Category Archives: Birds of Prey

Birds of Prey

More Photos from our WWNP group trip to Montezuma NWR

To view the intial article and photographs, click here.

All of our ‘Wildlife Watchers and Nature Photographers’ [WWNP] group who went to the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge [NWR], near Seneca Falls, New York, are welcome to submit photographs for this gallery  (as in please do so!)

 Bald Eagle (immature), by Kathy Fenna. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

Bald Eagle (immature), by Kathy Fenna. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bald Eagle (adult), by Andrea Burke. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

Bald Eagle (adult), by Andrea Burke. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bald Eagle in flight, by Anrea Burke. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

Bald Eagle in flight, by Anrea Burke. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Osprey at nest, by Kathy Fenna. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

Osprey at nest, by Kathy Fenna. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Osprey by Andrea Burke. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

Osprey by Andrea Burke. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Northern Harrier (female) in flight, by Andrea Burke. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

Northern Harrier (female) in flight, by Andrea Burke. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Song Sparrow, by Andrea Burke. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

Song Sparrow, by Andrea Burke. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lesser Yellowlegs, by Andrea Burke. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

Lesser Yellowlegs, by Andrea Burke. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red-winged Blackbird (male), by Andrea Burke. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

Red-winged Blackbird (male), by Andrea Burke. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red-winged Blackbird. Esther Kowal-Bukata. Copyright, 2014. All rights reserved.

Red-winged Blackbird. Esther Kowal-Bukata. Copyright, 2014. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red-winged Blackbird. Esther Kowal-Bukata. Copyright, 2014. All rights reserved.

Red-winged Blackbird. Esther Kowal-Bukata. Copyright, 2014. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

Andrea Burke. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

Andrea Burke. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

And last but not least, by Andrea Burke, Snow Geese in flight (1). Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

And last but not least, by Andrea Burke, Snow Geese in flight (1). Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snow Geese in flight (2), by Andrea Burke. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

Snow Geese in flight (2), by Andrea Burke. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snow Geese. Esther Kowal-Bukata. Copyright, 2014. All rights reserved.

Snow Geese. Esther Kowal-Bukata. Copyright, 2014. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As requested above, if other members of the group have photographs they would like to include in this post we would be very pleased to add them.  Please re-size them to 600 pixels on the long side and e-mail them to me, as attachments, via:  wwnp[AT]eddiewren[DOT]com — simply replace the [AT] and the [DOT] with the correct symbols.

  • To go back to the original article and photographs, click here

Eddie

WWNP group visit to the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge [NWR], Seneca Falls, NY

Today’s WWNP group visit to the Montezuma NWR in the Finger Lakes region of New York State was a gem, both in terms of the weather and the 41 bird species seen.

About half of the group when we first arrived

About half of the group when we first arrived

When we arrived, about 8:00am, the sun was in a cloudless sky but there was still a fairly significant frost lying and large areas of the ponds were still under ice.  Initially we all went on the ‘Wildlife Drive’ around the Main Pool, which turned up a wealth of waterfowl, a solitary wader (lesser yellowlegs) and countless industrious muskrats.  After that, our five cars went their separate ways to various viewing areas and we re-grouped at noon, for lunch and a laugh, followed by a second trip around the preserve.

Trumpeter Swans. Copyright 2014, Eddie Wren, all rightes reserved.

Trumpeter Swans. Copyright 2014, Eddie Wren, all rightes reserved.

 

Northern Harrier (female). Copyright 2014, Eddie Wren, all rightes reserved.

Northern Harrier (female). Copyright 2014, Eddie Wren, all rightes reserved.

 

Lesser Yellowlegs. Copyright 2014, Eddie Wren, all rightes reserved.

Lesser Yellowlegs. Copyright 2014, Eddie Wren, all rightes reserved.

The birds seen were:

  • Trumpeter Swan
  • Snow Goose
  • Canada Goose
  • Green-winged Teal
  • Blue-winged Teal
  • Mallard
  • American Black Duck
  • Northern Pintail
  • Northern Shoveller
  • Gadwall
  • American Wigeon
  • Ring-necked Duck
  • Greater Scaup
  • Bufflehead
  • Hooded Merganser
  • Ruddy Duck (David G.)
  • Pied-billed Grebe
  • Double-crested Cormorant
  • Great Egret (Susan W.)
  • Osprey (at nest sites and flying)
  • Bald Eagle (including a surprising group of 11 immatures)
  • Northern Harrier
  • Red-tailed Hawk
  • American Kestrel
  • American Coot
  • Sandhill Crane
  • Killdeer
  • Lesser Yellowlegs
  • Ring-billed Gull
  • Herring Gull
Bufflehead (male). Copyright 2014, Eddie Wren.  All rights reserved.

Bufflehead (male). Copyright 2014, Eddie Wren. All rights reserved.

  • Rock Pigeon
  • Mourning Dove
  • Eastern Kingbird
  • Blue Jay
  • American Crow
  • Tree Swallow (migrating flock)
  • American Robin
  • European Starling
  • Song Sparrow
  • Red-winged Blackbird
  • Common Grackle
Muskrat. Copyright 2014, Eddie Wren.  All rights reserved.

Muskrat. Copyright 2014, Eddie Wren. All rights reserved.

If anyone who was with us at Montezuma has any more species’ names that need to be added to this list, please just let me know.

Similarly, would all the photographers who were in the group — i.e. most of you! — kindy forward two or three of your best shots to me so we can make a gallery of the day’s images that aren’t just by Andrea and I…. please!  {:-)

Speaking of Andrea, she has already sent me some great photos which I will be posting as soon as I can on page two of this day’s write-up and these will then be linked here.

  • Gallery of photos by Kathy Fenna, Esther Kowal-Bukata and Andrea Burke: click here

Eddie — 6 April, 2014

Great Horned Owls — Nesting Right Now!

Here in North America, where much of the continent is battling ice, snow and bone-chilling cold, this may seem like a very bad time of year for a bird to nest. But to the great horned owl, February is the ideal month to breed, nest, incubate eggs and rear young….

Read the full article here, from the National Wildlife Federation.

Snowy Owls in Western New York, January 2014

On 26 January, 2014, Gerry Rising had an article published in the Buffalo News in which he wrote that, remarkably, he has received over 100 reports of snowy owls in the Western New York region, this winter.

Snowy Owl. Copyright 2013, Andrea Burke

Snowy Owl. Copyright 2013, Andrea Burke

As one might expect, this hasn’t been a result of all the snowy owls in the arctic agreeing that they wanted to come and see Niagara Falls during their winter vacation, it’s just that far more owls than usual have come south this year and it would appear that everywhere is getting higher numbers of these beautiful visitors than is usually the case.

Snowy Owl. Copyright 2014, Jennifer Grande

Snowy Owl. Copyright 2014, Jennifer Grande

The increased number of owls, this winter, is the result of a periodic surge that happens every few years in the numbers of lemmings in the arctic, and this took place last summer.  It is a simple equation: more lemmings means more young owls getting enough to eat and therefore surviving.  This results in an ‘irruption’ in which the species is seen across a much larger winter migration area than is usually the case.  The downside of such surges in numbers is that in the coming few months, when the owls get back to the arctic, there inevitably will be fewer lemmings and the breeding success of the owls will fall once more, in line with that situation.

Snowy Owl. Copyright 2013, Andrea Burke

Snowy Owl. Copyright 2013, Andrea Burke

In the book Owls of America, by Frances Backhouse, there is a very interesting map showing the typical winter distribution of snowies.  Only two regions in the USA are marked as getting some of the owls every winter.  One of these areas, as keen birders in this area know, is New England and New York.  The second is the Dakotas and Montana region.

Snowy Owl. Copyright 2014, Jennifer Grande

Snowy Owl. Copyright 2014, Jennifer Grande

By comparison, the breeding distribution – which is also shown on the map – is much more limited than I had anticipated.  For example, only the areas near the north west and north east coasts of Alaska is marked. I had wrongly assumed for example that most, if not all of Alaska would be part of their breeding range, but that is not the case.  Similarly, only the far-northern coastal area of Canada supports breeding, not the entire tundra zone.  Even in Greenland, according to the map – and just like Alaska – only the areas near the north west and north east coasts are in the breeding range.

Snowy Owl. Copyright 2014, Jennifer Grande.

Snowy Owl. Copyright 2014, Jennifer Grande.

Excerpt from ‘Owls of America’:     “Snowy owl numbers fluctuate dramatically.  Reproductive highs and lows [as stated above] are closely tied to lemming population peaks and crashes.  Long-term population trends in North America are not known.  Recent research showing some movement of snowy owls between Alaska and Russia suggests that conservation efforts should be co-ordinated internationally.”

One other interesting thing about snowies is that unlike most other species of owl in the world, males and females have different plumage and can be told apart.  Old males can be almost pure white, whereas females are moderately to heavily barred with black, and juveniles have the darkest markings.

Snowy Owl. Copyright 2013, Andrea Burke

Snowy Owl. Copyright 2013, Andrea Burke

Personally speaking, I have had back problems throughout this winter, and although the precise cause is now known and a cure is in sight, this has meant that I have been immobile and have not been able to go and see the owls.  I believe the appropriate, exasperated expression is: “Grrrrr!”

The reason I have posted this article is to accompany photographs taken during the past few weeks by members of our Wildlife Watchers and Photographers (WNY) group.  I hope you all enjoy the pictures as much as I have.  (And any members who have not yet submitted photos of “their” snowies, please do so and I will add them to a gallery on this page.)

Eddie Wren

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 Anyone in the Western New York region who is interested in joining the Wildlife Watchers and Photographers (WNY) group, please e-mail the owner of this blog and introduce yourself.

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Keywords: snowy owl, Bubo scandiacus, Andrea Burke, Jennifer Grande, Eddie Wren, Western New York, WNY, birds, Buffalo News, Gerry Rising, Frances Backhouse, Owls of America, migration, plumage, range, winter, arctic, lemmings, birding, wildlife, nature, USA