Monday, July 14, 2014

Nature Notes: Spotted Owls and Black Raspberries

Last month we were privileged to see a spotted owl twice.  First Nathan (6), then Gregory (8), spotted the owl's movement out the window around dusk and we were able to watch the owl as he perched in a tree right next to our house.

On June 16th, we unfortunately found a decapitated owl chick on the ground near a large cedar.  In comparing it to photos online, we felt fairly confident that it was a spotted owl chick.  It was about 8" long (err, sans head) and had been dead awhile.  We speculated a great deal about what might have happened, and wondered mightily where the nest might be.  We also wondered if there might be another chick.

Last week, we were visited by this guy!  Nathan noticed him and and we were able to watch him fly to several different perching spots around our house and listen to him call out.  He was about 12" tall, and seemed about 2/3 the size of the adults we had seen last month.  He seemed quite interested in watching us, cocking his head and observing us quite closely. The owl chick's wings were fully feathered, but he was still covered with down on his body and head.  We probably got to watch him for about 30 minutes, before it became too dark to see him anymore.  We heard the same call for several nights after that, but have not heard it the last couple of nights.

We also have been picking black raspberries off our property in the last few days.  Last year we found a small section of berries that didn't look quite like blackberries, and were ripe several weeks before the blackberries should be ripe.  We did a little research, and found that they were black raspberries.  I had never heard of such a thing, but we thought they were quite tasty.

We watched for them eagerly this year, and as they started to ripen we realized they had spread and were all over the hill where we originally found them!  Last year we were only able to pick a tantalizing handful or so, but this year we've been able to pick enough to bring a cup or more back home.  Granted, it still isn't a huge amount by any means - we won't be making jam from them anytime soon! - but it was enough to snack on, add to our pancakes yesterday and have some in our oatmeal.


  1. We had black raspberries on Lazy Dog. Yummy, and I loved that they lengthened the berry season for us!

    So glad you got to see the owl! Fun! "Country living" is great!

  2. Owls always look so otherworldly to me--what a sight! I will admit that I have never seen an owl "in the wild." But our local wildlife rehabilitation center is very active in the community and goes to lots of local events to introduce the community to their animals and drum up interest in their cause, and they have quite a few animals that are permanent residents of their center--including several pygmy owls that are tiny and amazing, as well as a barn owl. Such beautiful creatures!

  3. We were down at the Lindsay Museum last month and we all stared at their owls on display for quite awhile. They have such amazing eyes, and such a look of intense concentration. I hadn't ever seen them in the wild until we moved up here, or at least not enough to get more than a sense of movement as they glided from one tree to another. And this has been our best owl year yet. I've read that spotted owls often have two nesting sites and the pair will alternate between them. Which is interesting, because we didn't see owls last year, but did the year before. I wonder if we won't see them next year, but might the following year...

    1. Now that would definitely be something for the Calendar of Firsts! :) How neat if you could make that observation. (And hey, if they're there next year two, then that will be great as well!)