Tuesday, July 1, 2008

California Birds

Brother Phil in California recently sent me an e-mail with more bird pictures and I want to share them with you. He had another doctor appointment a couple weeks ago up at Travis AFB and this time he had his new camera along to take more pictures of the clinic's resident burrowing owl--and her BABIES!

He told me that he saw 3 little ones near the nesting hole, but he wasn't happy with how the photos turned out because they weren't very clear. I told him to send them anyway and I would see what I could do with my Photoshop software and here are the results. I put arrows on this photo so you could identify all 3 babies.

I didn't see the third one 'til he called me this afternoon and told me where to look for it (you can just see it's left eye and eyebrows showing above the grass). It's been really hot and dry there and you can see how well these little owls blend in with their habitat.

Here's one more picture from another angle. Aren't they cute?
I hope this owl is still nesting in the same area when I plan to visit Brother Phil and his family in California next year.

Phil also took these photos of a large flock of Whimbrels near Travis AFB.
Notice the haziness in this photo? This place is very close to the wildfires that areas of Northern California are currently trying to control.

We're kind of torn between Whimbrel and Long-Billed Curlew on these birds, but based on the size of the birds compared with the crows in the picture, we've decided Whimbrel is probably what they are. Phil said that looking at these birds, the beak didn't appear long enough to be the curlew and he was sorry the pictures didn't turn out better. I told him thanks anyway for sharing the pictures with me, so I could post them in my blog. It's really fun for me to have siblings who are also interested in birds and will call me up or send me e-mails and pictures with their cool bird sightings and stories.


Anonymous said...

What is a Wimbrel? or even a Curlew? I thought a Curlew was shore bird. Burrowing owls are so cute and I love their expressions.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Mom,
They are shorebirds--in the sandpiper family. Philip says they hang around his area because of the flooded rice fields. I saw a whimbrel in North Dakota (but no burrowing owls!)

Lisa at Greenbow said...

One of my favorite birds is the Burrowing Owl. How wonderful to see a family of them. One of my favorite sightings of a BUOW was when we were in a CA poppy field and one was peeking at us from behind a poppy. I will never forget how those yellow eyes almost appeared as a poppy . They can look so fierce for such a small bird. There was one reported in Ohio last week. A third state record. Isn't that strange? If it had been in Indiana we would have gone to see it. I really wanted to anyway but it was a long drive away from us. So much to do and so little time.

I have only seen small numbers of Whimbrel together. This would be such an exciting sight.

Those wildfires in CA are frightening.

Richard said...

If brother has a macro setting on camera, sometimes that works better on distant pictures for clarity.

Lynne said...

Cool pictures Ruthie. You ARE lucky to have family that enjoys birding to share pix and experiences with. I would LOVE to see burrowing owls. They are here in the NW part of MN aren't they? I'll have to look that up.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Lisa,
I've never seen a burrowing owl. My brother works for Union Pacific in California and he says there are some living and nesting in the railyard where he works too (no time for pictures there though).
His home is in a small town surrounded by agricultural fields, so lots of birds around, but he also said the fires have come pretty close to where he lives. I think it's pretty scary too.

Thanks for the tip, Richard. I'll share that with Brother Phil.

Hi Lynne,
I remember from the MN Birding report that there was a Burrowing Owl spotted in Moorhead in May and early June.....I thought about stopping on my way back from North Dakota, now I wish I would have!

Windyridge said...

Those owl babies are so cute.

KGMom said...

Awww--love the baby burrowing owls.

mon@rch said...

Those baby burrowing owls are soo cute!

cindy said...

WOW!!! I have never seen more than one Whimbrel at a time. Unbelievable! Burrowing Owls are great. There was one at the Rochester airport about 2 years ago. There was also nesting BO's over by Appleton, MN a few years back and also a couple in SW MN. So they are found here.

Jayne said...

How sweet, those owl beebies!

Ruth said...

It is difficult to take pictures of birds who are so perfectly camouflaged. In fact, most people would miss seeing them at all.

Mary C said...

Hi Ruthie -- I would have never thought that whimbrels would be located out in the agricultural fields, but it makes perfect sense if these fields get flooded from time to time. Since your brother's photos, I think the air has cleared. I hope to post an update soon with photos of the mountains around my neighborhood (for comparison).

Anonymous said...

I love the burrowing owls.

RuthieJ said...

Thanks Windyridge--they really are cute!

Thanks Donna--they're cute but kind of fierce looking at the same time.

Thanks Tom--they're cute X3!

Hi Cindy,
We went over to Rochester airport a couple years ago with some other birders, but the burrowing owl wasn't around that evening and the airport officials were reluctant to have us past the gated are for too long. We tried to see some over at Blue Mounds State Park too, but no luck there either. Some day I'll see one for real!

Thanks Jayne--it would be fun to see them in real life, wouldn't it?

Hi Ruth,
I can't remember the story of how my brother first happened to notice them either. The other thing is that they're not a very large owl, so you really have to know where to look.

Hi Mary,
My brother sees lots of good birds in the area where he lives (south of Yuba City). It's good to have the open fields and water nearby (helps lessen their danger of fire spreading too). I'm glad the air is starting to clear a bit out there.

Thanks ScienceGuy!

nina said...

I love burrowing owls.

Have you seen "Hoot?"