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Saturday, May 19, 2012

A Warbler, An Owl, and A Starling

Last week I got the chance to take another walk at Three Meadows Marsh, and it's amazing how much the bird life had changed in the few weeks since I was there last. This time, there wasn't a single duck, goose, or grebe in site on the lake. Most of the birds identified were heard rather than seen, with the highlight for me being my first yellow warblers (180) of the year. Other warblers heard were Wilson's, Townsend's, and common yellowthroat. There were cliff, barn, and violet-green swallows about, and both Pacific-slope and olive-sided flycatchers could be heard, as well. A resident of the area also pointed us in the direction of a Cassin's vireo nest in a madrone tree, and we were lucky enough to find it and see the bird on the nest! Unfortunately it was too high up to get a picture.

I also got to check on the barred owls with Katie again last week, and when we first got there we couldn't believe our eyes that the nest hole was empty! The owlets seemed to way too young to have fledged already, but where were they? It took me a moment to spot this one sitting ON TOP of the nest hole:

We did a little bit of research later, and found out that it's common for barred owl chicks to leave the nest and start crawling around a week or two before they actually start flying. These young owls are called "branchers" because they climb around on branches using their beaks and feet. I can't imagine how this guy was able to climb from the hole up to where he was sitting here, but I guess they can even climb up trees if they fall out of them. I hope the other two chicks weren't too far away, but we didn't see them!

Another impressive bird sighting I had this week was actually of a starling. At the end of my street there's a starling who perches in the same tree and sings, and while I know starlings are mimics, this is the most incredible mimicry I've heard. One day he imitated an olive-sided flycatcher, red-tailed hawk, and greater yellowlegs one right after the other. On other days I've also heard his American robin and killdeer impressions. I didn't have the right lens on the camera to get a closer photo of him, but I thought he deserved to have his picture shown, because I'm impressed:


eileeninmd said...

Adorable shot of the owlet.

Vera said...

I like that starling. What a character!

lesleyap said...

Great photo of the owlet! I really enjoyed your lecture on Orca calls a few weeks ago at the Marine Naturalist Training! Looking forward to perusing your blog.

Monika said...

Thanks lesleyap! I'm glad you enjoyed the talk. Hopefully I'll be posting more about orcas in the near future....