Sunday, October 12, 2008

Owl Release Party and October Bird Count

Last night, Michelle and I went to the Audubon's Owl Release party at Kruger's on Sauvie Island. 30-40 people showed up for the event. It was amazing! 4 Barn Owls had been left by the side of the road in a bucket. Someone found them and brought them to the Audubon Society. After almost 3 months of rehabilitation, 3 of the 4 birds were ready to be released back into the wild. The 4th Owl still needs some time to prepare and he will (hopefully) be released shortly. The Audubon does such amazing and incredible work and we are very proud to be members!

On another happy note, it is 12 days into our Great October Bird Count contest and we are having a blast. It's a lot fun to count birds anyway, but "competing" with other birders around the world to see how many backyard birds you get in the month of October makes it even more exciting. We are up to 27 species and still have a few regulars that have been absent so far.

So here are some photos of the Owl Release and then some from the backyard and as always, we hope you enjoy! Good birding and good luck to everyone in the Great October Birds Count!

Here is the group gathering at Kruger's last night about 5:30pm

One of the 3 Owls being released being held by one of the Audubon Care Center people.

They were incredibly gorgeous birds!

Here he is just as he was taking off for his first flight as a wild bird! Michelle and I both teared up as they were released. It was a pretty emotional event.

All 3 of them flew to a stand of trees nearby. They will stay there for a few hours until they get situated and then hopefully find a more permanent address.

As we were waiting for the release of the Owls, we took a short hike near one of the many fields at Kruger's. We were rewarded with this hunting male Northern Harrier.

We knew he was the male because of the black tips on his wings and the blue hue on his back. He was gorgeous and I wish I could have taken closer photos of him.

Also on our hike, we happened upon an American Kestrel pair hunting. The female was too far away for decent photos but the male let me get closer.

He then flew to this farm equipment in the middle of another field. He just sat there scanning the field for (I'm assuming) mice.

Now on to the yard...

We were watching birds the other morning when, all of a sudden, we heard the warning and alarm calls of several birds and then we saw the reason. A Cooper's Hawk had swooped into the yard.

He sat on the wire for a few minutes and then decided to move on. We then saw him flush, then chase, a rare Raven from a nearby conifer. What a great sight that was!

At one point, he swooped down onto a squirrel. He didn't take it but it scared the poor little squirrel to death!
The Red-Breasted Nuthatch letting me know it's time for me to make more suet!

Another Nuthatch found a snack late in the evening

They really like this "squirrel proof" feeder. It's just about the only non-suet feeder that they will visit. I put the words squirrel proof in quotations because, as anyone who has feeders knows, nothing is "squirrel proof".

The Pine Siskins have come back in force!

Pine Siskins are everywhere. They are even covering the tray in the back of the picture. Yesterday, we had about 150 Pine Siskins in the yard at one time. With all the other species in the yard, we had somewhere around 300 birds in the yard! It was so fun to watch.

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Rambling Woods said...

Wow..Great selection. There is a facility south of where I live that is raising to release barn owls as there aren't any in this area anymore. To see some released would have been a real treat for me. You have 27 species already..Again. Wow. This is only the 4th year for me to be watching or counting birds.

Beverly said...

Well, I'm only up to 19...but we may get snow tonight which might bring some of my 'winter regulars' down. I'm still sort of spooked by how quiet my feeders are!

By the way...tell me that ladder isn't a 'leg up' for the squirrels!

April said...

It would have been exciting to have been there when they released the owls. They sure look great, healthy and ready. Beautiful photos of all the birds and that fantastic feeding station which looks very busy. I love the picture of the Red-Breasted Nuthatch hanging upside down.

Kingsdowner said...

Great post!
Those Pine Siskins are incredible, and there must be safety in numbers with the Coopers Hawk around.

Cracking Nuthatch ;-}

Sandy said...

Fascinating post and the barn owl is so gorgeous!

Owlman said...

Love the Barn Owl pictures! Awesome series with some great birds.