Posts Tagged 'owls'

Superb Owl Sunday Halftime Show

Some large owl pellets spotted recently in the Borough of Kings.Considering I previously saw a Great Horned Owl in this tree, it’s a good bet these belong to that critter, although I saw no sign of the bird when I found these.To recap, owls gobble their food whole or in chunks — bones, fur, feathers, and all. The indigestible parts are spit back up in these pellets. Other raptors, gulls, kingfishers, etc., also hawk up pellets, but owls are best known for the practice. Last year, we watched the #BrooklynKestrels gag up a few. It takes a while.

Superb Owl Sunday Kick-off

On the next to last day of 2018, we saw three Saw-whet Owls in Central Park.I’ve been saving them for today, international Superb Owl day, which transforms something toxic and commercial (“Superbowl”) into something delightfully non-corporate and much, much shorter.It’s been a bumper winter for Saw-whets here in the city, but in a sad way: seven or so ended up at the Wild Bird Fund, the avian rescue center in Manhattan.

These are our most common owls. Small and nocturnal, they usually slip through the cracks of our lumbering perception. But they don’t necessarily slip through the glass of our hardscape.

Nice little evergreen catalog here, too: pine, holly, yew.

Click here for all the Superb Owls on this blog. Tune in again this afternoon and evening for more S.Os. (Sure beats the Stupor Bowl on TV.)

Here’s the ABA code of ethics for birding.

Superb Owl

Bubo virginianusA Great Horned Owl on a recent winter day.

(For completists, there actually is a Lesser Horned Owl, found in southern South America.)

Click here for more superb owls.

Faux superb owl… and friends.


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…


Bubo virginianus

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


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.


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

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.


Bookmark and Share

Join 686 other subscribers
Nature Blog Network