Wednesday March 24 2010
Birdwise, it's been a stunning couple of days!
If you work your way up Bates Creek Road and study the leafless (for now) cottonwood and locust trees on the creek (and you know where to look), you will first see a great horned owl on a nest.
Next, 3/4 mile upstream: remember the golden eagle nest on Bates Creek? I hadn't seen the eagles in two weeks. Nothing near the nest, no eagles on their favorite pointed peak on the rim, no eagles anywhere. I thought they were gone. Monday something made me look at the nest again, and look closer - there was a bird sitting in the nest! I couldn't quite tell what it was through my binoculars, but blowing up the pictures - looks like a golden eagle! (Tuesday, I saw two eagles flying, and nothing on the nest. There was a tractor plowing the field right below the nest...)
A half-mile upstream from the eagle nest is another nest; Monday two Ravens were on it. Tuesday two magpies were on it.
Another quarter mile upstream: occupied red-tailed hawk nest.
Another half mile upstream: occupied great horned owl nest.
1 1/2 miles further upstream, occupied red tailed hawk nest.
All of this in a 3 1/2-mile stretch.
Any riparian canyon you come across in this desert country, especially one thick with cottonwoods, you're likely to find something in a nest.
On Rabbit Creek (on the way to Stormy's dental appointment): 2 immature golden eagles were flying above the creek; a red tailed hawk stood on a nest, and a quarter-mile up from there, in a deep wash where we once flushed a half-dozen long eared owls, I found one on a nest.
I'm astounded by all the nesting birds on our creek. Last year I noticed only 2 occupied nests (red tails). Did I just not notice the others? Was I too busy, gone, or just oblivious? Shame.
This year I know exactly where they all are. I still have at least 2 possible golden eagle territories to check out. I suspect I will find nesting long-eared owls and Ravens up Bates Creek from the house; and possibly nesting red tailed hawks a half mile up Pickett Creek from the house, and nesting long-eared owls further up in the Narrows. If I really do some sleuthing, I'm sure I can find a screech owl nest or two (they prefer tree cavities in snags), because I hear them at night on the creek.
But I'm waiting till I can ditch the noisy boisterous dogs before I snoop. No chance on sneaking up on birds with 4 dogs thrashing through brush, and I don't want to overly stress the birds at a critical time on their nests.
It's going to be a bountiful, birdiful spring and summer!