Cawing Corvidae

Observing Great Horned Owls.

Great Horned Owl in winter, Wyoming

Great Horned Owl in winter, Wyoming (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To a great horned owl, anything that can be killed is food.  Including creatures that walk, slither, crawl, fly, or swim, exempting large mammals.  They are also the main predator of skunks (having a very small olfactory sense), crows and their young.  Crows sometimes congregate from considerable distances to mob owls and caw angrily at them for hours on end. When the owls try to fly off to avoid this harassment, they are often followed by the Corvidae.  To obtain sustenance, these owls certainly need a little help.  Especially if that food is anything like foxes, hawks, or other owls.  Great horned owls mostly rely on secrecy and stealth.  They also have natural-colored plumage which makes them well camouflaged at night as well as in the daytime.  The eyes of the great horned owl also assist them greatly.  Being almost as big as the eyes of a human, owls’ eyes are immobile within their circular bone sockets.   As a result, instead of turning its eyes, an owl must turn its whole head, the neck capable of rotating a full 270 degrees, in order to see in various directions without moving its entire body.  Another main factor is the great horned owl’s claws.  In some cases the gripping power of the Great horned owl’s talons may be compared to much larger raptor species such as the golden eagle.   Owls hunt mainly by watching from a snag, pole, or other high perch, sometimes completely concealed by the dusky night and/or partially hidden by foliage. From such vantage points, owls dive down to the ground, often with wings folded, to ambush their prey.  They also hunt by flying low over openings on the ground, scanning below for prey activity.  These owls have even been known to wade into shallow water for aquatic prey, although this has been only rarely reported.  Almost all prey is killed with the owl’s talons, often instantly, though some may be bitten on the face as well. The prey is swallowed whole when possible. However an owl will also fly with prey to a perch and tear off pieces with its bill. Very large prey, any that is notably heavier than the owl. In northern regions where such large prey is prevalent, an owl may let uneaten food freeze and then thaw it out later using its own body heat. When prey is swallowed whole, owls regurgitate pellets of bone and other non-digestible bits about 6 to 10 hours later, usually in the same location where the prey was consumed.  In conclusion, great horned owls are the supreme avian predator of the north although they can be averted by a mob of cawing crows.

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Honeycombs and Hardware

Cow Stomachs.


Abomasum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is widely known that cattle have four stomachs, enabling them to consume grass and vegetation.  But, this statement is a little misleading and not quite accurate.  You see, cattle do not have “four stomachs” per se, instead they have one stomach with four compartments, the rumen, the reticulum, the omasum, and the abomasum.  The rumen is the largest compartment and forms specialized microorganisms that assist in digesting recosumed cud.  Cud is the product of otherwise undigestible foods that are regurgitated, rechewed, and reswallowed.  The microbes in the rumen also synthesize amino acids from non protein nitrogenous sources, such as urea and ammonia.  As these microbes reproduce in the rumen, older generations die and their cells continue on through the digestive tract. These cells are then partially digested by the cattle, allowing them to gain a high-quality protein source. These features allow cattle to thrive on grasses and other vegetation unlike dogs, cats, and humans, who are forced to find their protein sources elsewhere.  While the omasum’s main function is to absorb water and nutrients from the digestible food, and the abomasum functions like the human stomach; this is why it is known as the “true stomach”.  The reticulum, the smallest compartment, is known as the “honeycomb”. Cattle sometimes consume metal objects which are deposited in the reticulum, and irritation from the metal objects causes hardware disease. So in conclusion, cattle have a very sophisticated and convenient way to ingest and digest grasses and vegetation and still get all the nutrients that they need to survive and thrive.  

To see some more cow anatomy and a few different breeds of cattle, watch the video at

Fatal Attraction

Regarding Robins

American Robin -- Humber Bay Park (East) (Toro...

American Robin — Humber Bay Park (East) (Toronto, Canada) — 2005, by User:Mdf (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The American robin is a migratory bird.  It inhabits anywhere from Canada to Central Mexico and is the second most common bird in the U.S. beaten only by the chickadee.  Ingesting various types of food. Robins base their diets on 60% wild and cultivated fruits and berries, and 40% invertebrates which include grubs, beetles, worms, grasshoppers, and butterflies.   The main characteristic of robins is their orangey red breasts and/or sides.  Apart from that, robins are 9 to 11 inches long, have a 12 to 16 inch wingspan, and weigh 12 to 16 ounces.  Their heads are covered in feathers that range from jet black to gray, yellow beaks with a variably dark tip, red or black eyes, brown legs and feet, and throats that are mainly white with black streaks.  The males and females are similar, but the females and juveniles tend to be duller than the male, with a brown tint to their heads, brown upperparts, and less bright underparts.  Focusing on robin behavior.  Sometimes the cowbird will lay its eggs in robins’ nests.  Robins are moderately intelligent and will almost always detect the cowbird’s eggs and roll it off the side of the nest, which proves fatal for the chick within.   So in conclusion, robins are smart attractive birds, although not very good babysitters.

To see the migratory patterns and more pictures, watch the adjoining video at

Moving To Rat Nest

Concerning Quokka’s

Three quokkas—two adults and a juvenile, presu...

Three quokkas—two adults and a juvenile, presumably a family unit—interact at Bathurst, Rottnest Island, Western Australia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A quokka is a small nocturnal marsupial  weighing 5.5 to 11 pounds, 16 to 35 inches long, and a 9.8 to 12 inch tail.  Other characteristics are rounded ears, a stocky build, and short broad heads.  Also called the “kangaroo rat” quokkas look like small kangaroos, jumping and carrying their young in marsupial pouches.  Although, unlike the kangaroo, quokkas are known to climb trees.  Quokkas reside in a very diverse habitat, ranging from semi-arid scrub to cultivated gardens. They inhabit several small islands off the coast of Australia, especially Rottnest Island.  Although there is a small mainland population in Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve.  Naturally herbivorous quokkas ingest a variety of plants, buds, fruit, and seeds.  An interesting story about quokkas is how Rottnest Island was named.  When the Europeans first discovered and settled Rottnest and the surrounding islands, they thought that quokkas were giant rats.  The name “Rottnest” was derived from the Dutch word “rattennest” which roughly translates to “rat nest”.  Today on Rottnest Island, it is illegal for the public to handle quokkas in any way.  To enforce this law, there is a $300 infringement fine and prosecution may result in a $2,000 fine.  Ultimately, even though quokkas are cute little plant eating kangaroo rats and are normally friendly and curious, it might not be a good idea to try an make a lasting relationship with them.  Especially if you live on or visit Rottnest (rat nest) island.

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What’s For Dinner?

English: An American Black Bear (Ursus america...

. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Black Bears

 Up to 85% of the black bear’s diet consists of vegetation.  But in Laborador, Canada, black bears are exceptionally carnivorous, ingesting caribou and rodents.   When initially emerging from hibernation, black bears will seek to feed on carrion from winter-killed animals and newborn ungulates (hoofed mammals).   Grasses, wetland plants,  forbs, honey, young shoots, and the buds of trees and shrubs during the spring period are also especially important to black bears emerging from hibernation.  They assist in rebuilding muscle and strengthening the skeleton and are often the only digestible foods available at that time. During summer, the diet is comprised largely of fruits, especially berries and buds.  In the autumn, black bears will mainly dine on nuts, huckleberries, and an assortment of other such foods.  In northern states and Canada, bears are more carnivorous.  Feasting on deer, elk calves, moose calves, caribou, and salmon.  Black bear’s fur also helps them hunt. The white furred black bears of the islands of western Canada have a 30% greater success rate in catching salmon than their black furred counterparts.  But in woods and forests the dark furred bears dominate.  Speaking of fur color, black bear fur comes in a few different colors.  The most common is black, but, their fur can also be any shade of brown, dark cinnamon (red), and light cinnamon (almost white).  The black bear’s habitat consists of Canada,  Parts of the US, and a little bit of Mexico.  They are often found in areas of relatively inaccessible terrain with thick understory vegetation and large quantities of edible material.  Concerning measurements.  The male black bear is usually much larger than the female, weighing between 126-550 lbs. with a 47-79  inches shoulder height, while the female is only 90-370 lbs. and has a shoulder height of 28-41 inches.  The average length of a black bear is 47-79 inches and their skulls are 10.5-12.5 inches wide.  The largest black bear on record was a male in New Brunswick shot in November 1972, with an estimated weight of 1,100 lbs.

In the winter, black bears metabolic rate changes allow them to remain dormant for months without eating, drinking, urinating, or defecating. Most biologists have defined mammalian hibernation as “specialized, seasonal reduction in metabolism concurrent with scarce food and cold weather”. Black bears are considered highly efficient hibernators.   Entering their dens in October and November. Prior to that time, they can put on up to 30 pounds of body fat to get them through the months during which they fast.  Hibernation typically lasts 3–5 months.  Usually they make their dens out of hollowed-out tree cavities, under logs or rocks, in banks, caves, culverts, and in shallow depressions. Females, however, have been known to be pickier in their choice of dens in comparison to males.  Females give birth in February and nurture their cubs until the snow melts.  Ultimately, black bears are a mostly plant eating animal and although not as big or dangerous as their cousins (brown bear, polar bear, ect), they should be treated with extreme caution and respect or they might just consider you a tasty dinner treat.

for more information and to see pictures of different colored bears, watch my video at