04/23/14 Who are these people? Well, they are three of SoCal’s (and beyond, I’m sure) upper echelon birders. These guys are good. Very good. Left to right: Bruce Aird, Steve Alter, and Tom Ford-Hutchinson. Why am I recognizing them here? Because over the past few weeks they have been scouting all over Orange County looking for rare, vagrant, unusual, ANY and ALL bird species in preparation for the Starr Ranch Birdathon – our biggest fundraiser. This is where we spend 24 hours trying to log as many different species and take the final total and multiply it by the pledges/species we received. This is where you folks can help. With only two days to go we are at $22/species pledged. Our goal is $200 per. So if you can help out – ANY amount pledged is appreciated – we can strike out knowing that each species logged will really help with some much needed support for Starr Ranch. Details and how to pledge or make a flat donation are HERE Thanks, Pete
04/01/14 Just a reminder that a pledge to the Starr Ranch Birdathon (scroll down for more info on our Birdathon) is not required to have two chances to win a Starr Ranch T-shirt or a free ticket to attend any raptor banding event we have here. Click HERE to see how to enter (details are about halfway down that page) Pete.
03/31/14 Yes, it’s that time of year when we have what has become our biggest fundraiser for Starr Ranch – The Starr Ranch Birdathon. I know many of you have been contributing already via the egg pledge and elsewhere for these Barn Owls and I can’t thank you enough. Your generosity makes all the difference when it comes to keeping these cams (and hopefully more) up and running. But we still need to raise a lot more money to keep everything else going at Starr Ranch as well. From our education classes for all ages, to habitat restoration, to something as basic as keeping our buildings in shape – these all require financial support. So, if you’re interested in learning what a birdathon is all about and helping us out you can click HERE for the details. Thanks so much! Pete
11/21/13 I believe Wynne has already taken some guesses for when the first egg will be laid (assuming everything goes well). And I’m going to ask her to give me the details of how more of you can participate so that I can post them here. In the meantime, the winner will get David Sibley’s Guide to Bird Life and Behavior. Good luck, all! Pete
From Publishers Weekly:
“This National Audubon Society publication details the 80 families of birds found in North America, with hundreds of Sibley’s acclaimed full-color paintings, maps, charts and illustrations. Topics range from the familiar—migration, feeding, mating, nesting—to the esoteric, including feather structure, eye configuration, DNA classification, evolution, hybridization and much more. Readers will learn about bird respiration, metabolism, excretion, vocalizations, senses and intelligence, among other subjects.”
10/27/13 Male BNOW ID Some of you may have seen me trying to zoom in on the male’s band yesterday. As it turned out I was able to read 8 of the 9 digits (couldn’t get a glimpse of the last one) and they were the same as last year’s male (1947-1742?). So I have a high degree of certainty that this is, indeed, the same male. But will need to read the last digit to be 100% certain. If it’s a 3, it’s him. Pete
10/25/13 An opportunity to visit Starr Ranch and help us out too…:
Help us protect our native habitat! Please join riparian restoration interns Nikki and Michael for some stream-side weeding for 15 Saturdays throughout November to May. Please see our flyer for dates and more details! Starr Ranch Weed Warrior Flyer
10/02/13 Three things:
Sandy and I are at Arrowhead Lake for the CA Invasive Plant Council Mtg that Sandy helped plan, is on a panel and giving a paper. So remotely changing the PTZ cam from cavity during the day and limb at night is a bit difficult. However, I will monitor the cams and fix if they go down. Will be back Saturday.
There’s an important bill in the CA Assembly that can use letters of support sent to Governor Brown. It’s AB711 and it seeks to get lead ammunition banned. Among other things, it is well documented that lead ammo and/or its fragments – that can end up in game shot but not collected – gets picked up by scavengers, not the least of which are some raptor and mammal species and often results in mortality. Details are here and provide an easy way to send your letter:
If you live in California send the Governor an email.
Were having one of our biannual Family Nature Workshops at Starr Ranch on November 2. If you would like to attend, details and signup can be found here:
November 2, 2013 Starr Ranch Family Nature Workshops
08/24/13 2:00PM PST Jorge here to do some upgrades to the server so cams may be down for a bit. Pete
08/21/13 I talked to someone today who said they saw the Huell Howser show on Starr Ranch just the other night. Here we don’t ever know when it’s gonna re-air. But it is on YouTube and we think a pretty nice piece on what goes on here. If anyone’s interested in checking it out:
Huell Howser Show on Starr Ranch
07/17/13 We now return control of your “television set” to you. (Any of you remember “The Outer Limits” TV show…?). Anyway, spent today trimming a lot of dead wood outta the eucs and a lot of low suckers and branches that would be really volatile if we had fire through here. This also opened up some views to other perches, particularly beyond the “branch”. Pete
07/17/13 Tomorrow the cams are gonna be down for part or all of the day. I need to do some trimming of these eucs, especially around their bases that have lots of suckers, so if we get a fire here we don’t lose them. Will also be routing some wires better (like right now the wire that powers the IR spot on the limb gets driven over 50 times a day and needs to go in a conduit). So please bear with me and know that things will be back up again come nightfall. Pete
07/05/13 Sandy and I taking a long weekend and will be back Sun afternoon. In meantime, while I can change the cam remotely, am gonna leave it on the B/W night view until we get back. Also, I read where you folks say it looks like the 3 fledges are being “weaned”, so to speak, and the adults are starting to be the ones showing up on the limb and in the cavity. Exactly how it’s supposed to happen… And – challenge still on. Time guess of first arrival (fledge or adult) and prey drop gets a Starr Ranch t-shirt. Winners – see directly below. Pete
Independence Day, 2013 I think we need to agree that if two previous non winners guess the same time and it turns out to be the right guess for first appearance on the limb and first prey drop, the first one who guessed the time(s) is the winner. Also, to help me keep track (not miss emails) of winners so I know what kind and where to send the shirt, if you won, please send the following (in the format below) to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Let me know:
Youth or Adult
Long Sleeve or Short Sleeve
SM, M, LG, XL, 2XL
(Note – Youth is short sleeve only and SM, M. L.)
07/02/13 You folks are AWESOME!!! While there are still some donations that came by mail that need processing, Starr Ranch received over $12,000 in contributions towards the 2:1 match. This support is just tremendous and I can’t thank you all enough. Really, a heartfelt thanks to everyone. Pete
In response to the questions about $12K+ in donations during the match period actually meaning $36K+ to Starr Ranch the answer is YES! A HUGE boost to the $250K+ we have to raise each year to keep everything going. Thank you ALL! Pete
06/21/2013 In case you get a glimpse the fledgling band numbers, oldest to youngest, are: 1947-17516, 1947-17517, 1947-17518
06/18/2013 If you’ve been watching and never donated to help keep this cam going – as well as everything else here at Starr Ranch – now would be the time to do so. Until June 30th ALL DONATIONS WILL BE MATCHED 2:1. For example, a $100 donation is actually $300!!! Talk about getting a great bang for your buck! So please consider helping us out with a donation of any amount. It takes real dollars to keep the wheels on everything at Starr Ranch so your support is needed and deeply appreciated. Also, this match applies even if you’ve donated in the past – which means it doesn’t just apply to new donors. The key part is that it starts today and will end on June 30th. Thanks, Pete Donate HERE
06/07/13 I’m going to move the PTZ to the cavity since it seems the chicks are occasionally standing on or near the lip during the day. Also, if you want to check in on the House Finches, we have a page set up for them HERE. Pete
06/06/13 Cooper’s Hawk banding at Starr Ranch, Sunday June 9th, 3-5PM. While Cooper’s hawks are one of eleven raptor species to nest on Starr Ranch they are one of the more uncommon ones. However, we do have some active nests this year and at one I’ll be banding the chicks on Sunday. If you would like to join me and also help raise funds for Starr Ranch you can make a reservation HERE. Pete
06/05/13 We are deep into fire season – things are dry, dry, dry and fire danger is high, high, high at and around Starr Ranch. If any of you would like to volunteer for the South County Fire Watch that Sandy was instrumental in forming, HERE’S what it’s all about. Thanks, Pete
05/31/13 We have a Star Gazing event tonight at Starr Ranch from 7-10PM so I won’t be able to work the PTZ. But I’ll check in afterwards to see what’s going on. And on Saturday evening will try to work the PTZ for a while. Also, if I can get to it today, I’m going to switch the PTZ during the day to a House Finch nest that’s incubating a second clutch. Pete
Houston, We have lift off…
From feather. Thanks! Pete
Chick #1 Complete Branching Mini-Series (complete and unedited)
Lift-off clip: http://youtu.be/mn0Ih4Kq-Is
More Branching/Return?: http://youtu.be/Vq0mWlfyFOE
(This is what I got – hope it’s complete and in order)
05/17/13 Just want to let you know that I’m still editing the RSHA and BNOW banding videos and hope to make available soon. Also, those of you who are getting a Starr Ranch t-shirt through generously supporting our Birdathon, I just got some in and will ship early next week. Pete
05/05/13 Banding Today: I’m going to try to webcast the banding today. If so, it will begin around 1PM PST. If not, I will definitely have a video of all of it available shortly. If the cams are down or working erratically between now and this afternoon it’s likely because I’m trying to set up the webcast. Thanks. Pete
04/29/13 Banding Day I’m going to band these BNOW chicks on Sunday May 5th, 11AM-3PM. If you’d like to join me, details and sign up are HERE. Banding events like this one are also an important fundraiser for us. Hope you can make it! Pete
In the meantime this VIDEO is of the GHOW banding we did here on April 20th.
04/22/13 The Starr Ranch Birdathon is rapidly approaching (It’s next Saturday!) and I could use your help reaching our pledge goal. This is an important fundraiser for us – it helps keep the cams and everything else going. Any pledge amount would be really appreciated. Details are HERE. Thanks! Pete
04/20/13 A few notes about the demise of the 4th chick to hatch. This is not uncommon. You all have seen how the chicks hatch over the course of many days and given they grow quite rapidly the size difference among siblings can be significant and since the female does not feed each individual – i.e. makes sure that they all get something to eat – the youngest, and therefore smallest, chicks have to compete with larger chicks who more easily get in front during feeding and often get most of the food. The female did NOT kill the chick. There is absolutely no reason or stimulus for her to do that. Think about it – she goes through all that effort to lay the eggs and incubate. Why on earth would she then kill one? Last, she or perhaps one of the chicks may eat a dead chick. But that’s just efficient us of resources. Pete
04/19/13 GREAT HORNED OWL BANDING.
We recently discovered that a Great Horn Owl cavity in Bell Canyon previously thought to be inactive this year actually has two chicks in it. And they’re ready to band. Sorry for the short notice but we’ll be banding them tomorrow (Saturday, April 20) at 3PM. If you’d like to attend click HERE for details and to sign up.
If you’ve never seen young Great Horned Owls up close, I can assure you that they’re pretty amazing and not something many get to experience. I hope you can join me.
I just learned I’ll also have an adult rehabbed Great Horned Owl here for the banding so I’ll be able to show you some of their remarkable features.
04/17/13 Two troubleshooting tips:
1- If you’re having trouble viewing and want some help, please email me the browser and operating system you’re using, their versions, and a detailed description of the problem. Without this info there’s little I (or more likely Gretchen) can do to help and we’ll just have to reply asking for this info before we can.
2- If you’re hearing ads while watching any Starr Ranch cam I’m willing to bet you have another tab or browser window still open in the background on a site that plays ads. We do not advertise on Starr Ranch cams – or any where else on our website – except to display logos of certain vendors who are helping us to provide these cams. “Ad-free” at Starr Ranch is so you can hopefully have the best and most distraction-free experience watching, learning and sharing. On the other side, and as you might expect, this means it costs more to provide the cams and is one of the reasons we ask for your support. Pete
04/11/13 It’s Birdathon time! This is an important fundraising event for Starr Ranch where we ask for pledges of any amount for every species we see or hear in a 24hr period. This year we’ll be doing our Birdathon on April 27th. Please consider supporting our Birdathon so we can keep providing the nest cams and conducting all the education and habitat restoration programs at Starr Ranch. Click HERE for Birdathon details.
These Bald Eagles are just one of the more uncommon Orange County species we hope to be able to add to our Birdathon tally.
04/01/13 Sorry for the delay, but I want to say a huge !THANK YOU! to those who have mailed us support. It is so very much appreciated and, again, critical to us being able to keep these cams up. And also add more cams – I just put online a Red-shouldered Hawk nest cam. Again, thank you all so much and apologies for anyone I missed. Pete
Ann and Monica, Anonymous (several), Mr. and Mrs. Bernhard S, Bill and Mary Ann, Brian N, Carla W, Cecilia M, Christen and Ben, Mr. and Mrs. Chuck L, Claire S, Cynthia H, Cynthia S, David T, Mr. and Mrs. Edward S, Eileen H, Eileen M (every month), Ellen M (every month), Evelyn R, Gordon O, Hank and Karen, Jackson B, Janice K, Jean M, JoAnne P, Joel T, Mr. and Mrs. John H, Joyce R, Julie C-D, Kathleen C, Kathy C, Kay M, Linda A, Linda F, Liz and Willie, Neva W, Paul M, Penny S, Phillip G-J, Rebecca M, Richard P, Robert D, Ronald and Donna, Rosalie W, Roy and Ilse, Ruth M, Sandra A, Sandra S (Emma), Scott F, Sherry R, Steven L, Susan R, Tom R, Virginia M-J, Virginia P, Wendy M, Wilhelmina S.
03/30/2013 - We’ve set up the BNOW page on new host. Please note the url is http://owlsmatter.com/blog/barn-owl/. Comments have been enabled for the time being. If you have trouble logging into your account, try clearing your browser cache first, but you may have to use the ‘Lost Password’ link to reset your password. —
03/28/2013 - While comments are temporarily down (and we continue to scramble for a fix), I wanted to thank all those who have donated to help “keep the wheels on” this site. As you might expect it takes a lot of time and money to keep it all working and your support has been critical. I want to give a special acknowledgment to all of you listed below, who have given online this month or last. Tomorrow I’ll list the people who’ve given through the mail recently. So, big thanks to recent online donors Adelaide, Alison S, Ann S, Anna H, Annette L, Audrey C, Barbara O and Barbara D, Beegies, Bernice D, Beth, Birdmom1, Bonnie, Bookwomyn, Carol S, Carl S, Catherine L, Cathy D, Chris S, Cici, DBW, Daniela Z, Daniella Marie, Dean S, Debra A, Delice F, Del, Dennis G, Diana W, Diane G, Diane M, Donald H, Eileen M, Elizabeth A, Ellen M, Erica S, Feather, Gina A, Glynette, Grahame, Henri, Hindi, Jack D, James N, Jane VK, Jean S, Jeanne L, Jeanneen C, Jeff A, Jenee G, Jill M, Jlese, JoAnne P, Johnnyjoe, John and Karyn, John C, Joy G, Joyce T, Kate M, Kathy S, Kathy G, Kika, Kristi B, Lila D, Linda T, Linda B, Lisa J, Lisa R, Lnmay, Lunar, Lynd B, Lynn P, Madeleine V, Marcia G, Margaret M, Marlene H, Melanie M, Melissa A, Michael C, Michele L, Mimi, Miriam S, MJ G, Moonseer, Natalie G, Pat S, Patricia M, Patti in Marin, Patricia L, Paul G, Paula P, Peggy C, Polaris, Popshib, Rachel_writer, Rebecca C, Rhonda L, Robert B, Rufus, S McGregor, Sally H, Sarah H, Scylla, Sheila C, Shirlee F, Skeptocat, Stephanie C, Susan F, Susan W, Suzi T, Svh77, Sweetles, Teresa G, Tess G, Tom B, Torre T, Trish G, Wildflower, Woodstock, Wynne and Yvette. (Apologies to anyone I might have missed.)
Thank you all so much. Pete
03/28/2013 - First hatchling emerged at around 12:30 last night. There is a lot of commentary, links to videos, etc…, on the Starr Ranch Facebook page. — Gretchen
03/26/13 - The CPU usage on this site is still getting hammered beyond acceptable limits with our web host (see below) so comments are temporarily shut down. Sorry about this but it’s either shut down the comments for now until we find a fix or the whole site could go down. Again, please bear with us as we try to remedy. Thanks. Pete
03/25/13 - When I looked on 3/22 Friday evening around 6PM, it appeared to me as if one egg had clearly pipped. However given how much time has passed without hatching, this was probably not the case. Anyway, if we assume incubation actually began in earnest on 2/23 or even 2/24, today would be about 30 days for the 1st egg. So let’s just all take a breath and see how things unfold. In the meantime, please pay close attention to what Gretchen has to say below about using this site. If everyone doesn’t cooperate, this could crash this site at a very critical time… Pete
03/25/13 Please Read - We’re experiencing a huge load on our server as hatching approaches. I’ve enabled page and browser caching to help compensate for this. A side effect is that other people’s comments may not show up for several minutes, even when you refresh your browser. Please be patient. Try to avoid refreshing more frequently than every 30 minutes.
If the site does not appear as you expect it to, for example, when trying to comment, please try refreshing your browser and clearing your browser cache before reporting any problems. If you do report a problem, please tell me what browser you are using and provide as much information as you can about what you were doing when the problem occurred. Thanks —
03/14/13 Bandwidth Economy – Something you can do that’s simple and will help me a lot is when you aren’t watching just click on both videos and they should go right to the BNOW chick pic and a play button, effectively halting the stream. When you return, just click the play buttons. This has the same effect as shutting down the page and the videos, but has the added benefit of not having to reload the page to start watching again. This is faster for you and also reduces CPU usage required to reload a page.
I would add that what Gretchen, and Jorge, and others are doing to provide these views and the commenting capability is no small task. They, and other folks, are working really hard on this – because we know it’s something most will never get to see. We’re just trying to give all a relatively simple way of watching a truly wild situation unfold in the rawest sense and learn from it. Put another way – THIS is pure REAL LIFE “Reality TV”. Ain’t no director overseeing this script.
So please have some patience if you experience any problems watching (but do let me know about anything). In the meantime, trust me, we’re on it. And at some point it may come to what all of you also need to do to help us keep this page up. More on that later. Thanks, Pete
03/04/13 Here are the egg dates I got from Hibiscus (Thanks!) so far. If anyone has corrections or perhaps a tighter time frame for any, please email me and I’ll update. Pete
Egg 1 02/22/13 02:11pm
Egg 2 02/25/13 03:00pm – 02/27/13 04:00am (Duration of power outage)
Egg 3 02/28/13 06:00am – 06:50am
Egg 4 03/02/13 12:09pm – 12:36pm
Egg 5 03/05/13 02:42PM
03/01/12 Where’s the male today? While more likely when there are chicks, and especially older larger chicks, it’s not uncommon for the male to remain out of the cavity during the day. There are plenty of sheltered spots for him to roost. Of course, there’s always the possibility that something happened to him, but the probability of this is very low against him simply just roosting elsewhere for the day. Pete
02/23/13 Research Project for Today: Most raptors, including BNOWs, typically begin incubating eggs after the first egg is laid. And since it takes approx. 1.5 to 2 days for the next egg to be laid, hatching is sequential – first egg laid hatches first, second usually hatches at a later time that corresponds to how long after the first egg it was laid, and so on. But here are some questions: At what stage does an egg need to be incubated so that the embryo inside remains viable? For example, if it was just laid can it sit for days with out incubation starting because no development has begun? If it’s been incubated a week, how long can it be left “unincubated” before it will require renewed incubation to bring it to hatching? After 2 weeks? 3 weeks? A few days before hatching? I actually don’t know the answer to any of these questions. And I’m also being lazy…I’m asking you folks to do my homework for me! So, if anyone cares to research this and post some info, I’ll look at the comments later and put the best explanation here. In the meantime, a little more on what’s going on right now:
BNOW incubation is typically 28-30 days. While I expected this female to start incubating right away, that she hasn’t isn’t alarming to me, but interesting. I also have fairly high confidence that she will lay more eggs. And she initially exhibited behavior right after she laid this egg that clearly indicated she “knows” what to do – tucking it under her, pulling apart some old pellets, etc. – in fact she was just doing that as I typed. So my sense is that the probability that everything works out as it should is high. We just need to wait and see. Pete
2/18/13 An interesting development. You know the GHOWs we’ve been hearing close by? Well they decided to use an old RSHA nest which is three trees over and about 25′ away from the cavity. A female is currently sitting on eggs in it. Pete Bloom reports he’s had them as close together as three feet (!). In any case, there’s no reason to believe they both won’t successfully raise broods. But I suspect it will nonetheless be exciting as things unfold. Stay tuned… Pete
02/10/13 Some of you mentioned enjoying the pic of a BNOW chick that comes up briefly before the video feeds start. Linda Jones took this photo, as well as many other excellent wildlife pics. Check out some of her others at OC Wildlife Pete
01/25/13 Two things for today:
SPAM – There’s a type of spam that is fairly prevalent and that seems on it’s face innocuous. The spam filter on this page picks up most of it and it never makes it to the comments (I’m talking 100′s of attempts). But when one gets through it’s usually a comment that says nothing specific about the BNOWs but is often complimentary – something like: “I never thought of that! So great to see folks so knowledgeable about this subject.” And a tell tale clue is often one word having two letters reversed (like “sujbect” in my example). The spammers are looking for a response and especially for someone to click on the link associated with their screen name or somewhere else found in the comment. Doing this is where you can really get the full brunt of the spammers nastiness.
In any case, there was one on this site yesterday, was called to my attention, and I deleted it. Just asking that you watch out for these and ignore them.
PTZ – While the PTZ cam is a good one, it is not designed for outdoor use. Outdoor/weatherproof PTZ cams I have found are in the range of $2,500; the current one cost about $700. So that’s a major reason it’s not an outdoor cam. However, I retrofitted the current PTZ so that’s it’s fairly weatherproof. But sometimes damp/rainy weather can affect it and do two things: 1) Fog the lens and 2) Cause the PTZ control to be erratic. E.g. if you were watching when I moved it from the limb to the cavity you may have noticed a lot of “overshoot” on zooming and panning. That’s because when I wanted it to stop it wouldn’t… Experience tells me this behavior is unique to damp or wet days and rectifies itself when things dry out. In any case, I moved it because I wanted the lens to point downward to try to minimize any water getting in through the lens when it’s normally pointed upward towards the limb. Pete
01/08/13 Huell Howser passed away yesterday. For those who didn’t know Huell and his various television shows, he was a California icon and brought into thousands of living rooms shows about many of California’s unique, interesting, and often unknown people, places and activities. He visited Starr Ranch in 2011 (I just updated the link to the show in the right column) and was just the nicest, most engaging person – the kind that makes even total strangers completely at ease in his presence. You also might want to check out Audubon California’s blog for more on Huell. Pete
10/29/12 An opportunity to visit and help us out at Starr Ranch!
From Sandy: Help us remove streamside weeds along Bell Creek! Please join our interns, Andrew and Maranda, for a half day of weed work on 15 Saturdays from November through June. Click HERE for the PDF flyer.