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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sage Thrasher

There is at least one Sage Thrasher, maybe more, present at CMO. I got lucky and got a better shot of it than I got previously (see Jan 19 post).


Saturday, February 19, 2011

A dirty job but...

...somebody had to do it. The pond in the courtyard was really overdue for the removal of vegetation that didn't belong there... like grass, oleanders (two coming up in the center of the grass), and a total compaction of water lily roots and underwater trunks.  Here's the before photo.


I set my camera timer midway through the removal process and got back into the smelly muck. It was necessary to saw the under-muck roots and trunks into manageable chunks in order for me to lift them out of the pond.



The "after" photo below. I left one clump of lilies but in the future I'm not going to let the pond go so long without attention. Note: No frogs or fish were hurt during the performance of this job.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Ready for owls in Alpine

After having my epiphany as to why I don't have owls nesting in Alpine I embarked on a project to remedy the situation. So today my husband and I made and hung two screech owl boxes and two Elf Owl boxes.


Elf Owl box in foreground above; screech owl box in background on utility pole. I hope the utility company doesn't object. Below is a closeup of the utility pole box.


Below are my favorites, hung under pine trees right outside our bedroom window. Anticipating many nights of pleasant listening. Will keep you posted on what success I have.

screech owl box

Elf Owl box


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentine's Day sunrise

Corazone Mountain (left of center) Corazone means heart in spanish.

Elf Owl nest pole (center)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A perch to fly for

I decided to put up a few perches on the nesting poles. But in case the owls aren't comfortable with perches being close to their nests because it might make it easier for aerial predators, I'm not going to put perches on all of them. And where I do put perches, I'm trying to keep them a safe distance from the actual nest hole. I did get a bit carried away on this one however. Another reason for putting up the perches is for bird photography.


I can't believe it took me seven years to realize why I don't have Elf Owls or Screech Owls nesting at my part-time home in Alpine. There are no nesting holes there. I assumed, because I always see Ladder-backed Woodpeckers around there that all the poles were riddled with nest holes. Yesterday I carefully scrutinized every pole in sight of the house there. Not one hole. I must remedy that asap. If any of you who live in W TX want to attract those species, here are the dimensions for the Elf Owl box. You can find the Screech Owl dimensions at numerous sites online. Hang the ELOW nests between 7'-20' above ground.






Wednesday, February 9, 2011

K-k-kold Kestrel

I'm in Alpine today. Planning on going back to my oasis Friday or Saturday, by which time it should be warmer. Chill factor tonight is supposed to be -5°. I'm so sick of the cold.




Yesterday I finished putting up all my rescued nest holes. Someone asked me how many I put up and I couldn't answer that. Adding it up later, the count is 9, but two of those don't have woodpecker holes in yet. That may seem like I'm expecting a lot of owls, plus there are some secondary poles still up with holes in them. But between the Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, Ash-throated Flycatchers, and Elf Owls, there never seem to be enough to go around. It isn't unusual to see the owls actually sharing a nest hole with the woodpeckers or flycatchers when options are limited. I've no idea what the outcome of that is. As far as I know, no studies have been done on it, but I've seen it happen. The height and orientation of the holes will probably suit different species and individuals differently, thus another reason for lots of options. Here is some interesting info I found on the net:

Elf Owl breeding territories are very small compared to other small owls. They confine themselves to an area between only 65 and 230 feet from the nest. Also their breeding densities are very high for owls, as many as 11 pairs per square mile.

In a few short weeks the male Elf Owls will arrive and reconnoiter the nesting options. When the females arrive a week later, the proud males show their selections to their potential partners. She will make the final decision on which place is chosen. Since I don't know all her criteria, I want to be as prepared as possible.When my birds are happy, I'm happy!


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Lame duck in Alpine

As if the below zero chill factor isn't enough, I have a lame Mexican Duck on the ponds here in Alpine. Actually, it's been here a couple of months, but the snow and cold make it look more pitiful. Hugh feeds them and they don't flush quite as readily as they used to.



Back at the oasis, the electric company is finally finished with the new line across my property. I have cutoff poles all over the place that I'm so anxious to erect, but it's just too cold right now. It'll have to wait until next week.