Raptors: Hunting on the Wing

Great Horned Owl

This past Saturday I traveled to Cedar Bog Nature Preserve, just south of Urbana (OH) in Champaign County for a Raptor Workshop led by the amazing Tom Hissong, education coordinator for Aullwood Audubon Center. Participants were schooled on the numerous hawks, eagles, falcons and owls that can be found in at Cedar Bog as well as around Ohio.

Cedar Bog is an Ohio Historical Society property that is managed by the Cedar Bog Association. The bog is the largest and best example of a boreal and prairie fen complex in Ohio formed by retreating glaciers about 15, 000 years ago. It is home to many rare, unusual and endangered plants including the Small Yellow Lady Slipper and Showy Lady Slipper orchids. The 450-acre site features a one mile long board walk and an eco-friendly nature center, which was the location for the raptor workshop.

Small rodent bones in an owl pellet

Weird one that I am, I thought the highlight of the workshop was the opportunity to dissect an owl pellet. Less you are grossed out by this thought, would it soften the weirdness to know that the pellets were sterilized? Hmmm. I didn’t think so. Anyways, owls, as you may know, hunt and eat small animals like shrews, mice, voles and birds. They tear their food and swallow large chunks whole. They can’t digest all the hair and hard materials such as bones, so they regurgitate these in the form of a pellet. Sounds like an owl version of a cat’s hair ball!

Bones found in an owl pellet. The tiny bones just under the jaw are less than 1/4 inch.

Using a bone sorting chart (yes, there is such a thing) we discovered teeny, tiny vertebrae, ribs, shoulder bones, leg bones, sculls and teeth. It was quite interesting. It bears repeating: do yourself a favor and discover the wonders of nature by taking the opportunity to check out some of the wonderful places like Cedar Bog. You won’t be disappointed.

Yummy shortbread owl cookies. Who says birders don't have a sense of humor?

Sales alerts

Knollwood Garden Center – Beavercreek – Knollwood is really getting in some great and unusual house plant in stock. Just in time for Valentine’s Day (though who REALLY needs an excuse to buy a plant?) all tropical foliage plants are 20% off through the 18th. (Flowering plants not included.) Website HERE.

Grandma’s Gardens – Waynesville/Centerville-ish –  Grandma’s Gardens website has a $5 off a $30 purchase of regular priced items (some exclusions) through Wednesday, February 15. Coupon HERE.

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Confused crabs

My crabapple is blooming. You might think that I MUST have a green thumb. However, the adverse may be more apropos. Crabapples that spit out blooms in the fall are showing that they are very stressed out. It’s almost a ‘throes of death’ type of reaction: “I-must-bloom-and-reproduce-before-I-die” type of thing. I think I have a grasp of what causes stress to me personally, but what kind of stress does a plant experience? Some thoughts that come to mind include:

Moisture: lack of or over-abundance of water.

– Disease: in this case, I’m guessing apple scab, leaf spot or fireblight. The poor tree went through the summer nearly bald.

– Improper pruning: trim crabs in late winter. Pruning in late summer may stimulate growth and a bloom spurt.

Stoddard Avenue Pumpkin Glow

The Stoddard Avenue Pumpkin Glow will take place at dusk on October 30 and 31. The hill behind the Greek Orthodox Church in the historic Grafton Hills neighborhood of Dayton will be covered with more than 500 Jack-O-lanterns. It’s Spoooktacular!

Owl Prowl

The northern saw-whet owl is Ohio’s smallest bird of prey and it’s the subject of an upcoming program at the Ohio Historical Society’s Cedar Bog Nature Preserve near Urbana. Can they be found at Cedar Bog? They haven’t been yet, but that’s what Cedar Bog hopes to do on Saturday, November 5, at 7 p.m., when it offers its first Saw-whet Owl Prowl.

The prowl will be led by expert Bob Placier, an instructor in the School of Natural Resources at Hocking College in Nelsonville and a licensed bird bander. Since 2003, he’s been part of a saw-whet monitoring project near Chillicothe which has banded more than 300 of the owls. Placier will address what’s known about saw-whets and discuss Project Owlnet, a cooperative effort to document the owl’s migration patterns, then head out on the trail where the nets are located to catch a glimpse of one.

Admission is $6 for adults and $5 for students. Ohio Historical Society or Cedar Bog Association members save $1. Advance registration is required. To register, call 800.860.0147 or e-mail cedarbog@ctcn.net.

Shopping Opportunities

2012 Calendars – Greene County Master Gardeners are offering a beautiful 2011-2012 calendar including Ohio hardiness zone chart, checklists, and helpful gardening hints. They are $13.50 and available at the county extension office at the Greene County Fairgrounds in Xenia, Wickline’s Garden Center in Xenia and TJ’s in Bellbrook. For more information email: mgvhotline@gmail.com.

All you can carry  pumpkins – Meadowview Gardens in New Carlisle is offering All-the-pumpkins-you-can-load-on-one-person for $14.99 this Saturday, October 29 – ONLY. I admit, it would be a pretty funny sight to see. More info HERE.