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Monday, June 18, 2012

Screech Owls at the Patio Black Light

Last night, being a warm, calm and moonless night, I set out the black light and sheet on the patio. Many insects began to swarm, and upon going out to check while the evening was still young, I heard a strange chittering sound which sounded like it came from right behind the sheet. Taking another couple steps forward I saw a Western Screech Owl sitting on one of the large bricks that form the border of the patio, about a foot from the bottom corner of the black light sheet! It immediately flew away. Was it visiting to get some easy protein from the numerous bugs (including several large California Prionus and Polyphylla that were attracted)?

The next time I went out, I heard more chittering close by, and there was the owl, about 15 feet to the north, perched on a boundary stake. I encouraged Gary to come out and see, and the owl had moved to one of the barbed-wire fence posts a few feet down slope. Then we noticed another owl on the next fence post along the fence line! By carefully creeping, I got a few photos, and the best one is shown below. This certainly is a young owl, and the other was likely its sibling. Their "juvenile"(somewhat fearless) behavior supports this. 

Western Screech Owl (Megascops kennicottii)



The sheet, with black light, and the fence line, with one fence post barely visible to the right of and behind the round boulder

4 comments:

  1. Up in anza I had a telephone pole across the street and I would always here this same sream owl on that pole. I always worried about our cat, but he was always pretty wily.

    I supposed you folks are looking forwards to the coming monsoonal season ? Should be an exciting one according to the updates I'm receiving from over there.

    Do you have any Burrowing Owls up there ? That facial expression on the one above suddenly made me think of the ones that would stare at me down in Imperial Valley who gave me a look of distrust. LOL

    Kevin


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  2. Hi Kevin,

    Every summer we hope for good thunderstorms, but the past few years the storms have been rather intermittent at best. Southeastern Arizona already got a good downpour (you probably noticed that on Margarethe's blog), and I had heard of the predictions for increased monsoonal activity this season, so we're cautiously optimistic. So far, here, not even the tell-tale cloud build-ups that we often get by now in June.

    There are a few Burrowing Owls still in existence west of the mountains, and certainly more in the Salton Sea area, but I've never heard of them here in the mountains. I think they tend to prefer lower elevations...

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  3. I only hesitated going out because I had a light colored shirt on and the insects flock to it when Robyn is black lighting. These birds were beautiful and rather courageous.

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  4. Luckily owls aren't attracted to white shirts - or maybe they are and that's why this one stayed put!

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