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Purple Martins continue; Long-eared Owls gone?

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  • Emily Heaton
    PURPLE MARTINS - Thursday July 31 Purple Martins continue to be present along University Rd near the large telephone pole, as described in an earlier post by
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 1, 2008
      PURPLE MARTINS - Thursday July 31
      Purple Martins continue to be present along University Rd near the
      large telephone pole, as described in an earlier post by Bob Keiffer.
      I saw 2 individuals (females, subadults, or juveniles; not adult
      males) at ~12:45pm and again at 8:00pm on Thursday, July 31. They
      were flying over the vineyard south of the road and also hanging out
      on the telephone wire. This was the first time I've seen a Purple
      Martin. I had no idea how large they are. They dwarfed a Barn
      Swallow that was flying in the area. Very cool.

      LONG-EARED OWLS - July 25, 29, & 30
      The Long-eared Owls that have been hanging out in the canyon along
      University Rd since early July seem to have moved on. I have made
      three visits to the area since July 24 (the last time they were
      reported) and have not detected them.

      On Thursday July 25, I visited the turnout on University Rd from 10:05
      to 10:15pm. I heard no begging juveniles and saw no owls. In
      previous weeks, the young could pretty reliably be heard begging from
      the canyon at this time of night.

      On Tuesday July 29, I stayed at the turnout between 8:43 and 9:25pm.
      I saw no owls emerge from the side canyon where they have been
      roosting, heard no begging juveniles, and saw no owls flying over the
      main canyon. I did hear some activity in the trees in the side
      canyon, but I also heard a screech-owl calling from that area. The
      sun had set by the time I arrived, but it seemed that it wasn't quite
      dark enough for the owls to have emerged already.

      On Wednesday July 30, I visited the turnout between 8:45 and 8:55pm.
      Again, no evidence of the Long-eareds. I then checked out the "rodent
      exclosure plot", a grassy expanse ~100-200m away - this is where Bob
      Keiffer guessed they might be hunting. I was there for about 15
      minutes but saw no owls.

      Finally, Bob and I have discussed the possibility that the Long-eared
      Owl family that I found on the Hopland Reservation on June 21 may have
      been a different family than the one that we've been tracking on
      University Rd. We think it is somewhat unlikely that a family would
      move 1km from the reservation to the canyon on University Rd, then
      stay put for 3 weeks. It seems like a big move for owls that didn't
      venture more than a couple hundred meters from their roost while they
      were using the canyon. It's possible that the owls were prompted to
      move due to excessive disturbance during our June 21st survey. During
      that survey, two observers followed the juveniles for 1 to 1.5 hours
      in an effort to identify them, but at the time, we felt that they
      didn't seem to be bothered by our presence.

      After the owls were found on June 21, several visits were made to that
      area within the next week. Neither Bob nor myself heard any juveniles
      begging during those visits, though Bob saw a possible juvenile.
      After the owls were discovered on University Rd on July 3, we focused
      all attention on the new location. Finally, on Thursday July 25th, I
      went back to the original location (i.e. on the reservation) between
      8:20 and 9:50pm. At one point, a large bird flew out of a nearby
      tree, and I thought I heard it bark once as it left. Could have been
      a Long-eared Owl. However, I heard no begging juveniles and saw no
      definite owls. After I'd been there about 45 minutes, I hooted and
      tried to imitate the juvenile begging call, but got no response. So
      now we're just left to guess whether we found 1 or 2 families. It
      would be good to monitor both locations next year during the breeding

      Emily Heaton
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