Northern Spotted Owl

Houdini the Owl

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Meet the elusive Houdini. I have been monitoring this owl for about 5 years now. Normally we find the birds, offer them prey and if they are nesting will fly to their nest, or young, or mate… This is how you define a spotted owls territory and thus are able to protect it from nearby logging. Every so often a owl pair will not play along. Like this one, who has never shown me a nest. In fact they always disappear in the prime nesting weeks. The male here, is not shy however. As long as I bring gifts…

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Baby Owls!

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Meet my friend HU563. Ive known her for close to 10 years now. She resides right on the edge of the forest in the Fortuna area. Its amazing how close this owl will get me, some times downright startling. Owls flight is virtually silent, so once your in her territory you may just look up and see this owl perched 2 feet away from you – black eyes staring…

Its been a couple of years since I checked in on this owl and I found her at one of her nesting sites after a few tries. She was by herself and at first appeared to be non-nesting. She ate down the first mouse I offered in seconds. But then she flew off with the second mouse forcing me to scramble up the hill…

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On the edge of a clearing in a little alder grove, she led me to her two fledglings. I have posted several pictures on this blog feeding mice to owls and this is why we do it. First and foremost is nest site protection and correctly establishing where their core area will be. Second is population monitoring, so scientists can track the population and reproductive trends of this species. But for now we can just admire the cute owlets…

Sleeping Owl

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I am proud of this one. While conducting follow-up visits for Northern Spotted Owls, we often only find one of a mating pair, or none at all. In this instance I was able to get the male to respond and when I first came under the owl I heard a faint whistle call of the female, but did not see or hear her again. After feeding the male to find that that they had no nest or fledgling juveniles, I did one last faithful scan of the trees to try to spot a nest or the female. Looking where I thought I heard the sound I suddenly saw her! What luck. These owls are extremely camouflaged and if they are still and silent, virtually impossible see. The pic is a shot through my binoculars.

Spotted Owls

The Spotted Owl. These birds are seldom seen. When you find them it is easy to see why. In fact with the exception of the barn owl, all the forest owls have superb camouflage. I bet I walk under owls all the time unbeknownst.

The spotted is pretty big too, about 16-20″ inches tall, so imagine how many of the small – and more common – owls you must pass underneath when your in the woods.

If you know how to find them however, its not that difficult. Well, as least when they are there…

At first the male was checking us out, then he flew back up into a tree and passed out. The female on the other hand, watched us diligently and eventually took interest in our mice ‘prey’ we were offering up.

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Often times when you find a pair, the male will take prey to the female on the nest. This time she took the mice and ate them straight way. Nesting was obviously over and these two are now just chilling, probably trying to catch up on some sleep. NSOs typically nest every year, some times successfully, sometime not. I found no nest or evidence of fledglings, so we will be forced to wait until next year to try to find their actual nest site.

Thanks for the mouse!

Thanks for the mouse!

Sunset over the East Branch

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A perfect way to start the night…This time, me and my co-workers where in for a long night with Murphy’s Law in full effect. Thunder and lightning, unexpected road blockages and sketchy neighbors can make spotted owl surveying tense.

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The 4-wheeler lights didn’t work, so we had to strap on flashlights to get to our stations. Can you see the rain? Funny thing was the clouds were hard to see. It was like Hawaii rain, huge drops, but looking up into the sky all you could see was stars…We ended up hearing three owls that night, two spotted owls and one barred owl. A busy night. All kinds of other creatures are lurking around at night too, like this nasty….

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