Saturday, May 21, 2011

Kestrels compared

I'm thinking a lot about what is going to happen next season and the idea of a kestrel has cropped up more than once. Then I saw this little nugget over at Little Mews on the Prairie. It is a great little article about the differences in kestrels and how to tell a passage falcon from a hag. I have a hard time with this, but the pictures really help.

A walk with the dogs

I don't get out with my dogs enough. They love to get out and run, off lead, and I think it is good for them to do that.

I was able to find a few hours last week to get them up in the dunes. It was the perfect spring day for it, slight breeze and slowly rising temps.

We meandered through the sloping sand and found lots of holes to explore.

This time of year there is not much chance that there will be a fox underground, but the dogs went and explored them, both dogs pushing to get inside.

We don't have groundhogs in my area, so the fox have nothing to dig their holes. These holes are much bigger than the ones that we see up north when we go to ground and the dogs squirt in and out easily, no digging or squirming for my overlarge dogs.

Our fox are mostly grays, but we also have a smattering of reds. I've also seen a few that I believe may be a mix of the two. These holes most likely belonged to the reds, as grays generally do not dig dens, they use holes in trees and root balls.

After a few hours of exploring, the dogs were exhausted. We didn't catch anything, and that was just as well, but ended up at home, tired and happy.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


For those of you that don't know - I teach school. But with summer just around the corner, my "other" job has started. The one that allows me to afford my teaching habit.

My other job allows me to spend more quiet time, driving on some back roads, places I don't usually go.

On these trips I am fortunate to see things I wouldn't normally see.

This guys was just traveling along the road, places to go and all that.

I'm not usually a big fan of opossums - but this guy was the cutest I had ever seen.

This bruiser was sitting on the side of the road, laying eggs. She was gone the next time I drove by.

Box turtles are cool.

And on the side of the road there was this hole.

Obviously fox, surrounded by tracks and bones. The dogs could have a field day in here.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Smarter critters

I've written about smart critters before. They're out there. Animals that use tools, animals that work cooperatively, animals that have their own types of language.

Crows are some of those animals: tools and languages and dialects - cool stuff.

The new one I just read about was whales. Yeah, they are some smart mammals, and you have all heard whale song before. But did you know that whales from different pods have dialects.

Like those southern cousins of yours..

When they dive together, sperm whales make patterns of clicks to each other known as "codas." Recent findings suggest that not only do different codas mean different things, but that whales can also tell which member of their community is speaking based on the sound properties of the codas. Just as we can tell our friends apart by the sounds of their voices and the way they pronounce their words, different sperm whales make the same pattern of clicks, but with different accents.

Caribbean and Pacific whales have different repertoires of codas, like a regional dialect, but the "Five Regular" call -- a pattern of five evenly spaced clicks -- is thought to have the universal function of individual identity because it is used by sperm whales worldwide.

You can read more here.

Saturday, May 7, 2011


I took a break.

I haven't been reading blogs - or posting on my own. In the meantime, Spring has truly sprung here in eastern NC.

I kept waiting to post, hoping that I would have big news from the breeding chambers of the harris hawks.


We had the nest all made up for the birds, carefully intertwining vines and branches. I padded it well with pine needles in the bottom to keep any eggs from cracking. Then I watched, and waited.

Gonzo would go and move a stick here or there. Tess would take all of her food up to the ledge to eat at the nest.

The birds would perch shoulder to shoulder.

Gonzo's foot seemed to be healing well. even though it was partially immobilized, he would use both feet for perching and seemed very comfortable. I changed all the perching surfaces to long leaf astroturf to protect Gonzo's feet.

No eggs, no eggs, no eggs.

Then they tore the nest apart. Could be a good thing. They are acknowledging that it is there. I replaced the pine needles and made sure that there were plenty of sticks in the cage for building.

And I waited.

They messed around with it, bringing sticks in and removing more of the "bedding" material. Tess would settle into it while she tore at her breakfast.

But still, nothing.

I had to run to Raleigh for a teacher "thing" this last week, so I called up Arnaud to see if we could change Gonzo's bandages on his toe. The scheduling was perfect.

When we got the bandages off of the foot, the toe had healed perfectly! Well done Arnaud. The toe was straight and yellow. You could hardly even see where it hadn't been working.

Unfortunately, Gonzo was dead.

He had died sometime that day in his box. The necropsy (still waiting for some tests) showed that Gonzo had some signs consistent with West Nile Virus - but we're still unsure of the cause of death.


No babies this year. I am in the market for a new male harris hawk. I was hoping to pick one up that was of breeding age, but I may end up getting a young bird.

And Tess is all alone:(

If you hear of any birds for sale (preferably on the East coast) let me know.

I'll keep you posted.