Photographing the Burrowing Owl in the Nature Area on the north side of the park often involves focusing hopefully on a moving brownish profile only to find that it has little ears and a long bushy tail. This time, photographer Kevin Steen found a different not-owl in the area where the owl was last seen: a Black-tailed Jackrabbit with enormous ears that stood out from the background like a neon sign. Jackrabbits are known to live here, but haven’t often been photographed in the winter months. Seeing the rabbit was good news. The bad news is that no one has seen the Burrowing Owl for several days. Of course, as the scientific axiom goes, absence of seeing owl is not the same as absence of owl. The owl seen last week is a master of concealment and could easily remain in residence while avoiding detection. Still, quite a few high-power lenses have scanned the habitat with no luck.
Hope flared briefly when the news reported that a small owl was seen in the 75-foot Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. Did our Cesar Chavez Park owl head off across the continent lured by the bright lights, tinkly tunes, and flashing skates of the ice rink in midtown Manhattan? That scene has mesmerized plenty of people; why not owls? Alas, as the news story developed, local bird experts identified the owl as a Saw-whet Owl, an East Coast species, only distantly related to our Western Burrowing Owl. Cute, though.
I and others will keep looking.