Friday, June 15, 2012

Flammulated Owl

Last night I went on an "Owl Prowl" offered by the Swaner Nature Preserve.  The speaker and trip guide was Markus Mika, who is the Science Director for HawkWatch International, a non-profit focused on studying and helping preserve the raptors.

Markus's specialty is the Flammulated Owl, which is a new one for me.  Because this owl happens to breed a bit later than most, they are still territorial and therefore are more likely to respond to calling them in.  We went to an area in Park City where Markus knew a pair was nesting, hiked up the mountain and waited for dark.  Then he pulled out his smart phone with a small, battery powered speaker attached. He played the owl's call and sure enough, after about 10 minutes and moving a bit back down the mountain, we started hearing the quiet response of the male owl.
Eventually he came close enough and Markus turned on a flashlight.  The owl had come within about 30 feet of us.  This isn't my picture. I thought it was pretty hopeless to get a shot, but in hindsight I might have been able to.

This little guy is only about 6" tall and is the smallest owl I have ever seen.  He flew off into a more distant tree but then couldn't help his curiosity and came right back.  Too cool!  Another life bird.
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