And the Eastern Bluebirds have returned as well. We saw one today sitting on a wire checking out the landscape. The male usually returns first to check out nesting sites before the female Bluebird returns.
These two pictures of Eastern Bluebirds were taken last fall by Ted. It could be they were lining up the nesting sites for this season. It's time to clean out your birdhouses and put them out if you stored them for the winter. It won't be long now before you hear the Red Wing Blackbirds in the fields and the Robins singing their morning songs.
|Pair of Eastern Bluebirds|
But, one of our most exciting times this past week was to be able to capture some photos of Snowy Owls right here in Mexico, NY. Ted and I used to take off in the car in winters past looking for Snowy Owls along the Lake Ontario shoreline and the open fields of Jefferson County. We know that Snowy Owls like open fields to hunt for mice, voles and other small creatures. Our Town of Mexico has beautiful farm fields, but there is also a lot of woods around here so I wasn't sure if we would find any in these spaces.
|Female Snowy Owl - photo taken in Mexico, NY on February 14, 2018|
|Another view of the female Snowy Owl- this view shows a very dark head and broad dark bands on the back.|
|Male Snowy Owl - taken by Ted Link on February 20, 2018|
One of my neighbors, years ago, said that he had seen one not too far from our road. And a few of my other friends in Mexico had also spotted Snowy Owls this year in the Mexico area. Snowy Owls actually live and breed far north in the Arctic. The immature Snowy Owls migrate to areas south of their breeding grounds when the food supply for winter in their northern habitat has diminished. So the Snowy Owls you see in the United States and Southern Canada are immature owls.
|Another photo of the male Snowy Owl - taken by Ted on February 20, 2018|
After the spotting the first Snowy on February 14, Ted was on his way home from town (February 20) and he spotted the Snowy Owl in the same area. He didn't have his camera with him and he debated about going back for more pictures because the weather was foggy and drizzly. So the curiosity in Ted led him back for more pictures. After he loaded the pictures on the computer we noticed a distinct difference in the Snowy Owl from the first one we photographed on February 14, and the second one he photographed on February 20. One was more lighter than the other one which most likely was a male and the darker one most likely is a female.
The immature male is more white that the immature female. Also, the dark bands on the feathers of the male are narrower, and the immature female has darker and broader band markings on her feathers.
Here is a link that gives some information on identifying immature Snowy Owls.
It won't be long now before the Snowy Owls will be returning to their breeding habitat in the arctic tundra. Snowy Owls like to perch on items in open fields or lake shores and if you're out driving around and hope to see a Snowy Owl look for them on telephone poles, fence posts, roofs of barns, hay bales, garages, etc. They also will sit on a raised hill or mound.
Here is some more information on Snowy Owls. Cornell Guide - Snow Owl
And a link to one of my previous blog posts: Still Looking for Those Elusive Snowy Owls
Another link to one of my blog posts that has more information on Snowy Owls:
Are We There Yet (Feb 2014)
And it's time to think about your spring gardening, too. Time to order and start some seeds. I tried starting seeds several times indoors, but I found out that it's a lot easier to go to the nursery and buy sets. I just don't have the right amount of light, heat, space, or patience to grow seedlings. When I have tried it the seedlings usually get moldy, too leggy, or don't germinate at all. But I admire those who can grow their own flowers and vegetables from seed.
USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map
Garden Planting Guide
This is the time of year when you might have the opportunity to see migrating birds. So plan to check out some good birding spots or go for walks in the State Parks and you might find a new species to add to your list.
Good luck birding and spring planting!
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