Fink Family Farm Bird List

Fink Family Farm Bird List

The only list I faithfully keep is a list of all the birds seen on our farm since we moved here in 1977. I thought it would be fun to ad...

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Barn Owl Stash

The following photos are not for those who squirm at the sight of dead things. They are of the inside of our Barn Owl nest box. We built a new goat barn over the last several years and tore down the old one this fall. We had put a box in the new barn when we first had the roof on and hoped the owls would move from their old nest box in the old barn to the new one in the new barn. One did lay 7 eggs in the new barn while construction was still going on. But apparently the noise and/or odors from fiberglassing the milk room was too much and the eggs were deserted. However, they raised a clutch in the old barn. Now they don't have that choice.

For the last month or more, an owl has been flying out of the nest box occasionally when we go up to feed from the loft morning or night. When it does, I climb the ladder and look in the box. Until last week, all I saw was an empty box. Last week, it appeared that there was something in the back corner plus some torn paper in the middle. (The box is made of cardboard. We replace it every two years or when it gets too dilapidated from the young owls playing trampoline on the top.)

Today an owl flew out when I started throwing hay down out of the loft for the goats. So I climbed up the viewing ladder. Then climbed back down to get a lantern as there was obviously something in the box. That something turned out to be lots of furry, dead rodents. If anyone can identify dead rodents, upside down and piled in a heap, please let me know. I suspected young rats as we do have some around that Johnny works on shooting nightly. (We don't use poison because of the owls.) But in past years, we've found mostly dead voles in and under the nest site. (If anyone wants to dissect the owl pellets, we have lots and they're free.)  I cannot reach inside the box from the top of the viewing ladder to bring the dead things out to identify (without great difficulty and fear of falling).
   (Laura McMasters has convinced me that they are voles. Our fields look like vole villages, especially after a snow melt. Voles girdle my baby trees, so I hope the owls keep up the good work!)

Above is the box and the mess inside with the barely discernible dead things in the back and on the left. The photos below show them closer, plus you can see the shredded cardboard. Who says Barn Owls don't make nests?

Below the spot in front of the nest box where an owl obviously sits are pellets. The tarp in front is what we use to cover the hay to keep whitewash and pellets off it.

The above photos are not nearly so cute as baby owls, so I'll add one I took several years ago. You can see the mess they are standing on.

I'll write an update if eggs appear.

Okay, finally an update. I forgot to write when we first saw eggs... four of them... on March 8. I'll try to remember to take my camera with me in case an owl flies out at night and I can scurry up the ladder and snap a photo. She doesn't stay out long so I haven't had a chance yet.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Eagles and a Rainbow

It's been a week for eagles here on the farm. For three mornings an adult Bald Eagle sat atop our big snag for several hours. On one of those mornings, between rain showers, he was sunlit... and accompanied by a rainbow. I grabbed my camera and tried to get them in the same photo but they were too far apart. Even when I only got a part of the rainbow with the eagle, the bird was too far away to be visible. Here is the eagle atop our snag.

A closer look...

And here is the rainbow.

The snag is behind the machine shop in this photo of eagle (invisible) and part of the rainbow.

The eagle was not impressed by the rainbow. Something on the ground caught its attention.

The majestic bird eventually flew off without finding any prey here. It has not returned for the last two days.

This morning, another eagle fly in... a juvenile, just one year old I would guess. Now look at the thin top of the snag that is next to the thick top where the adult eagle is sitting.

The young eagle tried to land on that skinny stick. Not once, but half a dozen times. Each time, a pair of mallards that had been frightened off our pond by my husband's sudden arrival at the barn, where I was milking goats, circled the eagle, flying as low, apparently, as they dared. The eagle failing to land on the skinny tip, flew out and circled back to try again. The mallards again flew over the eagle. I could only guess they were trying to scare it off. (Or maybe they were, like Johnny and me, laughing at the silly bird.) The eagle paid them no attention as it was apparently determined to land on that skinny stick. Each time the eagle tried to set down on the stick, the mallards circled around over its head. Finally the young bird gave up and flew to a nearby fir tree, where it landed on the very top, bending the tip of the tree. The mallards flew upstream and disappeared.  The young eagle soon left that unsteady perch and flew I know not where.

I have seen just-fledged Barn Owls have issues landing, but I have never seen an eagle, that surely must be nearly a year old, with so little awareness of how big a perch it needs. I wish I'd had my camera with me this morning.