Great Horned Owl Skeleton, Increased Activity

I had a strange privilege of being able to find and examine a Great Horned Owl skeleton in person. There is no replacement for learning about morphological features in the physical, so any time I get to learn from these bird skeletons in the wild I try to really savor and digest the moment. I am deeply appreciative of the birds, and understand there was a loss of life to give me this learning opportunity. And that felt quiet heavy here. The strange part of this privilege is the acquaintanceship. I knew this owl, presumably, for years. Or perhaps its mate, or some other relative, but in some way I'm quite sure I knew this animal, either directly or through a mutual owl. I have links to observations of my previous interactions with this bird at the end of the post.
My last post with the heron bones was a lot of kvetching, but this tone is different. I've been lucky with bone finding in the field these past few months, and that has helped me make easier connections in regards to my identifications on here. This owl itself was a pretty reinvigorating experience. I try to have a lot of iNat time daily at this point. There is a good likelihood I have missed notifications from my several months off though, and you can see free to @ me or message me if you feel something needs a look. My skills are still shaky but I've been making some notable improvements lately.
Now for the morphology. I learned more about intricate details and characteristics of owl skeletons than I thought possible. Since I cannot legally keep any of these bones, hopefully these pictures can help me remember these details that only became clear to me in person. However, I have pretty bad spacial interpretation skills from pictures, so already my memory is iffy on some of these. But certain things I learned in person were strong enough to stick with me, even as I leave the bones behind.

All of the bones found. Notably missing cranium and pelvis.

First skeletal element noticed from the owl. I pointed out some mushrooms to Geronimo and he found the sternum a few inches away.

As I've previously mentioned in my journal, it's rare I have exposure to a diversity of bird bones in person, and as such my field identification mental process is sloppier than on here. Pictures are very different than physical.

I didn't guess owl initially. But the double posterior lateral processes immediately signified whatever this was, it is MBTA protected. Possibilities included shorebird or ibis, though I doubted both options. I had a moment or so of strongly leaning on vulture.

After a bit of frantic scouring through Australian pine needles, I found the mandible and all became clear. Its wide, triangular shape is very recognizable, suiting the wide, bulbous frame of owl skulls.

Photo here is for emphasis of the foramen.

The coracoid was fantastic to play with in person. I've seen owl coracoid pictures and illustrations, but handling it was like seeing it for the first time.

I find the foramen below the head fascinating. Most of these pictures are trying to capture that.

The shape of the whole distal end was very hard to capture in photos. Interesting shape, but memory fades of what the specific elements I wanted to capture here were.

The vertebra were beyond breath taking.

This thoracic vertebra was my favorite.

There is this delightful process at the bottom of the vertebra, I keep on referring to it in my head as a "crown", in a sort of three pronged Basquiat crown sense, not as in an anatomical crown.

I sadly did a garbage job of capturing it in photographs.

But it is truly a magnificent little feature, as far as I know distinct to owls, though I can't say that with total confidence.

Wow, these were bad quality photos. My bad.
The quadrate is a tiny bone attached to bird skulls. It is part of jaw articulation.

I don't know much about quadrate morphology, one day this might be more helpful to me though. No new synapses really connected with this one though. But it will be a bone I pay more mind too. I thought this was a cuneiform or scapholunar or something at first, also my bad.

Very pronounced quill knobs.

Ulnas and radiuses.

Digit and claw.

I'm not actually sure I articulated this correctly.

Another delight, especially because I have had tarsometatarsus problems as of late. It's wonderfully and distinctly stout and thick.

Leg- Femur, tibiotarsuses, and tarsometatarsus.

Very enlightening. I have thus far only been able to reliably identify Shorebird phalanx. This was such a unique shape, I think I might be able to recognize owl from now on too. I've seen the Snowy Owl illustration in Lee Post's bird building book, but I have never realized how unique owl phalanx were until this.

Almost shaped like a mammal scapula.

I'm still scapula challenged. Not much to say here.

Another treasured and enlightening find. The shape of the distal end is distinct and delightful. The lines of it are so interesting, I'm not sure how to put words on it. Almost heart shaped from the palmar view (I think? Whatever this one is.)
From Olsen's Osetology for the Archeologist:
"Facet digit III extended well beyond that of facet digit II."

(And I think this is the extensor view?)

I am deeply thankful for this experience, and all of the osteological knowledge this owl has incidentally given me through the years. It truly was reinvigorating, and hopefully my IDs on here will come easier and more accurately. Every time I am able to train my eye on a new identifying morphological feature on one species' bones, I can start to see it in others as well. I have been working on staying more active for over a month or so now, and moving forward also plan to make more posts, either on here or my associated off site blog. I still have a backlog of observations I am reviewing from both my hiatus and from a lack of resources/knowledge, but I'm working on whittling away on them. I should be able to handle @'s more reliably again, so feel free to @ or message me if help is needed, I will try and do my best. I do sometimes miss them, but I will always try my best to contribute.

The journal feature is a nightmare to add observations too, so the only associated one will be of the skeleton. But here are links of the other Wolf Lake owl interactions over the past three years:

So happens one of my favorite albums is a whole woodland fable that has a dirge for its owl protagonist. I think she is a Bubo bubo. And she befriends a wolf, so I think it fits as the send off to this post, and for the Wolf Lake Bubo virginianus itself.
Given to the wind. Sky burial

Publicado el septiembre 19, 2023 01:36 MAÑANA por lizardking lizardking


Fotos / Sonidos


Búho Cornudo (Bubo virginianus)




Agosto 22, 2023 a las 04:18 TARDE EDT


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