Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Bald Eagles Along the Arkansas, More Snow and More Birds

Photograph by Kevin Camp, KCActionphoto

First a bit of tangent that I've been thinking about in regards to Kevin's wonderful photo of the immature Bald Eagle above. It seems a bit incongruous being that Eagles have that huge beak, but the young Eagle looks very sweet to me. Why is that the case? Perhaps the expression in the dark eyes. Research says that we are wired to have an urge to take care of baby mammals due to the big eyes and little nose--the biological cute/sweet effect that triggers empathy. But why do young birds sometimes have that effect on people? I suppose newly hatched eyasses have comparatively large eyes and a smaller beak but many people find them a little unattractive because of their semi-nakedness. Though I've found that once those people find themselves taking care of an orphaned nestling all that changes. Obviously there are other factors at work. Something to think about, anyway.

Now back to our regularly scheduled nature update--

Tulsa photographer and Raptor Watcher Kevin Camp reports, "The Bald Eagles have arrived and have taken up their traditional roosts all along the Arkansas River from Keystone Dam all the way to south of Tulsa.

We've been having a really good crop of Eagles this year. Cheryl has even spotted them nesting right near town, within in sight of people on their daily business, much closer than normal. I think the migratory eagle population has grown enough that they are beginning to crowd themselves. Two weeks ago when I went out to where the eagles habitually roost, there were 8 juveniles and 4 adult birds in the same tree. Unbelievable.

On my trip over to Arkansas, I spotted literally 30 or 40 hawks along State Highway 51 between Broken Arrow, Oklahoma and the Arkansas Border all through the Arkansas
River Valley. It was cold and windy and drizzling, but they were out roosting over open areas."

The same thing seems to be happening in the Midwest. There are Bald Eagle nests in places in Wisconsin where no one remembers them ever being previously, even before DDT decimated the population. Of course, as they've now been protected for awhile there are far fewer being shot and extant nests are less likely to have their trees cut out from under them.

Twelve hours of snow have made the trunks of the Maples look shorter and the bottom boughs of the Spruce have disappeared as well.

During small respites in the weather, the birds surge out of their sheltered spots and eat as fast as is possible.

And today, a new guy had showed up from somewhere. Sometime during today's snowstorm, an American Tree Sparrow, Spizella arborea, or sometimes called the "winter chippy" due to it's rufous cap, appeared amongst the flock of ground feeders.

Notice the black blob above. That's a flattened out body, flattened out eared Pyewackit. It's interesting, she leaves her ears up when staring at squirrels but they lay flat when there are birds involved.

That is Doorstep Dove center getting into position to warm herself against the crack under the door. I can't decide whether she and friend, to the right, are looking at Pyewackit or me.

Now Friend is definitely giving me a look but Doorstep is so habituated to me that she just stares out the other way. She knows that if danger were to appear it would come from that direction.

Eventually everyone is gone to roost but Doorstep. She'll warm herself until the last moment, have a drink from the bath, and then flutter off to bed.
Donegal Browne

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