Invisible Owl

Moments from the first month of the First Owl in the park. (Burrowing Owl Athene cunicularia)

The First Owl’s agent approached me quietly to complain that the Second Owl was monopolizing media coverage. That bird sits up there shamelessly posing for everybody as if no other Burrowing Owls existed in the park, the agent went. I had to admit there was truth to it. I had heard many people say the visible owl was the only owl, and if there really was another owl, why couldn’t they see it? In truth, the two owls in the park have polar opposite habits. The Second Owl squats in the open, close to people, exposed to danger, visible all day long without binoculars, displaying like a model to small crowds admiring it, and paying them no attention — even yawning in their faces. The First Owl perches out of sight, out of danger, under cover, prudent and careful in every way. Shouldn’t it get some respect and attention? I had to agree, so I made this video, containing a few moments of each day of the First Owl’s stay since its arrival on November 2.

Note that the First Owl can usually be spotted early in the morning if you cross the fence on the southern end of the Burrowing Owl Sanctuary and stand in the Open Circle viewpoint with a long lens. Don’t even think about seeing the bird without a lens; it’s more than 100 yards away. (Hopefully Park management will soon get the hint and move the fence so that the Open Circle Viewpoint is open to the public year round.) Most of the sequences in the video above are taken with the owl in that position. However, around midday and in the afternoon, this owl has often moved up into the shrubbery that normally serves as its canopy. Shrouded in that vegetation, the bird is almost entirely invisible. Only the yellow of its iris and sometimes the quick spin of its head gives it away. Here it is at noontime on December 5; the lens is extended to the equivalent of 6000 mm:

First Owl in the park at noontime 12/5/21. (Burrowing Owl Athene cunicularia)

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One thought on “Invisible Owl

  • LOL! I love this owl!
    Is there any evidence that it ever leaves this spot? When/ how does it eat? do you think it ventures out at night to hunt? (i forget what they eat…but clearly not squirrels!)
    At about .38 seconds in to this it was clearly scrutinizing you Marty!

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