Great horned owl pair hanging around in Propsect Park

owl showing talons

In New York City, you don’t have to be a good enough birder to spot the owl. Just good enough to spot the birders watching the owl.

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Charming hobo dog gets place at Best Friends, MO tries to repeal prop B

Dozens fed and tried to catch Rusty in Oak Brook, IL. After 3 year chase, he’s headed to UT’s Best Friends.

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Chemists working on not killing other wildlife with rat poison

Ferringous Hawk

So far there aren’t any good alternatives, but scientists have shown anticoagulants go farther than feared in birds of prey.

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NYC Birders Looking for Owls

A great-horned owl that visited Central Park last year

Bird biologist Robert DeCandido is leading tours in New York City this week to spot owls–eastern screech owls in Central Park and great horned owls in the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx.

The winter is a good time to see owls because the leaves are gone, making it harder for them to hide, and they fly out at dusk, which is late afternoon.

Last Sunday birders counted 59 species of birds in Central Park on the first day of NYC Audubon’s annual Christmas Bird Count. (The count goes on until Jan. 5, so you can still play and there’s an organized count in the Bronx on Dec. 26.) Birding Bob notes that “Our group added three species that no one else saw (Winter Wren; Peregrine Falcon and just before 9am, an Orange-crowned Warbler).”

DeCandido and his companion Debs took amazing pictures recently of an immature sharp-shinned hawk and a female Ring-necked Duck on the Reservoir.

Check out Birding Bob’s tours Where to See Wildlife in the Northeast

Wednesday, December 22nd (OWLS): 4pm – NYBG in the Bronx – Meet at 4pm at the Main Gate (opposite the MetroNorth Train Station) – $5. OWLS! We will head to a location to watch the fly out of the Great Horned Owls for the evening. Since dusk is about 4:45pm, we should be done by 5:30pm or so. NYBG is open for free all day. Trains leave Grand Central at about 20 minutes past

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The Back-up Bird: Flammulated Owl Gets Much-Needed Nickname

flammulatedowl

The flammulated owl (Otus flammulous) gets a much less stuff nickname: the back-up bird. The owl hoots like a truck in reverse.

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USDA Kills Another 4 million animals, including 477 dogs and 1,991 feral cats

Coyote

You know how Americans are appalled every time there’s a story out of China or Iraq about the government thugs primitively rounding up dogs and shooting them? Well, we do that, too. On purpose. Federal agents are out there killing dogs, more than one a day. They shot 157 dogs to death. And it’s not just in the yahoo states out west, either. (Although Texas and Arizona are the top states of dog-killing.) The USDA somehow insinuated itself into dog situations in 32 states. They went out and shot two dogs in Ohio and 30 in California. And it wasn’t because they feared they were rabid, either. They only tested 14 dogs for rabies.

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Raptor Fest 2010: Escape to New York City

Ferringous Hawk

For 13 years Hawk Creek wildlife sanctuary near Buffalo has been hauling a vanload of eagles, hawks, falcons, owls and assorted big bird oddities across the state to give New York City residents a little taste of the wild.

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Everybody’s Watching Molly, the San Diego Owl, Hatch Her Family

Unbeknownst to Molly, a young barn owl mother, about 2 million people are scrutinizing her egg-sitting, feeding and every move, day and night, asking questions and offering critiques about every 30 seconds. Since January, when Molly moved into a backyard owl box in San Marcos, CA, the box’s landlords started adding progressively more advanced photo equipment, culminating in the live streaming camera at Ustream, which has had about 2 million views.

Viewers won’t be disappointed. Molly fusses over her eggs–and now two chicks–like a Park Slope parent. She incessantly gets up to rearrange herself, providing a glimpse of the chicks. Her mate arrives just after sunset with dinner–once a whole rabbit. 

A retired couple, Carlos and Donna Royal, have been waiting for just such a visitor for years. “We have a very eco-friendly backyard; we live on an acre lot with lots of trees and plants for wildlife,” they say in their Ustream profile. “We have had kestrels, bluebirds, hummingbirds, phoebes, wild ducks, killdeer and mockingbirds all nest and raise their young in our habitat. We do not have any cats or dogs to disturb the wildlife.”

Carlos, a former real estate broker,  told the San Diego Union-Tribune that they put up the house two years ago, but got no tenants. Then in January a neighbor asked if they heard the owls screeching in a storm. With the help of their teenage grandson, they added a camera on the outside of the box, then an infrared

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Birding Bob; Northern Saw-whet Owl Stops in Central Park; Woodcocks in the East Village

Dr. Robert “Birding Bob” DeCandido leads birding tours around New York City. Usually he takes people to see owls in Central Park, which he helped reintroduce. He lets us run his newsletter here. This week he saw a northern Saw-whet owl in Central Park and the carcass of a woodcock.

Northern Saw-Whet Owl, by Richard Leche

The carcasses are in bloom! Yellow and purple and some white – or so it was on Sunday when we were in for other surprises as well. On our walks, we were able to provide discussions of the age of migrating Saw-whet Owls (including photos by Debs), American Woodcocks and more in Central Park in the last several days – by our group. We think with birds…and to find them, we have to think like birds too.

Our historical notes include a NYC area summary of the spring season – 1920. Today, our observations show that many bird species are arriving earlier than in the past. Why? We will leave it to others to explain. In the meantime, we document the changes, and provide the historical record for comparison. We also provide the first records of breeding Tree Swallows in our area. Now they are common breeders at Jamaica Bay and elsewhere on Long Island – but not 90 years ago!

Not had enough of us yet? Beginning the first week of April, our Sunday and Tuesday walks will begin meeting at the Dock on Turtle Pond.=====================================Good! Here are the bird walks

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Atlanta’s Wildlife Hosptial

Flirty Arigato - SW Bobcat - L. rufus baileyi (Merriam)

Just 20-30  minutes south-east of Atlanta, wildlife rehabilitator Michael Ellis is nursing some dwarf baby squirrels, teaching a great-horned owl independence and giving permanent shelter to a couple bobcats. His outfit, AWARE (Atlanta Wild Animal Rescue Effort), is the biggest wildlife rehab center so close to such a big city  I’ve seen.

Ellis, whose been rehabbing wildlife for two decades, says having big Route 20 nearby is crucial. You ride a few miles off the highway through farmland and the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area and you’re at Aware, which looks like a house with an extensive kennel system. If you serve animals, why  be near a city? Most wildlife injuries involve people (or their cars or cats). But more importantly, the best way to help animals is to teach people how not to kill them.

“I could spend 45 days saving one opossum or 45 minutes with one class of 30 kids and end up saving 1,000 animals over their lifetime,” Ellis says. The grim truth of wildlife rehab is that–except for maybe a few endangered species–its broad impact on animal populations is pretty much nothing. Squirrels and starlings are in no danger of going extinct. “But it makes a big difference to that one animal,” says Ellis. And each of the animal treated impacting the people who find them or learn about them at the center. That’s why Aware wants to reach every kid in Atlanta.

A few of those that can’t make in the wild live out their time at

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