Owl Alert

Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia) Jan. 2 2023

The Burrowing Owl this morning around 9 settled in Perch B, much to the delight of a number of early park visitors who got a chance to see it, some for the first time ever. While several of us were watching, a White-tailed Kite rose behind us and hovered maybe 50 feet in the air and 75 yards due west of our position. The owl spotted it before we did, and rose up in high alert, watching the kite with eyes much sharper than our own. The video above, an excerpt from 25 minutes of filming, records the owl’s alert at the kite’s appearance. However, the kite then settled on a low tree branch, out of our sight and certainly out of the owl’s sight, it being positioned lower than we humans. With that, the owl relaxed again and assumed its regular softly puffed-up position, looking left and right in a routine manner.

I then walked north a bit and got a clearer perspective on the Nature Area, and saw that the kite remained perched on a low tree branch. I was able to get a few seconds of video. It’s been a while since I saw a White-tailed Kite in this northern region of the park. The Burrowing Owl has little to fear from this raptor. White-tailed Kites are small mammal specialists. More than 95 percent of their diet is voles, small mammals often called “field mice” but related to lemmings and hamsters more than to mice. Voles are prolific breeders and at times are abundant in the park. In the wilderness, this kite is aggressive toward larger raptors such as Red-tailed Hawks, but ignores smaller ones, such as the Short-eared Owl.. The Burrowing Owl is even smaller. Still, our local owl is wise to take no chances.

White-tailed Kite (Elanus leucurus) Jan. 2 2023

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2 thoughts on “Owl Alert

  • Perch B is at https://goo.gl/maps/RjAgpCpRe25f6Wwq9. At the north end of this concrete retaining wall, look out toward the water. There is a big dark fennel bush. Stand as close to the wall and as tall as you can. At the base of that bush on its left side, down on the rocks outlined against the water, you may be able to see the owl’s head and upper half, if it is in Perch B. The lower right photo in https://chavezpark.org/owl-in-river/ shows you what to look for.

  • Fabulous. Where is perch b. I’ve only seen the Pt. Isabel owl. Thank you.

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