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Sunday, June 16, 2013

Try owl-watching during the day.

Great-horned Owl on nest
 
Screech Owl
Owls are hard to watch for one very simple reason; they're active at night. But seeing one during the day is well worth the effort. Try daytime "owling'.
 
Owls sleep and take it easy during the day, so look for them in several places. They are masters of camouflage, so look for an owl very carefully. Then look again. I've "re-looked" up and down a tree, and spotted a resting owl that I missed the first time. Look for a well-secluded perch, often in the fork of a mature tree. Often there will be "whitewash" marks on whatever's below the place where an owl rests. This is because the owl goes to the bathroom ocaisionally - the more whitewash, the more it's used as a perch.
 
Owls and hawks like the same habitat and prey. So a home to Red-tailed Hawk by day may be home to a Great-horned Owl or a Barred Owl by night - and the owl is probably resting nearby during the day.  Or Mississippi Kite by day - Screech Owl by night, and so on.
 
During the day, if you a see "mobbing" action by smaller birds (lots of small birds flying at and screeching at something) they may have spotted a sleeping owl and are pestering it. Investigate!  
 
Parks, ball fields, big gardens, railroad and utility rights-of-way and farmer's fields are all potential owl habitats. Especially if there are large trees nearby for roosting. If there is water nearby (stream, marsh, swamp etc.), so much the better.
 
What I'm saying is look very, very carefully. And look in the appropriate habitat. Owls are all around us - they have to be somewhere during the daylight hours.
  
 
 “country-mouse” has it better than “city-mouse”    Owls that hang out in developed urban areas capture more prey than their rural counterparts. This may be because there’s more prey in urban areas, and more places to perch.  Ideally, the distance from an owl’s perch on a branch, fence-top or roof edge, to its prey, is 20 feet. Sometimes they even hover over the location of hidden prey (mouse, rat?) flapping their wings to flush it out
 
 

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