Recently I attended a special event at the Whallonsburg Grange presented by the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge and Rehabilitation Center in which I got a close look at several local fascinating birds of prey!
Wendy Hall and her assistants from the wildlife refuge brought several birds that were permanent refuge residents. The 3 R’s of the refuge are rescue, rehabilitate, and release. However, sometimes animals heal the best they can, but not to an extent that would allow them to survive in the wild. If this occurs the animals remain taken care of at the refuge and can be used for educational purposes.
The Mischievous Crow
The first animal we were introduced to was a crow that had been released from the refuge but returned because he knew he’d be taken care of. Crows are not actually birds of prey but corvids (in the same class as ravens and blue jays). They are one of the most intelligent birds in the world, and this male loved playing tricks by pulling on hair and untying people’s shoes.
The first bird of prey we learned about was a small female Screech Owl that weighed about 4 ounces. Despite her size a male would be smaller–with owls the females are the larger gender! She is still with the refuge because one of her wings will not allow her to fly anymore.
These owls are plentiful in the Adirondacks, but they are rarely seen because they are masters of camouflage. When a piece of bark was held up behind the owl it was apparent how it disappears in the woods. The tufts of feathers that look like ears do help enhance this owl’s great hearing, but they also act as part of its camouflage by stretching to mimic branches of a tree.
Despite its name this owl doesn’t make a screeching sound–the Barn Owl would be more apt for that name!
The Barn Owl brought by the refuge was also a female (all of the owls that night were) and about 2 1/2 years old. She was bred in captivity. This owl loves to live in barns and similar buildings.
In some countries these owls are seen as bad omens and driven away or killed, but with education about how useful they can be to farmers by controlling the rodent population that bad reputation is being replaced! Owls are great hunters because of their excellent hearing and ability to fly silently.
The Adirondack Wildlife Refuge and Rehabilitation Center is involved in a program that is trying to get farmers to work with Barn Owls instead of relying on harmful pesticides. Barn Owl boxes can be built and set up around a farm that will attract these owls, and they will happily control rodent populations. Continue reading more about this in Barn Owl Boxes: Natural Rodent Control.
This owl looks fairly large, but the majority of that is her feathers. The Barred Owl‘s name comes from the bar pattern on her feathers.
The most commonly known call of this owl is something that sounds like ‘who cooks for you‘, but during their mating seasons they also can make noises that remind some of a group of monkeys.
They mostly eat rodents, but they are large enough to catch and eat a cat! This is why cats should stay indoors at night! All owls have two toes in front and two in back that make a very good claw for catching prey. This owl’s grip is very strong–more than the strongest human hand could create!
This was the smallest owl at the event. It weighed about 3 ounces and was only about as long as my hand. This owl remained with the refuge because she was partially blind. The name comes from a sound that this owl makes that sounds like a knife on a whet-stone.
All in all this was an amazing event, and I was so excited to see these beautiful owls up close!