This should be the same owl as the very distant owl (last post) and it was in the same area as the owl on the bench in the last post (no points). A gull did not take to kindly to its presence. If the heavily marked owl on the bench, and this owl are a pair, then this should be the male. Its not every winter you get to see these on the way to get coffee at lunch, I didn’t even have to get out of my truck.
EDIT: thought I would put up the NY vs Boston link about airport owl policies…http://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/blog/2013/12/09/logan-airport-snowy-owls-new-york-shooting-owls/
The challenge is going to be figuring out how to award points. Given the number of them, we are being very strict with points, so we have to be together, and there has to be a clear cut first to see. So no points for us! with any of these snowies, the first was too close a call to whom really saw it first, as it was tough to make out without the camera, we both were checking it out before confirming it was indeed an owl(2 photos, same owl, different vantage point). The next two are ones I pick up by myself, as they are quite close to Site 1.
A thorough update from the owner at site 8. Excellent detective work and find as well! well done!
The ‘pale gray’ owl has been seen regularly (3-5 times a week) in the slot box. In years past, the slot box has been used almost exclusively, while the round box has remained vacant. The breeding season is the period when the round box has been occupied; a usage that usually indicates a second owl is present. This season, however, an owl (I assume it is the same ‘pale gray’ owl) has occasionally appeared in the round box. Sometimes it is seen only in the morning or late in the afternoon. On those days the slot box appears to be vacant, so I haven’t seen two owls at the same time. The use of both boxes and the behavior of the visible owl suggest the presence of a second owl. On one morning, in particular, the ‘pale gray’ owl was seen in the slot box. Later in the afternoon of the same day, an owl was seen in the round box. Did the ‘p-g’ owl switch boxes during the day? It would be highly unusual for a screech owl to expose itself during the day. Since only the owl’s face is visible in the round box, I could not confirm the field marks I use to identify the ‘p-g’ owl.
Yesterday [12/5/13], however, I was up before dawn to watch for the owl’s return to the box. The ‘pale gray’ owl returned at about 6:45am. Shortly after that a second owl swooped into our yard and perched in a sapling about 30’ from my telescope. There was enough light to see that it was a red screech owl! Unfortunately it didn’t stay in our yard, but its presence confirms my theory that a second owl is in the neighborhood. In fact, it could be the same red owl I found in a fir tree on Nov. 17th about 1/10th of a mile from our yard. While I was walking to Church when I heard and soon saw an agitated bunch of “yard” birds screaming at something near the top of a large fir tree. I stopped and slowly circled the base of the tree looking for a hawk or an owl at the center of the mob. Without binoculars I could only make out a dark blob that could have been an owl, or an old hornets’ nest.
I went back after church with binocs & a camera and circled the tree several more times before I found the owl and took this picture.
Hint lower right.
It looks as though the winter of 2013-2014 is going to be quite a good year for snowy owls. The last irruption year was 2011-2012. We are not too far removed from the last good year. This year it seems the east coast is snowy central, from NJ to ME reports are poring in. It was like someone turned on the snowy owl switch. It is fitting that the first point for the owling challenge between my wife and myself goes for a snowy owl. I got the point. We were taking a family walk through some beach trails. My wife gets all distracted having fun with our kids, while I was up ahead a bit and see a low flying white bird. I lost sight of it briefly as it dipped down into a dune valley only to rise up and settle on the top of a dune ridge. It was pretty far away maybe 150-200 yards, and no trails that passed closer to it, but good enough to get a document pic. Everyone got to see it as well.
A barred owl has been wintering in a wood lot not more than 1/4 mile away from site 1 since late 2010 early 2011.
I never did document or confirm the barred late 2011 to early 2012 but had my suspicions. Last season, 2012/2013 it was well documented hanging out the whole winter. So now a barred owl is back…the same owl…my guess would be most likely. It can pose a danger to the screech owls but so far they have fared ok vs. the near by barred. I had no inclination that it was around until this sighting. I guess it is nice to see it around, but truthful I was hoping not too find one so close this year.
I am flattered that my Saw-Whet owl imitation is garnering responses. I am 2 for 2 for serious outings vs. response, but the first time was early am, and I received different call back than I tooted, more similar to the ‘winter vocalizations’ according to cornell I never did get a visual the first time but I am pretty confident it was indeed a saw-whet.
The second time was today, I had some time after work to try a quick evening hunt. I like evening hunts as sometimes there is still enough light out to do some fun owl watching. I started just early enough to get some scolding by a carolina wren. I continued on my walk as it was getting darker I headed back. As I circled back, (about 5-10 minutes had passed) lo and behold an owl was tooting, presumably from my earlier attempts. So here is the scolding carolina wren(with flash) and a saw-whet silhouette, hand held photo. Photos were taken about 20 minutes apart.
No points to the owl challenge though, as attracting with imitation especially alone doesn’t count.
After taking a hiatus during last years nesting season, (it had been used as a consistent nesting site, but last year it did not seem like nesting occurred here) Site 5 is back to being active.
We have an owl in the house as of today, 11/8, at 10am. Yay!
Yesterday (10-28-13) an owl made its first stay during the day. It had been motion captured both nights over the weekend (between 4-5 am) but did not stay the day. It appears to be the red phased male from previous years. This is the first time that the gray female has not appeared first since 2007, so I am thinking she has passed on. I went out to take a quick documentation photo, when an immature red-tailed hawk did a low flyby over the box. It was just passing through, but certainly got the owls attention!
10/31/2013 UPDATE: I was wrong, they just like to keep me guessing! The gray phase female appeared yesterday, and today: cool note: if this female is the same, she has been seen since almost to the date since 2007!
I got this report from the owner of site 8 on the 22nd of October.
1st Owl of the season – a very pale gray morph in the slot box! Visible when I arrived at 8:40 this morning until mobbed by yard birds a few minutes ago. This could be the same “pale” owl seen previously, but I can’t verify the field marks.
an owl was there again on the 24th, and Today. I was able to swing by today and yep there was an owl in the entrance. Consistent with years past, site’s 1,3 and 8 remain the most active so far this season. Although, I don’t know if it’s the same owl as the 22nd. but it does appear that is one of the gray pair that has been here before. The other of the pair has bolder white eyebrows.
A bit more analysis from the owner from 10-28-13
Since this pic was taken in the early afternoon, the owl is shaded by the roof of the box. When I first saw the owl on Tuesday, it was flooded with morning sunlight. In that bright light it appeared to be much whiter and there was less contrast between the light and dark feathers of the facial disks. There are some discrepancies between my initial impressions on 10/22 and the owl’s appearance in the photo on 10/27. Even so, those differences in appearance can be attributed to the dramatic change from an owl seen through binoculars in full sun light, to the details captured in the photo of an owl roosting in shade.
Well good news, which is needed at this site, which ended the breeding season in failure. First I finally got around to installing another box camera to replace the one the broke during Irene in 2011. . The better news, is that the (freeware) streaming program has a motion capture setting. Now, this has been the latest, since this site has been monitored, that an owl has not shown up during the day in the box. After last season, I was beginning to think the owl pair has moved on. Maybe they have. But…at 4:38am this morning there was a capture of an owl, it stayed for a couple minutes and then left. Who know if this is a new recruit or the old guard but it’s nice to know an owl is around!
This is the best one of the captures from 4:40am
Is first to get an owl in a box, the pole box, but this is a new owl. A striking red phase.
For a brief history of this site, the first owl to show up was a female red phase back in oct 2009, the first time a male was seen it was a gray phase. Last year she disappeared and a female gray phased showed up with the gray phase male and had a successful nest. Now a new red phase owl shows up today, that is distinctly different from the first red phased female. So this season starts with a bit of twist. Is this just an intruder soon to be ousted by the gray pair? Or has there been more owl turn-over here? In any case certainly seem to be an owly neighborhood!
Oh a box cam has been added to the pole box, as well as the old SQR box cam still works, so both can be monitored.
So my wife and I have come up with the ground rules for our 2nd annual owl challenge:
Similar to last year, it has to be a new, un-found (to the best of our knowledge) hollow. These get more difficult, as the area is well explored, and each one found is off list for future years. But it can be done and it does NOT have to be done together. 1 point.
Unlike last year, anytime we are together, whomever spots the owl first, 1 point. Even if the owl is in an area of previously located owls. However, We have to be together.
In case of a flushed owl, only if safely re-located (not to flight), the first to relocate the gets a point. No point is awarded for flushing an owl even if identified.
So this screech owl is in a fairly well known roost in the area, but a little bit earlier than I would have expected. Usually its colder and there are less leaves on the trees before they seem to move into tree hollows. It obviously paid to take a glance over, perhaps the early am rain encouraged a drier roost. So no points but it spurred us to start the owl challenge.
Just some of my better photos from late spring and summer to past the time while waiting for the upcoming owl season. Hope you enjoy.
Female Magnolia Warbler
Road Side Nesting Snapping Turtle
Male Baltimore Oriole Feeding Young
I must admit that a bit of pessimism has sunk in with the failure of Site 1 this year, So when I did a long over due check of Site 3, I was excited to see an owlet in the entrance…
…The new female had chosen to nest in the standard box that is mounted on the purple martin pole, unfortunately the box cam is in the SQR type box that was used as a nest the last 3 seasons. With her decision to nest in the camera-less box there has been visuals to check recently. The owner has seen ‘them’ flying to and fro at and slightly after dusk…
But something didn’t look quite right with the owlet, so a check it with binoculars and the head was down. I approached a bit closer, and it didn’t really move, it has been very warm with the last few days over 90 degrees. For a brief bit I was a bit concerned. But I so heard a faint call from the mom, and the owlet woke up and looked at me. Just a bit cooler place to nap a bit out of the box. Hopefully fledging will be in the next few days.