Adolescent Owls Hold “Hands” & Prepare for a Night Out

Owls hold hands and prepare for a night out.

Adolescent Great Horned Owls holding hands.

This is Part I of a series of short videos I am making about a Great Horned Owl family that lives in my neighborhood. It documents 2 young Great Horned Owls having a hard time waking up after a hard-day’s sleep. Then it follows them as they gradually become very active and fierce as darkness falls.

These adolescent owls are probably about 4-5 months old at the time of filming. They are excellent flyers and I suspect that they are capable of catching prey.

One adult owl stays nearby, however, I have rarely seen the adult interact with the adolescents. I found skunk remains in an owl pellet below the roost of one of young owls. I don’t know if the skunk was caught by the youngster or given to it by the adult owl.

The owls frequently bob and circle their heads, often in a comical way! Naturalists believe that this behavior helps them to better judge the distance to objects of interest. You may have noticed the “horns” or “ear tufts” of feathers starting to sprout from the top of their heads. Although these tufts of feathers look like ears in adult owls, they are not. The rather large ears are actually located and hidden behind the flat disc area of feathers around their eyes.

Typically, in the field, size is used to tell a male from a female Great Horned Owl. Males weigh about 15% less than females. So, in the video, where the two young owls are “holding hands” I suspect that the larger one on the right is a female, and the other one its male sibling.

Of all North American owls, Great Horned Owls live the longest. The documented record is over 28 years! One of the most common causes of human related deaths of Great Horned Owls is getting blinded by headlights and subsequently hit by cars. Another cause of death is eating poisoned rodents that are easily captured by the owls. So, if you have a rodent problem, please use traps instead of poison to control them.

Another interesting fact about Great Horned Owls is that they don’t build their own nests. They take over other bird’s nests made by hawks, ospreys, crows, etc. or they may nest in the hollow of a tree or other protected structure. They mate and lay their eggs earlier than most birds, so they have an advantage of occupying other birds nests before the original nest-makers are ready to use them.

If you would like to learn more about these fascinating raptors, an excellent book is available at http://bit.ly/1lqG4h4. My website is at http://bukaymedia.com.

Stay tuned for additional short videos about this interesting Great Horned Owl family. Subscribe to my channel for notification of new videos.

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Industrial and Corporate Training Videos: Benefits and Examples

Video Production Services: Benefits and Examples

Here is our latest marketing video for Michael Bukay and Associates’ video production services. It provides a sample of jobs we have completed in a variety of business sectors. Click to play video.

We work with your top people to produce custom videos documenting your procedures. The videos are uploaded to your company’s network and become valuable training and technical resources. They can be wirelessly streamed to laptop computers while the technicians performs the procedures. Version control is simplified because only the latest version is available on the network. Training related travel costs are greatly reduced because the videos can be streamed 24/7 to anywhere in the world. Click to learn more about the safety, cost of ownership, quality assurance, and human factors benefits of this innovative business solution. To learn more about the video production company please visit www.bukaymedia.com.

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Largest California Wildfire: 3 Weeks After

Girl searching through wildfire damaged home

Girl searches through remnants of destroyed home after the Cedar fire in San Diego, CA. Click to play video.

These images were recorded three weeks after the Cedar Fire of October, 2003 in Harbison Canyon, one of many locations hit hard by the fire. Currently, the Cedar fire is the largest wildfire in recorded California history. It damaged or destroyed 2,820 buildings including 2,232 homes, and killed 15 people. I happened to be in the area on a trip, and decided to explore the impact of the fire. As I took the photos, tears were often running down my face as I witnessed the destruction and imagined the sudden losses of so many people. The images you see are just a fraction of the damage that resulted from the Cedar fire. I hope that these disturbing images will inspire you to be ever-vigilant and safe during fire seasons – which are likely to worsen with climate change. For more information on this fire, check out Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cedar_Fire A list of the top 20 largest California wildfires is at: http://www.fire.ca.gov/communications/downloads/fact_sheets/20LACRES.pdf

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Cool Pooch Carries Bed to Fireplace for Comfort

 

Smart Weirmaraner

Amazing dog has the know-how to stay comfortable on a cool winter day. Click to play video.

This smart Weimaraner knows how to stay warm on a chilly winter day. He just grabs his bed from another room and carries it to the fireplace where he can take a toasty nap!

Have you ever seen a dog do this before?

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Amazing Egret Struggles to Swallow Big Gopher

egret swallows gopher

This egret eventually managed to swallow the big gopher. Click to play video.

This egret failed to swallow the gopher on its first attempt. It took about 9 minutes to completely swallow the large gopher that it caught. This video condenses the struggle to about 3 minutes. It doesn’t show the last 3 minutes where the bird mainly still and rested from the struggle. It used gravity very well to help move the gopher towards its stomach.
According to National Geographic, Great blue herons have been known to choke to death by attempting to swallow fish too large for their long, S-shaped necks. The link is at
http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birds/great-blue-heron. I have found no reports of an egret. choking on prey. However, I can easily imagine that this could happen after watching this one struggle to squeeze the big gopher down its skinny neck!

You may notice that there are marks on the egret’s extended neck as it stretches its neck skyward to help swallow the gopher. These marks on the birds plumage may be do the the appendages of the gopher pushing outwards trough the tightened throat skin of the egret.

I filmed this event on March 15, 2012 at Miller Knox Regional Park in Pt. Richmond, CA, along the San Francisco Bay Trail after several days of heavy rains. Two days later, in the same area, I filmed a Great Blue Heron catching 4 gophers in a row! You can watch that video at http://youtu.be/naElLC53tVs. The gophers may have been more vulnerable than usual due to partial flooding of their burrows after the recent rains.

I used a Panasonic GH2 camera to capture the footage.

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Silly Dog Acts Like Ostrich

 

dog with head in gopher hole

Dog’s head, including eyes, are jammed into hole while chasing a gopher. Click to play video.

If someone asked you “What animal is associated with putting its head in the ground?” you would likely say an ostrich.

Our Border Terrier, Alfie, is acting like the proverbial ostrich. He is a determined little guy! He loves challenges. In this video, shot along the SF Bay trail in Miller Knox Park, Richmond, CA., Alfie faces a big challenge that he is eager to take on– trying to catch a gopher by plunging his face into its hole!

This gopher was luckier then the 4 previous ones I filmed only a few hundred yards away. Those four unfortunate rodents were stalked and killed by a much more patient Great Blue Heron (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=naElLC53tVs).

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Fisherman Catching Tons of Herring in SF Bay

commercial Herring Fishing

Commercial fisherman hauling in herring along the shore of Richmond, CA. in the SF Bay. Click to play video.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the SF Bay herring run “is the last urban fishery in the United States in which people can actually sit on shore and watch commercial boats haul in the squiggling fish” (http://tinyurl.com/ltqpfg8). I was very lucky to film the fishermen close-up from only a few feet away along the SF Bay trail in Richmond, Ca. This video documents the commercial herring fishermen during the 2013 fishing season. It records how the nets are set; how predators compete for the fish, and what happens on the boats during a successful harvest.

An earlier video I made, “Gulls Gone Wild” http://youtu.be/coAf-jlAf_4 documents the wild and crazy behavior of hungry birds that accompanies the huge annual feast of caviar. This latest video focuses on the commercial fisherman hauling in tons of herring.

Each winter, the herring come to mate and scatter there eggs which stick to seaweeds, rocks, and other surfaces. The herring are closely followed by hungry birds, sea lions and fisherman. The area in this film was so rich with spawning fish that the fishermen strung 5 sets of gill nets very close to each other. All the nets had abundant catches!

As the fish got caught in the nets, the seagulls, pelicans, and sea lions would steal the fish from the nets. This doesn’t seem to bother the fisherman, however, perhaps because the harvest was so plentiful!

Seagulls are very buoyant and can’t dive very well like ducks. They only have access to the fish caught at the very top of the Nets. They put on quite a show trying to dive down into the water trying to remove the trapped fish. The pelicans are better equipped. Their long beaks provide much better access to the fish. The sea lions and seals have the best advantage of all. They can dive as deep as they need to for access to this rich source of food.

This 2013 fishing season in the San Francisco Bay was a very good one. Many fishermen caught their limits early and left the area for other fishing grounds. With the fisherman gone, the birds continue to feed on the herring eggs that cover the rocks, sea weed, and piers. For more information about the SF Bay herring fishery check out http://tinyurl.com/knfc7o7.

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Close-up of Sea Otter Eating Live Crab

California Sea Otter

California Sea Otter eating a live crab. Click to play video. Warning: graphic imagery.

I was walking along the Coast Guard Pier in Monterey, Ca. when I filmed this amazing site with a Panasonic Lumix FZ35 point and shoot camera from about 15′ away. I felt sorry for the crab being eaten alive, but such is natures way.

This pier is an amazing place to watch a huge variety of wildlife including herons, pelicans and seals. The sound is ambient as recorded on the pier.

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Walking Stick Insect Close Up

Walking Stick Insect Close Up

Most people think walking stick insects eat other insects. They are vegetarians. Click to play video.

Here are some video and close up images of the Walking Stick Insect I photographed in Pt. Richmond, California. It was about 5″ long. Walking Stick insects are fairly common in our neighborhood but hard to see due to their camouflage. They remind some people of Praying Mantises; however, unlike the former,  Walking Sticks are herbivores. For more info check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phasmatodea. here is a great link to a close up video of a different kind of Walking Stick feeding: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQKsLyKA05s.

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Gophers’ Worst Nightmare

Great Blue Heron kills 4 gophers in a row.

This heron caught and killed four gophers in a row without a miss! Click to play video.

 

Ever wonder why fish-eating herons and egrets are often seen standing in fields? This video provides some clues. This Great Blue Heron caught and killed four gophers in a row without a miss! Two gophers were swallowed and two were left uneaten. The first gopher was quite large and took some effort and lubrication from a water puddle to swallow. Herons have been known to choke to death while trying to swallow large prey, but not this time.

I was surprised to see the heron continue to hunt and kill more gophers than it ate. I suspect that it enjoyed hunting for fun as well as for food. I filmed the heron for about 90 minutes in the late afternoon. I don’t know how many gophers the heron may have caught before I arrived at the scene.

The heron struck the gophers so hard that they appeared to die very quickly after the first blow. Gopher #4 was struck only once; and then it was quickly dropped to the ground. The heron watched it for about 15 minutes, as if to see if it moved, and then walked away without eating the dead gopher. The heron appeared to continue to hunt for more gophers as darkness fell. I got cold and went home.

I filmed this event on March 17, 2012 at Miller Knox Regional Park in Pt. Richmond, CA, along the San Francisco Bay Trail after several days of heavy rains. The gophers on this fateful day may have been more vulnerable than usual due to partial flooding of their burrows after the recent rains. I used a Panasonic GH2 camera to capture the footage.

If you have issues with gophers damaging your garden or landscape, don’t you wish you could rent a Great Blue Heron like this one for a few days?

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