4/21/16 I think you all know that I don’t often make a pitch for support. However, as we approach the end of April, the “2017 Starr Ranch Birdathon Month”, I’m really hoping you will consider making a pledge. The cost of cams and other hardware, plus the streaming are just a part of the expense of keeping everything running at Starr Ranch. We have to annually raise about $175,000 to make it all happen. So if you’re enjoying watching the cams and like what we are doing at Starr Ranch, I hope you’ll help me make this year’s Birdathon a big success. No pledge is too small. The link for info and to make a pledge is HERE. Thanks. Pete
04/12/17 I was pulling in some loose ends of things I needed to get done on Starr Ranch before heading off to MI early tomorrow to do my annual inspection and repair of Osprey platforms on Fletcher Pond, near Alpena/Hillman. I’ll be posting some pics later about all this because it’s a really great project. Anyway, I was doing some mowing and clipped the “Starr Ranch’s Bell Creek” cam cable by accident, so that will be off until I get back. And I’ll likely put that feed on something else when I do. Anyway, just wanted to let you know why it went dark. Pete
4/7/17 In advance of Barn Owl Banding Day tomorrow, I’m shutting down the PSFL cam for now and replacing it with a view of where we’ll be doing the banding. I just set up this cam and am about to make it live in that PSFL spot. You you won’t see much but what’s there right now (chair, boxes, gear) until we all show up there around 1PM PST tomorrow. In any case, if you couldn’t make it out for the banding I hope you’ll get to see as much of it as possible. If you still want to attend the banding you can do so by clicking HERE. and signing up But do so quickly, because this is going to happen less than 24hrs from now. Pete
4/6/2017 I’m FINALLY getting to sending t-shirts to those who get one because they donated $10 or more per egg. Thanks for you patience – and for your donations!
– There are some spots still left for the Saturday, April 8th banding of the six Barn Owl chicks. So, if you want to attend, please sign up by tomorrow afternoon. Details below and to sign up, just click HERE.
– April is Starr Ranch Birdathon Month! It’s our biggest fundraiser and I’m hoping that if you’re watching these cams and like the other things we do at Starr Ranch you will consider supporting us with a pledge. No pledge is too small. And you also get two chances to win a Starr Ranch T-shirt. Details and how to pledge are HERE. Thanks. Pete
3/27/17 Barn Owl Banding Day Signup is now available. To signup for the event click HERE. This will take you to a page with event details and where you can preregister. When you click Submit you will get an email from me with a link to where you can make your donation. This will confirm your registration. Thanks! Pete
3/22/17 MARK YOUR CALENDAR for BANDING DAY! Just a heads up that if things continue to progress as they have I will be banding the Barn Owl chicks on Saturday April 8th. As many of you know, this is an important fundraiser for Starr Ranch that helps provide funds for everything that goes on here, including running the webcams. This year I will accept 50 reservations @ $100 per person. Lunch will be provided. The way it will work is that you can sign up for the first or second session. Session #1 with 25 attendees arrives at 11AM. Session #2 with 25 attendees arrives 12PM.
11AM-12PM Session 1 Owl biology talk with at least one live owl from the Orange County Bird of Prey Center
12PM-1PM Session 2 arrives. Both sessions – Lunch
1PM-2PM Both sessions – Band the Barn Owl chicks
2PM-3PM Session 1 departs, Session 2 Owl biology talk with at least one live owl from the Orange County Bird of Prey Center.
I’ll have a website up soon where you can make your reservation and your donation. $95 of your $100 donation will be tax-deductible. Pete
3/18/17 While the K-Box is showing little to no activity, I found a Black Phoebe rebuilding a nest on the old smoke house at Starr Ranch. So I put a cam on it to replace, for now, the K-Box cam. Recently the Phoebe’s have added some mud, etc. and were chirping away at me while I spent about 10 minutes putting up the cam. So I’m pretty sure it’s going to be an active nest.
BTW, if you’re having trouble viewing, clear your browsers cache as a first try at fixing. In the post below I mentioned how to do this in FireFox. It often fixes a lot of things in any browser. Pete
3/15/17 The Allen’s Hummingbird cam went down and given it’s a ways away from Starr Ranch I haven’t had time to troubleshoot and fix. And I also think the two chicks have probably fledged by now. This morning I noticed House Finches starting to build a nest under the office eave. So that’s the new cam…
BTW, for those having trouble with viewing in FireFox try going to Tools>Options>Advanced>Network and click “Clear Now” next to “Cached Web Content” (I just had to do this to get the HOFI cam to work. FireFox had cached the setting for the non-working ALHU cam and was ignoring the new settings I had loaded.) Doing this may also help with any comment loading so you get the most current ones, etc. Pete
2/21/17 The last few days I’ve been having some network problems that I’m still trying to troubleshoot. Also, the Compost and K-Box Nest cams are acting up unrelated to this. And finally, the Cavity Cam’s poor quality is likely due to the cams old age and rain related problems, which will be difficult fix given she isn’t leaving for more than a minute or two at a time. So please know that I’m aware of all of these issues and will fix as soon as I can.
I’ll also be following up soon with emails to all of you who egg-pledged or donated to the egg pledge outright. This will include a link to request a Starr Ranch T-shirt if you met the criteria for one. Thanks, everyone! Pete
2/17/17 It appears the female BNOW has finished laying her clutch of six eggs, which is on target for a typical clutch size. Thank you for the egg pledges or flat donations in celebration of the new clutch! Such support keep this and other Starr Ranch cams going. (You can fulfill your pledge or make a donation HERE.) Your generosity also helps keep the rest of Starr Ranch operational. You are all just the best! I also want to thank you for making this cam page more than I ever thought it would be. Among other things, I am so gratified by your thoughtful and educational commenting and the capturing and sharing of vidoes and pics.
Two other things:
I was going through my videos the other day and stumbled on this one of a Pocket Gopher doing, well, what they do. I hope you enjoy it. I get such a kick out of every once in a while catching them unaware while they excavate.
I’m soon going to pull the Compost Cam and reinstall it at Pete Bloom’s where again this year an Allen’s Hummingbird has nested in a plant by his front door. Some of you may recall watching this nest last year.
2/8/17 OK, the SR Kestrel Box is back in the house. I’ve replaced the trail cam with it. The honeybees abandoned the K-box and I cleaned it out today. And AMKE’s have been flying around and vocalizing lately so maybe they’ll check out the box out and use it. In the meantime, here’s what was in the box. Not a honeybee in sight; it’s clear they bailed on it. But note the wax covering the opening with just a hole left for them to come and go. I have the empty honey combs in a bucket. Anyone want them? If not, I may try to make some candles from the wax. Pete
2/8/17 Cam Change. I recently noticed that there are new sticks on a Red-shouldered Hawk nest from two years ago that already has a cam on it. Also, there are RSHAs vocalizing nearby. So, at least for now, I’m going to shut down the Bat Box cam and use that encoder for the RSHA nest cam. Once up, please let me know if you see any activity at the nest. If we’re lucky, RSHA’s (or something) might use it this season. Thanks. Pete
12-1-16 A GREAT OPPORTUNITY TO SUPPORT STARR RANCH!
Valerie Sinex, a great Starr Ranch friend and volunteer, is doing a promotion for Starr Ranch at her Yorba Linda Wild Birds Unlimited store. So if you need bird seed, bird feeders, bird baths, optics, field guides, gifts please shop at WBU Yorba Linda over December 1 through 24 and it will benefit Starr Ranch as below:
Support Starr Ranch Sanctuary when you shop at Wild Birds Unlimited of Yorba Linda December 1 – 24. Wild Birds Unlimited of Yorba Linda will donate 20% of your purchase total (not including sales tax). Spend $50, $10 goes to Starr Ranch—spend $100, $20 goes to Starr Ranch! Just tell the associate you are shopping for Starr Ranch when you check out from 12/1/16—12/24/16. Wild Birds Unlimited 17611 Yorba Linda Blvd, Yorba Linda CA 92886 (714) 985-4928 www.yorbalinda.wbu.com
11/7/16 Thank you to everyone who’s pitching in to help support these cams, and Starr Ranch in general! And thank you, Pantha, for making this Thanksgiving Pledge appeal ! I’m grateful for any amount – it all helps and is all important! Pete (Addendum: If you donate via the link on this page or on the Starr Ranch main page you will get an email acknowledgement from Audubon California. But rest assured you entire donation will go to Starr Ranch. This acknowledgment email is also in the process of being changed to reflect your donation going directly to Starr Ranch)
10/28/16 Since nobody’s home at the moment I will be going up to the cavity to do some lens cleaning and also check out and clean up all the connections (it’s possible I have a flakey one or two that are causing the intermittent flickering). It will also give me a chance to trim some euc suckers. Not just because they may be blocking some of our view, but I typically trim these to lower fire danger. Anyway, the cams will be down for a bit. Pete
9/14/16 I just posted what’s below to our FB site, but a higher resolution video can be seen HERE. (Note: Video activity starts at about the 15 sec mark.)
A few days ago the Starr Ranch Trail Cam caught an interaction btw four Acorn Woodpeckers, apparently from “rival” colonies. This behavior is well documented, but not often seen- let alone captured on video.
Sea and Sage Audubon’s Sylvia Gallagher helped explain it all by pointing me to what The Birds of North America has to say: Power struggles are “the most dramatic agonistic interactions” of Acorn Woodpeckers. They occur when either the dominant male or the dominant female of a colony dies and are more intense when it is the female. “The right to fill such vacancies may be contested by up to 20 or more nonbreeding helpers from other social groups who fight . . . in contests lasting days or weeks . . .”
Also, check out Sylvia’s excellent recording packages of birds sounds: http://seaandsageaudubon.org/AudubonH…/SylviasSoundSets.html
09/10/16 I checked the bat box a couple of days ago since it had been vacant for a while and, low and behold, there were at least 20 bats in it. So, the “Bat
manbox Returns“. (Lens may be a bit dirty, but I’ll wait until they take off at night to clean). Pete
8/7/16 It’s been REALLY unseasonably HOT here for the last 7-14 days (can we all say climate change is real?). So I wasn’t that enthusiastic about setting up some new cams when it’s been 95-105 degrees (there’s a lot that goes into setting up every cam). But I do have some new cams in mind that hopefully I can set up this upcoming week because it’s supposed to cool down a bit – in fact this weekend was great, low 80’s, but I just felt like kicking back and relaxing. Thanks everyone for your patience and suggestions. Special shout out to Wynne for her suggestions…all of them good ones. I’ll see what I can do. Pete
7/14/16 It looks like HOFI Nest #3 abandoned 4 eggs a few days ago. I’m not that surprised given how late in the season she laid the eggs. So I look at this as a late “false” start. HOFI Nest #2 was also abandoned or something might have happened to one or both of the adults. In this case, there were very small chicks so my sense is that they were less likely to abandon, even this late in the season. Current status of Nest #3 is the 4 eggs are still in it, but typically something will eventually find them and use. Nest #2 has 3-4 fairly indistinguishable deceased chicks in it that the ants are slowly assimilating – a typical and common scenario. Regarding scylla’s clip of something being removed previously and that it may have been a chick, I’m inclined to think not. That’s not something passerines typically do. In any case, the nesting season for most passerines is winding down, if not over. I’ll be shutting down these two cams and might be able to find something else to put them on as we await next spring. Pete
06/30/16 Last Friday the folks at the Trabuco Canyon Water District (about 1/4 mi form Starr Ranch) called me because they had fished a Golden Eagle out of one of their reservoirs. Turns out it was an immature male that clearly fledged recently. However, the closest historical nest in Bell Canyon as far as we can tell has been inactive for several years. But maybe they built another one that was missed. And there are only a handful of GOEA pairs still nesting in Orange County. In any case, I brought the bird to Dr. Scott Weldy’s Serrano Animal and Bird Hospital – Scott has a lot of experience “fixing up” injured raptors – and after some R&R and several good feedings, it’s ready to be released today. Here’s a short video of when I retrieved it and this may actually get aired on our local CBS or NBC affiliates late afternoon or this evening. (Our nephew, Weston, took the video). Pete
06/16/16 I just moved the HOWR box cam back to the “Watering Hole”. The Ravens frequent it often and I’ve seen several other species using it. So given the nesting season is winding down and not much to watch there, we can watch this for now. Pete
06/14/16 The 1st HOFI nest that fledged a week or two ago is on the left. I just moved the cam to a new HOFI nest (#3) on the right. Probably a different pair. Right now there are two eggs and I don’t know if she is done laying. The HOFI nest #2 is on the same beam about 10′ further to the right. Pete
06/13/16 Full disclosure. As I was walking out this morning from our house and the Starr Ranch Junior Biologists were collecting for today’s activities on the south side of our field lab I saw something on the north side that I at first thought was some trash or a small pile of leaves. Turns out it was a BNOW. I picked it up and it was really lethargic and unresponsive. And by its band I knew right away that it was the foster chick we released a week ago. So it obviously blended in with the existing family for a while, but like the two other chicks that didn’t make it, it was starving. It died soon afterwards being way too far gone to help. But again, a common occurrence. Pete
06/13/16 The Compost Cam is going offline for a while to make room for an Allen’s Hummingbird cam. Our longtime friend, colleague, and expert biologist, Pete Bloom, has had one nesting by his front door year after year and this year is no different. So when were at his house the other day and he showed it to me I said “I gotta put a cam on this…” The two chicks are just a few days old. Pete
06/10/16 I temporarily replaced the TrailCam with another HOFI cam. Here’s a one minute clip of some feeding. Looks like the male is regurgitating seeds, and a LOT of them. Pete
06/06/16 Follow up. I have right now a VERY FEISTY BNOW fledgling that exited a chimney nest in Ladera Ranch a little too early. It was about 7 weeks old. Have had it at Starr Ranch for about a week and fed it and it’s now ready to go/fly. So given the demise of two of the four from this cavity and that I’m pretty sure the adults are still around, I’m gonna cut it loose here tonight. It will know how to food beg and get around and we have solid evidence that fostering chicks in situations like these can work. In any case, this is the best chance it’s got at making it in the wild. Here is a pic of it from a few minutes ago.
06/06/16 Some bad news, but not unexpected. Two of the BNOW chicks were just found dead on the ground within about 50′ of the cavity tree. One appears to have been dead for a few days, but the other was fully intact and with no obvious signs of trauma. And while it did not appear to be extremely emaciated (starving raptors typically lose breast muscle at first and this can be somewhat judged by feel), it likely starved. Again, this occurs way more often than not. Fledgling mortality rates for most all species of birds is 80-90% and with raptors the cause is likely starvation. There’s just so long that the adults will continue to feed them after they fledge so if they don’t quickly become successful predators, they won’t make it. Also keep in mind that most all birds – even those with naturally short life spans – nest every year and ultimately produce way more young than required to replace two parents. The oldest BNOW in the wild on record with the Bird Banding Lab was 15 yrs old. If it and it’s mate successfully bred for, say, 10 years and had an average clutch of 5 and all the chicks made it, when the two adults died there would be 50 other BNOWs to take their place. That’s for one pair of birds. Multiply that by the billions of birds nesting every year and I think one can quickly see that mortality has to be extremely high. (If you are interested a pic of the BNOW chick I described above can be seen here.) Pete
5/24/16 I recently discovered a Black Phoebe nest on the historical Starr Ranch smoke house, but too late to put a cam on it. Here’s a pic of two of the chicks (there are at least three) that will certainly be fledging very soon. Pete
05/22/16 Here’s a video of the first HOWR fledging yesterday around 1:30PM – which I think is the one I got a pic of shortly afterwards given the time stamp on it a few minutes later (you can see me in the garden in the background). Note the “false start” about 30 secs in. And here’s a 1.5 min timelapse of the other three fledging over about 10 minutes around 2PM. Pete
More HOWR follow up below:
Here are pics of the, uh, “super hi-tech” cam set up on the compost (with the HOWR box in the upper right on the garden fence post) and a pic of the nest that I cleaned out and previously mentioned in a comment why I did this. There was a dead chick in the nest but it had clearly succumbed at least a week ago and, as we have all have hopefully been learning, this is a natural part of a pair of bird’s efforts to reproduce a LOT of young over their lifetime.
05/21/16 I noticed a bunch of HOWR chick tails in the cam view just now. So I went out and took a pic of the other end…
05/18/16 The recap of the 2016 Starr Ranch Birdathon can be found HERE. Sorry for the delay. Steve always writes it up, but he and Marian took off for two weeks right afterwards so it took a little while for him to get to it. I will also be sending emails soon to those who pledged with how to fulfill your pledge.
Also, here’s the video of the group from the BNOW banding day saying their names and where they’re from. You may have to jack up the volume… Pete
04/28/16 Over the last couple of years I’ve become acquainted with New York Times Best Selling author, Luanne Rice – “westie” on the Starr Ranch webcam page. Among other things, Luanne loves owls (check out her website and note the silhouette over her name). Anyway, Luanne has been trying to get out to Starr Ranch for some time and thought she could make it to the Barn Owl Banding this Saturday. However, something came up and she now can’t make it. But she’s asked me to make her ticket available to someone else.
Sooooo, since I know you ALL love contests, go HERE if you want to take a crack at winning this ticket… Pete Follow up – The first response to this contest was from Lynn and she nailed all 11 species and gets the ticket! So the contest is already over. But I will leave it up if any of you want to see if you can also name all 11. Then sometime next week I’ll post the answer.
04/26/16 The Sierra Club is holding their annual fundraiser BBQ at Starr Ranch on Sunday, May 15th. They’ve held it here for many years and generously provide us with a portion of the proceeds. So, if you’re interested in attending, details are HERE.
04/21/16 Just back from Michigan and repairing Osprey platforms on Fletcher Pond. Will give you more details on this project soon. In the meantime, here are just two of some great pics taken by Mike Grosso (Check out Mike’s FB Page) while we were out surveying for platform damage:
It’s still not too late to help me raise some funds for Starr Ranch. Please consider a pledge to our Birdathon which will start shortly: 2016 Starr Ranch Birdathon
And there’s still space to attend the banding of the BNOW chicks on April 30th: BNOW Banding Day
04/14/16 If things continue to go well for the Barn Owls I will be banding the chicks on Saturday, April 30. As in the past, this will be a fundraiser for Starr Ranch. There is space for 40 people. Session 1 goes from 11AM to 2PM and Session 2 goes from 12PM to 3PM. Lunch will be provided and I will have a live Great-horned Owl here – and hopefully a Western Screech Owl too. Lunch, owl discussion, and banding will occur between 12PM and 2PM. More details and to make a reservation can be found HERE Thanks and hope you can make it! Pete
03/07/16 I’m aware of the loss of the comment section and the error message. Is a bit of a mystery. But I’ve let Gretchen know and am sure she’ll fix this ASAP. Thanks. Pete Update: Previous comments aren’t lost and Gretchen will archive them. In meantime she cloned the page, which is where you’re at if you can read this, and the older comments aren’t here (so likely why it loads faster). Also, there are several url’s for this site, but the one you all should use and bookmark is http://starrranch.org/blog
04/06/16 I’m about to take the watering hole off line and switch it over to a House Wren box by the garden. Last I looked she now has 3 eggs and I suspect might end up with at least 4. So please standby. Pete Update – the HOFI box should now be online. Sorry its not the best view, but it’s using a cam I installed years ago. In any case, I think you’ll get to see some cool stuff. Their nests are all made from twigs and when I see some of the twigs they bring I always ask myself “How can such a tiny bird bring in a twig this big?” But they do and are obviously very good at doing this year after year, decade after decade, century after century… I think you get what I mean… Pete
03/20/16 Thanks to all who alerted me that Firefox now plays the two lower Dropcams! Just make sure you have the current version. To find out, just go to Help>About Firefox. If your version isn’t 45.0.1, it will likely start downloading it automatically, install it, and then prompt you to restart Firefox. Pete
03/19/16 It’s Starr Ranch Ranch Birdathon time!. This has become our biggest annual fundraiser and its success is really important to keeping everything running here, not the least of which are the cams. Here’s the link to what it’s all about and how you can help us:
2016 Starr Ranch Birdathon
One thing about our Birdathon is that it can help raise funds by a lot of people pledging small amounts, and no amount is too small. There are also opportunities to win a Starr Ranch T-shirt even without pledging, although I hope you can. Thanks, Pete.
03/18/16 I’m going to pull the Bat Box Cam (I think lately there’s just been one bat in it) and put it on a HOFI nest that’s currently being built. The location of the nest is by our office and under an eave so it’s a bit dark, but you should get to see them well enough. Pete
Update – HOFI nest should now be live. Pete
2/29/16 I’m sure most of you have already figured this out, but FireFox simply will not show the Dropcams on the K-box and the trail. It’s a known problem that has yet to have a solution. But they should work on an iPad, iPhone and in Chrome. At least they have been for me. Pete
2/27/16 Wow, lot’s going on. Thank you all for posting and making it easy for me to catch up. So it looks like the female has finished laying a clutch of five eggs – which is at least anecdotally a good sign. If she had the energy to do this, hopefully there’s enough prey around to allow her and her mate to raise a potential brood of five. In the meantime, and since I know folks are guessing on hatching date(s), Lynn gave me the consensus of lay dates. They are:
Egg #1 02.14.16 11:50
Egg #2 02.16.16 19:43
Egg #3 02.19.16 10:02
Egg #4 02.21.16 16:50
Egg #5 02.24.16 12:37
Note to Tecolote: Got the socks. Thanks. Awesome artwork! I also saw that these were offered up as a prize. Hey everybody, they are really special and unique. Among other things they would highlight anyone’s wardrobe when they dined at, say, the Ritz. The real one, that is… Pete
12/19/15 Still having some probs with the dropcams (K-box and Trail cams). Unbeknownst to be, dropcam changed the embed code (!). Gretchen is working on this. And right now I’m seeing “…plugin needed to view…” but I don’t know what this one is, although I suspect Flashplayer – which I have installed.). Will keep you updated. In meantime, please don’t forget that a donation match for to Starr Ranch runs through the end of December. So if you were thinking about helping us out, now would be a good time. Details directly below. Thanks, Pete
12/10/15 Some of you may have received an December appeal and matching opportunity email from Audubon California (Screen shot of the email). Whether or not you received this email, I have since learned that if you want to support Starr Ranch and do it through the Support this Webcam link on this page, or our main donation link HERE, now would be a good time. Because by making your donation through a Starr Ranch donation link during December your gift will not only come directly to Starr Ranch – it will be doubled! Thanks. Pete
9/9/15 Well, talk about a story that told me how connected we all are… This afternoon, and as some of you might have seen on the cams, we had a heavy thunderstorm starting around 3:15PM EST that brought some high winds and ultimately a half an inch plus of rain (very unusual for us this time of year, if at anytime) over a very short time. The temp here went from around 97F to about 75F in about 15 minutes – a welcomed relief. But during it I was going around the Starr Ranch HQ closing windows and checking this and that. But when it finally abated and later Sandy and I had finished eating dinner I took a look at my email. And there was scylla’s telling me the watering hole cam was tipped over. I literally just had to turn my head and look about 30 feet out our door to see what she was talking about. And low and behold, it was just as she said. So I went out to fix and decided to try a new angle – and that’s where we are right now. But that scylla (from over 5,000 miles away) – and all of you too – have my back is just great. You guys are the best. Thank you. Pete
09/03/15 Just a quick note on the spiked buck mule deer (“Starrbuck“) with the odd antlers and a possible reason for this which I think was suggested previously. The “rut” (breeding season) began at least two weeks ago – it used to not begin until late September – and I’m seeing more bucks in the HQ area. Their testicles are quite obvious. However, not the case with Starrbuck. I actually think he is lacking them. He is definitely a buck since he has a penis, but lacking testicles must have some affect on his hormones and thus his very odd antler growth and the fact that he hasn’t dropped them and grown new ones in years.
He’s the second one to walk by in this video from a while ago:
07/12/15 For now, House Finch nest replaces the “watering hole” cam until I can set up another spot for it. House Finch has 4 chicks, 2-3 days old when I looked today. May be a day or two before you see their heads pop up. Pete
Bat cam will be down for a bit while I work on it.
OK, I took down the cam with the IR LEDs not working to troubleshoot and replaced with a cam of marginal quality, yet not bad, pointing straight up into the box. Not really the sharpest view but you should be able to see the bats jockeying for position and moving up/down depending on the temperature. Right now it’s about 80 at SR but up there it’s HOT – I know cause I just got down from there… Here’s a pic of the setup:
The “washouts” are hard to attenuate. But should get better as it gets dark. Pete
06/28/15 Moved the watering hole cam view to hopefully get a better look at the mega fauna that shows up – like the CA mule deer, ground squirrels and the ravens (Like Seth when he/she’s not raiding our compost – another potential cam). And a new view is on one of many bat boxes we have here. Right now there are 12-15 bats in that box at our workshop (I looked in there today) so stay tuned to when they work their way down to the “launch pad” which is what the cam is on to see when they come and go. And please do post what you see happen. We know they come and go at night but when and how often would be interesting to document. TX. Pete
05/12/15 All – Thanks for emailing me various clips and information. If you don’t hear back from me right away it’s because there is a lot of info to digest and I’m all still trying to find and download what might be key video clips before they get overwritten after a week. Thanks you all for your help. Pete
09/11/15 Update. I have been in contact with the CA Dept of Fish and Wildlife’s Wildlife Investigations Lab and will be sending the Kestrel chick to them that I was able to retrieve from the box yesterday. Maybe we will learn what might have caused the entire clutch’s rapid and highly unusual demise. From what I can tell, all the chicks appeared fine around 6AM on May 8th. So I am trying to save as much video as I can from that point through when the last chick had clearly expired. Maybe there’s something that will jump out at me when I can review it. For example, a particular incident or prey delivery might shed some light on what happened. In the meantime, if any of you saw/recorded some specific activity that looked odd to you or perhaps when you noticed any of the chicks first exhibiting signs of distress, please email me what you know, including date and time. I’m trying to accumulate as much info as possible to hopefully turn this difficult situation into something we can learn from and perhaps prevent from happening again. Thanks. Pete
05/09/15 In light of what has occurred rather rapidly, i.e. the demise of 3 of the 4 chicks, I’d like to say a few things.
– I don’t think a rush to judgement suggesting that this is the result of West Nile virus is warranted, although possible.
– It has been unseasonably cold and rainy for the last 3-4 days possibly making hunting difficult for the adults when the chicks really need food.
– Apparently the adults have been bringing in lizards and large insects, but not a lot of mice or other prey of large size/biomass. As these chicks grow they need a lot of food and maybe the lizards and insects weren’t enough.
– Most important – this kind of thing HAPPENS ALL THE TIME. Lots of reproduction takes place every year and, when ALL conditions aren’t right, nests fail. I suspect this is why birds and other wildlife produce a lot of young every year. They are at the mercy of the current condition of their habitat and food source when they breed annually. In years when every thing is good, lots of young make it. When not, they don’t. But these species breed every year and try to produce way more young than it would take to replace them when the die. Think about it – A pair of Kestrels (or insert most any other wildlife species), during their lifetime, just need to produce a male and a female to take their place when they die to keep their species viable. But they make this attempt every year, trying to raise in any given year way more than it would take to accomplish this. So most don’t make it as a matter of course, whether in the nest or after fledging. It’s just the way it works. If there are factors that indicate that a species or population is failing every year due to things like habitat loss, pesticides, etc. then that’s on us and it’s what concerns me the most. But until I see evidence of this – and I look for it all the time – chicks dying (not making it) is part of a natural cycle given how prolific these birds are over the course of their life. However, I think our severe drought is a factor affecting prey availability and there may be other reasons. And climate change is definitely influencing things. Some of these are our doing and we can fix them. If that’s the case we need to start doing so – now. Pete
05/06/15 At least one new visitor to the trail cam that I haven’t seen before. Not sure if the other two are also “newbies”. Pete
05/05/15 Phew, finally settled after 5 days in MI, 3 days at a staff mtg, and Family Nature Workshops here on Saturday. Birdathon recap and follow up is in process. I also put together a ladder to use at the Kestrel box. As soon as things warm up I’ll clean the lens and take some pics of the brood. In the meantime, here are some clips from the time periods Trish gave me for each egg hatching. The quality is not great and some kinda long, but best I could do. Once lens is clean we should be able to get a much better view.
Also, tomorrow morning sometime btw 6AM and 9AM I need to change out a firewall on our network. So if cams go down, this is why. Pete
04/20/15 Thank you all who pledged or made a flat donation to the Starr Ranch Birdathon! After resting on Sunday (24hr birding is fun, but exhausting…) we’re checking our list for double entries or birds we got but didn’t write down. Preliminary total is 152 and the 100th bird was a Killdeer, which no one guessed. So, closest guess to the 100th bird is the Western Bluebird (congratulations, Kay!).
Since I’m about to leave for Michigan for a week to inspect and repair Osprey platforms on Fletcher Pond in Hillman – a project I’ve been doing for at least 25 years – I won’t be able to get back to all with the day’s write up, pledge amount due, t-shirt winners, and those who will get t-shirts for donating/pledging $100 or $1+/species until the beginning of May. In the meantime, thanks so much!!! Pete Addendum: Final tally: 152 species. Congratulations Barbara, who had closest guess of 150!
04/16/15 The Starr Ranch Birdathon starts today at 6:00 PM! If you can help out with a pledge of any amount per bird species we see/hear in 24 hours it would REALLY be appreciated. Details are here: Starr Ranch Birdathon
Also, from last Saturday’s Owl Banding here are some faces to go with some familiar screen names:
L to R: JoAnne, Pete, Lynn, Wynne, BJ, enzo, greycat, 4pawsmom, Meg. Thanks, Pete
04/01/15 The Starr Ranch Birdathon is just around the corner! Please take a moment to check it out and make a pledge if you can. This is an important fundraiser for us and your help is really needed and appreciated. Thanks, Pete
This just added: There are Great Horned Owls and Barn Owls nesting near our access road (but too far away for cams) who both have chicks that I will be banding on Saturday, April 11. If you would like to join me for both bandings, details can be found HERE. This will be a fund raiser – much like banding events we’ve done here in the past – which help us to keep Starr Ranch operating. Lunch will also be provided. I hope you can attend. Thanks, Pete
04/01/15 I set the PTZ cam to hopefully auto switch to the south end of the limb where Trish reported she thought she saw a lot of bats flying by regularly at that time. If I got it right the cam will be there from 8-8:30PM, then switch back to the full limb, and then in the morning switch back to the Kestrel Box. We shall see. Please post what you see – cam position as well as any activity.. This really helps me a lot. Thanks, Pete. (And please check out my Birdathon link above. I really need your help with that part too.)
03/31/15 10:30AM Kestrel lays Egg #4
Correction to paragraph below. I got my dates messed up and it appears she’s is maintaining the 48hr apart laying sequence. Going forward it would be really interesting to note her incubation patterns starting with the first egg. My sense is she is increasing time spent on them with each additional egg but has yet to assume the typical incubation of pretty much constantly. I also just capture a week of video at a time so I may spend a little more $ and have dropcam buffer a month so it can be downloaded and reviewed later. Also, I changed the date on the Egg#3 note below from 3/30 to 3/29. Thanks for the correction, Meg! Pete
But given her 48hr period between laying I didn’t expect this and don’t know when it happened. So if anyone knows about about when #4 arrived, please let me know and I’ll look for the video clip and post it. Thanks, Pete
03/29/15 10:30AM Kestrel lays Egg #3
Hard to tell exactly when but some time between 9:10 and 10:20 this morning there were two eggs and then there were three. Here is a 90sec time lapse. A few times one can catch a glimpse of an egg or two but it’s not until she leaves that we see three. Also interesting is her timing. So far it’s pretty close to 48 hours apart. And we should see at least one to maybe three more eggs. Pete.
03/25/15 Solar incubation? Really, if you haven’t yet, see my note two paragraphs below about Kestrel incubation. I find this really interesting and is making me think more of the why it’s like this. Meaning why is it that, say, a Mallard lays a dozen eggs, starts incubating when the clutch is complete, the chicks hatch all at once and are very shortly ready to go (“precocious” young) while raptor chicks hatch over the course of several days based on when incubation started and eggs were laid and then chicks need care and feeding to fledging (“altricial” young). I understand the circumstances that likely allow for precocious v altricial young, but egg laying and incubation timing makes me think more about the “why”. Pete
03/25/15 9:25AM Kestrel lays first egg!
Hard to tell exactly when but clearly there was not an egg before 9:00. Here is a 60sec time lapse between 8:45 and 9:30. At around 40secs she briefly stops her preening and my sense is this is when she laid the egg. At 50secs we get the first glimpse. Also, here are some short realtime clips of when I first caught a glimpse of the egg and then the first view of the entire egg.
Also, perhaps of interest: Common knowledge is that raptors in general begin incubating shortly after the first egg is laid. But I’m not sure what Kestrels do specifically. So I asked my good friend Art Gingert who has decades of experience with Kestrels and Kestrel boxes. In fact I was an intern of Art’s back in the late 70’s when he was managing Audubon’s Miles Wildlife Sanctuary in CT and when we put up some of his first boxes. I still recall checking a box back in those days with him and saying “Yup, there’s an egg in the box.” But at the time neither of us knew what a Kestrel egg looked like… As it turned out, it was… Anyway, here’s what Art had to say about Kestrel incubation:
“From what I have read, and heard, kestrels may wait until the 2nd — maybe 3rd — egg before incubating, which is seemingly why at least two of the nestlings in a brood of 4 or 5 are quite close in size, and there are always one or two which are smaller, with the asynchronous hatching. And the male, as you recall, also helps incubate at times, often at night. Will be interesting to see whether that will occur there at Starr Ranch.”
03/21/15 10:20AM The PTZ will be off for a bit while I adjust some settings.
OK, I was able to set the PTZ to automatically switch to the limb at 7:00PM and the K-box at 6:30AM. If anyone thinks I should tweak these times, feel free to send me an email. I can also set up 6 other preset view during any window of time so if there’s something else anyone thinks might be good to watch at a particular time just let me know. Thanks, Pete
03/19/15 Last night a Grey Fox came out of the darkness from the same place as the previous night’s Coyote and a day or so before that, a Cougar (See links below). It’s a parade! Pete
03/18/15 Around 6:30 this morning a coyote walked by the trail cam along pretty much the same route the cougar did the night before last. Watch the upper left corner at the start of both videos. Playing back to back also provides a nice perspective on the size difference between these two mammals. Coyote and Cougar. Pete
03/17/15 Last night around 9:15PM this guy gave us a nice look on the trail cam. I suspect it’s the same one from 02/18/15. Watch the upper left corner of the video when it starts… Video Pete
03/04/15 I bet most of you will recognize these two from their past visit to the watering hole. This buck STILL has the same antlers he’s had for going on five years now. Very odd. But he appears healthy. Pete
03/02/15 Someone else checks out the Kestrel box. Hopefully decided it was too big. (There are lots of natural cavities and other bird boxes at Starr Ranch for these guys to use.) Pete
02/27/15 Bobcat on the trail cam around 2:15PM today. Nice light, too! Pete
02/18/15 After months of not seeing any on the trail cam, Surprise!
Trail cam at 1AM on 02/17/15. Pete
02/15/15 Jorge is doing some updates, backups, etc. on the server today so there may be times where the cavity, PTZ, and RSHA nest cams are down. Pete
02/08/15 Due to some water now in Bell Creek, activity at the water hole has tapered off considerably because so many other sources are available. I also recently noticed some territorial behavior by the RSHAs by our office. So I’ve switched the watering hole cam to last year’s RSHA nest. While RSHAs don’t typically lay eggs here until around the middle of March, if they’re going to use this nest we could see some new sticks and greenery brought in soon. Please let me know if you see new activity. Pete
01/28/15 And also a Mule Deer Doe a little while ago. Pete
Mule Deer Doe
01/28/15 Two recent visitors on the trail cam.
(A little quiz: What’s unique about an opossum’s skull?)
Spike Buck Mule Deer
The buck is the one seen at the watering hole and is also the one who hasn’t dropped his antlers in at least four years. Pete
01/21/15 If you want to see some excellent video of a BNOW in action and in some amazing slow motion, check this out:
BNOW hunting in hi-res slow motion (from BBC). Pete
12/28/14 IMPORTANT END OF 2014 INFO: This is now THE site for Starr Ranch webcams, including the BNOWs. The “BNOW only” cam site (starrranch.org/blog/barn-owl; 2 cams) is currently telling you to come here and will soon redirect you here automatically if you have it bookmarked. The comments from that site will soon be archived and available here, but going forward and to keep things as organized and as clear as possible – especially regarding comments – this is going to be THE page you want to go to to view and comment. As always, feel free to email me if you are having any problems watching or commenting.
On another note, thank you to all who have made this site so much of what I was hoping it would become. It has evolved into a camaraderie of sharing, caring, education and learning that I truly wasn’t expecting. Really, thanks so much. Among other things you have made this easy for me. The nuts and bolts of putting up and maintaining the cams, servers, etc. is actually fun for me and I love doing it. But that I have not had to “police” the site is simply awesome. You guys look after each other and zealously protect what we all have here. Wow.
Also, a sincere thank you to everyone who has helped keep it all going. I think it’s obvious that it takes $ to keep the wheels on it all (buying/installing cams, paying a third party for the bandwidth so many can watch, and just all the other things needed that unfortunately aren’t free). Without you folks, I can’t make this happen. So again, thanks. Onward to 2015. Pete
11/26/14 Gretchen and I (mostly Gretchen…) are working on some tweaks to the site that will allow some other cams to be watched – like the Kestrel box – We’re also exploring giving you the choice of what cams you want to view because I suspect as I try to add more on the same page not all of you might have enough bandwidth to stream them all simultaneously. Gretchen is also going to make the page wider since most laptops and desktop screens these days can accommodate more than the current view width. Last, comment length is now limited to 2500 characters (about 30 lines), and may get shorter after trying out, so that no single comment monopolizes an entire page. I think most of what can be said in a comment should easily fit within this limit. Pete
11/12/14 Kestrel box is up. Until I have time to work with Gretchen to put this on a page, you can check it out here: http://dropc.am/p/starr-ranch-kestrels
This cam records continuously in a 7 day buffer meaning on the 8th day, the 1st day gets overwritten. But I have motion sensing set up at the cavity entrance so if something sticks its head in I’ll get an email and can take a look. I’ll be out of town from tomorrow until the following Thursday but will still be able to monitor any activity. Also, I might point the PTZ at the box during the day so you can see the setting and also if something checks it out. Pete
11/12/14 10AM PST Cavity and PTZ cams will be off for a bit while I put up the Kestrel box and make some adjustments. Hopefully for just a few hours. Also, if you heard some chainsaw activity this morning it’s just ground cleanup of the limbs I pruned last weekend. Pete
11/09/14 Cams will be off and on for a bit today while a finally get to make some adjustments, clean lenses, etc. Am also going to see what it looks like when I move the PTZ in and a bit higher if possible to get a better angle. I’m also going to place the Kestrel box nearby so that the PTZ can be used to view the entrance hole (there will also be a cam inside the box). Pete
11/08/14 Euc pruning done but took longer than expected, but is done. Cams back up now but will be down for a bit tomorrow when I make some adjustments to them. When I turned cams back on I saw female Kestrel was roosting in the cavity. All is well… Pete
11/08/14 Sometime today the BNOW cavity and PTZ cams will be offline for a while. I need to make some adjustments and further support the boom that holds the PTZ cam. I also hope to put up a Kestrel box w/ cam that the female Kestrel might check out and use. I’ll also be pruning some of the adjacent eucs so there would be a few hours of a lot of chainsaw noise… Cams will be back up by end of day. Pete
09/19/14 I talked to Gretchen this afternoon (who, if you don’t know by now, is awesome and is playing a major role keeping the wheels on this site) about providing an encrypted email address for you folks to use to let me know you accurately guessed launch and return times to win a Starr Ranch t-shirt. She told me how to do this and I will be providing it tomorrow. Because if I just simply post the email address (and none of you should ever put an email address in a comment) for tshirt winners to use then spammers are all over it immediately and I start getting 50-100 emails a day from them. Sad, but true, and too bad there are some bad people out there who spend time doing this – and think it’s OK to do so. Shame on them. Pete
09/05/14 A little different watering hole view for a while. Hopefully will give better views of the deer and squirrels. In any case, should give you some context of the setting. Pete
08/30/14 While we are in between nesting seasons and the BNOW cavity has been empty or at least just had an occasional visitor I figured I’d get all our cams up for you to watch. All should play fine, but if you don’t have a high speed internet connection you may find watching all simultaneously will not work well. If so, just click on any screen – that’s lowest on your list to view – to stop the feed. Clicking it again should restart it. BTW, comments here will be unique to this page and not appear on the BNOW cam page to keep things from getting confused. Pete