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Long-eared Owls continue

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  • Robert J. Keiffer
    Friday - 11 July 2008 - It was just reported to me by Julie Jedlicka, a UCSC researcher, that one juvenile long-eared owl was observed at 5:30 AM this morning
    Message 1 of 6 , Jul 11, 2008
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      Friday - 11 July 2008 - It was just reported to me by Julie Jedlicka,
      a UCSC researcher, that one juvenile long-eared owl was observed at
      5:30 AM this morning on the University Road (on the white side-line)
      just below the "sharp turn to the right" as described by me on
      7/5. Julie and fellow researchers had a great look at it in their
      headlights...and said that this juv. does not have orange coloration
      on the facial disks....but is definitely a long-eared owl. This is
      about 200 yards before (downhill) the wide pullout where folks have
      been hearing and seeing the owls in the evenings at dusk. Thus far I
      have been unable to locate any of this family group during daytime
      roosting. Good birding. Bob Keiffer

      Robert J. Keiffer
      Principal Supt. of Agriculture
      UC Hopland Research & Extension Center
      4070 University Road
      Hopland, CA 95449
      (707) 744-1424 FAX (707) 744-1040
      HREC website: http://danrrec.ucdavis.edu/hopland/home_page.html

      "It is not the critic who counts... not the one who points out how
      the strong person stumbles... or where the doer of deeds could have
      done better. The credit belongs to the person who is actually in the
      arena." Theodore Roosevelt

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Robert J. Keiffer
      Saturday 9 July 2008 - Julie Jedlicka and group saw three fledged young and one adult at the same area on University Road, Hopland. Time frame about the same
      Message 2 of 6 , Jul 14, 2008
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        Saturday 9 July 2008 - Julie Jedlicka and group saw three fledged
        young and one adult at the same area on University Road,
        Hopland. Time frame about the same as before ...they become vocal
        (young begging calls) at around 9"00 PM. Good birding. Bob Keiffer

        Robert J. Keiffer
        Principal Supt. of Agriculture
        UC Hopland Research & Extension Center
        4070 University Road
        Hopland, CA 95449
        (707) 744-1424 FAX (707) 744-1040
        HREC website: http://danrrec.ucdavis.edu/hopland/home_page.html

        "It is not the critic who counts... not the one who points out how
        the strong person stumbles... or where the doer of deeds could have
        done better. The credit belongs to the person who is actually in the
        arena." Theodore Roosevelt

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Robert J. Keiffer
        Monday - 14 July 2008 - in the evening, again around 9:00 PM the fledged juvenile long-eared owls began their high-pitched calling from the canyon just below
        Message 3 of 6 , Jul 15, 2008
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          Monday - 14 July 2008 - in the evening, again around 9:00 PM the
          fledged juvenile long-eared owls began their high-pitched calling
          from the canyon just below University Road (see earlier posts for
          directions). At least three birds were seen ...possibly four. I
          had one fly about 6 feet over my head ...but was unable to get a
          photo at that point. Later I was able to get a few photos of one
          perched in a tree ....I think George Chaniot might post the photo on
          the Peregrine Audubon website. Screech Owls were also
          calling. Good birding. Bob Keiffer

          Robert J. Keiffer
          Principal Supt. of Agriculture
          UC Hopland Research & Extension Center
          4070 University Road
          Hopland, CA 95449
          (707) 744-1424 FAX (707) 744-1040
          HREC website: http://danrrec.ucdavis.edu/hopland/home_page.html

          "It is not the critic who counts... not the one who points out how
          the strong person stumbles... or where the doer of deeds could have
          done better. The credit belongs to the person who is actually in the
          arena." Theodore Roosevelt

          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Emily
          Wednesday - 16 July 2008 - The Long-eared Owls continue along University Road east of Hopland. Refer to earlier posts for directions. I arrived at 9:00 PM. At
          Message 4 of 6 , Jul 18, 2008
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            Wednesday - 16 July 2008 - The Long-eared Owls continue along
            University Road east of Hopland. Refer to earlier posts for
            directions.

            I arrived at 9:00 PM. At least 3 juveniles were already active,
            begging and making short flights between trees and sometimes landing
            on the ground. This was happening just downslope of the large turnout
            described by Bob Keiffer, not more than 50m from me. Within 5 minutes
            there wasn't enough light to use binoculars. If you make the trip, I
            suggest arriving a little earlier - maybe 8:40 or 8:45. You may have
            to wait a few minutes before the owls wake up, but if you're lucky,
            you'll be able to find them while there's still plenty of light.

            I stayed for 45 minutes, and only once saw a possible adult circling
            overhead, silent. Apparently, these juveniles have to wait quite a
            while between feedings, unless the adults are sneaking in and silently
            feeding them; but I've been around these juveniles 3 times now (for at
            least 45 minutes at a time) and only once heard the juveniles become
            more excited, as though food was being delivered. On July 3, an adult
            circled overhead repeatedly, barking "wruck wruck wruck wruck wruck
            wruck wruck, wruck". That's the only time I've heard an adult vocalizing.

            There were also at least 3 screech-owls in the area, if not several
            more. I heard a Barn Owl on July 3, but not this time. At any rate,
            this canyon is a very happening place.

            And in case anyone is keeping track, I first discovered begging
            Long-eared Owl juveniles with the help of Mike Holley (wildlife
            biologist with Mendocino Redwood Company) on June 21 on the Hopland
            Reservation, about 1km from the current hangout. We're assuming it's
            the same family.

            Emily Heaton
            UC Berkeley grad student with ties to the UC Hopland field station
          • vishnu
            On Thursday 7/17 Don Rowe & I observed 3 juvenile Long-eared Owls at the same location and under similar circumstances as has been previously posted. We
            Message 5 of 6 , Jul 19, 2008
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              On Thursday 7/17 Don Rowe & I observed 3 juvenile Long-eared Owls at
              the same location and under similar circumstances as has been
              previously posted. We arrived at 8:30pm, hoping to catch some
              evidence, or view, of where these owls are roosting. Very little
              success in that regard; the owls just "manifest", flitting about in
              the trees and chaparral in the little canyon below the road just
              before 9:00pm. Whence they come is still their own secret although
              one, and possibly two, were heard giving weak calls on the opposite
              side of the road for about 3 minutes prior to the appearance of any
              of them. Our vantage point should have allowed us to see them cross
              the road but we did not see that. With a strong light and patience we
              gained excellent views of perched Long-eared Owls until about 9:20pm
              when they flew south across the little canyon where, too dark to see
              them now, they vocalized regularly, moving about the area until we
              left, about 10:30pm.
              During the evening 2 Barn Owls were heard, as well as a good many
              Screech Owls vocalizing in a variety of interesting ways; some in the
              distance and some quite close-by.

              On Tuesday 7/15 I made several recordings of these juvenile owls and
              have posted a one minute version in the "Files" section of this
              MendoBirds forum. After about 20 seconds you can hear a single adult
              owl "bark".
              The begging call tends to become very monotonous but on that same
              night I did hear one of the vocalizing juveniles suddenly become
              "more excited, as though food was being delivered", (to use Emily
              Heaton's description of a similar experience). Unfortunately the
              recorder, which had been performing flawlessly, had a cyber moment
              and crashed just when these new and different vocalizations occurred.

              Vishnu
            • Emily
              Saturday - July 19 2008 The Long-eared Owls continue along University Road east of Hopland. Refer to earlier posts for directions. My husband and I arrived at
              Message 6 of 6 , Jul 20, 2008
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                Saturday - July 19 2008
                The Long-eared Owls continue along University Road east of Hopland.
                Refer to earlier posts for directions.

                My husband and I arrived at 8:45 PM. We joined Chris Dunlap, from the
                Sacramento area. I'm not sure how long he had been there, but he
                hadn't yet detected any evidence of the owls. I suggested that we go
                over to the northwest end of the turnout (the downhill end) to look
                down into a small side canyon. This is where I had seen owls several
                days ago at dusk (July 16 post). Looking downslope across grassland,
                I saw a Long-eared Owl sitting on a log at the bottom of the draw/side
                canyon, about 100ft away. It had orange facial disks and long ear
                tufts – beautiful! We were immediately joined by Vishnu and 2 others.
                We first thought that the owl was an adult, due to the orange facial
                disks. However, we could also hear the begging call of a juvenile
                coming from the same area. Soon, a second owl jumped onto the log (it
                seemed to have jumped up from behind the log). This individual also
                had orange facial disks and ear tufts. The owls started making freaky
                head movements while staring at us – moving their heads around in
                circles or bobbing them back and forth. It seemed that their backs
                were slightly fluffy, and we decided these were almost certainly
                juveniles. Within 5 minutes, a third owl emerged. It seemed to fly
                down from a nearby tree (live oak?) or perhaps from the slope on the
                opposite side of the draw/side canyon. It landed on the log,
                displacing one of the other owls. At this point, the owls started
                becoming more active, making short flights between trees and the log.
                The begging calls became more frequent. Since all 3 owls were
                exhibiting similar behavior and looked similar, we assumed they were
                all juveniles.

                Within 10 minutes of the initial sighting, the owls moved down into
                the main canyon, still begging. They spread out, with ~100m
                separating some individuals. From my experience (this was my third or
                fourth visit to this turnout), the juveniles hang out in the main
                canyon after darkness sets in. I have only seen them in that side
                canyon at dusk, and both times that I've seen them there, they were
                close together and fairly active. This leads me to believe that they
                are roosting in that side canyon, near the log.

                Within an hour of our arrival, we heard something calling, moving up
                the canyon along the opposite ridge. (By this time, there were only 4
                observers). I can't remember the call very well, but it was different
                enough that Vishnu was prompted to pull out his recorder. I believe
                the call was a low-pitched barking, with about 1 second in between
                barks, but I could be wrong. As Vishnu was trying to get the recorder
                working, I saw a medium-sized owl fly up the canyon and disappear into
                the trees. Within a few minutes, we could tell that it was flying
                back down the canyon to the opposite ridge. I believe it was
                vocalizing, but we didn't get a recording. A few times, I thought the
                calls of one of the juveniles became more excited (higher pitched and
                slightly faster). It was calling from the same location that the
                adult seemed to have gone to. My interpretation was that an adult had
                brought food in to one of the young. However, I think only myself and
                Chris noticed any excitement in the begging. Vishnu said he had heard
                obvious, prolonged excitement in a begging juvenile (lasting about 6
                seconds or more) on a previous visit. We certainly didn't hear that.

                As I recall, the adult slipped off into surrounding lands without
                detection after that. We stayed until 11:20 PM and were unable to
                detect an obvious adult again. However, we did hear low-pitched
                barking (kind of like `wruf' or `wruck') ~200m away on several
                occasions; the direction varied. We kept looking around, expecting
                something to fly in, but nothing ever did, and then the barking would
                stop for prolonged periods. We noted that the young didn't seem to
                respond to these far-off calls by becoming more excited. There were
                several screech-owls in the area. They did some barking, although the
                quality of the far-off barks seemed to be different. We also heard
                dogs barking in the distance on occasion. However, there were some
                barks that seemed neither to be screech-owls or dogs. So maybe a
                Long-eared adult, maybe not. At any rate, visits by the parents seem
                to be very infrequent. We were there for almost 2 1/2 hours and only
                saw a likely adult once.

                For most of our visit, we were only able to pick out 3 distinct
                individuals at any one time. However, my husband and I definitely
                heard 4 individuals begging at one point. One up canyon, one down
                canyon, two in front of us – one near, one far. We heard calls coming
                from these different locations at least 3 times, so we were sure that
                we were hearing 4 juveniles (presumably juveniles, I don't think
                adults make that begging call), not 3 juveniles that were moving around.

                The screech-owls were exciting in their own right. We heard
                `squirrel-barks' on several occasions, like a demented laugh,
                sometimes trailing into the typical bouncing ball call. No barn owl
                on this visit.

                Emily Heaton (& Jacob Newell)
                Healdsburg

                ---
                Other observers please chime in if I've gotten something wrong or
                missed something.
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