PS Owl pellets - see: http://www.kidwings.com/owlpellets/barnowl/index2.htm What a clever internet page to show kids what they could find out!
    Last edited by JohnD; 2013-Jul-08 at 08:04 AM.

  3. #363
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    Thanks for the replies, and I like the link too, I have seen an owl flying near here once or twice but a visit is a new experience. I have seen rooks attacking buzzards in flight too so I guess the rooks were harassing the owl, Maybe it was injured? I will make a search.

  4. #364
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    Apparently, we're having a bear problem in my neck of the woods. Penniac is about 10 klicks up the road from where a friend of mine lives.


    And in less unbearable news, I haven't seen them but I certainly hear them at dusk and dawn. We've got a few owls in my neighbourhood that love to hoot it up when the sun's tucking in for the night or when it's just making its grand entrance. I'd go out to wait for the bus and you can hear them echoing around the area.

  5. #365
    Well a bear was spotted just a couple houses up the road. Plus on thursday morning a moose ran across the backfield, no sign of squirrel yet.

  6. #366
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheOncomingStorm View Post
    Well a bear was spotted just a couple houses up the road. Plus on thursday morning a moose ran across the backfield, no sign of squirrel yet.
    We are not so exotic, today as I entered the drive to our house, there were two deer (monkjack) and two hares apparently in conference, and as they scattered the pigeons who were presumably the audience, flew off. That's more than usual, and there was a toad crossing the approach road too. No sign of the owl but I feel there is a conspiracy. If I see a bear I will be really surprised but on the radio I heard about the English wild boar now settled in the woods of Surrey.

  7. #367
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    Back along the towpath this evening, to see a fisherman haul a pike out!
    Two feet long, and the picture of piscine evil!
    THat went back in too.
    John

  8. #368
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnD View Post
    Back along the towpath this evening, to see a fisherman haul a pike out!
    Two feet long, and the picture of piscine evil!
    THat went back in too.
    John
    Scenes remembered: Cambridge; UK, a crowd gathered to watch a duck with ducklings struggle across the river Cam. Half way across and a pike arced out of the waters and one duckling disappeared for ever. A cry went up as one. Today it would be on you tube but no mobiles back then. Chilling, especially when in the habit of dangling toes in the water while enjoying a pint.

  9. #369
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnD View Post
    Back along the towpath this evening, to see a fisherman haul a pike out!
    Two feet long, and the picture of piscine evil!
    THat went back in too.
    Any pike I catch...as unlikely as that is on a 5x tippet...will have to learn to swim in bushes and breathe dirt. They're an invasive species here, introduced illegally by those who like to fish for them. In several lakes, they've decimated populations of trout, grayling, and other fishes.
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  10. #370
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    Saw a really cute chipmunk at the vacation house this morning. It took me quite by surprise, we've never seen one there before. It was big for a chipmunk, comparable in size to the native Douglas Squirrels. A spot of Googling by my wife indicated it was probably a Townsend's Chipmunk and that it was named for one John Kirk Townsend, which was interesting for two reasons:
    1) We were just out side Port Townsend, WA; and
    2) He was a contemporary of my great-great-grandmother Mary Townsend Kirk. His father was a Townsend and his mother a Kirk, my GGGM's parents were the other way around. It's a near certainty he was a cousin of some sort but I haven't done the searching yet.
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  11. #371
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    Wait, so, you're related to a chipmunk? Alvin or Theodore?
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  12. #372
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim View Post
    Wait, so, you're related to a chipmunk? Alvin or Theodore?
    We're just waiting to see if it comes back so we can determine if it has a red nose or a black one!
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  13. #373
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    I have been tracking the progress of a bear for the few days as reported in news. He is heading southeast toward my neighborhood.

    No chipmunks here, but they are on the ridge where the bear was first spotted.

  14. #374
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    Probably not poop but a regurgitated "cast". Some owls lack the means to safely pass things like rodent skulls through their systems, (due to the teeth) and so vomit them up.

    Snakes and other whole mammal eaters get away with it by having digestive acids that cause hair to curl. This process causes the hair to wrap around sharp objects, like peccary hooves and teeth, forming balls of hair around them.

    And crocodilians straight up digest everything. In paleontology, when you find fossilized poop that contains neither plant, bone or teeth fragments, it's crocodile poop.

  15. #375
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    I probably should have quoted that last reply.

  16. #376
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigDon View Post
    Probably not poop but a regurgitated "cast". Some owls lack the means to safely pass things like rodent skulls through their systems, (due to the teeth) and so vomit them up.

    Snakes and other whole mammal eaters get away with it by having digestive acids that cause hair to curl. This process causes the hair to wrap around sharp objects, like peccary hooves and teeth, forming balls of hair around them.

    And crocodilians straight up digest everything. In paleontology, when you find fossilized poop that contains neither plant, bone or teeth fragments, it's crocodile poop.
    I kind of hoped it was regurgitated, the diameter scaled up would mean a very big owl for Norfolk, where we are not used to crocodiles, although there are some big mouths around.

  17. #377
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    Pro, my friend, we have owls here that eat cats...

  18. #378
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigDon View Post
    Pro, my friend, we have owls here that eat cats...
    when I was in Wales, I was invited to go on an owl watch, went to a meeting, both the presenters had one eye. Turned out they both got attacked helping owls out of tight spots on separate occasions, they both said, "You can't blame the owls" .......... "No" I said. And there too \many cats, no wait I never said that, I am really...respectful, of the cat lobby.

  19. #379
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    No, you can't blame the owls, that's for sure!

    That falls squarely on the 'tards who let themselves get into that position.

  20. #380
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    I did post about barn owls being used for feral cat control in Golden Gate Park.

    Plus the time I saw a great horned owl catch and swallow a cat whole one night. Then fly off. I had seen them do that to adult cottontails (rabbits) so I shouldn't have been surprised.

    Watching the cat's back legs and tail go down that bird's gullet, under a streetlight in an alley, on a blowing, foggy night, was one of those "Oh wow!" moments. (I was taking out the trash at 2 AM)

    Man! I got the willy-shivers just remembering it!

  21. #381
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigDon View Post
    I did post about barn owls being used for feral cat control in Golden Gate Park.

    Plus the time I saw a great horned owl catch and swallow a cat whole one night. Then fly off. I had seen them do that to adult cottontails (rabbits) so I shouldn't have been surprised.

    Watching the cat's back legs and tail go down that bird's gullet, under a streetlight in an alley, on a blowing, foggy night, was one of those "Oh wow!" moments. (I was taking out the trash at 2 AM)

    Man! I got the willy-shivers just remembering it!
    I've been told that Great Horned owls also eat skunks. Most birds don't have much of a sense of smell, and it doesn't seem to slow the owls down.

    I found this video of a captive Great Horned at a Conservation Center eating a mouse whole (pretty easy work). I love the kids laughing in the background.
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  22. #382
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigDon View Post
    No, you can't blame the owls, that's for sure!

    That falls squarely on the 'tards who let themselves get into that position.
    Yep, there's a reason safety goggles were invented.
    Good intentions won't keep you from getting your eyes eaten if you start messing with birds of prey.

    I'm reminded of the comment someone write when talking about rehabbing heron's, which was that they fed them while wearing a welder's mask, as these are birds wielding a foot long short sword and with the coordination to hit precisely what they aim for.
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  23. #383
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    We're back at the vacation place, where I have the computer on the table right in front of the window and about eight feet from the bird feeders. When we got here yesterday I put some outdated cashew pieces out on the deck rail, hoping to attract the chipmunk again. He hasn't been there but the mourning doves have. I just saw one pick up an oversized piece of cashew and bang it against the rail until it broke, leaving a piece in his beak small enough to swallow. Pretty clever! I watched him repeat this half a dozen times.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  24. #384
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    The problem with having a digital camera you don't use often is that if you don't immediately download the images, you may forget that you ever took them. Browsing the images on one of my cameras today I discovered that I had several shots of a red shafted Northern Flicker I'd taken in April:


  25. #385
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    Nice shot Torsen. Flickers are very attractive birds.
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  26. #386
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    Saw several humming birds yesterday, but not close enough to identify. Also heard one cicada yesterday. What happened to the swarm?

  27. #387
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    I haven't seen any Northern Flickers in five years, we don't seem to have them here in Edmonton.

    Living in the LC valley in SE Washington state they were common, I lived in the middle of a cherry orchard and could watch them out my window for hours eating ants off the cherry trees. They also like to drum on metal to establish territory and a friend who lived across the river in Idaho was seriously annoyed by the flicker that kept waking him up at dawn by drumming on the eavestrough above his window.

  28. #388
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    We've had quite a "wild" morning. LOTS of our usual feeder birds -- goldfinches, house finches, house (English) sparrows, juncoes, and miscellaneous little brown birds. Many handsome mourning doves. And a very nice black-headed grossbeak, something we don't see all that often.

    Then they all flew away and I realized there was a Cooper's (probably) hawk on the fence. He stayed quite a while, despite being buzzed by the swallows, and I took a bunch of pictures. Then when I went outside to get better shots than I could through the window, I discovered a multi-point buck heading up the driveway. Lots more pictures.

    And I can't post any of them here! Dang!
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  29. #389
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    We've had quite a "wild" morning. LOTS of our usual feeder birds -- goldfinches, house finches, house (English) sparrows, juncoes, and miscellaneous little brown birds.
    In birder talk, those are called LBJs = Little Brown Jobs. The wildflower people have a similar one: ADYC = Another Darn Yellow Composite.

    Then they all flew away and I realized there was a Cooper's (probably) hawk on the fence.
    Cool. Another reason they are called "bird feeders". I watched a Cooper's actually grab a bird off our feeder once; luckily it was Starling, so I wasn't upset.

    And I can't post any of them here! Dang!
    You could always put them on a hosting site like photobucket and post the link.


    In news from our own backyard, we've had a screech owl calling near by our house late at night. I always think a screech sounds like a horse trying to whistle - a cross between a whistle and a whinny.
    Last edited by Swift; 2013-Aug-26 at 06:31 PM.
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  30. #390
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    That's a coincidence. I had a Screech Owl two nights ago in my yard. Only the third time in 20 years. Six months ago, I had a Great Horned Owl visit the neighborhood for a couple of nights and then it left. Back in 1996, I had a Saw-Whet Owl in my tree. I have no idea why owls are so infrequent in my area.

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