Posts Tagged 'owls'



Owling

Did you see this essay on owl etiquette? Food for thought, before you spit up the bones and fur. Personally, I wouldn’t announce an owl location on social media, but I very much like his point that owls are excellent ambassadors for recruits for friends of the wild. Because the planet has enough enemies already. (But not too friendly: the Harry Potter phenom has led to a rush of people wanting owl pets. No, no, no!)

Anyway, after I read this piece I went looking for owls. Yes, in Brooklyn! A Long-eared Owl was photographed in the borough not so long ago, in a area known for it’s Great Horned Owls. I don’t know of anybody else saw the Long-eared besides the photographer; it’s a most unusual species for Brooklyn. Gotta wonder if a GHO ate it…

I didn’t see any owls of any feather, but I found two pellets under different trees.Pellets, if you’re just joining us, are the regurgitated indigestible parts of prey. For owls, they usually look mouse-gray and filled with tiny bones. Owls are most known for spitting them up, but other species, including raptors, gulls, even kingfishers, do so as well.

Winter Memories, With Spring and Fall Not Far Behind

Ok, this last one was in May…

Alas, I have no pictures of Swedish owls. In coming days I will be posting about our adventures in southwestern Sweden on a Wings Birding tour with a wonderful guide named Evan Obercian. We looked for a Tawny Owl that had been heard around a church in Malmö. No luck.

A local man — who turned out to be related to the fellow who reported the owl two nights previously — walking a Shar-Pei asked if we had heard about the Eagle Owls in an abandoned limestone quarry nearby. He basically pshawed when someone mentioned the Great Horned, for the Eurasian Eagle-owl (Bubo bubo bubo) is the largest owl in the world. You bet we hotfooted it off in search of the berguv. Evan told us that the species has taken up residence in Sweden in relatively recent times, almost always in quarries, which can provide the cliff-side nesting spots they like so much.

Well, long story short, as the sun set we found the pipe the birds were known to use, but saw not a feather (unless you count those being plucked in mid-air by a Hobby disemboweling a song bird). Thus it often is with owls. But, as Evan noted, the owls were probably watching us…

Enigma

Bubo virginianus

A note on populism. “There is no right [-wing] populism, only intolerance.”

Signs

pellet1Another Saw-whet pellet from our owl experience last weekend.pellets2In fact, once I started looking down, there was evidence that this owl and/or others having been hanging around a while. Such pellets can be dissected to discover which little mammals the little owls of the Bronx eat. whitewashMore evidence. While pines are often gooey with resin, this is white-wash, the polite name for owl droppings. “Mutes” is another term for such excreta. The OED seems a little unsure of the etymology here: mute, noun and verb for raptor feces, may stem from smelt, which is, frankly, Frankish for bird shit.

Which brings up the Un-Dear Leader. Ron Rosenbaum has an important piece in the LARB against normalizing Trump’s lies and politics of vindictiveness. It’s the story of how democracy is murdered.

Superb Owl Sunday

Bubo virginianusJoined David Burg of WildMetro and others for a Superb Owl walk today. Here’s one of a pair of nesting Great Horned Owls (Bubo virginianus). The mate was quite close by in a vine.

saw-whetThere was also a Saw-whet (Aegolius acadicus) way up a White Pine. The ground beneath was littered with evidence, including white wash (droppings) and pellets like this one, thrown up by the little owl. Composed of the bones and fur of mammal prey, the bits the bird can’t digest. Indigestible, like so much of America right now.

GHO

Bubo virginianusWho?Bubo virginianusYes, the owl who sys “whoooo.” Bubo virginianusBubo virginianus, the Great Horned Owl.

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Here is a very fine speech on optimism and despair given by Zadie Smith.

Great Horned Owl

Bubo virginianusEverybody could probably do with some Bubo virginianus right about now, right? (Excepting the night mammals, of course!) Spotted this one today when a fire-alarm of White-breasted Nuthatches alerted me to SOMETHING being up.

Pacific Great Horned

Bubo virginianusI didn’t recognize this owl at first. Great Horned Owls (Bubo virginianus) run rather darker in the shadowed forests of the Pacific northwest, under all those Douglas-firs and dripping epiphytes. They also don’t have orange faces, as our eastern birds do.img_0832

This female is 16 years old and has lived at the Portland Audubon Nature Sanctuary’s wildlife rehab center for nearly a dozen years. Clearly a stoic ambassador, if not necessarily so for the mice.

img_0835

Owlet

Tyto albaA Barn Owl (Tyto alba) toddler, looking rather alien, can just be glimpsed inside this nest box via long focus. Rather unique looking, Barn Owls are found all over the world, with some 46 recognized subspecies (!), including one on the Galapagos that is half the size of the North American version. Island dwarfism in action.

I met a birder there from western New York, who lived in NYC 40 years ago, who said they don’t find Barn Owls much out there any more on Christmas counts. Habitat loss, rodenticide, and cars have contributed to their declines in some parts of their range. Nest boxes can help. To the best of my knowledge, there hasn’t been one recorded in Brooklyn for decades; it’s one of the borough’s holy grails, along with that damned Raven nest. [Snowy, Great Horned, Screech, and Saw-whet have all been found in Brooklyn.]

Update: my knowledge is suspect. There was a Barn at Floyd Bennett Field last October. Prospect hasn’t had one reported since 1946. Maybe I mean a Barn Owl nest…

Just Another Urban Great Horned Owl

Bubo virginianusBubo virginianus trying to look like a branch, but also occasionally vocalizing in the middle of the day. This is the owl who makes the classic hop-hoo-hoo.


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