Weekend Time

This weekend sure did go by fast!

Well, I haven’t done much but kind of sulk around (don’t even ask, I’ve basically been a drama queen lately. LOL), but did eventually get my butt out of the door to do something useful with myself.

First, I woke up for the earliest run I have done in a very long time! I forgot how much time goes into fitting in long runs on the weekend when you’ve got other things to do! So, 5am Saturday morning and I was up getting ready to head out for a 7 miler! I used my camelbak pack this time to ward off the ever looming headaches I get after a run longer than 4 miles…I get so dehydrated it’s ridiculous. I really hate it… It well though and I’m happy to report no hip pain! But, I had some serious hand swelling the last mile I was out there and it was quite painful by the time I got home. Anyone else get this when they’re running? Remedies? Reasons it happens?


As you may have noticed, I have been doing some raptor surveys for work and have had the opportunity to spend some quality time at Casper’s Wilderness Park. I have showed you a few pictures from the outpost I’ve been staked out at and it is nothing short of gorgeous every time I return.


I read about a presentation that the OC Bird of Prey Center was doing on Saturday and jumped at the chance to see some hawks/birds of prey up close. I even got my Dad to come along, as he’s never seen any of these birds this up close!

The woman from the center brought six different birds, each of a different species. I geeked out over every single one, learned something new about each one and got pictures of most of them:

OCBOPC 040This is a Burrowing Owl, most definitely one of my favorites (although I have not seen nor know much about other owls, but still). As you can see, he has a messed up eye from being hit by a car, along with a wing that couldn’t be repaired completely, rendering him unable to return to the wild without being killed quickly. I knew that these owls could have up to seven to ten eggs in a clutch but learned there are records of there being up to 20 eggs in a nest at once! That’s amazing!! They are wonderful family units though, so it suits them very well.

OCBOPC 052This is a Western Screech Owl, a resident of the area where I’m at (unlike the Burrowing Owl, which is found in only select locations throughout Southern California). I never realized how tiny they are, as I’ve only seen them once in my life, and very briefly at that (think about 5 seconds, flying over my head). They are darling (can you say that about something that hunts? haha!) little guys, but don’t let that fool you, they’re probably watching you without your knowledge as you walk through all those oak groves on the West Coast… If you’re looking closely though, you just might see one.

OCBOPC 080The top predator of the chain is this bird, the Great Horned Owl. I am always amazed when I see them; they are spectacular. They are extremely strong and silent birds, enabling them to kill prey up to 9 pounds and fly undetected upon their prey. I never realized how fluffed their feathers are until the woman presenting was able to put her index finger into the birds chest feathers and almost 3/4 of her finger disappeared! And get this, their eyes are SEVEN TIMES the size of ours! The part you see is simply the iris and the pupil, with the whites of their eyes being inside their heads. Those are HUGE eyes!

AMKE_OCBPCUndoubtedly one of my favorite falcons, this is a female American Kestrel. She was such a great bird during the presentation and the boy scouts that were there were certainly enthralled by her! She came to the center after the nest she was in as a chick was dropped out of a tree when it was being trimmed, leaving her unable to return to her parents and being raised at the center. I wish people were more careful! There are birds everywhere!

OCBOPC 069Truly majestic and the most popular was the Red-tailed Hawk. I am never anything but jaw dropped when I see these birds up close, as their size and just grand presence always leaves me speechless. Unlike the Great Horned Owl these hawks can only lift prey that are less than what they weigh, about 3 pounds. They can still be a hefty dinner for this bird though!


This bird, I have never seen or heard in my entire life. I could hear her calling (but couldn’t see) from the cage and was thoroughly intrigued at what kind of bird it might be. Well, lo and behold it’s a Harris’ Hawk, not resident to this area, which is why I didn’t know it’s call. I didn’t get my own picture of her because she was not behaving well and was asked to not use my flash or camera to keep her calm. I would have loved to have gotten a picture though, because the colors on her were AMAZING. The chocolate and brown colors rendered me unable to find words to describe my excitement and I can only patiently wait for the day when I get to see one in the wild. This bird is commonly used in the sport of falconry and was actually where she came from. Someone bought her to use for hunting, but she had been imprinted and therefore couldn’t hunt at all because she didn’t know how!

It was a wonderful presentation and I hope to be able to help out the center in the future by volunteering for them and donating when I have the ability to. Hopefully I’ll be able to see more of these birds up close soon!

The rest of my Saturday I hung out with my brother’s girlfriend at the house until I went out with my best friend to see The Hobbit, in 3D. I probably haven’t seen anything in 3D since Captain Emo at Disneyland (ie, that means it’s been a very very long time) so I was a bit skeptical of how it would work out, but it’s safe to say that things have gotten much better over the years! LOL. It was a good movie, although a tad bit drawn out, and hit my nerve when the Golden Eagles starting belting out Red-tailed Hawk calls….haha. I’m such a nerd!

I’ve got a few days of work this week and who else knows what I might be able to see!!! I hope you all had a good weekend, let me know what exciting things you did!!!

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5 Responses to Weekend Time

  1. Maggie says:

    I gave “The Hobbit” a free pass on their eagles making hawk calls because technically they’re the giant eagles of Middle Earth and not a species found here. :P I really enjoyed the movie when I saw it, but then I’ve been a fan of Tolkien since I was little. Also, birding story of the week: I saw a great horned owl on a telephone pole up the street from me as I was heading to the pool early Tuesday morning. So. Cool! AND a huge flock of snow and Canada geese together as we headed east for a meeting in Kearney, Nebraska on Wednesday.

  2. hey, i was wondering how long you’ve been working with birds? have you ever gotten a full doctor’s check after you’ve worked with birds for awhile?

    i am a med student and we’ve learned some diseases that are specifically for when people are in constant close contact with birds. one is a special kind of pneumonia (chlamydia psitacci) and hypersensitivity pneumonitis.

    i’m sure there are other ones, but those are just 2 lung diseases we learned about that have to do with birds. you should let your primary care doc know about your occupation and get your lungs checked our however frequently they recommend!

    • Melissa says:

      Hey! Thanks for checking in on me about the lung diseases. I have not had my lungs checked, but most of the time I am not in close proximity to the birds. I would say that now a days I probably spend no more than a few hours close enough to birds to breath in anything, but I certainly did last summer with my banding. I’ve also spent significant time near birds several springs in a row since 2009…but never thought to get my lungs checked. I’ll look into that though! I have had my blood tested though after I worked with Deer Mice and other types of desert rats because of the threat of hanta virus and came home with a clean bill of health. It wasn’t much interaction though. Again, thanks for pointing this out! I had no idea, and pretty sure none of my other coworkers and they’ve been working with birds much longer! Are they really bad diseases?!

      • psitacci chlamydia causes walking pneumonia- which means they’re walking around being abnormally okay with only flu-like symptoms even when they have pneumonia…can be bad if diagnosed way too late..info found here http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001152/

        hypersensitivity pneumonitis is not as acute- i think it takes awhile for the disease damage to build up. BUT at the REALLY bad stage of it, it’s irreversible damage with bad prognosis and can only be cured by lung transplant…from my understanding, this takes awhile though!
        info found here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001168/

        but if you let your doc know about these things up front, it may be easier for them to watch out for those things! you most likely don’t have these things especially if you aren’t in much close contact with them most of the time, but the one to be especially wary of is hypersensitivity pneumonitis because it takes time to build up and i think there may not be symptoms in the beginning……

        BUT i am only a med student so don’t take my word for it, ask your doc!! i only wanted to raise your awareness of it!

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