Update: The missing owl has returned. A park visitor posted a Comment below at 12:30 that the bird was back in its usual place. Another park visitor emailed with the same message. Many park visitors had the chance to view the bird. I was able to get back to the park at 4:15 and took this snapshot:
The Second Owl — the one that’s usually in plain view from the paved path — was missing this morning as late as 9;45 a.m. No one at the scene had any information. Was it present earlier in the morning? Did a raptor or a dog disturb it? Did it dive into its hole or fly off somewhere? No answers. All that park visitors saw was the empty spot where this owl usually perched:
If you saw the owl later in the day, please post a comment here. Thank you.
This owl has disappeared for short periods twice before, as noted here on November 13 and again on November 16. Each time, a raptor swooped low over the site. Both times the owl resurfaced, in the first case after more than an hour, in the second, about 15 minutes. This time we don’t know by what or when it was disturbed, but its absence appears longer than before. The spot that this owl chose for a perch is highly exposed and gives cause for concern.
Meanwhile the First Owl appeared just fine. It’s tucked away under a canopy of dry vegetation on the rip-rap out of sight of the path. As I’ve mentioned, you have to step across the fence on the south side of the preserve and enter the Open Circle Viewpoint, and then you need powerful binoculars or some other telephoto lens to see the bird more than 100 yards away. The wind was blowing this owl’s feathers, and at the time I watched it, it was unusually alert, pivoting its head rapidly in three directions. It had both feet on the ground, possibly because of the wind, possibly because it sensed a threat. Something was going on. Usually this owl has been a model of calm.
Postscript 4:30 p.m.: The First Owl seemed to have calmed and relaxed. It had moved out from under its canopy and perched farther out on the rock, in the open, than I’d seen it so far. I did not have my long-zoom camera and wasn’t able to get a good photo, but perhaps another photographer did.