Owl Day 16

Burrowing Owls (Athene cunicularia)

On this clear, crisp November morning, both of the Burrowing Owls that arrived here on November 2 were still in residence, still in the exact same spot where first seen. The First Owl stepped a bit forward out of its dense protective canopy to scan the sky, but without great alarm — it remained standing on one leg, a relaxed position. If the bird were thinking of diving for cover or taking off, both feet would be on the ground, ready for its long, powerful legs to propel it to safety.

As I’ve mentioned previously, the First Owl can’t be seen from the paved perimeter path. You have to enter the Open Circle Viewpoint , the circular stone seating area, and use a good set of binoculars or a strong zoom lens to see this bird about 100 yards north.

Meanwhile the Second Owl, in its highly exposed and visible position up in the central circle of the seasonal Burrowing Owl Sanctuary, also seemed at ease. There were moments when it closed its eyes. It paid little or no attention to passing or standing park visitors. It scanned intermittently in all directions, using its remarkable ability to swivel its head instantly 180 degrees. (It can swivel 270 degrees if it wants to; see “The Owls Came Back.”) At the time I observed it, no big raptors flew nearby. I still worry that the spot this owl selected, having no overhead cover, and located so close to the path, leaves the bird excessively vulnerable.

First Owl under its protective canopy, on the rocks out of sight from the path
Second Owl, without overhead cover, very near the path where people and dogs pass on the other side of a decorative but not protective fence

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