Posts Tagged 'owls'

Superb Owl

This may be a rat claw.
One of several found in this pellet. Pellets are regurgitated hair/feathers/bones/etc. that get spit up by predatory birds.
More claws in this pellet, found a day earlier elsewhere.
Also full of claws. Again, possibly rat. Owls tend to gulp their prey whole-hog, but I’ve seen American Kestrels and Cooper’s swallow the feet of their bird prey, tiny little toenails and all, business end up, meaning they go down the hatch with the points facing out.
This pellet, much smaller, may have came from a Saw-whet. One or more has been seen locally this winter, although not by me. This pellet was all hair.
This beast, like the larger ones above, surely didn’t come from a Saw-whet, though.
And here’s another, found already scattered like this. Some rodent jaws, with those long, long teeth. A bit cold to extract them today, but here’s one from a year ago. I’m intrigued by the pinkish thread bits.

Other birds produce pellets: raptors, gulls, corvids, cormorants, kingfishers.


Looks like feathers.
Some bone fragments.
These are pellets hawked up by various birds. The above three photos were all taken in rather close proximity, but under different trees. Examples in the third picture were found all bunched up like this. Too small for Great Horned, too big for Saw-Whet.
Owl pellets are the most famous, but diurnal raptors and others others spit them up, too. Here are some I suspect are from a Belted Kingfisher.
This one has seed husks in it.
I wonder if these are Saw-whet. There were a few more besides these under this tree.
Same batch, but with a flash.

Superb Owl Sunday

The Blue Jays bought me here.
This was a sighting in late September.

In October, I found a single Great Horned Owl feather, its down all entangled so that it flew like a flag.

Imagine, at night, the silent sweep of one of these large birds while the traffic grunts and vomits a few hundred feet away.

Swoop down on this and click it for all the owls on this blog.

Full disclosure: I don’t watch the Stuporbowl. Less than ten minutes of sportsball, actual play, over four hours of advertising? Are you kidding me?

And beyond the zombie-spectatorship, I want no part of a sport that maims players with brain damage in a gladiatorial spectacle. I won’t support an implicitly (and explicitly, when it comes to Colin Kaepernick) racist enterprise run by billionaires and Trumpist oligarchs. Meanwhile, the KC “Chiefs” mean red-face will be on ample display tonight. To be fair, the 49ers are named after genocidists.

Did you see where the New Orleans Saints are fighting in court to prevent the release of hundreds of emails sent back and forth between team executives and the local Catholic archdiocese? This business may have been conspiring with the enablers of child abuse, protecting “holy men” rapists. This is not my national event.

Earth Day

This beat-up skull comes courtesy of a Great Horned Owl. The owl chomped this down and then spit it back up after the bird’s battery acid stomach had a go at it. I think these might be the remains of a Grey Squirrel skull. Found with plenty of grey hair smushed into the cavities. Cleaned up a bit with toothpick and hydrogen peroxide, but it was already virtually bleached by the owl. Check out these incisors and molars.


Forty-nine years since the first Earth Day. Here are forty years of measurable transformations in migrating birds: a new study finds warmer temperatures are decreasing body size and increasing wing length.


For the ninth anniversary of this blog, some Great Horned Owl.January 26.February 3. (The hollering Blue Jays abated for a moment.)(But only a moment.)February 10. For three weekends, vocal Blue Jays have pointed their piecing calls to a roosting Great Horned Owl. Different trees each time. Given that 9 out of 10 times, the Blue Jays seem to be screaming for no discernible reason, this has been amazing. In this last instance, the Jays were going at it when a Red-tailed Hawk flew into the scene, to perch briefly about parallel to the owl, before flying off. 

The very first post here.

The very next post after that, with the plan of attack.

Mammal Monday

Wait, what?This gruesome sight greeted me recently not very far from where a roosting Great Horned Owl was being yelled at by Blue Jays. Suspicion isn’t evidence, but caching of prey is something these big owls do. Especially in nesting season. The male has to hunt more than usual since the female spends so much time on the nest; these birds are some of the earliest to nest and they have to be vigilant about keeping the eggs warm in late winter.

A couple of sources note that the owls will sit on frozen prey to thaw it out.

Red-tailed Hawks will also cache food. So will American Kestrels. I’m sure many other species do, too, but these are the ones I’ve seen do it. And I don’t know if there’s more than one Great Horned Owl here.

Superb Owl Sunday Extra Point

Blue Jay points the way. Or, more accurately, calls “jay! jay! jay!” to the way.I heard the Jays from afar. Couldn’t see anything in the tree, so I walked underneath it to look for owl sign (whitewash or pellets) or feathers from a raptor kill. Nothing but cones and raccoon poop. Well, Jays do yell a lot, sometimes at us. Moving on, I looked back when the Jays again took up their “heads-up” shouting. I think this one had been watching me the whole time.

My bet’s on the Owls tonight. As of this writing, I don’t even know which plutocrats’ teams are on TV, where less than ten minutes of play — that is, the football in actual motion — are surrounded by something like four hours of commercials! A whole class of people claim to only watch it for these ads. Are they entirely beyond hope?

Superb Owl Sunday Halftime Show

Some large owl pellets spotted recently in the Borough of Kings.Considering I previously saw a Great Horned Owl in this tree, it’s a good bet these belong to that critter, although I saw no sign of the bird when I found these.To recap, owls gobble their food whole or in chunks — bones, fur, feathers, and all. The indigestible parts are spit back up in these pellets. Other raptors, gulls, kingfishers, etc., also hawk up pellets, but owls are best known for the practice. Last year, we watched the #BrooklynKestrels gag up a few. It takes a while.

Superb Owl Sunday Kick-off

On the next to last day of 2018, we saw three Saw-whet Owls in Central Park.I’ve been saving them for today, international Superb Owl day, which transforms something toxic and commercial (“Superbowl”) into something delightfully non-corporate and much, much shorter.It’s been a bumper winter for Saw-whets here in the city, but in a sad way: seven or so ended up at the Wild Bird Fund, the avian rescue center in Manhattan.

These are our most common owls. Small and nocturnal, they usually slip through the cracks of our lumbering perception. But they don’t necessarily slip through the glass of our hardscape.

Nice little evergreen catalog here, too: pine, holly, yew.

Click here for all the Superb Owls on this blog. Tune in again this afternoon and evening for more S.Os. (Sure beats the Stupor Bowl on TV.)

Here’s the ABA code of ethics for birding.

Superb Owl

Bubo virginianusA Great Horned Owl on a recent winter day.

(For completists, there actually is a Lesser Horned Owl, found in southern South America.)

Click here for more superb owls.

Faux superb owl… and friends.


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