Sunday, January 31, 2010

Bald Eagle Watching

This post will be short and sweet.
I am spending this weekend here eagle watching.
Sharing a few pictures from Saturday before heading back today.

Lock and Dam 14 on the Mississippi River in Pleasant Valley Iowa
is my favorite place to watch Eagles in the winter.

Soaring along the Mississippi

Honing in on a good catch.

Got it!

Another fine catch.

The eagles should be here through February if you don't have a chance this weekend.

A juvenile Bald Eagle scanning the Mississippi.

Another fine catch.

Visit my Smugmug Gallery to view a few pictures from last years visit.
I will be adding more from this visit soon.

Winter Photo note card #003

One of my favorite eagle shots from last years visit offered on this notecard at

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Hand Feeding Wild Birds

A delicious treat for the birds

My husband and I always stop to feed the birds on the way to my sisters house in Michigan. This visit I brought a special treat for them. It is called WaxSnax. I have been saving this delicious treat for our visit and was happy to see how much the birds loved it.

Our first visitor was this Downy Woodpecker. It is looking my husband in the eye before taking a treat from his hand. There are no words to describe the experience.

Here the Woodpecker chooses just the right WaxSnax.

We purchased WaxSnax from Duncraft. They are dried roasted waxed worms from wax bee moth larvae. They are high in fat and protein, a perfect winter treat for the birds. It is very easy to store this treat for the birds. It lasts a long time. Today we mixed the WaxSnax with black oil sunflower seed. It was a winning combination attracting four different birds to our hands today. Each bird ate both the WaxSnax and black oil sunflowers seeds during our visit.

The Tufted Titmouse likes what he sees .....

..and chooses a yummy WaxSnax.

The Black-capped Chickadee pushes a few seeds aside for the WaxSnax.

Here a White-breasted Nuthatch chooses a black oil sunflower seed.

Hmmm.... what to pick next?

We had a wonderful day with the birds!
Try this winning combination while hand feeding
or for backyard feeders you will be as happy as the birds.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wondering Wednesday

Brown Creeper
I watched this busy little bird creep up this tree while searching the crevices
then fly down to the bottom and start over several times before moving onto the next tree.

It was so busy looking for something to eat it didn't even notice me.
Very focused on what ever is under the bark.

I was able to creep up close enough to get a nice shot
of the camouflage pattern and texture of it's unique feathers .

It is winter. What is under that bark?
I wonder what kind of insect the creeper finds in January.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Common Goldeneye

On the Fox RiverJust one picture because they were on the other side of the river.
They always seem to be on the other side of the river when I visit.
I love this duck and hope to get a closer view of one soon.

Other birds seen on today's outing:
Male Cardinal
White Breasted Nuthatch
Downy Woodpecker
Red bellied Woodpecker
Mallard duck
Brown Creeper

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Give a HooooT

Baby owls of Northern Illinois University
Part Two
I have had the pleasure of watching Great Horned Owls nest and fledge in my area for the past few years, the reason this is my passion bird. My definition of passion bird is the bird that changes your interest in birdwatching from mild interest into a passion.

In my previous Great Horned Owl Post: The Inside HooooT, I shared my behind the scene experiences viewing the determination it took for Great Horned Owlets to leave the security of their nest. Mama weened them by only feeding outside the nest. If they wanted to eat, they needed to fly and fly they did. I am happy to say that all owlets fledged successfully.

Watching the newly fledged owlets embracing life outside the nest was was an incredible experience. I love the photo below because it really shows what a big world it is out there for this little owl.

Image available in Nature-ally Beautiful Cards Great Horned Owl Boxed Set

Warmth and security are gone. This vulnerable fledgling takes a nap in wide open branches near the empty nest. Mama is watching out for the baby on a branch nearby.

Crows and Owls are natural enemies. Mama stands firm. She is not intimidated. The crow knew just how close she could safely get and did not cross that line. It left the scene after testing the waters.

Wide eyed and ready to take on the world.

While learning to adjust to the world outside it's nesting cavity, these adorable Great Horned Owl fledglings found themselves in many interesting positions and predicaments. Their wings got in the way often. Branches posed a problem for the owlets as they learned to maneuver their way through the tree tops. At one point one of the owlets found itself hanging upside down. It's claw was stuck on one of the branches. It was quite adorable to watch. The owlet wriggled for a bit then just hung there, attached to the branch, by one claw, upside down.
Calendar available at (size 11x17 inch vertical)

Finally the owlet relaxed. It's foot came free and within seconds it hit the ground.

Slightly bewildered the owlet looks up. Now how to get back in those trees.

It was a long way up with many angles to consider.

The owlet walked around surveying it's surroundings, looking for just the right angle back up. The woodland patch within the University is about the size of a football field. There are two parking lots, a road with 20mph speed limit and a building surrounding this area. Three out of four unsafe choices for the owl to venture into. The owlet was getting dangerously close to the parking lot. Luckily a professor came to work shortly after it had fallen from the trees. He was used to this from past experience and grabbed a large stick. He put it on the ground as near to the owl as it would allow. The baby stepped up onto the branch.

The professor and my husband then each took an end of the stick and walked the owl over to a nearby tree.

The owl jumped from the branch to the tree and all was good in the world.

The babies fell often, we only helped when one was heading toward the street or parking lot.
They soon began to make it up in the trees independently.

After we put this one back in the tree, the owl became very social.

The little guy really cheesed it up.

Like a little comedian, the branch it's stage.

Finally exhausting himself.

A few views of the small woodland area within the University.

A large rotting tree branch lay on the pathway near their nesting tree.
An owlet sat here comfortably for hours one afternoon after one of it's falls.
I hid behind another tree and watched the baby for hours.
It's reaction to people that passed by was interesting and quite adorable.

As my husband approaches on the path the young owl fans it's feathers out
to appear much larger. It is an attempt to intimidate him.

The owl also clacks it's beak repeatedly as he passes ... more intimidation.

The owl appears relieved thinking it's tactics worked on my husband.

A front view of it fanning it's wings out.

It was really humorous to watch people as they passed the owl too.
I found it interesting how many people just walk ... not paying attention to their surroundings to their point of destination. I am guilty myself of this, which is probably why I found it interesting and then humorous.

A back view of the wing fan.

Think about how you might react if you were on your way to work or class in go mode. Then something, a creature in your peripheral vision suddenly puffs out it's feathers and starts loudly clacking at you. How do you think you might react? Would you scream? Jump? Run? Or Laugh?

The reactions of the people who passed:
Almost every woman that passed was startled and did not hesitate to move away as quickly as possible. Each of these women made at least a five foot radius between themselves and the owl as they passed. It was hard not to giggle. I would have too. The men that passed were all startled, one screamed. But for the most part they all stopped for a moment to laugh at themselves for being startled (they looked around to see if anyone noticed that something startled them, then continued on.) One man even pulled out his phone and took a quick picture after laughing at himself for jumping.

Sometimes life's most remarkable experiences are right around that peripheral corner.

Birds and Blooms Extra November 2009 Issue

Great Horned Owl images by Debbie Miller available now in 2010 Calendars,
Journals and more through

Nature-ally Beautiful Cards offers two Great Horned Owl boxed set options:

8 pack 016 Owl Set and 8 pack 017 Owl Set

A collection of my Great Horned Owl photography

is also available in my smugmug gallery.