Frequently, when I have time, I like to just surf around, and discover new blogs. Some that catch my eye I link to for frequent visits. This AM I came across the video above. Click it and watch it in full screen. It is quite beautiful. If you would like to read about the creator or where it came from, check on this link.
It is one day post Earth Day (I worked yesterday so no time for computer play). OK, it is also one day post Good Friday . . . but that is no longer a part of my life or practice. The family is getting together tomorrow for a big Easter feast, and cleaning of the house has been a week long project for my MIL. I'm soon about to contribute by bringing the bathroom to a state closer to hygiene and order. It has been a cold and wet April. However, looking out the window, the grass is greener (the snow melted) and the pear tree buds are threatening to burst forth soon . . . very soon. Spring is coming on slow windy feet this year.
Regardless of your views . . . it is a beautiful world we live in! The news is filled with human stories of violence and death and environmental degradation. Whether you believe in climate change or not really doesn't matter . . . . observation, in my humble opinion, says it is happening. The world will go on without us if it has to. If we push the envelope too much, a sustainable environment comfortable to support us may evaporate from our grasp. Maybe not for many years to come . . . some things take time. Many beautiful things and life forms could be lost . . . but the world will go on, evolving, changing, and bringing forth new life, without us. Some day sentient roaches may believe they are quite beautiful, and the epitome of what their god had in mind when 'he' made the universe. **grin**
I'd like to think we could get our proverbial 'shit together' and solve our energy problems, our population problems, our pollution problems. When we stop arguing and fighting and killing over whose world 'god' intended this to belong to, maybe we could come together as the whole family of 'Earth's Children' . . . both human and all it's myriad lifeforms . . . and accept that it is OUR world. If we don't care about it, and nurture it, and preserve our nice warm, watery home . . . no one will.
It's April 19th, and all the snow has been melted for about a month . . . until today. We even got a bit the other day, but it melted during the day. This stuff just keeps piling up. I dunno . . . there is probably 5 or 6 inches, maybe more out there. It is heavy and wet, and I had a hard time getting up the driveway to go check my mail in town. I have to get up and drive in this in the AM. It will probably be a long drive in . . . SIGH!!
The farm has had a fairly large flock of red-winged blackbirds that returned in the last couple weeks. I think they are confused about the snow. They have been visiting our bird feeder all day. Recently I made a sparrow trap, but it is not being used today, as a lot of native birds are seeking food right now. It's an awful lot of little black jobs . . . . red-winged blackbirds, brown-headed cowbirds, grackles, with a few odd starlings thrown in. All untrappable, well, except for the starlings! All the farm sparrows have been hanging out over at the shop today . . . and I'm not inclined to hang out over there in the snow to catch them. I know late snowfall in the Upper Midwest is not far from normal, but that doesn't mean I have to LIKE it!!
I took the picture above a little later. This is overlooking the pear tree, up close, the grape arbor, in the middle, and the apple tree in the back. The apple tree looks like it is covered in lots of little, black feathery, cold apples, who are wondering where spring went. I'm wondering the same thing.
So . . . I really like Kestrels! I don't know if I've ever said that here on this blog, or my other blog. I really do like them. They are such pretty little raptors. I am thinking perhaps this fall I will trap and train another one . . . I did that in 2004. I never got little Rigel on game, but I managed to keep him alive and healthy, and released him after the season back to the wild. I'd like to try again. This time I plan to be more prepared, and have some sparrows on hand for training. It will either be a kestrel, or if I can manage to make the arrangements and get lucky, perhaps a merlin. Either way, I do like these little falcons. Some of my summer activities include building some new equipment, and learning how to trap some of these junk house sparrows we have on the farm in abundance.
In an effort to increase the population of kestrels in my geographic region, I commissioned Rich to make me a kestrel nest box. I financed the purchase of the supplies . . . and he made me three! He then went on a few weeks later, and made three more. His brother Brian helped. As soon as the ground thawed out enough to allow for digging, we put up several of them. One was given to Dr. Gray, the vet who came to medicate and castrate the calves last fall. He likes kestrels too . . . so Rich thought it would be nice to give him one to put up on his land.
Here are pictures of the "Partnership" establishing the kestrel nest box distribution. Rich and his oldest brother Brian attach the box to a 12' pole, which when sunk into the ground will put the box at about 9 to 10 feet high.
A 'predator guard' is attached to make access to the box possible by wing only. No free meals to cats or raccoons. Unfortunately nothing prevents starlings from moving in . . . unless I evict them.
Post hole digger to make the holes to sink the posts into.
Brian holds the pole as Rich fills in the hole.
The first box was placed within sight of the farm house. It is along Hwy 44 facing South towards an open farm field, which has the patch of land between the road and the field, which is often hunted by a local kestrel, as well as overlooking the drainage grass belt, where mice are often found by the farm dog, Tasha. That's me at the base holding Puddin, the Pomeranian. Tasha the husky is snuffing around for gophers, which were beginning to awaken from their winter hibernation on this spring day.
Another box is placed on the far back side of the farm, overlooking a valley. All boxes are placed in the open with no trees nearby. The inside has a layer of clean wood shavings. The kestrel-sized hole faces South to South-West.
We gave one box to our Wednesday Night "Movie Night" hostess, Laurie, to hang on one of her old barn buildings that overlooks a valley, in Wisconsin. Rich attached it for her.
Laurie's daughter, Emily, points up at her own personal kestrel nest box.
The final box was placed on "Olga's Farm", an elderly neighbor who has now died, but whose property the Hanson family still rents the land to grow crops. It also overlooks an open field of mixed grasses and low shrubs. It all looks like good kestrel habitat to me.
The Landlord of the Kestrel Residential Accommodation Partnership (KRAP) stands waiting, inviting (really) for some colorful little raptors to move in and make lots of babies. Rent is reasonable . . . payment in the unknown future of an eyass to take by his crazy wife for falconry. Until then, it would be nice to just watch them from a distance in my spotting scope.
Unless you have been living under a rock lately, and if you are tuned into the Internet or the news and national talk/personality shows, you have probably heard about the famous Decorah Fish Hatchery Eagles. This particular pair of Bald Eagles have been raising eaglets in this nest for the past four years, including this year. The male of the pair has "owned" this nest and territory for far longer than that. Bob Anderson, with the Raptor Resource Project has operated this web cam, and many others like it, for many years, researching the lives of various raptor species, to include eagles, peregrine falcons, owls and ospreys. This pair of eagles were featured on a PBS special in 2009 called American Eagle. Here is a link to the full show if you did not see that.
Living about 30 miles or so from Decorah, Iowa, I decided I would come and take a few pictures and make a blog posting. Rich and I visited this nest two years ago, and then saw their three eaglets, which were already the size of the parents, and would soon fledge. It was much harder to see them, as the tree was all leafed out. Soon those leaves will burst forth as Spring progresses, so opportunities to play Paparazzi were limited by the increasingly warming days.
This nest is very well situated by the Decorah Fish Hatchery. Previously I have either heard or read that some fish are tossed out of the hatchery, those that have died, so there is an abundant supply of fresh fish to be had. I imagine the eagles may also steal some fresh fish out of the raising ponds. Of course, they hunt regular prey as well. Recently viewers to the web cam have seen an increasingly varied stack of dining choices, to include rabbit, crow, muskrat, and the ever present fish.
From a distance, you can get a perspective of just how big the nest is. That small speck to the left of the nest is one of the parent eagles. Below, I give you the view you can't get from the web cam. My husband very recently surprised me with an early birthday gift. He purchased a spotting scope for me. Well, today I tried my hand at very amateur digi-scoping . . . that is, using your digital camera with your scope. It was an effort, and many of my attempts didn't work, but I did catch a couple of good pictures that allow you to see back the other direction, at what the web cams look like. I took the pictures from the bridge that goes over the creek. When you look at the web cam, I stood where the road crosses just above the nest.
Here is the address in case you don't know it and would like to see the close up.
When that screen opens up, click on the black box for an up close and personal view of the intimate lives of this pair of eagles. They have hatched out 3 eaglets so far, and the family is doing fine!
This is what the area looks like. A creek runs by the nest tree, which is located on private land, a farm.
Above is the view looking East.
And this is the view looking West, from the bridge.
Here are some of the neighbors living on a few of the retaining ponds on the Fish Hatchery land. Often I hear them flying while watching the nest cam. The eagles track them, perhaps wishing to go chase and catch such a big tasty meal.
The cameras are on 24 hours a day. At nighttime there is an infrared camera, so you can watch the eagles sleeping.
Falconry! Or more appropriately for me, Hawking! It is a passion, and a way of life. I happily pursue this sport, with the loving assistance of my husband. Come along with me for our adventures with the birds. Primarily we actively pursue it in the colder months . . . the rest of the time I try to make this blog as interesting as possible. Come let me share my stories, and feel free to contact me. I always enjoy talking about my obsession with this sport.