One Owl AWOL

Owl missing from its habitual spot

The “Owl on the Rocks” that was first sighted on December 6, and has been present persistently at the same spot since then, was not there in mid-afternoon on December 28. I photographed the spot at 3:49 pm. and again an hour later and there was no owl there or nearby.

This owl has been the longest known owl resident of Cesar Chavez Park this winter season. How long it was present at this spot on the east side rip-rap before it was first seen and photographed is unknown. The spot it chose is several feet below the grassy area and completely invisible from the paved walkway outside the fence.

Meanwhile, to the delight and amazement of park visitors (see Owl is Joy), the northside owl resumed its stand at the water’s edge, about 230 yards west of the fenced Burrowing Owl preserve. I was able to lead a photographer visiting from New Mexico to the spot. At least a couple of dozen park visitors took advantage of the opportunity to peek at a live image of the owl in my camera on tripod, and then see the actual bird about twenty yards below. For a number of visitors it was the first time they had ever seen a Burrowing Owl.

As it happened, at one moment while people were looking at the owl I had the camera running, and caught the owl in an unusual move. It had an itch on its neck. It craned and twisted its head to get its beak onto the spot. In the process it showed how long and flexible was its neck and how much smaller its head was than when seen at rest. Apart from this short episode, the owl remained hunched over, puffed up, and its only moves were the constant swiveling of its head left and right. The bird appeared completely oblivious to the rapt attention that park visitors paid it.

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