Owl in the News

Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia) Feb 8 2023

Thanks to park visitor Isabelle Gaston, the Burrowing Owl in the park was in the New York Times this morning, in the California Today section, at this link, scroll down. But the paper didn’t use the photo Isabelle sent them of the real owl in the park. It printed instead a file photo of five baby owls from the AP archives. As a result I’ve had several emails asking where people can see the “owls” in the park today.

The photo above is the real owl this morning at about 8:30. It sat again in Perch B. It was a quiet time for the bird. During the half hour that I ran the video camera, the owl looked left and right and occasionally upward, but showed no alarm, had no visitors, and did no preening. There being no “action,” I’ve skipped posting a video this morning and am just posting this still image.

For park visitors who have not been following this blog, here are clues to Perch B. At this spot a person of average height can see at least the head and shoulders of the owl if the person stands tight against the low concrete retaining wall, or stands up on the wall (careful) and looks out over the edge of the water to the left of the big dark fennel bush. The owl is not on the grass, not on the near rocks, but on the rocks down low outlined against the water.

Map of viewpoint for Perch B

The viewpoint where you can stand to see the owl at Perch B is on Google maps at the pin in the photo to the left. This is on the northeast corner of the park. The area is surrounded by a low wire fence and partial low concrete retaining walls.

Here below is the larger frame so that you can get an idea of where to focus your eyes. Note that you must stand close to or on the low retaining wall, and you must be of average height or taller to see the bird. The owl may look just like a round brown rock to you at first, until you notice that the “rock” is turning its head.

Owl in Perch B. Bird is outlined against water to the left of big dark Fennel bush.

When I photograph the owl in this perch I raise my camera up on the tallest setting of the tripod, as if I were 7.5 feet tall, and in this way I can get pictures of the whole bird, sometimes minus the feet.

Then again, the owl may not be at Perch B when you visit. It may be at Perch A, in which case you can’t see it from the perimeter trail at all. Or it may be at some unknown spot. Here’s a calendar that tracks where the owl has perched since its arrival: Link.

The New York Times item is a small excerpt from the longer piece that Isabelle published in the Berkeley Daily Planet this week, at this link. Don’t miss it!

As regular readers know, there is only one Burrowing Owl in the park this winter. It arrived October 30 and has been seen at this perch or at another nearby location consistently, with a few absences. Historically, Burrowing Owls come here for the winter, and will leave again when they think that their breeding territory up north or east has warmed up. Last year this owl left on February 19, but the dates vary. Generally the owls that spend the winter in the park are gone by mid-March.

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3 thoughts on “Owl in the News

  • Another petition and letter writing campaign for a burrowing owl defense fence needs to be organized. The anti-development park campaign finally brought Berkeley City Council to their senses.

  • Yes please take out the map. How about a Wildlife Privacy Act?

  • too much attention may destroy the very lovely birds. Take out the map!

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