March 21, 2009

Alderleaf's very own pygmy owl !

Today, at the Alderleaf Property I found a wonderful surprise...

A series of bird alarms drew my attention towards the barn. When I investigated the disturbance, I found a tiny little bird of prey sitting in the bare branches of the large cherry tree. I excitedly grabbed my camera and binoculars, and alerted the two people I could locate on campus - Steve and Zack, both residents of the property - to come check it out.

Not only did we get to see this bird in the cherry tree, but we followed it as it traveled all the way across the farms open space and flew to the edge of the forest. To our surprise, the little owl flew right at us at one point and actually landed fairly low in a young red alder tree allowing us to approach within 15-20 feet of the tree.

It was a northern pygmy owl (Glaucidium californicum)!

These amazing bird-eating predators are our smallest owl species in the PNW, and cause quite a stir among the local bird species when they are spotted. Believe it or not, these owls hunt during the day time. At these fluffy little birds are only about 6.5" long. Small enough to sit on your index finger!

This is just one of the many amazing animals that makes its home at Alderleaf and the surrounding forests.

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