Sunday, March 23, 2014

Elk and Steller's Jay

Back teaching has cut into my outdoor time and blogging, but I am having some evenings and Saturdays to get out.  Yesterday was one of those unforgettable days.  I started out by looking for snow geese and found about 1000 of them but these two antelope were feeding near the field the geese were in.

Next I headed for Camas National Wildlife Refuge to see what I could find.  On the way there I found a pair of Burrowing owls.  They might be the same couple I saw last year as they are just 100 yards from where a pair nested last year.

At Camas there were not a lot of waterfowl and I did not find the Great-horned owls, but I saw my first Steller's jay that kept me entertained for an hour.  They are very pretty and very noisy. 

On the way to Market Lake I hiked some back roads and found 19 head of bull elk; all still wearing their armor.

At Market Lake I searched for a Long-eared owl but did not find it.  The Russian Olive trees were filled with Cedar and Bohemian waxwings eating the berries.  It was a lot of fun.

Just another unforgettable day in the wilds of Idaho.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Weird Tuesday at Market Lake

There were some weird sights and actions at or near Market Lake today as I spent the day watching and photographing birds as the ice is melting fast.

The first weird thing was what appeared to be a racial relationship.  This snow and Canada goose appeared to be a couple. But every time the couple got close to a flock of Canada geese, they were chased away. Eventually the two flew off together only to come back about an hour later.  It seems that even some geese engage in racial prejudice.

The goose in the air was trying to steal the mate of a Canada gander.  As he was attack and tried to fly over the pair, the gander leaped into the air, grabbed the foot of the intruder and pulled him back into the water and the fight was on.

With the receding ice some winter-killed fish draw eagles to feed on them.  This mature Bald appears to be leucistic with one pure white feather on the left wing, two on the right wing with a white chest and belly that extends over the front of the wings.

This pair of Canadas are practicing "agnostic aggression."  Usually geese practice this with intruders, but after driving off the intruder, the gander flies back to his mate who in a submissive pose.

She holds that pose as he slides up to her in his domineering pose with wings out stretched. 

He then shows more dominance by raising his head and honking several times. 

She remains in the submissive pose until he starts leading her away to the bull rushes they have been protecting for their nesting area.

Just another interesting, weird and educational day in the wilds of Idaho.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Canadas at it again

The Canada geese are setting up their nesting territories once again and it is fun to watch.  They fight with any other geese that comes near their intended sites.  With all the slipping, sliding and falling down it reminds me of the recent Olympics.  I watched these battles for two hours one day last week.   Here an aggressive male attacks the male of another pair.

On the slick ice the feet and tail fail to stop the sliding.

Now the backward beating of the wings are not much help.

So the one being attacked decides to jump over the sliding one.

Then it settles down on the other side of the slider.

One of the most interesting aspects of the relationships of these beautiful birds is the submission of one to another.  The female will often get between the two fighters and it ends when her mate submits to her demands.  When two females are fighting, the male will stop it by getting his mate to submit to him.

Just another wonderful day in the wilds of Idaho.