Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Quick Update, an Owl Talk Tomorrow and A Call For Owl Prowls

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

As of last night the youngest owlet is still in Charles and Sarah's territory.  This is interesting on several fronts.  One, the youngest owlet last year was last seen on September 17, 2013 and that was on the later side of things.  Two, the owlet has been alternating between leaving Charles and Sarah alone to duet and engaging in what I call duettus interruptus.  This process involves the owlet landing near or practically on the parents as they duet while begging for food with great intensity.   Here's the owlet last night where I found him near The Permanent Puddle. {Be sure to double click on each photo to see a larger version)

Here's the owlet from a few nights ago beginning the evening with some mild begging calls and blinking while perched on The Fallen Tree:

That is before he demonstrated classic duettus interruptus. Charles was on the right and Sarah on the left in The Jungle Gym Tree Near The Overlook Hotel Tree having a great duet until...

Thirdly, the continued presence of the owlet has altered Charles and Sarah's perch/roost sites. These sites vary by season and some of the seasonal spots have changed over the years.  In the last few weeks I have only seen Charles and Sarah a few times in their more typical later summer/early fall spots in The Wooded Area.  Instead, they have been perching in The Hilly Wooded Area, which is near to but outside of The Wooded Area. I have not seen them perch in this area since 2010 when Sarah nested in this stretch of the park! I think that, as much as possible, they are trying to keep their distance from the youngest owlet so that it disperses.

Yesterday, I found Charles in this area in a large Sycamore, the same tree I found him in just a few days prior.  Here's a cropped photo that shows his incredible toes and talons.

Sarah was in medium-sized dead tree in which I found her on Friday.  I was able to get a close look at her, which was a thrill.

She and Charles got a great duet going and Charles went to a different tree and continued duetting with the moon to his right.  "Owl Moon" indeed!

I'm giving my next public talk on the owls and my work with them tomorrow at the Cliff Cave Branch Library of the St. Louis County Library System. This is my second talk at this location and I'm thrilled to be returning here for my twenty-seventh talk of the year.  Here are the details:

"Forest Park Owls: "Hiding In Plain Sight"
Wednesday October 1, 2014, 6:30pm,
Cliff Cave Branch Library,
5430 Telegraph Rd, Oakville, MO 63129

I hope to see you there!  I'll be showing lots of pictures and videos like this one  from last night of Sarah doing a double wing stretch before going right into an escalator stretch and then finishing with some grooming.

Lastly, just want to remind folks that this a great time of the year for owl prowls.  The weather is divine and sunset is at a reasonable time. I am now aware that Weather Goldilocks Syndrome (WGS) is in the DSM-5.  WGS is the phenomenon of people who say, "It's too hot." and then quickly follow the first statement with "It's too cold."  I have seen it also manifested by people who, in January, say, "I really want to come see the owls...when it is a little warmer."  These are often the same folks who say in July, "I really want to come see the owls...when it is a little cooler." Well, now is your chance to come see the owls in almost ideal conditions before autumn and then winter really hit hard.  I have good availability for prowls in October.  Please drop me a line at mglenshaw@gmail.com and provide me a few dates that work for you and we''ll go from there.

Thank  you for reading!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Close Encounters of the Bird Kind

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Much is happening with the owls.  I last saw the middle owlet last Monday, September 8 and as it has been a week since then, I am making the call saying that she has dispersed.  Last week was the most challenging week with finding the owls I have experienced in years. To make a terribly long story short, I think Charles and Sarah are trying to make it hard for the last, youngest owlet to find them and thereby encouraging it to disperse.  As of last night, the youngest owlet is still in the park.

Most recently, the last two nights featured some interesting bird sightings and all in the same tree. The tree in question is The Jungle Gym Tree Near The Overlook Hotel Tree.  The owls use this tree primarily as a late afternoon/early evening perch site.  Last night, I arrived in the park and began to look for the owls passing by this tree early in my search.  After not finding the owls in several  spots, I returned to this tree.  There in the tree was a large bird and I could not identify it until I got my binoculars on it. The bird was an Osprey!  I had never seen an Osprey in Forest Park before now!
Check out this big beauty and notice the fish in his left talon. (Be sure to double click on the photos to see a larger version).

I knew an Osprey had been seen in the park recently, thanks to my friend Deepa Mohan's frequent nature walks in Forest Park and frequent blogging. Check out this post of hers for some nice shots of an Osprey in flight.  According to the indispensable Birds In Missouri by Brad Jacobs, Ospreys are an uncommon, migrant in this state. The equally valuable, Checklist of the Birds of Forest Park, lists the species as a rare migrant in the park.  I had seen Ospreys twice before in Connecticut during a visit there in 2009.  A bird with a truly global range, it can be found almost anywhere there is water and thus fish.  Forest Park's river way, ponds, lakes and creeks offer decent hunting for this species.  I saw this or another Osprey twice more last night including in this same tree a couple of hours later as I headed home. I hope to see this species more in Forest Park.  The massive, over 60 inch, wingspan is especially impressive.

One night earlier, in this same tree, The Jungle Gym Tree Near The Overlook Hotel Tree, was Sarah. I was leading the monthly, public owl prowl (the second Sunday of each month, pick up the flyer at the Visitor and Education Center for more information) and we had heard Charles near this tree and we saw Sarah in the tree.  Sarah soon had company when a Great Blue Heron landed in this tree mere feet away from her.  Sarah went into full alert mode with body clenched and tufts raised high as I have ever seen them.  I told the group to watch carefully to see what happened next as Great Horned Owls are known to attack and eat these herons.

The heron remained in the tree for no more than two minutes before flying off without Sarah in pursuit.  I think if Sarah had been more awake and ready, she would have likely attacked this heron. Perhaps some of you are wondering if Great Horned Owls can really eat Great Blue Herons as the latter is twice the size of the owl.  This occurrence is well documented and I have seen several intense predatory attempts on GBHs by Charles and Sarah including the three below, which took place between October 2013 and March 2014.

Oh and Great Horned Owls are known to eat Ospreys as well. Check out this brief but fascinating article from the Wisconsin ornithological journal,  The Passenger Pigeon, for evidence of this.

Thank you for reading!