Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Snowy owls are more diurnal then most owls.It makes sense that they would have to be active during daytime hours during the nesting season, which runs from may through September. During the summer daylight can stretch to over 20 hours per day. Birds that stay on the nesting territory during the winter would have to switch to nocturnal hunting because of lack of daylight during the winter. The primary prey of the snowy owl are lemmings. They will also eat other small mammals as well as ptarmigan and water fowl.
Occasionally there are mass eruptions of snowy owls down into Europe, Asia, or the United States. These typically occur because of a lack of food in their tundra territories. this lack of food can be caused by a bad year for the prey species, such as a decline in the lemming population due to disease, or it can be caused by a particularly good breeding season. as a ground nesting bird snowy owls can lay up to 11 eggs in a clutch. most years a snowy pair can not support that many chicks and some do not make it. On a good year where there is plenty of prey during the breeding season more chicks survive and when it comes time for them to go out on their own in the winter many head south to find food. This past winter was a huge snowy eruption in the US. Snowies were seen all the way down in Florida. Most of the snowies that I spotted were immature birds which suggests that it was a good breeding year for snowies. Unfortunately many of the snowies that came south will never make it back.
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
At the beginning of April I decided to take a short trip down to Nebraska to see the sandhill cranes. I had already been offered a job but since it took a while for the background check, drug test and all of the paper work to go through I decided it was the perfect time to head down to the Rowe Sanctuary. It had been many years since I last visited the sanctuary, I was still shooting film at the time, and typically the timing never seemed to work out. Either we were vacationing down south in late winter or we were heading to Yellowstone in May, either way it would be difficult to get away so close to another vacation. Since I was not starting work for another week I decided it would be a perfect time to go.
The Rowe Sanctuary is an Audubon sanctuary located in central Nebraska. It consists of 1900 acres of river channel, wet meadows and agricultural land along the Platte River. It is named for Lillian Annette Rowe who financed teh initial purchase of 782 acres back in 1974 to help protect the habitat for migrating cranes.
Wednesday, May 7, 2014
The peregrine falcon is the quickest animal in the world. Although they typically fly at speeds around around 40 - 55 MPH, which is slower then many birds and several mammals, they can hit speeds in excess of 200 MPH when hunting. Peregrines are bird eaters that frequently hunt by flying higher then other birds, over .6 miles and then dropping down on their prey in a dive called a stoop. In their stoop they can hit speed over 200 MPH with the fastest speed ever measured hitting 242 MPH. The peregrine has special adaptations that help it to fly at high speeds. The pointed shape of their wings makes them very aerodynamic. The also have posts in their nostrils, called nare baffles, that help to equalize the extreme air pressure associated with diving at these high speeds.