Monday, April 27, 2009

Horvath and the Owlet, Blank and the Snapper, Sally's Red-tail Eyasses, and Owl Watching Gonzalez Asks a Question.

From wonderful wildlife rehabilitator Bobby Horwath---
This was an easy one this morning. Just got home from a night tour and was loading up the truck with birds for a show today in Riverside Park and got a call for a baby great horned owl at a park about 40 minutes away.

I flew out there and some great bird watchers who have been following this nest for weeks told me where it was . Luckily not too high at all and was offered a ladder from the parks people so back this little guy went

There were hundreds of people 20 feet away all day long since it was a Sunday and 80 degrees so no parents ever came by to check but they were close by.
(See Bobby's fingers placing the Owlet back in the nest?)
I’m sure they’ll return tonight and the watchers are there every day monitoring him so if it happens again we'll try another reunion as long as he doesn't injure himself. Wish they all turned out to be this easy.
And now for another save--James Blank and his six-year-old daughter Isabella were leading me to the turn off that led to Clear Lake, (The local folks are very good to me knowing my penchant for misplacing myself.) when suddenly their car pulled over and stopped on the mucky verge. I looked around.
There in the middle of the left lane was Mrs. Snapping Turtle, stopped dead. Another look around revealed a very large pond on the right hand side of the road. Undoubtedly where Mrs. Snapper was going before she froze.
I grabbed my camera and Mr. Blank the snapping turtle and he carried her to our side of the road. The one with the pond.
Jim laid her down and she didn't move. I said, "Is she alright?"
We stared. There she was with all the meaty bits curled up within or under her shell.
Jim then said, "She's fine, she's just mad." And to prove him right Mrs. Snapper made a lightning, thick muscled nab for his hand. She missed only due to his very good reflexes.
Having missed, she pulled her neck back in but kept her jaws at the ready. And note the already open mouth. It is faster if your mouth is already open if you're going to stealth bite someone---it's faster that way.
Screen captures of the Portland Red-tail nest courtesy of Sally of the Tulsa Hawk Nest Forum and
Here is what Sally had to say--
Hi Donna!

I find watching the nest in Portland challenging through the bars on the fire escape, but the view of the babies is so great anyway! Watching the female on them, fussing with sticks and greenery just like Kay make me both happy and sad. But the two little fluff balls are just irresistible!

I have sent some captures. One has the chicks looking up at Mama's tail as she stand over them in apparent awe, one as they are feeding and one of the little one saying, "Easy Mom, don't squish me!" as she nestles on top.
She does look just a trifle squished doesn't she?
Pat Gonzalez who has been following the Great Horned Owl Nest In the New York Botanical Gardens had a question--
Do you think it is possible for a great horned owl to feel someones' "vibe". Can they sense bad intentions from humans? Also, can they get "used" to a specific person like myself who visits their turf?

Absolutely Pat, raptors know individual people, as do pigeons, and many other birds. Without question they recognize us. If Pale Male drops part of his prey on the ground while eating in a tree by the Bench and it is just the people he sees day after day, he'll drop down in the middle of things, get it, and get back up in the tree and eat it. If there are strangers or those he doesn't trust near by he won't.

Sweet Tristan of the Cathedral nest had a Pale Male disposition and I always believed he was urban hatched as he was so very calm and even friendly with people. He'd sit in branches very near humans without the least distress while hunting rats. Also if I'd been coming to watch everyday and then was absent as I was out of town for some weeks, when I returned, Tristan, comfy and relaxed with one foot tucked, seemed to give me a long look when I first appeared again, as if to say, "Oh there you are. You're back."

I’m sure that by this time the Owls recognize you, but being of a species that tends toward a rather take-no-prisoners disposition, they may let you get closer than other people but be on your toes. Who knows, if you watched this particular pair for several seasons, what sort of relationship might develop amongst you and the Great Horned Owl pair as trust accrued over time.

In Bobby’s save today, he didn’t really have to worry that much about the parents because of the huge number of people around. Raptors don’t like to deal with more variables than they can keep their eyes on at the same time.

Donegal Browne


Karen Anne said...

How are the birds the Horvaths are caring for? I remember the bald eagle with bad stuff on his feathers?

Donegal Browne said...


Good question. I'll try and find out how they're doing, particularly the Eagle with the gunky feathers. Thanks for the reminder.