Sunday, February 24, 2013

Larks and Falcons

Karyn and I were hosting her mother this weekend so we decided to drive out to Dedication Point to see what raptors were out and about. We saw many of the usual suspects - Golden Eagle, Red-tailed Hawk, Rough-legged Hawk, American Kestrel, Northern Harrier, and of course, the ever present Prairie Falcons putting on quite a show! But before we got there it was all about the Horned Larks. Karyn took some great photo of an individual singing to his heart's content.

Horned Lark.
Horned Lark.
Horned Lark.

The Prairie Falcons were amazing at the point. There was a strong wind out of the west and they were using it for maximum lift and then diving hard down in front of us. I am always amazed watching them.

Prairie Falcon.
Prairie Falcon.
Prairie Falcon.
Prairie Falcon.
Prairie Falcon.
Prairie Falcon.
Prairie Falcon.
Prairie Falcon.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Birds in the Snow

The weather just wanted to remind us that winter is not quite over. We took advantage of the new snow to hike through the foothills. Here are some of the sights.

American Kestrels.
American Kestrel.
American Robin.
Black-capped Chickadee.
Evening Grosbeak!

Before anyone makes any wisecracks, I know this last one is not a bird!

Mountain Cottontail.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Northern Goshawk Thesis Presentation

A little over four years ago I left my job to embark on a fabulous journey of adventure studying birds and raptors. That journey has taken me to mountain peaks in late winter, to sweltering heat in mid-summer, and to foreign lands. I have suffered through long cold days and relentless heat. I have been physically assaulted by birds and crapped on, on multiple occasions. I have had long boring days and days filled with non-stop action. I have also seen nature at its most basic components - the day-to-day challenge of survival, sometimes successful, sometimes not. I wouldn't trade this experience for anything.

Today marks a great milestone on that journey. After departing my job I have completed a second Bachelor's degree in Biology and have spent the last three years in the MS program for Raptor Biology. Today is my thesis defense. I will defend my thesis in a public presentation, followed immediately by a 3 hour private defense with my thesis committee. I am very excited.

In preparation for my thesis defense presentation, I have recorded the final dry-run of my presentation. The video is linked here for your interest. The presentation is 45 minutes in length. Please post any questions you have in the comments section and I will reply.

Breeding Ecology of the Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) within a Unique Prey and Forest Landscape of the Western United States

Thank you for your interest.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Birding with our Guests

This week some friends of mine from India were in town on a business trip. We had previously arranged for me to take them out on a local birding trip. The weather conditions were perfect for this time of year (40 degrees F and sunny), although the remaining ice on the trails presented some hiking challenges.

The first destination was our local favorite trail in Hull's Grove. Many of the usual birds were present and cooperative with photos. We also saw a rarer species for this area, the Evening Grosbeak, but it would not hold still for a photo.

Red-tailed Hawk.
Female American Kestrel.
White-crowned Sparrow.
Great Horned Owl.

After lunch we headed out to the Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area in the hopes of seeing more raptors. We would not be disappointed. In the Snake River Canyon, the Prairie Falcons were very active with tremendous flight displays. The Golden Eagles and Red-tailed Hawks were present, but not too close. We were surprised by an adult Bald Eagle perched in a tree and as the fog set in I think we had a Ferruginous Hawk being mobbed by ravens. It was a pretty good day.

Prairie Falcon.
Prairie Falcon.