One of the two resident Burrowing Owls went missing this morning. The First Owl, perched under a dense canopy of dry vegetation on the east side of the seasonal Burrowing Owl Sanctuary, was present, see photo above. But the spot where the Second Owl has been perched since first spotted on November 2 was empty, see photo below:
One birder on the scene, Frank, reported that he had seen this owl a little earlier in the morning. But then he and another birder saw a sizeable raptor swooping over the site. Frank spotted the raptor in a tree about 100 yards away in the Nature Area. Here is a photo:
This raptor was not feeding and there were no signs of foul play at the spot where the owl had perched. The theory is that the owl was able to dive into the Burrowing Owl tunnel next to its perching spot and save itself. However, an hour later the owl had not resurfaced. I checked the surrounding area as far west as the gravel path below the western ridge and did not see an owl.
I had to leave at 8:30 a.m. When I got back to the park minutes before sunset, I was relieved and thrilled to see Second Owl back in its usual spot, looking cozy and at peace — downright sleepy, in fact:
I would be grateful if park visitors who stopped to check on the owl’s spot during the day could Comment below what time they stopped and whether the owl was present or not. In the past when I’ve observed an owl ducking into its burrow because of an overhead threat, the bird usually resurfaced within a minute or two. This owl stayed out of sight much longer.
P.S. The raptor was an adult Sharp-shinned Hawk, the smallest hawk in North America. Thanks for the ID to raptor expert and photographer John Davis, @jozoqo_photo on Instagram.