Sunday, January 29, 2006

Donna at Red's flyout

photo by Cal Vornberger

27 Jan 2006

Rufous Morph [Red-phase]Eastern Screech Owl - Ramble
(Otus asio or Megascops asio depending on your field guide copyright date.)

5:02pm Owl visible but recessed in cavity. Head turned in, two dark breast bars appear to be "eyes".

5:20 Red still at farthest recess but head turned forward, eyes half open. Blink, blink.

5:23 Eyes completely open.

5:24 Long trilling vocalization, resonates deeply in cavity. "Bounce song".

5:25 Red moves forward, anterior even with opening of cavity. Area under neck swells as the syringes, modified upper bronchii located directly below the trachea, expand. Bounce song.
Bounce songs continue sporadically until 5:29.

5:29 Last bounce song from roost. Red suddenly puts head slightly out of tree cavity and focuses intently to northwest, very alert. Continues to focus. Listening?

5:31 Flyout, to west and then north.
Jim previously had played a recording that he'd made of the gray morph Riviera Screech Owl one evening as the owl had vocalized from a branch after leaving his roost. It was bounce song.
Now Red is doing bounce song. Questions do arise.
According to the Cornell Department of Ornithology's website, All About Birds...
"The trilling song on one pitch, sometimes known as the Bounce Song, is used by members of a pair or a family to keep in contact. The male will trill to advertise a nest site, court a female, and when arriving at a nest with food. The descending Whinny is used in territory defense The songs usually are used separately, but sometimes are heard together."

The plot thickens!
Cornell also says,

"Eastern Screech-Owl pairs usually are monogamous and remain together for life. Some males, however, will mate with two different females. The second female may evict the first female, lay her own eggs in the nest, and incubate both clutches."

Remember Marie's theory about the 72nd St. male?

(What happens to the second female if she doesn't evict the first?)

Or is the Riviera gray actually a different Screech from the 72nd St. one, he's moved, and is hanging out somewhere to the northwest in a roost as yet undiscovered?

Has Red found a third Screech male altogether in a roost we haven't found?

Once again, "the games afoot".

Donna Browne

PS from Marie My theory was pretty much disproved, I'm afraid, if you check back to letters I posted after I aired it.