Wild Birds Unlimited Newsletter
~ For those passionate about birding and nature ~
November 2017                                                                                          Volume 11.17
Nature News

High Desert Bird of the Month
Great Horned Owl

BOM: Great Horned Owl
Scientific name: Bubo virginianus
The great horned owl, also known as the tiger owl or the hoot owl, is a large owl native to the Americas. It is an extremely adaptable bird with a vast range and is the most widely distributed true owl in the Americas. Its primary diet includes rabbits and hares, rats and mice and voles, although it freely hunts any animal it can overtake, including rodents and other small mammals, larger mid-sized mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates.

Typically great horned owls stand 18 to 25 inches tall with a wingspan of 36 to 60 inches weigh anywhere between 2 to 4 pounds. They can live to 30 years in captivity, though in the wild the average is 10 to 15 years. In general, they have brown body plumage with white throat feathers and their belly and breast have dark horizontal bars. As the name implies these owls have large "horned" ear tufts that are set far apart on the head. Their facial disk may range from gray to an orange-tan with large yellow eyes with black pupils.
Great horned owls inhabit a wide variety of places ranging from desert canyons to mountain forests. They typically nest in trees near open areas. In the Reno and surrounding areas, they are often found in city parks, urban areas and associated with agriculture. It is an extremely adaptable bird with a vast range and is the most widely distributed true owl in the Americas.

Great Horned Owls roost in trees, snags, thick brush, cavities, ledges, and human-made structures. They are active mostly during the night-especially at dusk and before dawn. When food supplies are low they may begin hunting in the evening and continue into the early morning; in winter they may hunt during daylight hours.
Mated owl pairs are monogamous and defend their territories with vigorous hooting, especially in the winter before egg-laying and in the fall when their young leave the area. Great Horned Owls respond to intruders and other threats with bill-clapping, hisses, screams, and guttural noises, eventually spreading their wings and striking with their feet if the threat escalates. Both members of a mated pair may stay within the territory outside of the breeding season, but they roost separately.
Fun Fact: Great horned owls are Nevada's largest nocturnal bird of prey. If the great horned owl was as big as a human, its eyes would be the size of oranges. Its ears are not symmetrical. The right ear is often larger and higher up on the head than the left ear. By turning and tilting its head until the sound is of equal value in both ears, great horned owls can locate their prey by sound only.
For more information on Great Horned Owls, visit one of the three Moana Nursery store locations: 1100 W. Moana Ln. & 11301 S. Virginia St., Reno and 7644 Pyramid Hwy., Sparks.
Carmel Ruiz-Hilton is Manager of Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shops at Moana Nursery in Reno/Sparks

Being Seasonally Savvy: Cashing in on Caching

Right now chickadees, nuthatches, titmice and jays are hiding food to retrieve and eat later this season. This behavior is called "caching." Caching helps birds survive during bad weather and when food sources are low. These birds can store hundreds of seeds a day. Each seed is placed in a different location and they generally remember where each one is, even months later.
By providing a foundational feeder filled with their favorite foods, you can help your birds with their caching needs. Recent research has shown that a consistent and reliable source of food helps birds to build body fat reserves, reduces their physiological stress and helps to maintain a healthy body condition.

Chickadees prefer to cache black oil sunflower seeds; often eating a small portion before hiding it in and under bark, dead leaves, knotholes, clusters of pine needles, gutters, shingles and in the ground. Chickadees caches more in the middle of the day when visiting feeders. 

Titmice are rather particular. They choose the largest sunflower seeds available to eat and cache. Titmice and chickadees like to cache seeds within 130 feet of bird feeders; your yard or a neighbor's yard. Often, they tuck seeds into the bark and crevices of a wood pile or on a large branch. They even cache them under mulch in a garden.

Nuthatches prefer heavier sunflower seeds over the lighter ones. Be sure to have some sunflower chips in your blend, too, as they like these 25% more than ones in the shell. They prefer to hide foods on deeply furrowed tree trunks and the underside of branches. Nuthatches are also known to hide seeds under a shingle or behind wooden siding.

Jays love to cache peanuts, sunflower seeds, acorns and pine nuts. They are especially fond of peanuts in the shell. They bury them in the ground and are known to cache about 100 in a day; emptying a feeder in no time. Watch for them make repeated trips to your feeders (or an oak or pine tree) and fly off. They can travel up to two miles to bury their nutritious treasure.

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Upcoming Events

Lahontan Audubon Society
Friday, November 3
Field Trip - Caughlin Parkway and Steamboat Ditch Trail

Tuesday, November 7
BLM Seeks Public Comment on Sage-Grouse Plan

Tuesday, November 14
LAS Board meeting

Friday, November 17
Field Trip - Oxbow and Idlewild Parks

Friday, December 1
Field Trip - Davis Creek Regional Park

Tuesday, December 12
LAS Board meeting

Friday, December 15
Field Trip - Silver Saddle Ranch, Carson City

Sunday, December 17
Carson City CBC
Showing events until 12/31. Look for more

Animal Ark
Closing Day
November 5 @ 10:00 am - 4:30 pm
Animal Ark, 1265 Deerlodge Road
Reno, NV 89508

This is the last day of our summer season. We will be closed for the winter, except for special days at Thanksgiving. If you've been thinking of visiting, now's the time!
Thanksgiving Weekend
November 24 @ 11:00 am - 3:00 pm
Animal Ark, 1265 Deerlodge Road
Reno, NV 89508

If you are not wild about hitting the malls for the annual holiday shopping frenzy after Thanksgiving, why not drive out to Animal Ark? Have family in town? You can enjoy our animals when they are active in late fall's cooler temperatures. Event prices: Adults $12; Seniors $11; Children $10; children 2 and under are free. Golf carts may not...


Nature Happenings
Project Feeder Watch starts and extends until April, www.birds.cornell.edu/pfw
* Average temperature: 36.2°F, Average precipitation: 0.52"
* The onset of winter snow and cold in the higher elevations can often bring
"irruptions" of mountain species into the valley and plains.
* Steller's Jays, the beautiful black-crested jay of the mountain forests, may
relocate to lower altitudes.
* The resident Western Scrub-Jays will squawk their resentment of the Steller's,
as they all search for high-energy nuts and oil seeds.
* Pinon Jays, normally found exclusively in the southern pinon/juniper lands, may
move further north in search of winter food.
* Pine Siskins may move in large numbers to lower regions, and will socially join
flocks of American Goldfinches to visit finch feeders.
* Juncos become common at feeders.
* Waterfowl migration peaks this month.
* Mule Deer bucks go into rut.
* Open water is important if there's an early freeze. Put out heated bird baths for a
winter water source.
* Leonid meteor shower is mid-month

Feed Our Local Birds!
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Moana Nursery | 1100 W. Moana Lane | 11301 S. Virginia St. | 7655 Pyramid Hwy. | Reno/Sparks | NV | 89509