Wild Birds Unlimited Newsletter
~ For those passionate about birding and nature ~
Sept 1st, 2016                                                                                              Volume 09.16
Nature News

High Desert Bird of the Month
Barn Owl
BOM:  Barn Owl
Scientific name:  Tyto alba 
How to identify:  These medium-sized owls have long, rounded wings and short tails, which combine with a buoyant, loping flight to give them a distinctive flight style. The legs are long and the head is smoothly rounded, without ear tufts.  Barn Owls are pale overall with dark eyes. They have a mix of buff and gray on the head, back, and upperwings, and are white on the face, body, and underwings. When seen at night they can appear all white.
Habitat:  Barn Owls require large areas of open land over which to hunt. This can either be marsh, grasslands, or mixed agricultural fields. For nesting and roosting, they prefer quiet cavities, either in trees or man-made structures such as barns or silos.
Where to find one:  Barn Owls nest and roost in cavities, abandoned barns and other buildings, and dense trees. At night, Barn Owls hunt by flying low, back and forth over open habitats, searching for small rodents primarily by sound.
How to attract one to your yard:  Consider putting up a nest box to attract a breeding pair. Make sure you put it up well before breeding season. Attach a guard to keep predators from raiding eggs and young. 
Interesting fact:  Barn Owls swallow their prey whole-skin, bones, and all. About twice a day, they cough up pellets instead of passing all that material through their digestive tracts. The pellets make a great record of what the owls have eaten, and scientists study them to learn more about the owls and the ecosystems they live in.
For more information on Barn 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
Barn Owl Myths and Folklore
Some call it "ghost bird." Others have named it "demon bird." In fact, colloquial names abound for the widespread Barn Owl.  Found on every continent except Antarctica, and with about 30 subspecies filling its range, the majestic Barn Owl has not always been looked upon favorably.
Despite their bad reputation in folklore, Barn Owls do a lot of good. Many farmers forge beneficial relationships with Barn Owls, as a single owl family can consume approximately 3,000 rodents a year. The majority of their diet is gophers, and they also eat mice, voles, moles, and rats. In exchange for a nest box, they will keep fields clear of rodents, reduce crop damage and loss, and eliminate the need to put out rodenticide. Seeing a Barn Owl is simply a good sign that the ecosystem is healthy and resilient. So remember, Barn Owls are only a scary bird if you're a mouse!
Go to the WBU site for more Bird of the Month newsletters & articles. 
Fall Migration has begun!

We are kicking it off with new lower 20# bag seed prices

Deluxe $21.99 | Dove & Quail $17.99 | Finch $43.99 | No Mess DP $36.99

We also have a wide selection of seed and thistle feeders!

 "How Cool Is That" Chatter

Finding Feathers 
Have you found a feather or two around your yard lately? Many birds are finishing molting this month. Evidence of this can be seen in their wings. Look for a short or missing feather on each wing while birds soar overhead.


Presto Chango 
American Goldfinches are molting into a dull, nondescript color, even changing the color of the beak and legs from orange to black.

Hungry Hummingbirds 
Keep that hummingbird feeder out. Feeders can help fuel migrants moving through. And, it won't keep them from leaving. Hummingbirds innately know when to head to warmer climates.

Fun Facts About Owls

The adaptive Great Horned Owl can be found virtually anywhere in North America. Its habitat ranges from forest, field, tundra and desert and includes highly developed suburban areas as well.

The feathers of all owls are especially soft and muffle wind noise. Many owls also have special comb-like fringes on the leading edge of their wings to help channel air over the wing, thereby reducing noise. These adaptations for silent flight allow the owl to make a soundless approach towards its prey.

Many owls can turn their head around over 270 degrees, allowing them to look almost directly behind themselves. This adaptation has developed to compensate for the fact that their eyes are fixed into a boney socket in the skull and are virtually unable to move.

Owl's eyes are unique among birds as they are located on the front of the head, instead of on the side. This not only gives them a very human appearance but also enables them to match our level of depth perception that is created by the overlapping vision from each eye.

Owls can fly and hunt during the daytime as well as at night. However most of them are best adapted for nocturnal hunting. 

Most owls rely as much or more on their hearing as they do their sight to locate, track and capture prey.

The ears of most owls are located asymmetrically on their head, with the right ear being higher than the left ear. Each ear hears the same sound with a slight difference, thus creating a form of audible "depth perception" which can be used to track the location and movements of their prey. 

After digesting their most recent meal, owls will form a pellet of the undigested remains of their prey and regurgitate it. Made up primarily of fur, feathers and bones, it is egested approximately 13-16 hours after eating.

The oldest known Barred Owl lived to 18 years and 3 months.

Upcoming Events
Lahontan Audubon Society

Saturday, September 17
 FIELD TRIP - Ranch San Rafael Bird Walk
 Field Trip - Fall Migration at Spooner Lake
Tuesday, September 20
 Birds & Books Reading Group
Tuesday, September 27
 Program Meeting: Don Molde-Who Pays for Wildlife
Tuesday, October 18
 Birds & Books Reading Group
Tuesday, October 25
 Program Meeting: Steve Jenkins-The Magic Migration by Monarch Butterflies

Animal Ark

On the Wind Cheetah Run

September 11 @ 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Reservations required due to limited seating. RSVP at 1-775-970-3431 Majestic balloons grace the skyline at dawn, and our cheetahs race into the sunset! Come see the world's fastest land mammal in action running at top speeds - completely off-leash - around the Animal Ark run field! Event prices: Adults $40; Seniors $35; Children (8-16 years old) $30. Children must be at least 8 years old to attend.

Paws and Claws

September 25 
Reserve early before this event sells out! RSVP by phone at 1-775-970-3431 or purchase on-line below. View Animal Ark's animals, enjoy themed hors d'oeuvres, and meet an array of wildlife experts. An open bar, plated dinner, silent and live auctions add to the fun! Wrap up the evening watching Animal Ark's cheetahs run at top speeds in an extraordinary display. Tickets are $125 per person, or $1150 for a Table for Ten.

Nature Happenings
  • Sept. 12: Full Moon, Sept. 27: New Moon 
  • Sept. 23: Autumnal Equinox - almost equal amounts of day and night 
  • Bird populations are transitioning in preparation for winter - some birds move out, some birds come back and some become nomadic in their search for food, water and shelter. 
  • American Goldfinches molt into a dull, nondescript color, even changing the color of the beak from orange to black. 
  • Jays become nomadic and revisit yards in search of food which they can store through burial. Peanuts in the shell are their favorite. 
  • Look for nighthawks and swallows to congregate in large numbers prior to migrating south. 
  • Monarch Butterfly migration peaks mid-month. 
  • Bats are busy feeding, building fat for hibernation and migration. 
  • Fall migration peaks for warblers and others. 
  • Most summer birds, such as orioles and grosbeaks, have departed. 
  • Most hummingbirds have departed by the end of month. 
  • Northern Flickers begin arriving. Western Meadowlarks migrate. 
  • Mule Deer are shedding the velvet from their antlers. 
  • Asters are the last plants to bloom. 
  • Fall hawk migration begins. 
  • Bucks and bulls polishing their antlers; look for deer and elk rubs. 
  • Autumn colors begin - Sumac, dogwood and Virginia Creeper. 
  • Robins begin to join together in large flocks. 
  • Bears are feeding in preparation for hibernation. 
Celebrating 10 years in Reno, NV! 
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Moana Nursery | 1100 W. Moana Lane | 11301 S. Virginia St. | 7655 Pyramid Hwy. | Reno/Sparks | NV | 89509