Friday, October 21, 2011

This blog is copyright of
Jen Howard
Nature Works Photography
Copies are for sale in PDF hardcopy. The focus of my work is to educate people of all ages. Please contact me if you would like a copy.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Merlin Family 2011

The next few section are of our merlin family that I followed in Barrie, Ontario. It was a real experience that you will follow with me in the pages of this blog. A small falcon that truely stole my heart during this monitoring. The dedication to their young. The young seeing them from little balls of fluff on my first sighting to the first flight and first catch.The way they grew so fast and the way the whole family was dedicated to each other from day one. At first people in the neighborhood hated these birds of prey for taking away their little songbirds. But when I introduced the merlin family to these people and they saw the young for the first time. How the parents worked so hard to care for these little beauties. Their way of thinking came around. And they became very much involved with this family as it grew right to the end when they took to the skies to go south together. I had daily visitors,made new friends and had some great comments on my work. But the best friends I made were the merlins themselves. It was awesome. They taught me and I taught others. I love watching our wildlife friends raising their families. It is a truely touching experience and one that we all can learn from and realize what hard and loving work it is for the adults. Hopefully this family will come back next year to raise another family in this same nest. And if they do. They will be welcomed by all! The first few sections are random photos taken during this time of monitoring this nest. It will then get into the day to day journal of this merlin families adventures. Take note of how the youngs plumage changed so quickly. We think our kids grow up fast. Enjoy.

May 7th to July 27th,2011.

First hatched merlin eyas first flight for food. Success. !!!

May 7th to July 27th,2011.

Momma merlin

young merlin (eyas) at rest.

Young eyas in flight.

Young in flight.

May 7th to July 27th,2011.

Try to find the young merlin in the tree. Like it was hiding.

Young in the nest and one practicing it's liftoff.

Incoming mom with food.

Male merlin on May 7th in the pine tree in front of Mary's. Our first encounter with this beautiful merlin pair.

May 7th to July 27th,2011.

All 4 babes out of the nest.

Young merlin manteling and eating it's food. Manteling is when they cup their wings around the food to protect it from being taken. Owls also do this after a catch.

Mom giving food to one of her young eyas.

Mom plucking a songbird to feed to her young.

May 7th,2011

I decided to go to the farmers market this morning with Fran. As we were walking through I overheard a conversation. I am not one to butt in. But what I heard made me very curious. This lady thought she had a pair of peregrin falcons. Turns out Fran knew her and we got talking. I was more than willing to go check it out for her and she was more than willing to have me go. So we made arrangments to go over. On arrival at her home,she showed me a nest up in a pine tree right out in front of her home. And then like right on key,the bird showed up. It was a female merlin. A small falcon. Shortly after that her mate showed up as well. So what she had was a beautiful pair of merlins. She was thrilled to know what they were. And I was thrilled as well. I asked permission to monitor the nest. And she was more than happy to grant it to me. As we were there the pair really put on a show for us. They sat and preened themselves on the trees in her back yard. They flew around calling to each other. Then the male flew into the front tree and came out with a little bird it had stashed for later eating. It flew out and went to a back tree and had it's prize. From that I found out that merlins actually do stash their food for later like the northern shrikes. This is clearly not a good place for a nest for these birds. Right on the sidewalk of a fairly busy street. She thought they had pushed out a pair of crows from this nest. At any rate. We will see what happens. The following is the story of this merlin pair. I put over 30 hours into watching this nest. I met many local people who were totally amazed at this pair nesting in their backyard so to speak. And I learned a lot myself as to how this species raises their beautiful young eyas. My good friend Fran assisted me many days with the monitoring. Something she had never done before but enjoyed it immensly. And we might say got hooked on. I met many people and I answered a lot of good questions. It was a wonderful experience. I can't say I have ever monitoed a nest such as this in a neighborhood such as this. But it was a good experience for us all. A successful nest with 4 new lives that survived and migrated to their wintering grounds. Maybe they will be back next year and will raise yet another wonderful family of little eyas. We wish them well.
My photos were taken with a Sony A 700 DSLR camera and a 150-500 mm zoom lens on a tripod with a remote control to limit movement.