Wildlife Photos: Rare owl visits rooftop in Norfolk

Last week, a rare snowy owl paid a brief visit to East Beach in Norfolk, where one also touched down a couple of years ago.I heard from Monnica O’Connor, Karen Strathmann and Mercedes Casanova, who saw the almost all-white owl perched on rooftop in the Bay Breeze Point section of East Beach. Both Strathmann and Casanova sent photos.Joellyn Cohen in Hunt Club Forest sent a wonderful photo, taken by her husband Bob Seemueller, of a determined female bluebird taking off to spar with the “intruder” in Cohen’s kitchen window. “Yesterday, she did this literally hundreds of times in succession, then would rest and start all over again,” Cohen said. Though you see male birds do this more often, it is a territorial thing. The bluebird is fighting her image in the glass because she thinks she sees a rival! The behavior stops when a mate comes around and the two settle into the nesting season.Jonathan Snyder photographed a male Eurasian wigeon and a female American wigeon flying over Lake Joyce. Usually every year, at least one male Eurasian wigeon takes up winter residence in Virginia Beach, and this year it appears that Lake Joyce is its lake of choice. Eurasian males have cinnamon-colored heads, while American males have a shiny green stripe from the eye down the back of the neck. Females of both species are more similar, though the Eurasian female is duller all over than the American.Steve Daniel in Lark Downs photographed a “handsome” bluebird dining on his suet wreath.Lynne Lindsay in Little Neck reports that a pair of bluebirds is testing out one of her bird boxes this year. She worries a little that it is a box that is usually occupied first by chickadees that are always ousted by aggressive house wrensm which also kill the chickadee young. She wonders how the bluebirds will a fare. Does anyone have any suggestions?Laurie Sudo sent a photo of a beautiful albino squirrel that has been seen around the Continue Reading

Winter birding in Wisconsin delivers sightings of snowy owls, eagles and more

Several great horned owls live in the woods near my home in Middleton. Many a winter evening, they sing me to sleep with their “whoo-hoo-o-o, whoo” calls, which are sometimes transliterated as “Who’s awake? Me too.”I’ve never seen them, though, because they are usually nocturnal and hunt at night. But there are plenty of other birds flitting about in Wisconsin during the daylight hours from December through March, when hundreds of other feathered creatures have flown to warmer climes. There are also the migrants, such as the snowy owl, that come to Wisconsin from Canada. The locals that stick around include pine siskins, goldfinches, tufted titmice, downy woodpeckers, chickadees, northern cardinals, blue jays, robins, screech owls and red-tailed hawks. There’s also the always popular bald eagles, which often congregate near Sauk City on the Wisconsin River or over on the Mississippi River below dams.Carolyn Byers, education director for the Madison Audubon Society, called winter “a phenomenal time to bird because the character cast is reduced and the ones that stick around are very active.”She said eagles are probably the most popular birds to observe because they are “big, charismatic and fun to watch, especially in the cold-weather months.”The eagles' main foods are fish, so they gather near open water. They also hang out near ice fishermen because anglers throw fish and gut piles on the ice.Byers said Wisconsin is blessed with many great places to bird during the winter. Around Madison, she recommends Picnic Point on the University of Wisconsin campus, the Arboretum, Cherokee Marsh, Pheasant Branch Conservancy (where my great horned owls live), Devil’s Lake, Governor Dodge State Park and Horicon Marsh.“Birding is a great reason to get out when the weather is chilly and you need some motivation,” said Byers, who noted that people can also find Continue Reading

Why do my kids act like angels at school and like wild things at home?

Q: How should I view the differences in my kids' behavior at home vs. school? The level of chaos and noise at home is really wearing on me. We have a kindergarten-age daughter and a 3-year-old son in full-time day care/school. They have always gotten similarly glowing reports from school. Both are a bit shyer than average and fairly sensitive. Much of what the teachers report is in line with what we see, but the children don't listen to us the way they do their teachers. Life at home with them feels extremely loud and chaotic and constantly full of gigantic emotions. There is so much wrestling and climbing and shouting of animal noises. They not infrequently burst into dramatic tears at the word no. We feel we still hold the boundaries that matter most of the time, but these reactions make me question that. At home, the kids are just very intense. It's not helped by the fact that we have a sweet but big, obnoxious dog and three cats. I can feel the stress hormones coursing through my body when I'm trying to cook dinner while stepping on cats and shoving the dog off the counter as the kids are climbing on the furniture in superhero capes, making snowy-owl noises. I don't know what to do about it, or whether I should just focus on my own reaction to it. A: Oh boy. I hear you, loud and clear. Just reading the description of your happy family made me feel tired and a bit stressed. It's a lot. You are not imagining it, and you are not just overreacting. And yet it all sounds pretty normal. You are the parent of a 5-ish-year-old and a 3-year-old, and those are intense years. There is tremendous "emergent growth" happening. That means both of your children are at a developmental place where they are becoming true individuals. The 3-year-old loves his new body; for the most part, it does exactly what he wants. All the fine and gross motor skills are coming together, and his imagination is as creative as it will ever be. Jumping off the couch as a snowy owl? Yes. Superhero Continue Reading

Owls fascinate local nature enthusiasts

Tereasa NimsHearst Michigan Published 12:47 am, Thursday, February 1, 2018 window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-4', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 4', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); Image 1of/4 CaptionClose Image 1 of 4 Joanne Williams of the Wildlife Recovery Association offers an up-close view of Big Red, an eastern screech owl, which is common in mid-Michigan. (Tereasa Nims/Hearst Michigan) Joanne Williams of the Wildlife Recovery Association offers an up-close view of Big Red, an eastern screech owl, which is common in mid-Michigan. (Tereasa Nims/Hearst Michigan) Image 2 of 4 Barb Rogers, of the Wildlife Recovery Association, holds a barred owl, one of four types of owls common to the mid-Michigan area. (Tereasa Nims/Hearst Michigan) Barb Rogers, of the Wildlife Recovery Association, holds a barred owl, one of four types of owls common to the mid-Michigan area. (Tereasa Nims/Hearst Michigan) Image 3 of 4 A rescued snowy owl is shown moments before its release from the Wildlife Recovery Association. Snowy owls are being seen more often in the area this winter. (Photo provided) A rescued snowy owl is shown moments before its release from the Wildlife Recovery Association. Snowy owls are being seen more often in the area this winter. (Photo provided) Image 4 of 4 Owls fascinate local nature enthusiasts 1 / 4 Back to Gallery When Homer Barnes was out for a walk in early January, he came across a perched barred owl. Barnes then found a log to sit on and watched as the owl rested in the open woods for nearly two hours before it flew away. "I didn't know what kind of owl it was until I went home and researched it," Barnes said. "But it was a beautiful sight." Jeanne Henderson, an interpretive naturalist at the Chippewa Nature Center in Midland, said mid-Michigan Continue Reading

See live owls at Quogue refuge

A screech owl sits on the hand of an owl handler at Quogue Wildlife Refuge. Photo Credit: Kevin Ferris By Jim Merritt Special to Newsday January 16, 2018 9:22 AM Quogue Wildlife Refuge is spotlighting a species of wildlife that’s rarely seen — but sometimes heard — on suburban Long Island. At the /Live Owls! presentation, three owls from the refuge’s wildlife complex will be blinking, craning their necks and maybe even hooting for the crowd. “Our program is to help inform the public about our native species of owls on Long Island, about their habitats, their diet, where you can find them, as well as ways people can potentially help” the birds survive in their natural habitats, says refuge environmental educator and artist Tony Valderrama. Many suburban yards harbor an owl, Valderrama says. “If there’s a tree with a cavity in the backyard,” that could play home to an eastern screech owl. Not to worry, he adds — owls are beneficial to homeowners because they hunt rats and mice. WHOSE HOO? During the hourlong presentation, each owl takes a turn perching on Valderrama’s hand protected by a special leather gauntlet. He’ll walk among the audience members, offering a rare close-up of the birds’ talons, feathers and famously wide eyes. The birds of prey will include a great horned owl that has lived at the refuge since 2004 and is estimated to be 20 years old. Although wild birds aren’t generally given names, this one earned the nickname, Hooter. “He does hoot a lot,” Valderrama said. Filling out the trio are two adult eastern screech owls brought to the refuge in 2012 that currently share an enclosure. Valderrama will help audience members identify their calls to be able to identify what kind of owls they might be hearing at night. To contrast nocturnal-hunting owls’ facial structures with other birds of prey, Valderrama will display a Continue Reading

Rat poison from pot farms poisoning owls, study finds

By Peter Fimrite Updated 10:04 am, Thursday, January 11, 2018 window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-5', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 5', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-10', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 10', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-15', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 15', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-20', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 20', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-25', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 25', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); Photo: TOM GALLAGHER, AP Image 1of/25 CaptionClose Image 1 of 25 Northern spotted owl seen in Point Reyes, Calif. Northern spotted owl seen in Point Reyes, Calif. Photo: TOM GALLAGHER, AP Image 2 of 25 Barred owl watches from a tree at Medina River Natural Area. Barred owl watches from a tree at Medina River Natural Area. Photo: BILLY CALZADA, SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS Image 3 of 25 Photo: Paul Chinn, The Chronicle Image 4 of Continue Reading

Birders having a hoot spotting owls in southern Delaware

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - What do a horticulturalist, a retiree and two people in the biotech industry have in common?They are among dozens of birders flocking to southern Delaware to catch a glimpse of snowy owls.“It doesn’t happen all the time, and it’s very exciting because it’s almost something exotic coming down to Delaware,” said Matt Del Pizzo, president of the Delaware Audubon Society.It’s not just the snowy owls that are prompting bird-lovers to drive hours to Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge.Another northern species, the short-eared owl, has been showing up in force this year. Birders are almost guaranteed a glimpse of these agile hunters along Fowler Beach Road near Milford.“Short-eared owls are putting on quite a show,” said expert birder Jim White. White said the owls, which usually hunt as it begins to get dark, are starting to fly around 3:30 p.m., giving birders and photographers better light to see them in flight.White, who just led the annual Christmas bird count in Wilmington for the Delaware Ornithological Society, said the owls are hunting meadow voles, a type of rodent that lives in the marsh. He said he suspects an explosion in vole populations has attracted more short-eared owls this year.“Owls in general are really fascinating,” said White, who also works at the Delaware Nature Society. “If you look back in literature and mythology owls make up a large amount of work that you’ll see - even in some of the more modern stuff like Harry Potter, where of course a snowy owl was a big part of that.”White said it’s rare to see snowy owls in Delaware, but that a good breeding season for the species last year means some juvenile birds must leave the Arctic to search for food. Because animals don’t evolve overnight, the owls are often seen along the coast because the topography of the beach resembles their tundra hunting grounds.“They’re trading snow Continue Reading

This $20 million project is important — unless you don’t care about eating

Within just decades, according to one U.N. official, all the world's top soil could be gone.And with it, farming.Soil degradation has become a serious problem over the years, and farmers along with experts in agriculture and conservation have taken notice."As we embark on a path to feed more and more people in a future 10 to 20 to 30 years from now, anything we can do to improve productivity and meet that growth is not only valuable, it's a necessity," said Brent Bible, who runs Stillwater Farms in Stockwell with partner Brandon Mosley."We all have to have food and have to eat," he said. "That's why people should care and should be concerned."The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research is concerned, which is why it announced Thursday a multimillion-dollar project to better study and develop tools to improve soil health. Along with many donors, the Foundation will give $20 million to three partners — the Soil Health Institute, Soil Health Partnership and The Nature Conservancy — to create a standard way to measure soil health, a system that is currently nonexistent.Much of that work will be done right here in Indiana, said Sally Rockey after announcing the funding in Indianapolis at the Cover Crop Conference, using Hoosier farms as a "living laboratory.""Soil is at the center of everything we do with farming, but it's a great unknown," said the executive director for the Foundation, which was created in 2014 out of the federal Farm Bill. "Now it's more important than ever to study soil to stop the loss and make the soil we have as productive as possible." ► Snowy owl sightings: Rare snowy owls invade Indiana in historic numbers, and how to see them ► Childhood cancer: I ndiana moms find new ally in fight against contamination and cancer: Erin Brockovich ► Protesters for preservation: Protesters offer $150K to preserve Yellowwood, DNR sells to logging company for less The funding, which Continue Reading

Readers sound off on animal rights, parenting and prisoner education

Humans are the real beasts Baldwin, L.I.: How sad to be an animal today. The American bison that live in Yellowstone Park — remnants of a magnificent herd slaughtered by settlers of the West — are now to be slaughtered if they leave the park to forage for food because they possibly carry a disease fatal to cattle. Mute swans — beautiful creatures — are to be exterminated by the state Department of Environmental Conservation because they are “non-native.” Imagine if that standard applied to non-native humans. Deer on eastern Long Island are to be culled because they have become too numerous. The snowy owls have been shot because they are too near airports. Most appalling of all, however, is the killing of a young giraffe in the Copenhagen zoo. Its genetic makeup was too inbred, so they killed it, cut it up in front of children and fed the pieces to lions. Someone said that a society can be judged by how it treats animals. Robert Nielsen Curb dogs Manhattan: I love dogs, and animals in general. But other than a wind chime, a poorly trained dog is the most selfish thing an apartment-dwelling New Yorker can own. Bad owners allow their canine companions to bark incessantly and use common areas as communal toilets. Everyone loves dolphins and koala bears, but they don’t belong in apartments, and neither do most dogs. Gary Taustine Recess appointments Manhattan: I have an answer to Voicer Ruth Graves’ question about where the kids are: Their mommies forgot to schedule play dates for them. Diane Carwile Mother of the year Ridgewood: Yesterday, I saw a mother strolling hand-in-hand with her young daughter. What was really amazing is that the mother was not wearing earphones and was not looking at or using an electronic gadget. She was actually paying attention to her child and having a conversation. Will wonders never cease? Erika Mehling Captive audience Bronx: The governor is right on track Continue Reading

Jersey Icons: The Meadowlands – how a dumping ground became an environmental gem

Jersey Icons is an occasional series devoted to the things that help define life in the Garden State.  The Meadowlands are one of New Jersey’s great natural wonders. Embedded into one of the most populated areas of northern New Jersey, they are home to about 270 species of birds and 65 species of marine life.  the fact that the Meadowlands exists at all is something miraculous.After decades of unregulated waste dumping and being the butt end of jokes (where is Jimmy Hoffa buried anyway?) the area made a remarkable comeback.A 1969 study by the state health department found that on average 5,000 tons of wastes were being brought in daily – six days a week, 300 days per year - from 118 New Jersey municipalities to the 51 landfills in the area that covered 1,900 acres.Today, the area contains 3,500 acres of protected wetlands and only one operating landfill within the Meadowlands district, the 110-acre Keegan Landfill.The area is also one of the state’s major economic engines with the Meadowlands Sports Complex and – the scene of construction for the mega-mall entertainment complex American Dream Meadowlands.  Author Jim Wright in his book "The Nature of the Meadowlands,"  recalled an incident in October 1973 when an inverted air mass, steam from discharge waters at a PSE&G plant and persistant fire from an abandoned landfill reduced visibility along a stretch of the New Jersey Turnpike in East Rutherford to zero.The 66-vehicle crash that followed left 9 people dead and 39 injured.A National Transportation Safety Board investigation led to several recommendations, including that officials "eliminate the possibility of fire and smoke from the old dumps within the Hackensack Meadowlands."   “The water quality here is better than it’s been in 100 years before all the pollution got into the river. That’s the surface water. Down at the bottom of the River is where the Continue Reading