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Back to Tifft / More Owls

Published March 09, 2013
Tags: Parks and Preserves, Tifft Nature Preserve, Eastern Screech Owl, Northern Mockingbird, Northern Cardinal, Song Sparrow, American Goldfinch, Red-tailed Hawk, Red-winged Blackbird, Hooded Merganser

All week long, I looked forward to Saturday's nice looking forecast and some time off from work. With the day finally upon me, I headed out to Tifft Nature Preserve, the spot I chose to spend my sunny off-hours. Three-quarters of the way there, though, I saw a huge fog rolling in off the lake. What an odd phenomenon: one minute it was gorgeous and sunny, and the next, everything was encased in an eerie haze. 

As I made my way through the preserve, the fog gradually lifted and things began to look up. I spent a lot of time hunting for owls, but I had no luck. I searched for abandoned hawk nests hoping to see a Great Horned nesting in one, but all I saw was the unoccupied Osprey nest (they'll be back soon - I just read they're already en route from South America). Each pine grove I came upon, I searched for Saw-whets, I looked for Short-eareds in the open fields, and every tree cavity was scanned for an Eastern Screech Owl. No luck today: nada! I did get a tip yesterday that a screech was visible at its usual spot - perched high and enjoying some sunshine. I'm including with this post a photo of that guy - along with another more recent photo of the Great Horned on her nest. The Great Horned is a little higher and both ears and eyes are visible this time.

A Black-capped Chickadee boldly skipped around me from branch to branch, practically begging for a handout. For once, I remembered to pack some seeds and gladly obliged the little beggar. From then on, we were best friends, and he literally followed me throughout the entire park! I must have had the pleasure of having him perch on my hand at least 100 times! What joy!

My highlights today, other than the audacious chickadee, were Hooded Mergansers, a Song Sparrow, and a Northern Mockingbird. I also enjoyed hearing a few Red-winged Blackbirds and a particularly boisterous Northern Cardinal. That guy really sang his heart out! I was disappointed I didn't find any Eastern Bluebirds. I saw one yesterday in Orchard Park and my daughter has been seeing them every day in Angola, so I fully expected to find some in the fields checking out the nest boxes.
 
Seen today:
Canada Goose - 70+
Mallard - 8
Hooded Merganser - 4
Northern Cardinal - 3
Black-Capped Chickadee- 9
Downy Woodpecker - 7
Northern Mockingbird - 1
American Goldfinch - 1
Red-tailed Hawk - 3
Red-winged Blackbird - 4
Song Sparrow - 1


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Eastern Screech Owl (gray morph) taken yesterday
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Momma Great Horned Owl - a little higher in her nest this time. This nest is not located at Tifft but is at a friend's location.
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Foggy start to the day
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A deer peers at me through the dense fog
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Things began to brighten - and listening to the Red-wing Blackbirds sounds helped brighten the mood too
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Feeding the chickadee - taken with my camera phone
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A close up of my new best friend
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He was just too photogenic!
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A Northern Mockingbird
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Northern Mockingbird
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Downy Woodpecker (male) - I saw so many of them today - at least 7!
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Hooded Mergansers seen again later, after the fog had lifted
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Northern Cardinal (female)
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And here's that songster male Northern Cardinal - I tried hard but couldn't get a clear shot of him!
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Red-tailed Hawk
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White-tailed Deer
Reply from: ann powell on 3/12/2013 9:28 AM
 Nice to see the pic of the screech owl. I've never seen one in real-life. I have seen a baby great horned owl here in Florida. He is amazing...as big as the parent but so fluffy with big circles around his eyes. I enjoy your blog. nice job. Makes me anxious to get back to spring in Buffalo. i watch Florida birds in the winter.
Reply from: Sue on 3/12/2013 11:29 AM
 Hi Ann, How lucky for you to be able to watch the baby Great Horned Owl grow! I’m hoping to get some views of the youngster(s) when the eggs hatch for the one I’ve been seeing who is nesting right now. It should be soon, I would think! Thanks for your nice words; I’m amazed someone in Fla is reading my blog - but it sounds like you’re a WNY resident for some of the year. Spring is starting here in Buffalo! I saw my first robin this morning and there were 16 turkey vultures flying overhead last night. The big deal amongst the WNY birders right now is all the snow geese that are being reported in the Finger Lake region. It makes me want to take the drive out there - reports are giving numbers around 100,000! It must be an amazing spectacle! Thanks so much for writing! ~ Sue