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Yosemite Great Gray Owl - a new race

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  • Dan Lockshaw
    This is a bit of a delayed posting but two of us from Optics4Birding made a short visit to Yosemite National Park to look for owls on Sept. 27th and 28 th. Our
    Message 1 of 6 , Oct 13, 2010
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      This is a bit of a delayed posting but two of us from Optics4Birding made a short visit to Yosemite National Park to look for owls on Sept. 27th and 28 th. Our main target species were Great Gray, Spotted and Northern Pygmy Owls. The visit was very short, and with long delays in the park for post-summer road construction, most of our time was spent looking for Great Gray Owl.

      The September/October period is a particularly good time to find Northern Pygmy Owls because of post fledging vocalizations. Only on one of the mornings did we even get out to look for pygmy owls. I posted a photo on the Optics4Birding blog.

      The Spotted Owl sighting provided our most surprising owl behavior. On Wednesday night while driving along Hwy 120, we pulled up alongside a Spotted Owl sitting atop a snow pole on the side of the road. The habitat along both sides was generally correct but it was odd to find a Spotted Owl actually hunting along the highway. I don't recall ever having seen this behavior before from Spotted Owl although I do remember, several years ago, seeing Spotted Owls very close to the highway on Mosquito Ridge Road in Placer County.

      Great Gray Owl is one of the most sought after birds in the Sierra Nevada. It is the rarest resident species in Yosemite National Park and this is the only area to find one in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Recent genetic analysis of Yosemite area Great Grays has shown them to be a unique subspecies: Strix nebulosa yosemitensis, according to lead researchers John J. Keane and Holly B. Ernest. There are only two other Great Gray Owl races recognized in the world (the North American race and the Eurasian race). For more details about this and photos, please see the Optics4Birding blog.

      We had very close encounters with Great Gray Owls on this trip. My comments here are more about the places we didn't see Great Grays where I expect to find them in the National Forest outside the park. It really disturbs me to go look for Great Grays and instead find COWS! Livestock grazing thins meadow vegetation which favors Great Horned Owls. Even worse in my mind are cow bells! I asked land owners about why they put cow bells on their livestock in fenced meadows and they claim it "helps them to find the animals if they break through fences". I understand the needs of land owners to make a living but in the case of such a small population of a unique subspecies of bird, in a National Forest, I have to question these management decisions. In an otherwise quiet night, it is really painful to me to go into prime habitat of the National Forest valley ringing with cow bells. No self respecting owl of any species could tolerate this kind of noise and I suspect all of nature is negatively affected.

      Our trip into the Yosemite area was very brief. Road construction lights, noise and cow bells drove our searches deeper into the forests. Although we did find the owls we went to find, other bird seekers will continue to be more challenged. The genetic analyses of our Sierra Nevada Great Gray Owls shows they have not interbred with the North American nominate species for an estimated 26,700 years. Another great California bird, I believe, is headed for peril.

      Dan Lockshaw
      http://optics4birding.com
      Irvine, CA


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Chris Conard
      Folks, A nice overview of the status of Great Gray Owls in the state may be found in this Western Birds piece by Dave Quady (Western Birds 39:110–116, 2008):
      Message 2 of 6 , Oct 14, 2010
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        Folks,

        A nice overview of the status of Great Gray Owls in the state may be found
        in this Western Birds piece by Dave Quady (Western Birds 39:110�116, 2008):
        http://www.westernfieldornithologists.org/docs/abstracts/39-2FP.pdf

        On Wed, Oct 13, 2010 at 9:11 PM, Dan Lockshaw <dan100@...> wrote:

        > This is a bit of a delayed posting but two of us from Optics4Birding made a
        > short visit to Yosemite National Park to look for owls on Sept. 27th and 28
        > th. Our main target species were Great Gray, Spotted and Northern Pygmy
        > Owls. The visit was very short, and with long delays in the park for
        > post-summer road construction, most of our time was spent looking for Great
        > Gray Owl.
        >
        Chris Conard
        Sacramento


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Nick & Mary Freeman
        Hi birders Here s a link forwarded to me by our good owl researcher friend: http://www.nps.gov/yose/naturescience/loader.cfm?csModule=security/
        Message 3 of 6 , Oct 14, 2010
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          Hi birders

          Here's a link forwarded to me by our good owl researcher friend:

          http://www.nps.gov/yose/naturescience/loader.cfm?csModule=security/
          getfile&PageID=381142

          Mary Freeman
          Glendale, CA


          On Oct 14, 2010, at 7:57 AM, Chris Conard wrote:

          > Folks,
          >
          > A nice overview of the status of Great Gray Owls in the state may
          > be found
          > in this Western Birds piece by Dave Quady (Western Birds
          > 39:110–116, 2008):
          > http://www.westernfieldornithologists.org/docs/abstracts/39-2FP.pdf
          >
          > On Wed, Oct 13, 2010 at 9:11 PM, Dan Lockshaw <dan100@...> wrote:
          >
          >> This is a bit of a delayed posting but two of us from
          >> Optics4Birding made a
          >> short visit to Yosemite National Park to look for owls on Sept.
          >> 27th and 28
          >> th. Our main target species were Great Gray, Spotted and Northern
          >> Pygmy
          >> Owls. The visit was very short, and with long delays in the park for
          >> post-summer road construction, most of our time was spent looking
          >> for Great
          >> Gray Owl.
          >>
          > Chris Conard
          > Sacramento
          >
          >
          > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          >
          >
          >
          > ------------------------------------
          >
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          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Geoffrey Rogers
          Dan wrote: Another great California bird, I believe, is headed for peril. Indeed, it s already listed as state endangered. Subspecific designation should
          Message 4 of 6 , Oct 14, 2010
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            Dan wrote: "Another great California bird, I believe, is headed for peril."

            Indeed, it's already listed as state endangered. Subspecific designation
            should generate additional protection.

            Geoff Rogers
            San Diego, CA
            oreortyx@...


            > [Original Message]
            > From: Dan Lockshaw <dan100@...>
            > To: CalBirds <CALBIRDS@yahoogroups.com>
            > Date: 10/13/2010 11:07:35 PM
            > Subject: [CALBIRDS] Yosemite Great Gray Owl - a new race
            >
            > This is a bit of a delayed posting but two of us from Optics4Birding made
            a short visit to Yosemite National Park to look for owls on Sept. 27th and
            28 th. Our main target species were Great Gray, Spotted and Northern Pygmy
            Owls. The visit was very short, and with long delays in the park for
            post-summer road construction, most of our time was spent looking for Great
            Gray Owl.
            >
            > The September/October period is a particularly good time to find Northern
            Pygmy Owls because of post fledging vocalizations. Only on one of the
            mornings did we even get out to look for pygmy owls. I posted a photo on
            the Optics4Birding blog.
            >
            > The Spotted Owl sighting provided our most surprising owl behavior. On
            Wednesday night while driving along Hwy 120, we pulled up alongside a
            Spotted Owl sitting atop a snow pole on the side of the road. The habitat
            along both sides was generally correct but it was odd to find a Spotted Owl
            actually hunting along the highway. I don't recall ever having seen this
            behavior before from Spotted Owl although I do remember, several years ago,
            seeing Spotted Owls very close to the highway on Mosquito Ridge Road in
            Placer County.
            >
            > Great Gray Owl is one of the most sought after birds in the Sierra
            Nevada. It is the rarest resident species in Yosemite National Park and
            this is the only area to find one in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Recent
            genetic analysis of Yosemite area Great Grays has shown them to be a unique
            subspecies: Strix nebulosa yosemitensis, according to lead researchers John
            J. Keane and Holly B. Ernest. There are only two other Great Gray Owl races
            recognized in the world (the North American race and the Eurasian race).
            For more details about this and photos, please see the Optics4Birding blog.
            >
            > We had very close encounters with Great Gray Owls on this trip. My
            comments here are more about the places we didn't see Great Grays where I
            expect to find them in the National Forest outside the park. It really
            disturbs me to go look for Great Grays and instead find COWS! Livestock
            grazing thins meadow vegetation which favors Great Horned Owls. Even worse
            in my mind are cow bells! I asked land owners about why they put cow bells
            on their livestock in fenced meadows and they claim it "helps them to find
            the animals if they break through fences". I understand the needs of land
            owners to make a living but in the case of such a small population of a
            unique subspecies of bird, in a National Forest, I have to question these
            management decisions. In an otherwise quiet night, it is really painful to
            me to go into prime habitat of the National Forest valley ringing with cow
            bells. No self respecting owl of any species could tolerate this kind of
            noise and I suspect all of nature is negatively affected.
            >
            > Our trip into the Yosemite area was very brief. Road construction lights,
            noise and cow bells drove our searches deeper into the forests. Although we
            did find the owls we went to find, other bird seekers will continue to be
            more challenged. The genetic analyses of our Sierra Nevada Great Gray Owls
            shows they have not interbred with the North American nominate species for
            an estimated 26,700 years. Another great California bird, I believe, is
            headed for peril.
            >
            > Dan Lockshaw
            > http://optics4birding.com
            > Irvine, CA
            >
            >
            > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            >
            >
            >
            > ------------------------------------
            >
            > Unsubscribe: mailto:CALBIRDS-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
            > Website: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CALBIRDS
            > Listowners: mailto:CALBIRDS-owner@yahoogroups.com
            >
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            Membership and set your mail option to No Email. Or, send a blank email to
            these addresses:
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          • Lammergeiereyes@aol.com
            Confirmation in the literature of the species as a bonafide ssp., I suspect will eventually result in federal listing if FWS is petitioned. While it might not
            Message 5 of 6 , Oct 14, 2010
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              Confirmation in the literature of the species as a bonafide ssp., I suspect will eventually result in federal listing if FWS is petitioned. While it might not have a significant impact on Yosemite parklands management, it would have important consequences for national forestlands management including those outside the park which Dan describes below.


              Sounds like a fun couple of days.


              Blake T. Matheson
              President, Monterey Audubon Society

              "Men still live who, in their youth, remember Passenger Pigeons. Trees still live who, in their youth, were shaken by a living wind. But a decade hence only the oldest oaks will remember, and at long last only the hills will know." Leopold (1949).



              -----Original Message-----
              From: Geoffrey Rogers <oreortyx@...>
              To: Dan Lockshaw <dan100@...>; CALBIRDS <CALBIRDS@yahoogroups.com>
              Sent: Thu, Oct 14, 2010 8:38 am
              Subject: RE: [CALBIRDS] Yosemite Great Gray Owl - a new race





              Dan wrote: "Another great California bird, I believe, is headed for peril."

              Indeed, it's already listed as state endangered. Subspecific designation
              should generate additional protection.

              Geoff Rogers
              San Diego, CA
              oreortyx@...

              > [Original Message]
              > From: Dan Lockshaw <dan100@...>
              > To: CalBirds <CALBIRDS@yahoogroups.com>
              > Date: 10/13/2010 11:07:35 PM
              > Subject: [CALBIRDS] Yosemite Great Gray Owl - a new race
              >
              > This is a bit of a delayed posting but two of us from Optics4Birding made
              a short visit to Yosemite National Park to look for owls on Sept. 27th and
              28 th. Our main target species were Great Gray, Spotted and Northern Pygmy
              Owls. The visit was very short, and with long delays in the park for
              post-summer road construction, most of our time was spent looking for Great
              Gray Owl.
              >
              > The September/October period is a particularly good time to find Northern
              Pygmy Owls because of post fledging vocalizations. Only on one of the
              mornings did we even get out to look for pygmy owls. I posted a photo on
              the Optics4Birding blog.
              >
              > The Spotted Owl sighting provided our most surprising owl behavior. On
              Wednesday night while driving along Hwy 120, we pulled up alongside a
              Spotted Owl sitting atop a snow pole on the side of the road. The habitat
              along both sides was generally correct but it was odd to find a Spotted Owl
              actually hunting along the highway. I don't recall ever having seen this
              behavior before from Spotted Owl although I do remember, several years ago,
              seeing Spotted Owls very close to the highway on Mosquito Ridge Road in
              Placer County.
              >
              > Great Gray Owl is one of the most sought after birds in the Sierra
              Nevada. It is the rarest resident species in Yosemite National Park and
              this is the only area to find one in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Recent
              genetic analysis of Yosemite area Great Grays has shown them to be a unique
              subspecies: Strix nebulosa yosemitensis, according to lead researchers John
              J. Keane and Holly B. Ernest. There are only two other Great Gray Owl races
              recognized in the world (the North American race and the Eurasian race).
              For more details about this and photos, please see the Optics4Birding blog.
              >
              > We had very close encounters with Great Gray Owls on this trip. My
              comments here are more about the places we didn't see Great Grays where I
              expect to find them in the National Forest outside the park. It really
              disturbs me to go look for Great Grays and instead find COWS! Livestock
              grazing thins meadow vegetation which favors Great Horned Owls. Even worse
              in my mind are cow bells! I asked land owners about why they put cow bells
              on their livestock in fenced meadows and they claim it "helps them to find
              the animals if they break through fences". I understand the needs of land
              owners to make a living but in the case of such a small population of a
              unique subspecies of bird, in a National Forest, I have to question these
              management decisions. In an otherwise quiet night, it is really painful to
              me to go into prime habitat of the National Forest valley ringing with cow
              bells. No self respecting owl of any species could tolerate this kind of
              noise and I suspect all of nature is negatively affected.
              >
              > Our trip into the Yosemite area was very brief. Road construction lights,
              noise and cow bells drove our searches deeper into the forests. Although we
              did find the owls we went to find, other bird seekers will continue to be
              more challenged. The genetic analyses of our Sierra Nevada Great Gray Owls
              shows they have not interbred with the North American nominate species for
              an estimated 26,700 years. Another great California bird, I believe, is
              headed for peril.
              >
              > Dan Lockshaw
              > http://optics4birding.com
              > Irvine, CA
              >
              >
              > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              >
              >
              >
              > ------------------------------------
              >
              > Unsubscribe: mailto:CALBIRDS-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
              > Website: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CALBIRDS
              > Listowners: mailto:CALBIRDS-owner@yahoogroups.com
              >
              > For vacation suspension of mail go to the website. Click on Edit My
              Membership and set your mail option to No Email. Or, send a blank email to
              these addresses:
              > Turn off email delivery: mailto:CALBIRDS-nomail@yahoogroups.com
              > Resume email delivery: mailto:CALBIRDS-normal@yahoogroups.com
              >
              > Yahoo! Groups Links
              >
              >
              >







              =


              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Joseph Morlan
              All, Not to be a wet blanket, but acceptance of this claimed new subspecies is far from assured. The authors managed to claim a new subspecies without
              Message 6 of 6 , Oct 18, 2010
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                All,

                Not to be a wet blanket, but acceptance of this claimed new subspecies is
                far from assured. The authors managed to claim a new subspecies without
                designating a type specimen or specimens. This is required for any new
                subspecies.

                Furthermore the description of the new subspecies and its diagnosis is
                based entirely on blood genetics. Differences in genetics, detectable only
                by blood samples are not the usual way of diagnosing subspecies. Valid
                subspecies must be diagnosable taxonomically which means that the
                differences must be visible in museum specimens via normal examination and
                or measurements.

                Those interested may be interested in checking out the ICZN site:

                http://www.nhm.ac.uk/hosted-sites/iczn/code/

                However, it is not necessary for a subspecies to be valid, for any
                population to be considered endangered or threatened in law. All that is
                needed for that is for the population to be defined in law.

                On Thu, 14 Oct 2010 11:49:08 -0400, Lammergeiereyes@... wrote:

                >Confirmation in the literature of the species as a bonafide ssp., I suspect will eventually result in federal listing if FWS is petitioned. While it might not have a significant impact on Yosemite parklands management, it would have important consequences for national forestlands management including those outside the park which Dan describes below.
                >
                >
                >Sounds like a fun couple of days.
                >
                >
                >Blake T. Matheson
                >President, Monterey Audubon Society
                >
                >"Men still live who, in their youth, remember Passenger Pigeons. Trees still live who, in their youth, were shaken by a living wind. But a decade hence only the oldest oaks will remember, and at long last only the hills will know." Leopold (1949).
                >
                >
                >
                >-----Original Message-----
                >From: Geoffrey Rogers <oreortyx@...>
                >To: Dan Lockshaw <dan100@...>; CALBIRDS <CALBIRDS@yahoogroups.com>
                >Sent: Thu, Oct 14, 2010 8:38 am
                >Subject: RE: [CALBIRDS] Yosemite Great Gray Owl - a new race
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >Dan wrote: "Another great California bird, I believe, is headed for peril."
                >
                >Indeed, it's already listed as state endangered. Subspecific designation
                >should generate additional protection.
                >
                >Geoff Rogers
                >San Diego, CA
                >oreortyx@...
                >
                >> [Original Message]
                >> From: Dan Lockshaw <dan100@...>
                >> To: CalBirds <CALBIRDS@yahoogroups.com>
                >> Date: 10/13/2010 11:07:35 PM
                >> Subject: [CALBIRDS] Yosemite Great Gray Owl - a new race
                >>
                >> This is a bit of a delayed posting but two of us from Optics4Birding made
                >a short visit to Yosemite National Park to look for owls on Sept. 27th and
                >28 th. Our main target species were Great Gray, Spotted and Northern Pygmy
                >Owls. The visit was very short, and with long delays in the park for
                >post-summer road construction, most of our time was spent looking for Great
                >Gray Owl.
                >>
                >> The September/October period is a particularly good time to find Northern
                >Pygmy Owls because of post fledging vocalizations. Only on one of the
                >mornings did we even get out to look for pygmy owls. I posted a photo on
                >the Optics4Birding blog.
                >>
                >> The Spotted Owl sighting provided our most surprising owl behavior. On
                >Wednesday night while driving along Hwy 120, we pulled up alongside a
                >Spotted Owl sitting atop a snow pole on the side of the road. The habitat
                >along both sides was generally correct but it was odd to find a Spotted Owl
                >actually hunting along the highway. I don't recall ever having seen this
                >behavior before from Spotted Owl although I do remember, several years ago,
                >seeing Spotted Owls very close to the highway on Mosquito Ridge Road in
                >Placer County.
                >>
                >> Great Gray Owl is one of the most sought after birds in the Sierra
                >Nevada. It is the rarest resident species in Yosemite National Park and
                >this is the only area to find one in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Recent
                >genetic analysis of Yosemite area Great Grays has shown them to be a unique
                >subspecies: Strix nebulosa yosemitensis, according to lead researchers John
                >J. Keane and Holly B. Ernest. There are only two other Great Gray Owl races
                >recognized in the world (the North American race and the Eurasian race).
                >For more details about this and photos, please see the Optics4Birding blog.
                >>
                >> We had very close encounters with Great Gray Owls on this trip. My
                >comments here are more about the places we didn't see Great Grays where I
                >expect to find them in the National Forest outside the park. It really
                >disturbs me to go look for Great Grays and instead find COWS! Livestock
                >grazing thins meadow vegetation which favors Great Horned Owls. Even worse
                >in my mind are cow bells! I asked land owners about why they put cow bells
                >on their livestock in fenced meadows and they claim it "helps them to find
                >the animals if they break through fences". I understand the needs of land
                >owners to make a living but in the case of such a small population of a
                >unique subspecies of bird, in a National Forest, I have to question these
                >management decisions. In an otherwise quiet night, it is really painful to
                >me to go into prime habitat of the National Forest valley ringing with cow
                >bells. No self respecting owl of any species could tolerate this kind of
                >noise and I suspect all of nature is negatively affected.
                >>
                >> Our trip into the Yosemite area was very brief. Road construction lights,
                >noise and cow bells drove our searches deeper into the forests. Although we
                >did find the owls we went to find, other bird seekers will continue to be
                >more challenged. The genetic analyses of our Sierra Nevada Great Gray Owls
                >shows they have not interbred with the North American nominate species for
                >an estimated 26,700 years. Another great California bird, I believe, is
                >headed for peril.
                >>
                >> Dan Lockshaw
                >> http://optics4birding.com
                >> Irvine, CA
                >>
                >>
                >> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                >>
                >>
                >>
                >> ------------------------------------
                >>
                >> Unsubscribe: mailto:CALBIRDS-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
                >> Website: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CALBIRDS
                >> Listowners: mailto:CALBIRDS-owner@yahoogroups.com
                >>
                >> For vacation suspension of mail go to the website. Click on Edit My
                >Membership and set your mail option to No Email. Or, send a blank email to
                >these addresses:
                >> Turn off email delivery: mailto:CALBIRDS-nomail@yahoogroups.com
                >> Resume email delivery: mailto:CALBIRDS-normal@yahoogroups.com
                >>
                >> Yahoo! Groups Links
                >>
                >>
                >>
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >=
                >
                >
                >[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                --
                Joseph Morlan, Pacifica, CA jmorlan (at) ccsf.edu
                SF Birding Classes start Nov 2 http://fog.ccsf.edu/jmorlan/
                California Bird Records Committee http://www.californiabirds.org/
                Western Field Ornithologists http://www.westernfieldornithologists.org/
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