A Tough Beginning

April 29, 2010

I get to witness something new nearly every day, however that doesn’t mean that I understand what I see.  Something has been off with the resident White-tailed Kites this year.  Until yesterday, it was merely a nagging thought deep in my mind, that was easily pushed away.  The female kite has been acting differently for many weeks now, and I’m not at all convinced this is the same one as in year’s past.  Individually, her previous actions could be downplayed as over analysis on my part.  But now there is no question.   Yesterday, we witnessed her repeatedly threatening to attack one of her own young, who had just fledged last week.  Strangely, the pair of Kites constructed a second nest before their first batch had fledged.  Now that the female seems to be sitting on new eggs, she is treating her current fledgling (we have not seen the 2nd fledgling) as a threat to the new nest and chases it away every time it takes flight.  It was a sad sight to see, and we’re worried about the youngster.

“Juvenile White-tailed Kite”  –  Goleta, California

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The Guilty One

April 27, 2010

Here’s the real perp!  I think we may have found the nest the following day.  The images are too macabre to share…

Does this guy look guilty, or what!!

Crow Behavior

April 27, 2010

A few days ago, we witnessed some interesting behavior by an American Crow.  It was hopping around the branches of an oak tree, which seemed sort of strange, and the nearby songbirds were very upset and continuously calling in alarm.  We assumed it was looking to steal the eggs or chicks out of a nearby bird’s nest.  It looked like the crow knew a nest was nearby but didn’t know exactly where it was.  All of a sudden the crow flew up to the upper part of the tree and disappeared from view.  Moments later we saw it flying away with an entire bird nest in its beak.  We tried following the crow but couldn’t find it again, so we returned to the scene of the crime to look for eggs or baby birds on the ground.  Alas, we found nothing.

“American Crow”  –  This is not the perpetrator of the above crime, but is certainly guilty of some dastardly deed.

Quote of the Day – April 22, 2010

April 22, 2010

I read this humorous quote on the New York Times this morning:

“If you’re an animal, it’s probably unnerving to be tripping over photographers every time you want to mark your territory or eat a wildebeest.”

“Doh!”  –  Thankfully there were no Wildebeests around.

Predatory Nature

April 1, 2010

There is an unsavory side to life that most people don’t get to experience first-hand.  Some choose to ignore the realities of nature, while others are offended by these realities.  (If you are, it might be a good idea not to view the extended post.)  I’m currently reading a great book by William Stoltzenburg called “Where the Wild Things Were: Life, Death, and Ecological Wreckage in a Land of Vanishing Predators”.  As you probably gathered from the title, this book is about how the presence of predators shapes their environment.   The most famous recent example of this is the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone.  Their presence has had a disproportionate effect on the Elk herds and has allowed portions of the river environment to recover and new trees to grow for the first time in over 80 years.

So, how does this relate to me and bobcats in sunny Santa Barbara?  A lot of people enjoy seeing my bobcat photos, especially when they look cute-and-cuddly and are acting like pet cats.  The last time I posted an image of a bobcat with a rabbit in its mouth, I got a far different response.  I can understand not wanting to see graphic images of an animal in pain, (it is far more difficult to witness in person, the sounds and sight of their prey dying) but I feel that I am perpetrating an untruth by only sharing the G-rated side of their life.

Recently, the young female chased and caught a rabbit right in front of us.  We have noticed that if she does not immediately deliver a fatal bite, she becomes very cautious around her prey.  I assume she had a negative experience while much younger because we have witnessed this behavior multiple times.  Too many, her unwillingness to immediately kill her prey will be seen as callous or sadistic.  However, she must hunt for a living and it is a dangerous occupation.  Going back to the wolves for a just a minute:  at least one of the packs in Yellowstone has specialized in preying on bison.  This is a particularly dangerous affair and bringing down a single animal can take all day and usually results in broken bones or even death among some members of the wolf pack.  A baby bunny is far less dangerous than an adult bison, but a well timed bite to the bobcat’s face could lead to a nasty infection or worse, losing an eye (we have seen scratches around her eyes).  So, if her initial attack is not fatal it is far safer for her to wait until her prey weakens and dies, however horrible this seems from our perspective.

“Searching”  –  Young Female Bobcat, Goleta, CA

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