Owls Near My Home

I'm trying hard to focus on the good. I'm incredibly swamped--I still have a post left from the World Series of Birding but there are articles to finish, emails to deal with, trips to lead, blogs to write, etc. I had every intent to just do my time banding at Carpenter this morning and then come home and write, write, write.

Alas, it was not meant to be. Someone reported a long-eared owl in a park a few blocks from our apartment. Even though the bird was seen this morning and I was reading the report in the afternoon, the owl was roosting in a heavily trafficked park. It had made an informed decision to roost in a city park--it would not flush easily and still be there. As soon as I got to the park with my digiscoping equipment, you could hear the angry robins...oh yes, the long-eared was still there.

Tucked and well hidden in the trees, the long-eared owl tried very hard to roost and the robins were making darn sure that sleep would not be an easy one this day. A few other birders were there and we all stayed back on the trail to watch the long-eared. Some people passing through the trail asked if we were looking at another great horned owl and we showed them the long-eared. They were excited and said that just down the trail was a very visible great horned. I went to take a look a few hundred feet down the trail.

Another birder named Scott was with me and he spotted the sleeping great horned owl right away. Do you see it in the above photo?

Scott also found a second great horned roosting nearby!

Again, these are urban great horneds and they must be very used to people to roost right out in the open. I love having an unexpected two species of owl day just a few blocks from home! It was interesting to note that it was relatively silent compared to over by the long-eared owl. There were several warblers and a few buntings and orioles singing a storm, but they were just territory songs, not alarm songs. Small birds are not high in the list of preferred prey items to a great horned owl. Long-eared owls do eat some small birds and I'm sure the robins are aware of it. It was interesting to note the long-eared roosting so close to the great horned owls...great horneds are known to eat smaller owls, including long-eareds. Hmmm.

And if you are curious about about what angry robins sound like, I did manage to take a small video of the roosting long-eared through my spotting scope. You can hear the angry "cheep cheeps" from the robins. Another interesting note is that this is general robin alarm. When they see a Cooper's hawk in the neighborhood, the robins give a very high pitched down slurred whistle. They did not give that while I was there observing the long-eared: