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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Nerdy Birdy: Western Screech Owl Babies

Two days ago I went on my first ever Owling field trip and although it was incredibly frustrating I did see one new owl, HURRAH, and I managed to meet a ton of cool people. At the end of the night, when we were sitting and watching a tiny Western Screech Owl and I didn’t think my grin could get any bigger because I was so happy, one of those friendly birders gave me a golden egg. Well it wasn’t a golden egg; it was more like three little nuggets of happiness. He told me where I could go and potentially see a mother, father and three baby Western Screech Owls. He said that they had been out of the nest for a week and that they were already flying around so he warned me to go quickly. Last night I hung out with Mr. Rogue so I went today super hopeful that they were still there so I could get a peek.

Not only were they there they were there right in front of me. A crowd had gathered, some people from the neighborhood, a birder I knew who was also on the Owling Field trip and the owners of the house across the street from the owls. Everyone was super helpful and even held the flashlight while I took a bazillion photos. Its not everyday after all you get to see owls, let alone adorable little baby owls.

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WESTERN SCREECH OWL BABIES

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WESTERN SCREECH OWL BABIES

The next hour was filled with delight and me trying to get the best shots I could. I was surprised how nonchalant the birds were about the crowd. They didn’t seem to care we were watching, they had one goal, to cry until mom and dad fed them. It sure made them easy to find with all the baby screeching going on. Super helpful babies!

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WESTERN SCREECH OWL BABIES

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WESTERN SCREECH OWL BABIES

Mom and dad were both flying around trying to keep their brood fed. I noticed that one of the parents had an eye issue. At first it looked blown out, like the eyes I have seen of owls who have been hit by cars at the raptor center.

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WESTERN SCREECH OWL PARENT AND BABY

However after a while I finally got a great photo of the eye and I realized that instead of being blown out it was an infected scratch of some kind. My cat had the exact same issue last year http://www.theroguewoman.com/2011/09/its-not-tumor.html. The good news is that all the red you see around the eye my vet told me is a great thing. They are blood vessels repairing the damaged part of the eye. Regardless with three babies surviving the season and with her looking a good weight it seems that her eye problem isn’t causing her too much problem hunting. Hopefully she will make it through in another few months with a completely healed eye.

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WESTERN SCREECH OWL WITH A HURT EYE

Since pairs of Western Screech owls mate for life and often will reuse nest sites in consecutive years I will have to keep an eye on the location. Thanks again to the wonderful neighbors of these sweet little owls for letting all of us bird people run amok on their lawn!

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WESTERN SCREECH OWL

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WESTERN SCREECH OWL

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WESTERN SCREECH OWL

2 comments:

Jennifer Arens said...

the babies look huge already....

paul peggy zeus said...

Ha! I thought the owl with the red eye was from the flash. Great pictures!! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE

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