Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Birds of prey demo

When my friend and her hubby and four kids were here late last month, we went to a raptor display at the nearby Lancaster campground. It was put on by a wildlife educator from Little Ray's Reptile Zoo in Ottawa and was very well done. My friends' ten-year-old son is quite the junior naturalist, and also very polite. He chatted up the fellow from Ray's, who let Eli hold the baby barn owl and also enlisted his help during the performance.

**ALERT! If you're a delicate flower and/or you're eating, grab a barf bag/put down that sandwich before you look at the next pic.**

(There. I have done my duty.)

Nothing like the back end of a deceased rodent to fill up a baby owl's tummy! And what a cute young barn owl it is. As I recall, it was acquired from a raptor rehab centre somewhere in Ontario.

And here we have the wonderful turkey vulture. I happen to love turkey vultures and we have tons of them around here. I always make cracks when I see them circling over Gordon, my old fart husband. (Oh wait, he's four years younger than I am, so what does that make me? A fossil?)

Turkey vultures have great vision and an incredible sense of smell, and feeds mainly on dead things, aka carrion. More than once we have come across one in the road, feasting on roadkill. While kayaking at our place in Quebec, we saw one snacking on a dead skunk on the shoreline. Amazing how skunk stench carries across a lake!

Turkey vultures are often seen gliding for long periods without flapping their wings, as they ride the thermals.

And here we have a peregrine falcon, which young Eli knew is the fastest animal on earth, reaching speeds of up to 322 kmph/200 mph in a dive. When my hubby worked in an office tower in Toronto, he saw a peregrine take out a pigeon in an explosion of feathers. He has seen peregrines from his office tower near Ottawa as well. The prey dies instantly when a peregrine hits it at those speeds!

And this is the beautiful Harris hawk, which is not native to here but rather the southeastern USA (and parts of south America.) These birds will hunt in groups. Just a beautiful bird!

When baby barn owl's "performance" was done, he waited in a box in the zoo guy's car.

How cute is that?

Speaking of cute, I think I need to post more chicken photos. Last night I introduced the girls to fresh corn. Every time one of the girls grabbed a niblet, she'd run around the pen, peeping her head off, with the others in hot pursuit. I've noticed this behaviour when they catch moths or when I give them a mealworm, or even with a wood shaving that had a drop of yogurt on it (chickens LOVE yogurt... who knew?) Can anyone tell me why they do this? I can understand them running away with their prize, but they always start by making incredibly loud peeps that announce to the rest of the flock that they have something worth stealing! You'd think they'd just shut up and run!

Gordon is stopping at Petsmart tonight and picking them up some mealworms, so chicken bliss will ooze from the garage (because no, the chicken coop still isn't finished!) tonight.


  1. Hello Natalie,

    I work with your husband at Specific Claims and he introduced me to your blog. I just wanted to tell you that I log in regularly to read all your posts and get a real chuckle out of them. Thanks for putting up such an entertaining but thoroughly educational blog. I appreciate it very much! (I especially enjoyed your blog about your visit to Sri Lanka).


  2. Okay, gotta love that barn owl. My favourite birds...and a baby to boot!

  3. Mandy, thank you for the very kind words! I'm so glad you enjoy reading the blog. I never know who is really out there. :) It makes me happy to think of making others happy.

    Sri Lanka was great and we hope to go back in a few years.

  4. They are all beautiful birds, including the Turkey Buzzard... but that baby owl is so cute!

  5. I'm in love w/ that owl. I wish he could be my pet!

  6. Anonymous7:48 pm

    Oooooo the baby barn owl in the car .... that is WAY TOO CUTE!!!!

    The pic of the turkey vulture head and wing is GREAT!! beautiful.

    and let me venture a guess about the chickies' behavior ... perhaps they are not in competition but are really collaborative by nature and are discovering what's good to eat. their behavior might indicate to the others that what they are eating is WAY GOOD!! and that the others should try it / add it to their diets. Kinda like when we eat something delicious and cannot help making ooooooo and aaahhhhhhh noises. or in the case of the chocolate cake thing i had the day before yesterday, "OH GODDDDDDDD this is SOOOOO GOOODDDDDD" I mean, you cannot HELP making those sounds / comments!

  7. Well, that sort of make sense, but then the screamer gets tackled by the other chickens and its treat is stolen. It's hilarious, really.

    And I agree with you all, that baby owl is adorable.


Thank you for all your comments, which I love to read!