Tuesday, December 2, 2008

An Owl Tale

There has been an eruption of a rare puffy white, and rather large boreal hunter, the SNOWY OWL into the Northeastern United States from Canada this winter. A combination of a highly successful breeding season, with a lack of sustainable food sources are two possible reasons that these stunning birds are having to venture so far South. Sadly, survival can be quite difficult.

We here in Maryland have two confirmed SNOWY OWLS thus far this season. One owl has been viewed by many folks on Assateague Island. Scroll down if you'd like more details about that bird.

The other SNOWY has been living on Talbot County's famous POPLAR ISLAND for the past few weeks. I organized a trip out to the island with the wonderful folks at MES (Maryland Environmental Services) for 22 Maryland birders to see this amazing bird. There are some photos below, but first a story...Last year I was lucky enough to have an EASTERN SCREECH OWL take up residence in one of two nest boxes in my back yard. Thus far this winter, this squirrely character has been the box's one and only occupant.What do you think the odds are that this species of owl might drop by the yard for a visit?Not so good, I know...So it was a nice trip to see the SNOWY OWL. But what made the day even more enjoyable was seeing not one, but TWO GREATER WHITE FRONTED GEESE at Pickering Creek Audubon Center on the way home. Enjoy this photo montage of their precision flying.Those who've been around for a while refer to these geese as SPECKLE-BELLIES. I must be getting old because I'm starting to call YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS by their other common name: BUTTER-BUTTS. I expect that fairly soon I'll start referring to AMERICAN WIGEON as their older, more dignified name: BALDPATE.I know what you're thinking... you're thinking: I wonder where I could possibly learn more about funny, old, out-dated and obsolete bird names in North America?I thought so. I'm here to help. Please, go HERE.Food is always an interesting subject. As a matter of fact, I'm feeling a bit hungry right now.

I'm not so hungry that I would dive under the frigid waters of the Chesapeake Bay like this PURPLE SANDPIPER did at Thomas Point Park this past weekend.But if you'll notice, this submerged hunt for food proved to be well worth the bird's effort. Just look (close) at that delicious worm! It's like our Bay is nothing more than a bottle of fine tequila to this shorebird.This PURPLE SANDPIPER was a County Bird for me in Anne Arundel. I'd like to thank Marshall Iliff for posting news about his sighting on MDOSPREY.

County Birds make me hungry. Not so hungry that I'd eat an enormous fish skin like this GREAT BLUE HERON...But still, I'm pretty hungry. It's time to eat.

Have a great week!



dAwN said...

What a great post...funny, informative, wonderful photos and commentary...it was fun..
i saw the worm...
and i am sad that when we were in asseteague a few weeks ago we did not see the Snowy owl...bummer..

Sure that bird in your house is not a snowy in disguise? tee hee

Nikographer said...

That's cool, and yeah the post was funny... Lol. I've been reading so much about Snowy's lately, I'm hoping to get lucky and see one myself, this year, of all years... I missed one in Portland Maine by a day.

I've lurked on your blog a few times, saw the RSH release with Linda. Keep it up.

Oh, and I spoke to Curt yesterday at Blackwater, who I think went with you on the 22 person birding trip to Poplar Island. I think he enjoyed it.


Nikographer said...

p.s. that snowy looks like it could be mistaken for a big white cat!

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