Owl :>) Squirrel

This encounter between the seasonally resident owl and one or several ground squirrels is remarkable for what doesn’t happen: the owl doesn’t strike its “I’m a huge ferocious raptor and I can hurt you” posture. The owl mounted that display in a similar encounter very recently, see this post. Here, instead, apart from one moment where the owl is startled and briefly takes to the air, the bird ignores the mammal, as if they were each other’s exes, not on great terms, who happened to be at the same party. The next afternoon, they posed next to each other, as if the best of buddies:

Ground Squirrel and Burrowing Owl

Part of the issue here is that at least one of the squirrels in this encounter was clearly bigger and heavier than the owl. The Burrowing Owl is a small bird, weighing from 140-240 grams, according to Wikipedia, less than the common pigeon (Rock Dove), which averages 238-380 grams. The Ground Squirrel is a relative giant at 280-738 grams. So, unless the Burrowing Owl were equipped with extraordinary weapons, which it is not, it could not prevail in any physical combat with a squirrel. Fortunately, the squirrels are strict vegetarians, not possessed of big incisors and not interested in the owl for food. Their concern with the owls is the birds’ seasonal occupation of the burrows that the squirrels dug. The owl, at least our Western variety (A.c. hypugaea), does not do any burrowing. It borrows the burrows dug by others. So, one could imagine that these squirrels are nosing around the owl with a message like “Isn’t it about time you went home?”

As a rule the Burrowing Owls that have visited the park over the decades have left on their migration back north by the middle of March. The two that spent the winter season here last year departed March 4 and March 11, respectively. Chances are that this owl is in its last week. It may have decided that getting into a hostile face-off with the squirrels, even if it’s just for show, is pointless with so few days left in its visit.

Ground Squirrel and Burrowing Owl

Note: I deleted the video sound track because of heavy wind noise and human conversation behind the camera. If the music is distracting, just turn it off.

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3 thoughts on “Owl :>) Squirrel

  • I deleted the video sound track because of heavy wind noise and human conversation behind the camera.
    The owls are not sleeping in the day time. Even if they momentarily close their eyes they are alert with their ears. They are small animals perched on the ground and very vulnerable. At dawn and dusk they go hunting. They must sleep at night, I assume, but it’s too dark for photography with my equipment.

  • p.s. personally, I think i prefer without the music, just natural sound.

  • I love these videos! I look forward to watching them every day. Thanks!

    These owls….do they ever do anything other than sit around and sleep?

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