Owl Diary: Tuesday 1/15

Now I know what Burrowing Owls do in the rain. On Wednesday last week, I missed the opportunity to solve this puzzle because I had forgotten to bring my umbrella, so when the skies opened up I needed to find shelter. This morning it rained, and the forecast said it would rain all day. Now was my chance. I geared up: rain boots, yellow rain pants, rain jacket, umbrella, plastic bag for camera just in case, and headed out. At the park I decided to leave the tripod in the car, thinking I wouldn’t see any owls anyway, because they would probably be hiding out of sight. Walked to the owl area in a steady shower. Scanned the east owl’s usual hideaway in the rip-rap. Not there. Scanned its new location as of yesterday, behind the slanted slab with the white spot. Not there either. Not in front of the slab either. OK, I figured. I have my answer: in the rain, the owls go and hide out of sight. In a burrow somewhere. As they did in the rainstorm on January 6. After all, they’re Burrowing Owls.

And then I saw it.

The east owl stood in a new spot, a good 30 yards south of the slanted rock, just on the east side of the paved path inside the fenced area, without the slightest cover overhead. It stood more exposed to the rain than in any of the previous sites. If it was bothered by the rain, it gave no sign of stress. It swiveled its head at moderate intervals, just as it usually does. It even seemed a bit drowsy, its eyes half shut, and shut completely for a few moments.

OK, that was a sample of one. Not conclusive. I went off to look for the north owl. Surely it would have more sense than the east owl, and find shelter. Guess again. The north owl stood in exactly the same spot where I’d seen it and filmed it more than a dozen times in dry weather. It, too, behaved just as if no wet stuff were coming down on it and all around it.

So, what do Burrowing Owls do when it rains? Nothing. They ignore the rain, and maybe even enjoy it.

Here’s a short handheld video of the two owls in the rain at about 9:30 this morning. The sound track captures rain on my umbrella.

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