Friday, February 12

Birds of a Feather

The other day while working in the kitchen, I looked out the window to see a large white bird flying low above the field across the road. 
It swooped, flew in figure eights, dove, landed, flew again, circled the get the idea.  At first, I thought I might be seeing a snowy owl hunting in the field...

but I realized that this bird had black wing tips, which wasn't normal for a snowy owl.  It flew close to the road, then back to the back of the field; any time that it came close to the road I ran out the front door with my camera in hopes of getting a good photo. 

I got some, but no really good pics of the bird's head.  It was moving quite fast, and was hard to keep in the frame. 

But based on the photos I did get, I think I figured that this is a Northern Harrier.  I looked it up and here are some fun facts, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology:
  • These are the most owl-like bird of this family (so I wasn't that wrong by first thinking it was an owl of some sort).  They are considered part of the hawk family.
  • Their eye color changes from green (young males) and brown (young females) to yellow as they mature.
  • They hunt small animals and critters, including mice, voles, and birds, but have been known to attack larger prey as well like rabbits and ducks, subduing them by drowning the prey.  Kind of mean.
  • The adult males are white and black, and the adult females are brown, black, and white.
I love living out in the country.  So far, we've seen fox, deer, pheasants, hawks, and falcons, and I might be forgetting some things!  I just love seeing the wildlife.  But I'm always reminded that they are indeed wild, and it's a great reminder as I plan for future expansion, like chickens who will need protection and gardens that will need fences. 

What do you see most in your yard?

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