Audubon Starr Ranch Web Cams

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

Female Kestrel checks out the box!
Will they eventually use it?
Another trail cam visitor on 1/31/15.

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 (; 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:
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

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  1. I know something big will happen as soon as I start this, but I’ll try to do it fairly fast.
    Scylla had those great pictures of the current female BNOW on the 26th, with a mention of her brood patch: 6a313a5d-30e1-4b2c-b0c7-1efffee30154_zpsb79c6058.jpg
    So when I was doing some reading on brood patches, I found this even closer picture of the
    brood patch of a Sand Martin, Riparia riparia taken by Axel Strauß:


    • Most parent birds must somehow transfer their metabolic heat to incubate their eggs — since the new life is developing on the outside of the parents’ bodies, additional heat is required. This incubation may last from 10 minutes in some wrens, to weeks for an albatross, to 80 days for the Royal Albatross. To facilitate this transfer of heat, a process is designed to get the parent very close to the eggs. In species like most passerines, and Barn Owls, too, the feathers will fall out around a brood patch by themselves as the egg-laying period ends and incubation time comes. This area of skin has alot of blood vessels, so warmth from the parent is transferred to the eggs through contact. In species where both parents incubate, both sexes will have feathers fall out. Some males that don’t typically incubate, but may be called to duty at times, will lay upon the eggs and at least help trap heat from deserting the eggs.

      Ducks and geese must pluck their own feathers from their brood areas, so those feathers become wonderfully soft and warm nest linings. Some birds have a single slit area that becomes the brood patch (hawks, owls, songbirds). Other birds have two patches (some shorebirds, auks, and skuas), or even three areas used to brood (gulls and galliformes or gamebirds). Other birds like penguins, pelicans, and a few shore birds (gannets and boobies) have no brood patch. By holding the egg on their feet and resting their stomach over the egg, they can carry the egg around with them, and the egg gets heat from the tummy and the feet.

      If the young are “precocial,” and are able to get around within a day or so of hatching, the parents will regrow their feathers after hatching. The young may still seek protection and warmth under the parents, but they don’t require as much warmth for further development. If the young are instead, “altricial,” and depend on the parents for a longer period of warmth and care, the brood patches will remain bare until gradually disappearing about the time the chicks fledge. Owl young are considered “semi-altricial” as they do have down upon hatching, but have closed eyes, cannot feed themselves or move around much, so they need a parent with them.

      • Very few birds don’t get any direct incubation assistance by the parent. Some pheasant-type birds (the Magapods, such as the malleefowl, in family Megapodiidae or “large foot”) rely on the warmth caused by decomposing leaf material to give the incubative heat. The parent, usually the male, will open the mounded nest each day and determine if more or less heat is required, and returns leaves or not depending on ambient temperature and the great sense of temperature the parent has.
        I’ve also seen documentaries where the birds (often in the Megapod family, too) lay their eggs in an active volcanic area and the heated rocks do the incubating. Too much geologic activity may either bury the eggs in hardening lava or will cook the eggs to hard boiled and then some. A few birds rely on the temperature of the sun and just bury their eggs in the sand and let nature do the rest.
        Megapodes are termed “superprecocial,” for their “. . . eggs hatch in the most mature condition of any birds — chicks have open eyes, bodily coordination and strength, full wing feathers and downy body feathers, and are able to run, pursue prey, and, in some species, fly on the same day they hatch.”
        The above information was largely derived from the LA Zoo’s docent education, Stanford online bird texts, and Wikipedia.

      • It’s also the difference between a rabbit & a hare. (Both are Lagomorpha); as well as the pika. The hare is born ready to go. Eyes wide open, furred & can survive as soon as it is born. The rabbit is born blind, fur less, & helpless. Hares have 2 extra chromosomes. Therefore they can never reproduce with the rabbit. Odds of a single (rabbit kit); are very slim. They need their litter mates for warmth. Even if I was to pull a kit to save it, & keep it warm. They seem like they just fade, when alone. Odds are better if they last a week.

  2. Maybe she is hungry. Although you would think that rasping so loudly on a quiet night might scare aware any potential snack. I often wonder how far they fly to find food. Or maybe she is asking for another mating session. That makes more sense to me.

  3. Now that I see Yellowthroat is on, I’ve got a picture for Jackson (probably too late for him, though). I think he and Emma saw Great Blue Herons close in time once?? I saw a Bird Photo of the Year from Britain for 2014 of a Gray Heron. It’s busy cleaning itself on a fishing weir with low water. It was taken by Edmund Fellowes.

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