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Nature Journal: Ice and Elegant Eagles

This past weekend I was able to see an American icon! It wasn’t at the Superbowl or on the streets of Los Angeles, but at a frozen and snow-covered Big Bear Lake I saw the famous bald eagle.

Bald eagles are American Icons. Photo Credit: Sandor Havasi

Bald eagles are American Icons. Photo Credit: Sandor Havasi

The San Bernadino Mountains were perfect that weekend. I was there for a retreat and the snow had built up perfectly. In the early mornings, you could hear the sounds of the ice cracking on the lake and as the day went on little miniature streams broke open in the ice on the lake and flocks of geese and ducks could be seen far off in the distance paddling around in the frigid water. These birds have amazing insulation and feathers which help to keep them warm and allow the water to roll right off their backs. When I stepped outside to get a closer look, I went downward up to my knees suddenly finding myself in three feet of snow! Continue Reading →

Hummingbird’s Health and Hibernation

We are back! Happy New Year everyone, we hope you have been having many nature adventures in our absence. In the past few weeks I know I certainly have had all kinds of nature adventures: being followed by a coyote, stumbling upon some skunks, being buzzed by some hummingbirds and much more. . . But the joy of nature walks and nature stories truly lies in sharing them! Please feel free to share your nature stories with us. You can submit your stories to facebook at: Havasi Wilderness Foundation.

One of our local Santa Barbara Anna's Hummingbird Photo Credit: Sandor Havasi

One of our local Santa Barbara Anna’s Hummingbird Photo Credit: Sandor Havasi

Recently a friend of Havasi Wilderness Foundation observed that where she lived (up north in Oregon) hummingbirds are spotted all year round, much like in our California climate, however these hummingbirds stay even in the winter. Hummingbirds can be spotted even during the snowy months–buzzing about in spite of the frigid temperatures. Now we know that the postal service runs rain or shine, but apparently even certain types of hummingbirds tough it out. But how do they do it? Hummingbirds have such a high metabolism and are so small it seems impossible that they would be able to survive. They don’t have blubber, they don’t have fur, they don’t have those warm downy feathers that many other bird species use to survive winters. They couldn’t possibly hibernate like bears. . . If we see them they must be awake and active. Continue Reading →

Nature Walk: Something to Hoot About

Happy Holidays! We have entered into the season of thankfulness and lots of sweet treats; which means I need to get out more. Not just because being outdoors is amazing but if I want to be able to stay healthy and enjoy the winter wildlife I need to make an effort to be outdoors. Thanksgiving was wonderful but with all the heavy and delicious food eaten I really needed to get outside and walk some of those calories off.

Owl Photo Credit: Sandor Havasi

Owl’s have incredible feathers. Photo Credit: Sandor Havasi

A good friend of mine (who also loves getting outdoors) joined me for a late night nature walk. We started out sometime after 7 pm for a night walk in the neighborhoods near the Bolsa Chica Wetlands. It was quite dark and damp–the air was misty and cold from the ocean and the oncoming winter, as we walked we kept an eye out for nocturnal animals. Most of the nocturnal creatures I’ve seen lately have been spiders but we saw none that evening as we walked. Occasionally we have seen a racoon or a coyote on this same walk, but they must have been nice and warm inside sleeping off their Thanksgiving left-overs because we didn’t see any. Not even a single rabbit was out on their front porches. . . It seemed like we were in for a quiet and uneventful nature walk.

We were chatting away when we were interrupted by a call. Four who who whoooos and then silence. We froze and looked at each other grinning. . . Had we imagined it? Just when we were beginning to think we were hearing things we heard it again! And looking up on the top of a chimney three stories up we saw a silhouette of an owl. We called back to it. “Whoo whoo whoo whooooo!”

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Nature’s Collectors and Hoarders

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Blue Jay storing his food

Happy Fall everyone! The leaves are turning colors, the weather is “starting” to get cooler, and animals are beginning to prepare for winter. Last week we got to see some jays storing their seeds and nuts. Jays are not the only animal to display this “collecting” or “hoarding” behavior, many other birds and even rodents will store food. Scientists also call this type of behavior “caching” because these animals will store a cache of food. Sometimes they will do this in times of surplus for a time in the future when food will be less plentiful–other times animals will store food because it needs to ripen.

Rodents (squirrels, hamsters, and mice) will hoard their food using different strategies. Hamsters will use a single location or a “larder” to store their food. Usually, their larder is in their nest where they live and have easy access to their stores of food. The downside of this technique is that other animals can easily raid or steal from the single food source. Usually, this means that the animals which use the larder hoarding must be very defensive of their territory and hoard. Continue Reading →

Braving Nature

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Often times we engage in nature just by looking through a window

With the Pokemon-Go Craze going on right now, many people are getting outside and walking around who would rarely spend extended time out of doors! While this is exciting for many, there can also be some misconceptions about what kinds of animals are outdoors and even how to engage in nature.  And this phenomenon isn’t just limited to the Pokemon-Goers but do we really look up and engage in nature in a positive way?

From my own personal experience I would have to say somedays yes and somedays no! Why is that? Just the other day I went to the park after work to try to relax and be in nature (because I love nature). But for some reason I was uneasy and I had my own personal apprehension about wearing my work clothes. I found myself worrying about getting them dirty and instead of wanting to enjoy and engage in nature I was not wanting to go off the path or even sit in the grass! I eventually convinced myself that it would be good for me and after walking through the meadow for a bit I noticed birds. Lots of swallows swooping and flying everywhere! Continue Reading →

Something to Hoot About

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Owls are raptors.

When you hear the word raptor, many people immediately envision Jurassic Park–but raptors are not just limited to these extinct dinosaurs! Modern day birds of prey (predatory birds) are commonly referred to as raptors.  Locally we have different kinds of raptors such as different types of hawks, eagles, and owls. The owl is a very specialized hunter which is rarely seen because it is most active at night.

Owls have incredibly developed hunting techniques and biology which enables them to hunt efficiently and silently at night. Owl’s wings and feathers are specialized for different hunting and flying reasons. The feathers on an owl’s wing have ridges and allow owls to fly almost silently through the air. This silent attack allows owls to catch their food suddenly and with little warning.

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Thank You Dads of the Animal Kingdom

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Imagine growing up inside your dad’s mouth!

Hope you all had a happy Father’s Day everyone! In honor of this past weekend being Father’s Day Weekend, we at Havasi Wilderness Foundation wanted to thank all fathers, step-fathers, god-fathers, grandfathers, and father-figures in our lives and in the lives of so many others. What do fathers do? Fathers and father-figures take time to invest in our lives and to teach us and prepare us for the world ahead of us. This is not just seen in the human race, many other animals have fathers that make a tremendous difference in the lives of their offspring.

 

Four Faithful Father’s of the Animal Kingdom:

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Wilderness Journal: Visiting Bald Eagles at Lake Casitas

Our Eagle Sighting Group, ready to go!

It is June and some members of the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains, their families, and friends accompanied us to Lake Casitas to visit and see the bald eagle parents and their offspring. Luckily we had a caravan of three cars on a gorgeous bright sunny day with minimal clouds and light traffic. We started out from Agoura Hills, California at 7:30 AM to be sure to arrive early to see the wildlife and hopefully see the baby eagles (eaglets) getting fed.

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A bald eagle’s messy nest, high up in the trees.

Upon arrival, we could see the giant eagle’s nest high in the Eucalyptus tree and one of the parents on a branch adjacent to the nest. When entering Lake Casitas, the road to the left follows around so one can park quite near to view the nest and with binoculars can view the two little baby eagles. The mother eagle could be seen high in the sky carrying towards the nest a “duck roast.” We were just in time to see the baby’s breakfast banquet. Continue Reading →

Wilderness Journal: Springtime in the Wetlands

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The rabbits bound away.

After the misty morning fog and clouds had worn off, all was perfectly still. The bright blue sky was the perfect invitation for a walk through the Bolsa Chica Wetlands. And with the sun out, I was not the only one in the wetlands. Springtime means baby animals and several baby bunnies bounded by with their white cotton tails bobbing behind them. Sneaking through a hole under the fence they vanished into the undergrowth.

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“Parroting” Can Be A Good Thing

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The parrot poses for us.

We recently had an encounter with some amazing birds while getting a flat tire repaired on our car! The Tire Man in Agoura is known as home to three exotic Macaw Parrots. Their raucous squawking and chattering immediately drew our attention. Just in the short time of observing these colorful creatures we could already get a glimpse of the very social and intelligent lives that these large tropical birds lead. Not only that but as soon as Alex pulled out the camera to snap a few photos the parrots appeared to ruffle their feathers and pose for their photos! Continue Reading →