Monthly Archives: April 2012

Have you ever seen an Owlet?

“The owl that calls upon the night, speaks of the unbelievers fright”  ~William Blake

There is nothing more adorable than a baby right? The babies of some species are practically irresistible. I have long known this about goats (kids), ducks (ducklings) and kangaroos (joeys) but I think I may have found the cutest babies on the planet. Have you ever seen an owlet?

There are more than 130 species of owl worldwide, with approximately 19 of those found in North America. The smallest known species is the elf owl, some individuals stand only 5 inches or 14 centimeters tall, and the largest species, the great grey owl, sometimes measuring as tall as 33 inches or 84 centimeters.

Due to advances in science and technology, we are now discovering many new facts about this mysterious species. Cameras are recording their courtship, mating and nesting habits, and the average person can easily watch the entire process from egg to parent.

The following owl nest cams are a few of my favorites. All of them have young currently in the nest, in various stages.

Mel and Sydney – Barn Owls

Owlivia and Owliver – Barn Owls

Hoot, Toot and Tiny – Barred Owls

Baleef de Lente – Eurasian Eagle Owl

Ms Harvey – Great Horned Owl

 “I think everyone will remember the first time they saw an owl” ~Kim Kuska

The owl has long been both venerated and feared in many cultures around the world. Believed to have sinister supernatural powers, the carcass of an owl was once nailed to doors to ward off lightning and evil. In some Native American tribes, owl had particular significance as an omen of death, in others, a protective spirit.

One of the most striking features of any owl is the eyes. Owl’s eyes are not round, but tubular, which means they are unable to move them around as humans do. The eyes are large, and well adapted to low light conditions, as most owl species are nocturnal. To protect their eyes, owls have three eyelids, upper, lower and a third nictitating membrane which closes from inside to outside and moves diagonally. Though their eyes face only forward, their heads have the ability to turn as much as 270 degrees, allowing a very good view indeed.

It is no wonder they have been regarded with such superstition.

  “All primitive people are frightened of owls,’ said Harley. ‘The villagers here are scared to death of the gufo. Birds of ill omen. If they see one, they think they’ll die. But they never do. See one, I mean, of course,’ he added with a laugh.” ~Francis Brett Young, Cold Harbour

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Birds Eye View

 

 Voyeur  –  voi-yur  – nounan obsessive observer of sordid or sensational subjects.

Of all the many incredible and wonderful uses of technology, nest cams must certainly be among the most enjoyable. We live in an age when one can literally manage their entire life without leaving the house. It should come as no surprise then, that we have reached the point where it is possible for the general public to observe up close and personal, the goings on in the natural world, through well placed cameras which stream their content live 24 hours per day.

Every spring, during the nesting period, cameras are set up near known nesting sites and the observation begins. Universities, organizations and even the general public are able to share their nest cams with anyone who is interested. This year, there are a number of nest cams that I have been watching.

 

Great Blue Heron Nest Cam

The great blue herons nest is in a large dead oak tree in sapsucker woods in the middle of a pond. The tree has stood for over fifty years, and this particular pair of herons has been nesting there since 2009. Each year the pair have raised four young, and this year they have two eggs so far, and we hope, more to come.

 

Red Tailed Hawk Nest Cam

“Big Red” and “Ezra” are a pair of red tailed hawks who have been nesting on a light pole 80 feet above Cornell University’s athletic fields for four years now. The pair is banded, and estimated to be approx  6 and 9 years old. Currently there are three eggs in the nest.

 

Hummingbird Nest Cam

 This nest contains two tiny hatchlings. The nest itself is only about an inch and a half in diameter. Mom has been happily sitting on the nest, but frequently zips away to grab some food, so it is very easy to get a look at the young.

 

Peregrine Falcon Nest Cam

 In Columbus Ohio, the Dept of Natural Resources has placed this nest cam near the nest of a pair of falcons. The camera is accompanied by a blog which contains important updates and significant events, as well as various video clips and still photos.

Bald Eagle Nest Cam

This fantastic cam features a full view of two young eagles in the nest. The pair are still fluffy grey balls of downy fuzz, and the proud parents are working around the clock. The moderated chat is very informative and the site contains a wealth of information on the study and conservation of Bald Eagles.

 

It is interesting to note the sheer number of people logging in to check on the status of these nests. Some contain chats that run simultaneously beside the video, and the same names tend to pop up again and again.

Through these cameras we are able to see the entire life cycles of various species, from egg, to parents. We learn about nesting behaviour, courtship, mating, egg laying, pipping, fledging and more, all with a birds eye view. The birds don’t appear to notice, or care about the presence of the cameras. Having some foreign equipment suddenly appear at their nesting site has not discouraged them.

While watching nesting cameras is not a sport for the impatient soul, many feature additional previously recorded clips of major events, such as egg laying and pipping that can be watched after the fact for those who missed it live. Most camera watchers check in periodically to catch updates and see how things are going.

I can’t think of a better way to enjoy my morning coffee.

“I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.”  ~Henry David Thoreau

 

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