Thursday, March 12, 2015

Great Horned Owls at Merced National Wildlife Refuge (and the 100th blogpost!)

Why do owls seem to scowl so much? In this instance, the reason is clear. Despite being on the road and in our car, the owl was not all that happy that we seemed to see her sitting in her nest. We were at the Merced National Wildlife Refuge providing a bon voyage for the geese that were still there, but of course we were looking for birds of any kind. As we drove through the barren trees of the eastern margin of the auto tour, we could see some large knots, but one of them resolved into a pile of sticks.
Sticks with eyes...
The Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) has proven to be a dependable sight at the Merced National Wildlife Refuge, as we saw them the last time we visited a month ago. But I've never seen one in a nest before. They tend to take over the nests of other birds and modify them to their own needs. It helps that they lay eggs weeks or months ahead of many other birds.
I guess the trees are leafing out soon, so we might not get the chance to see the nestliings on our next trip, but you can be sure we'll looking.

This has been the 100th blog of Geotripper's California Birds, a purely amateur birding site that I've been doing simply for fun. Part of the purpose is educational, of course, but mostly it's for the fun of getting exercise and exploring some of the corners of our valley that I did not know existed. I've posted photos of 80 different species of birds so far, and since beginning the blog in the middle of September of last year, I've had 8,600 page views. The most viewed posts were the Yellow-rumped Warblers in my back yard (323 views), the Anna's Hummingbird that Mrs. Geotripper photographed in our front yard (192 views), and the Killdeer I photographed at the Merced National Wildlife Refuge (155 views). I don't know why the warblers were the most popular, but I suspect it had to do with the name itself (but maybe someone learned something anyway). I have plenty of pictures in the archives and have no plans to stop our weekend excursions, so I may keep at this for awhile. I'm getting better at bird identification, but as always I appreciate any corrections and comments you have. But more than anything else I want to thank the small cadre of friends who read regularly!


  1. This seems like a good time to say thank you for sharing your birds. It is nice to have the opportunity to hear about and see photos of the birds of the other side of the country.

  2. Thanks for the kind comment! It's appreciated.