Burrowing Owls

Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia);
Davis, CA; APR 2019


Burrowing Owls are interesting little creatures. Unlike most owls, these 8”-10” owls forage during the day and they live in burrows in the ground that were abandoned by ground squirrels, prairie dogs and the like. They spend most of their time on the ground or on low perches. They eat insects and small animals. I’ve even red that they will carry dung near the burrows to attract insects.  

Please click on caption to see image at higher resolution.

Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia);
Davis, CA; APR 2019

Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia);
Davis, CA; APR 2019

These and other images are available for purchase on my website: www.earthwatcher.us or by contacting larry.klink@earthwatcher.us.

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Swallows

Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor);
American River Parkway, Folsom, CA; MAR 2019

Swallows are those little birds we see with their distinctive back swept, pointed wings and their forked “swallow tail”. They maneuver through the sky at high speed, in a seemingly erratic pattern, catching and eating insects in flight. They will also eat mollusks, spiders and sometimes fruit.

In the spring, along the American River, in the Sacramento area, I commonly see two types of swallows: Tree Swallows and Cliff Swallows. When I am lucky, I’ll see a Bank Swallow. I have been told we also have Violet-green Swallows but I haven’t seen any.

The most common swallow that I see is the Tree Swallow. They are called Tree Swallows because the nest in cavities in trees. It is a beautiful iridescent blue on its head and back, white on its breast and underside and blackish color on wings and tail. These birds live along the gulf coast, southern Mexico and Central America in the winter and move north throughout the US in summer.

The Cliff Swallow is a multi-colored bird with off-white underside, gray-brown wings, blue-gray back and head cap and a brown-red neck. They are quire beautiful. They make nests of mud that appear precariously perched on a cliff face. They also build nest in man-made structures like bridges and buildings. They are very social; many birds build nests near one another and hunt together. They also live along the gulf coast, southern Mexico and Central America in the winter and move north throughout the US in summer.

The bank swallow is a bird with different names in different parts of the world. In Europe, it is the Sand Martin while on the Indian subcontinent it is called the collard sand martin. They make a nest, lined with straw or feathers, in a hole they burrow into sand or gravel. They have mostly white underparts but have a gray back, wings and head. They will sometimes have a prominent grey collar at the base of their neck. They winter across they southern 1/3 of the US in winter then migrate north in the summer.

Here are some images of these beautiful swallows.

Please click on caption to see these images in higher resolution.

Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota) , American River Parkway,
Orangevale, CA; APR 2019
Bank Swallow (Riparia riparia). (AKA Sand Martin);
Lake Natomas, Orangevale, CA; APR 2019;
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor);
American River Parkway, Folsom, CA; MAR 2019

Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota);
American River Parkway, Orangevale, CA; APR 2019

Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota);
American River Parkway, Orangevale, CA; APR 2019


These and other images are available for purchase on my website: www.earthwatcher.us or by contacting larry.klink@earthwatcher.us.

The Rookery

Great Blue Heron (Ardea Herodias) in the Rookery
American River Parkway, Folsom, CA; APR 2019

In our area, we have a few rookeries; communal nesting areas for herons, egrets and cormorants. There are other birds that nest in rookeries but I am not aware of any I our area.

Rookeries are interesting. The two I see most often are in a small cluster of tall trees along side of a river. The birds nest high above the ground. Each bird tends to their own nest. But the colonies can contain two dozen or more nests. The herons, egrets and cormorants will even nest in the same tree. Many believe protection drives their desire to nest communally.  More roommates make it easier to spot and chase away predators.

I visited both rookeries last week and it appears to me that the birds are sitting on eggs. If I am right, we should have babies soon.  So, I’ll keep checking back and when I can, post pictures. I can’t get close to the nets; I am about 75 yards away. So, I won’t be able to photograph the chicks until they are big enough to pop their heads above the sides of the nest.

Here are a few rookery images. Take note of the male Double-crested Cormorant. He is displaying his orange patch and the crest of feathers on his head. For me, its rare to see the crests displayed.

Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) on the Nest
American River Parkway, Folsom, CA; APR 2019
Great Egrets (Ardea alba) on the Nest
American River Parkway, Folsom, CA; APR 2019

A Predator and Some Prey

Coyote (Canis latrans);
Effie Yeaw Nature Center, Sacramento, CA; FEB 2019

Here are images of a some animals that I’ve taken over the last few weeks; the Coyote, the Black-tailed Jackrabbit and the California Ground Squirrel.

Take notice of the coyote. His eyes face front. That is a trait of predators. The ground squirrel and the jackrabbit need to keep their eyes open for predators while they forage, so their eyes are on the side. Remember the adage:  “Eyes in the front, the animal hunts. Eyes on the side, the animal hides.”

Please click on caption to see image at higher resolution.


Black-tailed Jackrabbit (Lepus californicus);
Effie Yeaw Nature Center, Sacramento, CA; FEB 2019
California Ground Squirrel (Otospermophilus beecheyi);
Effie Yeaw Nature Center, Sacramento, CA; APR 2019

These and other images are available to purchase on my website: www.earthwatcher.us or by contacting larry.klink@earthwatcher.us.