Owl, Vigilant

The Burrowing Owl that has occupied the nature area on the north side of the park popped up from its hole Friday morning and checked its surroundings in all directions. In the process, it demonstrated its ability to turn its head not only 180 but a full 270 degrees. (I filmed this previously in my 2019 video, The Owls Came Back.)

In this spot, the surrounding grass allows the owl to disappear from view entirely just by ducking down. It has almost no visibility in any direction except up, unless it rises on its legs as it did, in part, in the video above. Unlike in the wild, there are no stealthy, silently stalking predator mammals in the park, at least not nearby — the feral cats are remote. The main danger on land is off-leash dogs, who tend not to be silent stalkers.

While the camera was filming unattended, a Cooper’s Hawk rested briefly on the nearby Barn Owl box and then flew diagonally over the area, almost directly over the owl’s head. This was the small Cooper’s Hawk, a male, that tried to tangle with this owl a few days earlier, and got no respect (see Owl Defies Hawk video). This time, the hawk made no move in the owl’s direction. A couple of days after the hawk’s owl encounter, photographer John Davis saw the same hawk dive on prey in the area. Investigating, John found feathers of a Western Meadowlark, a ground-nesting bird that is quite a bit smaller than the owl.

After its surveillance of the area on Friday morning, the owl withdrew again behind its grass curtain and dropped out of sight. I waited around for a quarter of an hour, but it did not rise again. I was just lucky to have the camera set up at the moment when it arose to have a look around.

Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia)

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