Zoe the Mighty Hunter

Winter Storm Ulmer has been an incredible storm so far — we woke up to rain that quickly changed to sleet, then snow. The atmospheric pressure keeps dropping — Pueblo, Colorado, set an unofficial low pressure record already this morning, and it’s supposed to drop further.

But even in the middle of a bomb cyclone, animals gotta eat. And so we had a robin and a squirrel at the feeders this morning.

And there are those who must keep watch…

The feeder is in the top of the photo, Zoe is waiting in ambush behind the steps, as my husband took this picture from inside our sunroom.

We called her in after we took this photo. If an animal is trying to eat in this, it must be really desperate. And Zoe was glad to come.

Just after we took this shot, five hours into this storm, we had a significant peel of thunder.

Stay home if you can, and stay safe.

Posted in Colorado Mileposts | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Angry Eagles

This morning, one of the bald eagles at the Fort St. Vrain nest was very upset about something.

She had several different calls. Some sounded like a song bird, others a little like a gull.
https://birdsna.org/Species-Account/bna/species/baleag/introduction

None were the bold dramatic call we hear in movies — that’s actually a red-tailed hawk.

My husband thinks there was a hawk nearby. Spreading her wings out like this looks like an attempt to look bigger than normal.

Her call here sounded a little like a goose.
She cried …
…and cried…
…and cried…
…and cried. She called incessantly for at least an hour.

I didn’t get to see what finally calmed her down. But when I checked the next day, all the eggs were still there.

As always when talking about the St. Vrain Bird Cam, all photographs are courtesy of Xcel Energy.

Posted in Colorado Mileposts | 1 Comment

Snowy Bald Eagle Nest

It was a cold morning at the Bald Eagle nest.

Photo Courtesy Xcel Energy Bird Cam
Posted in Colorado Mileposts | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Bald Eagle Egg #3, Day 1

The Fort St. Vrain Bald Eagles have been busy. They’ve added more sticks to their nest…

Male brings another stick to the nest — this seems to be an ongoing remodeling project, kinda like our bathroom renovation.

… they are eating well…

… and as of this morning, they’ve laid a third egg.

If I’ve counted correctly, we should start seeing eaglets around March 20.

Posted in Colorado Mileposts | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Bald Eagle Egg #2 Day 1

The Fort St. Vrain Bald Eagles fussed about their nest again today. Those sticks just aren’t quite right!

The eagle in the foreground stood up when the smaller eagle in the background flew in. The smaller eagle is fussing with the sticks that make up the nest. Photo courtesy Excel Bird Cam.
Moving the stick. Photo courtesy Excel Bird Cam.

The larger eagle, in the foreground, flew off, and left us with a view of the smaller eagle — and two eggs.

Eagle with two eggs, as of sometime today. Photo courtesy Excel Bird Cam.

Of concern: snow and single digit night time temperatures for the next few days…

Posted in Colorado Mileposts | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Bald Eagle Egg #1, Day 1

The Bald Eagles at the St. Vrain Power Plant in Platteville, Colorado laid their first egg of the season sometime last night or early this morning.

When I checked in on them around 10:00 this morning, one of the eagles was sitting in the depression they had carefully created in the nest.https://amylaw.blog/2019/02/10/eagle-cam/

This eagle is exhibiting typical brooding behavior — sitting in one spot for long periods of time.

I wasn’t sure she had an egg there, but she didn’t move for a very long time.

Just as I was getting ready actually get to my work, the eagle stood up. I was able see the egg just to the side of her tail.

Newly laid bald eagle egg to the left of eagle’s tail.

Moments after she stood up, the other eagle returned, with a branch in it’s beak.

The stick needed to be placed in just the right place.

I was surprised at how much they dragged that stick around, and that they didn’t hit the egg.

Excel has two cameras on the eagle nest at St. Vrain. The rest of these images are from a different perspective, because I switched to the other camera.

The stick was repositioned several times, and some of the branches trimmed with a quick snip of the beak. Finally, it was in a good spot.

Stick is in the right place

The eagles touched beaks, and one, presumably the male took off. I have no idea if the beak-touching is a frequent thing, or was just for Valentines Day. Sorry. A little anthropomorphizing.

Eagles touch beaks before one flies off.

The remaining eagle fluffed the nest a little, rolled the egg, and settled in

Parent eagle fluffing the nest.
She rolled the egg…
… and settled in.

Most of the egg-brooding is done by the female. She has 35 days to go before this chick hatches out. Bald Eagles lay between one and three eggs, so we’ll have to keep watching to see if more eggs appear.

Posted in Colorado Mileposts | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Eagle Cam

Many years ago, the local power company, Public Service of Colorado, placed a nest box on the smokestack of one of their power plants. They put a camera inside, and watched what happened.

What happened was that a pair of Great Horned Owls moved in and raised a family. The public got to watch. Very cool.

Fast forward several decades. PSC merged with two other power companies in 1995 to form Excel. One of the other companies also had bird cams (which is the story you read in their “Information” page.) Excel now has at least five raptor cams, three in Colorado and two in Minnesota. https://birdcam.xcelenergy.com/cams

Both Bald Eagles and Great Horned Owls begin nesting in January, if you can believe it. Right now, I’ve only seen activity in the Bald Eagle nest. https://birdcam.xcelenergy.com/cams/xcel_energy_eagle_cams/eagle_cam_two

The male, in the foreground, has a bloody beak, after eating a rabbit, the remains of which are just to the left of his head. The female is rearranging the sticks to her liking. Courtesy Excel Energy Bird Cam

I saw them mating earlier, and interestingly, in this pair, the male seems to be the larger. In raptors, usually, it is the female who is bigger.

The female continues to rearrange sticks. Courtesy Excel Energy Bird Cam.

I have two monitors on my computer and have one on the bird cam permanently. I look forward to watching the nest cams through the spring and summer. I hope you enjoy them, too!

Posted in Colorado Mileposts | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Library Goose

I love going to the library! You get the entire world at your fingertips — fiction, science, art, music, geese.

Yes, geese were at the library this morning. Colorado has become a wintering stop for vast numbers of Canada geese, who earn their keep by turning dead grass on lawns into organic fertilizer. But this small flock included this odd duck — er — goose.

The bird in the center doesn’t have a white “chin strap” as the Canada Geese do. And it has orange feet. It’s bill is blunter, and it doesn’t look as heavy as the other birds.

I think the bird in the center is an immature blue-morph Snow Goose. Snow Geese breed in the far north, on the Arctic coasts of North America. There are three populations of Snow Geese — western, mid-continent and eastern.

There are two color forms, or morphs of Snow Geese — white or blue. While the coastal Snow Geese populations are mostly the traditional white, the mid-continent populations has a high percentage of blue-morphs. And this is apparently an immature blue-morph.

I took these shots with my cell phone. Now that I know that at least one Snow Goose is hanging out with the Canada Geese at the library, I need to take my camera with me when I go, to get some better photographs of them.

Posted in Colorado Mileposts | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Red-Tailed Hawk

As I pulled into my driveway this afternoon, I spotted a red-tailed hawk about 20 feet up in a cottonwood across the street.

I think this bird is a female, based on her size — female raptors are bigger than males. And she is big.

You can see how big this bird is when you realize that she is about 20 feet up in a cottonwood.

I’ve seen her several times in the neighborhood, usually being mobbed by the resident crows, ravens and magpies.

Which brings up the question — why is she in a suburban neighborhood? I mean, we are on the very western edge of the Denver metro area, with the mountains about half a mile away — she might cruise in once in a while to see what she could take, but the open foothills are better habitat for her. And we have a healthy resident population of woodland raptors like Coopers and sharp-shinned hawks that already patrol this territory.

Local Red-tailed hawk watching a boy walking home from school. She looks like she’s judging her chances, but non-nesting raptors don’t attack people — we’re too big to eat. Rabbits, prairie dogs, medium-sized birds are her usual prey.

She gave me no answers. I’ll just have to watch her like a hawk this winter, and see what happens.

Posted in Colorado Mileposts | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Zoe, the Pet Therapy Dog

After trainingĀ  (Zoe the Corgi’s First Day of Pet Therapy) and an initial evaluation, Zoe and I went to our final Pet Therapy evaluation today. Considering that Zoe is my third dog in the program (Dog as God’s Messenger), I was surprisingly nervous. I worried that I might forget something or that rules might have changed while I wasn’t looking.

Things started off well. We met Lyn, our evaluator, at hospice, and proceeded to visit the staff. We always try to see all the staff we can at hospice. It takes a special person to work there, and they deserve all the warm fuzzies we can give them. Zoe was her charming self, her little stub of a tail wagging furiously as she dashed over to see her next new best friend.

Once all the hospice staff had been suitably loved, we walked down the hall to see patients and family. As we approached our first room, we were surprisedĀ  by a little Scottie who came charging out of the room, barking to mark it’s territory. Zoe, startled and challenged, barked back.

I groaned inside as red-alert alarms went off in my brain. Pet Therapy dogs are not supposed to bark in the hospital. I corrected Zoe by giving her the “leave it” and “quiet” commands, but I also waited for Lyn to show us the door.

But Lyn just shrugged. While patients can bring pets into hospice, they are supposed to abide by the same rules as pet therapy dogs, and not bark in the building. This dog had startled Zoe, and barked a challenge. Zoe responded, but quieted almost instantly. No harm, no foul. Whew!

The rest of the visit went fine. We shared the love with patients and visitors. I didn’t make any mistakes. Lyn’s biggest concern was that Zoe pulled at the end of her leash in her eagerness to get to people. Since she weighs 22 pounds, it wasn’t as if she was going to pull loose and go tearing down the hall. With age and experience, and me gently reminding her, we agreed that she’ll settle down and save her energy for wagging her tail stub.

So it’s official: Zoe has earned her purple scarf, and is now a Pet Therapy dog.

Posted in Pets | Tagged , | 8 Comments