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Monday, April 26, 2010

Ready to Fledge

A buddy of mine recently tipped me off to a really photogenic Great Horned Owl nest along an Open Space trail NE of Boulder, CO. I scouted it on a cloudy day between deluges last week but had better light on my visit today. All of the regular joggers and walkers (with or without dogs) seemed to know about the owls & I lent several my bins for a better look while I was there. I also knew where to find a sleeping adult by other pedestrians pausing farther down the trail and peering into the woods- after I arrived it only briefly opened its eyes as a few crows cawed nearby before shutting them again. Well used to the daily stream of humanity, the urban owls (youngsters and nearby adults) were relaxed and didn't mind another loitering hominid, even one toting a long lens. The nest site, a hollow-topped cottonwood snag, afforded a neat setting without obscuring branches or too much of an upward angle. I'd say the owlets, especially the larger one that decided to do some stretching and scratching for me (my, what big talons you have), is about ready to plunge out into the world any day now. After leaving the nest, juveniles typically hang around nearby for a while as so-called "branchers", still depending on the adults to feed them. But branchers can be harder to find and photograph, so I'm glad I caught these two still in the nest!

Friday, April 09, 2010

Shake Hands with Sage

A Sage Sparrow dropped out of a recent April snowstorm 4 days ago at Lagerman Reservoir, only about 5 minutes from my SW Longmont, Colorado home. Apparently it likes it there because even though the weather has turned back to sunny and mild, it is still hanging out as of this morning. I watched it for about an hour a couple of evenings ago, sitting on a low rock along a pathway where it was foraging. I was rewarded with some stunningly close looks and at one point I wondered if it might even jump in my lap! I could hear its bill clicks and the cracking sounds of the seeds it was demolishing along with the occasional small beetle or worm for relish. It payed virtually no attention to me and the only things that alarmed it were the loud calls of nearby Killdeer and the low flyover of a pair of American Avocets, which sent it scurrying for cover under a dock at the boat ramp. Needless to say, I ended up having photo phrenzy over this engaging, obliging little chap.