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All the birds need to eat so I try not to get upset when I see a pygmy owl or an accipiter gazing at the feeder birds. Today there was a Merlin, a small falcon, quite a distance from the feeders, fifty meters or more, and all the little birds were gone for hours. A couple days ago I spotted a Cooper’s Hawk, an accipiter, in the same snag. I managed to digiscope some photos of it and then walked out of the room. I returned a few minutes later to find all the feeder birds gone and the hawk was right in the midst of the feeders. You can see she was intent on a meal of her own. I did not see if she caught anything when she blazed away.

Digiscoped pictures of the Cooper’s Hawk and the Merlin

Last month, as we longed for 2020 to end, I was inspired to put up a 2020 Christmas tree in the snow. It was a dead, burned pine from the 2014 fire. It had finally fallen over and I dragged it home through the snow and set it up where I could see it from the house. I even put a few decorations on it. It still stands out there. We also had a lovely evergreen inside the house.

Two days ago, as the dogs and I returned from a walk, I noticed something new in my tree. Not any bigger than my fist, it was a Northern Pygmy Owl. We were going to have to walk near it to get in the house and I was surprised that it didn’t leave its perch even though we were barely social distancing. My camera was inside ready for this moment. I have seen a pygmy owl here a couple of times in the last month and had hoped for a good opportunity to photograph it. Many others are seeing them here in the valley. I wonder if there is a bit of a pygmy owl irruption this winter? Last year I did not see any. Yesterday I saw one from the ski trail and couple weeks ago, I saw one while walking in the hills across the valley.

I saw it again late yesterday afternoon as dense fog rolled in. It was perched in a live pine with a fine view of the bird feeders. These tiny owls generally weigh less than 2 1/2 ounces and are ferocious predators, sometimes taking California Quail and Northern Flickers. The Cornell Lab has more info on Northern Pygmy Owls here.

 

I had a nice walk near the confluence of the Twisp and Methow Rivers last week. New snow blanketed the ground and the sun was shining brightly. Fortunately I remembered to bring some filters.

Yesterday was just lovely! Blue skies, new snow, sparkles everywhere. New snow makes the world seem fresh again.

Some days a person has to look harder to find the beauty.

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