2birdfeature #2

Bald Eagles and Great Horned Owls weren't the only raptors on Protection Island, turns out. There was also a nest of Northern Harriers tucked away in the grassy heart of the island. I missed the male (a bluish-grey almost owl-looking hawk) because his family duty had already been fulfilled. Males typically stick around to feed the female while she's incubating her eggs and then maybe two weeks after the eggs hatch. But I did catch the female on several occasions. I should actually say that she caught me with her "kyeh kyeh kyeh" chatter. She wasn't overly fond of me existing on the same island as her nestlings. 20130621-DSCN0552

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I suspect that this is the closest I ever came to discovering where her nest was. She was not happy about it.

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I donated all the bird carcasses I found during my stay on the island to the Burke Museum in Seattle, WA. One of those carcasses was unfortunately (and fortunately, at the same time) one of the harrier chicks. Harrier nestlings often wander around their nest after they get their sea legs and this one wandered a bit too far and was likely killed by an eagle or owl. I think it was one of only two chicks, which is a small brood for a Northern Harrier. The size of the brood is directly related to how well voles reproduce prior to harrier breeding. If it's a good vole year (lots and lots of voles to snack on), there will be more eggs in the nest.

The second bird today will be the Northwestern Crow. What do these two birds have in common? They both wanted me to get the hell away from their nests and did not hesitate to tell me so. The Northwestern Crow is smaller than other crows (see Making My Way to Protection Island for more on these crows).

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If you like posts in the middle of the week, let me know. Next time, we return to Newfoundland to scope out the winter birds of Quidi Vidi Lake.