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Long-eared Owls continue

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  • 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 1 of 6 , Jul 15, 2008
      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 2 of 6 , Jul 18, 2008
        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 3 of 6 , Jul 19, 2008
          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 4 of 6 , Jul 20, 2008
            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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