Cold Birds

Rough night, little merlin? If you look close you can see a little feather stuck to her cere (nose). Usually all the education birds at The Raptor Center live their life in their mews outside, almost all of our education birds are birds that would be found in Minnesota. The only exceptions are the turkey vulture and the barn owl. With the extreme cold, the bird curator doesn't want to take any chances so most of our education birds come indoors when it's below zero.

Here are a couple of our female peregrines perched in what is normally our room for prepping birds for programs. That's a travel crate that we use for the birds sitting between them. You may notice that the crate is covered save for a few air holes. Birds stay more relaxed when being transported by car or plane if they can't see what's going on outside the crate. If we have to bring in several birds at night, they will sleep inside their travel crates.

The education courtyard where we house the birds was relatively quiet. We had a fresh layer of snow this morning (right at rush hour--the get out of jail free card for those who are perpetually late). With the snow making the stairs slick and the sub zero temps making it uncomfortable for people and risky for birds, we didn't do too many outdoor tours today.

I did do a walk around to take a few portraits of the fluffed up birds outside. Here is a red-tailed hawk. Most of our red-tails are pretty hardy.

Here, Andi the golden eagle is keepin' it real by hanging outside in the sub zero weather. I know she is supposed to look fierce and everything, but it's hard to take that seriously when she has snow piling up on her head. If I haven't mentioned it before, she is blind in her left eye, that's why you don't see a pupil.

Above is Sam the white phase great horned owl, fluffing up to stay warm. She has snow piling on her as well, but you can't see it with her lighter colored feathers. This is a color phase of great horned owls that you can see in Minnesota--usually further north. Think about all the birches and aspens, wouldn't she blend in perfectly with that bark? All of our great horned owls are so in the mating mood right now. It's tough giving a program with an owl that is imprinted on humans this time of year. They hoot so much at you and at the audience it's difficult to get a word in edgewise.

Now, here is something to wrap your brain around. All of you experiencing the sub zero weather right now: great horned owls are incubating eggs and quite possibly chicks as you read this. Thank goodness for warm downy feathers.

Oh, it was so strange yesterday. FM 107 had a promo for Ian and Margery playing all day and the promo sampled me saying "peter peter peter peter peter peter". I swear I was doing a cardinal impression. But it was still weird to hear me every fifteen minutes on the radio. I find I talk more about sex than birds on that show, but I still feel I'm doing a service by showing that birders can talk about more than just birds.

When I went to get the link for FM 107, I just noticed that my accountant is advertising on their site. If you need a great tax accountant this season, I can't recommend Dan enough--he's great--especially if you have complicated taxes and hate dealing with money. He got us our first refund in four years and even apologized that it wasn't more. I love much as a happily married woman can platonically love an accountant.