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:
This 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.
This 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.
The 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!
Undoubtedly 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!
Truly 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!!!