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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Murder of Crows but a Parliament of Owls....

Several fun things have been happening in Barred Owl Land. The parents and their triplets are still around Edgehill Park. The triplets will likely be for another month before they go find their own territory. If you take a stroll around the park around dusk, you can understand why it's such a perfect place for owls.  Robins tend to be one of the last ones to call it a night so they still lounge around in the grass looking for worms.  As they look down, they are unaware that an owl is above them is about to make a meal of them.  Adult owls tend to be higher in the trees since their vision is more developed while the juveniles tend to be lower as their vision and timing skills are still developing. Mice and voles scurry about and try to avoid the talons.  Rabbits are the easiest prey (which I hate) but their defense is being "scared stiff."  Owls can only see prey if the prey is moving.  When a rabbit is scared and is afraid to move, they are very safe from the owls.There are lots of bats around but because of their sporadic and spastic flight patterns, they are very challenging for owls to catch. When the creek is full, there are crayfish, frogs, and small fish to eat.

I saw one of the triplets on a low hanging branch and happened to have my owl call with me so I hooted the barred owl call and a sibling came right away.  It was very cool so I tried it again and the owl who came looked at me and realized it was that lady who stares at us all the time and not my real feathered mom and took off.

I hadn't hear the owl in the back yard for about a month and when I did, I grabbed a mouse to put on the platform and Nellie (I think) grabbed it right away and savored it for about an hour.  The Gaines' came by and I brought them to the back yard to see Nellie (just so you don't think I make this stuff up) and then two baby owls came.  I got another mouse. One made a fly by and missed but the second time grabbed it.  I felt bad for the other owl but I was out of mice. So amazing.

The best way to see owls is to listen for the mobbing calls of song birds or the cawing of crows.  This often happens during the day when owls are trying to sleep. They pick a quiet spot under cover of leaves and hope that no one notices them.  Owls really don't seem to care that they get picked on.  Either the offending birds give up or they owl just finds another spot. The owl can't really attack in this situation because the smaller birds are better at maneuvering small places and the owl needs space to fly that 4-foot wing span and land the talons.

Our daughter was home and for exercise, ran around Edgehill Park every night around 10 o'clock.  Each time, the baby owl would follow her. One time the owl landed on  a street sign so Sarah decided to see how close she could get. She got within six feet then touched the sign. At that point, the baby fly off and Mama Owl started hooting and flew near. I did a little research on and found out that baby owls are learning to be territorial and Sarah was in his territory which he was defending. It's the usual reason that owls attack. They can do harm. Someone told me of a woman in Dilworth who got a concussion from an owl attack in Latta Park. The other reason he may have been attracted to Sarah was her pony tail and earbud strings.  The bouncing ponytail certainly looks like a bird to be had and the earbud cords resemble a snake.  Below is a video link to two juvenile barred owls attacking a garden hose which they think is a snake.

This is a wonderful video of a mom and dad barred owl and their fledgling. You can see how the baby does the head bob thing as they try and focus and see how the owls use their diaphragms to make their hoot. 

Now, go outside.

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