Blog Archives

[Video] Swimming Bald Eagle

Have you guys seen this yet? It’s pretty wild. I’m not really sure what exactly is bobbing in the water, to be honest, but my best guess is a dead or dying fish.

Huge pectoral muscles that allow for flight also support limited swimming ability for these awesome raptors. Their talons may lock when they grab prey, and if the prey is too heavy to lift after the talons have locked, the eagles risk being drug beneath the surface of the water. Young eagles have been known to drown after being a little too ambitious with their choice of sushi! I’m wondering if perhaps this is what’s happened here, but the eagle definitely looks like he chose to swim on the last turn. Watching him go over and over again is exhausting – imagine how much energy this bird is expending trying to go after one meal!

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It’s NEST CAM season!

Wahh hoo! I love this time of year – since I’m stuck inside all day, I can vicariously get my nature fix by watching nest cameras. This year there are some particularly yummy ones. Check them out! If you know of any other cameras up and running, please leave them in the comments section.

Of course, my favorite, a hummingbird nest in a California rosebush. If you get a chance to see her eggs before they hatch, they’re approximately the size of small jellybeans. Here’s another cam, but I can’t locate info as to where the cam is or what species this is. Maybe Florida? The baby looks like a tiny echidna! …okayonemore.

Eagles in Decorah, Iowa. Here’s a clip of mom gently adjusting the eggs, then wiggling herself down over them so they’re nuzzled against her brood patch.

Big Red is a Red Tailed Hawk that happens to be nesting on the campus of Cornell University in Pennsylvania, famous for its ornithological research.

Here’s a gorgeous view of a Peregrine Falcon in Minnesota, and Barn Owls in California!

[Video] Lovely Owl Gets His Wee Head Scratched

I once knew a screech owl that liked to have the top of his head scritched; he would close his eyes and lean into you while you did it. I wish, oh, how I wish, that such fantastic music accompanied those moments as they do in this video. (Especially when they focus in on Mr. Grumpy Great Horned.)

I have no idea where this was taken, but the birds sure look happy and healthy, which pleases me substantially. Enjoy!

[Video] Slow-Mo of an Eagle-Owl

So apparently I have a thing for slow-motion predators, like last week’s shark video. This one is an eagle owl coming in for a landing, and at first it’s a little slow but don’t worry, the video is playing right. I prefer it with dramatic music in the background so if you have a favorite tune, play it while you watch. Pay particular attention to the incredible use of wings and tail for steering, and the beautiful ruffling of the wing tops as she comes in for a landing. After working for years with raptors, I could literally watch this all day…and then daydream about having one of my very own. So. Awesome.

(Check out vurtrunner’s youtube channel for more freaking awesome highspeed vids!)

[Video Links] It’s Nest Cam Season! Yippeee!

It’s that time of year again, when baby birds and their outstanding parents are caught on camera streaming live to we nerds! Here’s a selection of some very awesome ones (please excuse the strange commercials asserting that BP did its job in cleaning up the oil.):

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has a nestcam focused on a some barn owls in a nesting box. I love watching these birds do housework in prep for the (hopefully) forthcoming family. (Clicking on the “select a camera” drop down will allow you to also view the nests of bluebirds, a titmouse, and a Great Horned Owl.)

The Phoebe Allens camera is watching a hummingbird nest containing (so far) a single, jellybean-sized egg. (Scroll down to see the camera.) The ads and the random chat line in the sidebar were weird and distracting, but this little hummie is totally worth it. I just found this awesome article on how predatory our little buzzing friends are too, check it out! Seems like hummies need as much or more insect protein than nectar!

The Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group is watching a momma Peregrine Falcon sitting on her fluffy gray chicks.

Bald Eagles may be the most popular for raptor cams, so here’s three for you: Turtle Bay Exploration Park in California, the Eagles of Hornby Island, and this one from the Raptor Resource Project. Ahh! I’m watching the Raptor Resource one right now and dad just brought mom a big juicy fish and is chatting her up! (And for those of you who don’t know already, Bald Eagles don’t make that majestic scream they play in all the movies – that’s a Red-Tailed Hawk. In real life they sound like giant seagulls.) Watch the video below to see an eaglet bursting forth from its egg! (Ok, there’s no ‘bursting’ and it doesn’t actually get interesting until four minutes in and even then its siblings are walking all over it, but still! It’s BIRTH! New eagle LIFE!)

Now remember, if you get all attached to the babies (or the parents), you may in for some heartbreak as raptors often lose chicks before they’re grown. Besides that, please take a look at any or all of these cameras; what an incredible opportunity we have to see these animals in their natural habitat, performing natural wild behaviors with modern technology! It’s way better than watching the news. By a LOT.

Ahhh. I love nesting season. Happy Spring everyone!

[Video] Suzie Gilbert on Raptors

At the Nature Center we do a limited amount of raptor rehab. Last year we were able to successfully release three beautiful raptors after they healed from injuries. Suzie Gilbert is a passionate rehabber and this beautiful video tells a piece of her story. Enjoy!

If you’re interested in learning more about Suzie or raptor rehab, check out these two books, written by her:

“Flyaway,” by Suzie Gilbert.

“Hawk Hill” is out of print but clicking on the link will take you to its Amazon page, where you can purchase it used.

Do you have a local raptor rehab center? Post a link to them in the comments section so others can visit! Thanks for reading. :) GO RAPTORS!

[Bird Video Series] #4: Golden Eagle Flying Camera

This clip from the BBC features Steve Leonard and a gorgeous Golden Eagle named Tilly. Golden Eagles are gregarious enough to be glove-trained and are known for their use as hunting companions in Mongolia. The Golden Eagle is, in fact, used all over the world for hunting due in part to their ability to acclimate to human handling. Bald Eagles, on the other hand, have a reputation for being less tolerant of people.

Check out this great video footage of what it looks like to be a Golden Eagle. Some fun things to note are Tilly’s tail and how small adjustments are made to help navigate, and how she constantly makes small movements with her head to utilize her remarkable vision. Raptors like eagles have some of the best eyesight in the world, in part because they have two fovea per eye (humans have only one per eye) and a higher concentration of cells in those fovea. Enjoy!