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Tag Archives: Owl

Early last week I sat down to eat breakfast and noticed that I had a guest. Just outside the window was a Northern Pygmy-owl perched on the deck railing. So close I could almost touch the bird. These owls are very small – less than seven inches long with a wing span of twelve inches and weighing 2.5 ounces! They have false ‘eyes’ on the back of their head in order to confuse potential predators. They nest in tree cavities in conifer or deciduous forests in the mountains and move to lower elevation when the snow falls. They eat small rodents and songbirds as well as insects. This bird was watching my feeders where there were at least three types of finches to choose from – House Finch, American Goldfinch, Pine Siskins.

My breakfast got cold as I watched and photographed the owl. It didn’t mind when I moved around inside the house, trying to find a place where the windows weren’t too dirty. My camera was more interested in focusing on the dirty windows rather than the owl! Finally Sky noticed the owl and walked towards it with evident curiosity. At first the owl didn’t seem bothered by her but then she barked and the owl flew to a new perch.

Birding always brings something interesting. Sometimes when we go with expectations of seeing something in particular, our hopes are dashed when we miss it. But the search is always fun. Yesterday we went down to the Columbia River where it was warm and spring-like. Despite the warm temperature we did not see any swallows or bluebirds which have already made an appearance at my house. The water was calm and glassy giving us a beautiful background for the numerous waterfowl we observed. They are all in their spring plumage and the colors are brilliant in the strong sunshine – mallards, goldeneyes, canvasbacks and many more species were seen. We saw nests of Common Ravens and also Great-horned Owls. Bald Eagles, Northern Harriers and Red-tailed Hawks were paired up and some were cavorting in flight! We heard the songs of a Bewick’s Wren and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Western Meadowlarks sang in several locations.

We did have a target bird yesterday – Northern Saw-whet Owls. People have observed as many as five of them in the state park and we even knew which campsites to search for them. Unfortunately the state park staff was engaged in clean up with noisy machines – leaf blowers and leaf vacuums. We picked the group site to begin our search, as far from the machines as we could get. Two big evergreens seemed like likely candidates to shelter these tiny owls. We found the white wash we were looking for and even found pellets but could not spot a small owl. We began to take apart the pellets (a pellet is the part of the meal that is undigestable and is regurgitated onto the ground, usually composed of bones and fur) to entertain ourselves, making a tidy display of teeny little bones on a board.

Having had enough of fur and bones, we moved on to the rest of the campground despite the machinery. After a while I tired of that but Juliet kept looking while I went to the riverbank to see what I could see. I caught up with her at the last area, nearest where we had left the car as she was searching intently high in a dense tree with her binoculars. She said, it has to be here; look at this big white wash! I stood there and looked straght up into the tree and what did I see? A bird butt! I moved around and sure enough, there it was, a tiny Northern Saw-whet Owl looking down at me.


Small mammal bones



These bones are tiny. The jaw bone on the left is maybe half an inch long.



Small but ferocious



The owl was more interested in people farther away than us immediately under it.



It wanted us to leave so it could go back to sleep.



This is a Double-crested Cormorant skull, one of two that we saw on the riverbank.



Today I skied from Brown’s Farm to Mazama, had lunch and skied back; a distance of about 20k. For me it’s a good sk;, for others it’s just an average day. It’s a mostly flat stretch of the Community Trail along the Methow River. Along the way I was able to see quite a few interesting birds – a Belted Kingfisher, American Dippers, a large (200 plus) flock of Common Redpolls, Ravens, Mallards, Mountain and Black-capped Chickadees, Red-breasted Nuthatches, an unknown diving duck and a Northern Pygmy Owl. Soup at the Mazama store was Brazilian Black Bean served with avocado cream and salted baguette and quite satisfying. Temperatures were a little bit warmer, into the twenties today. Feels downright balmy after all the single digit days.


This dog is the official greeter at Brown’s Farm. I should know his name by now.



A gray day seemed perfect for black and white



The Methow River



Soup and bread at the Mazama Store.



I really, really need a longer lens for the little camera.



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