Monday, February 06, 2006

Owling in the park with Bob

Two of last year's North Woods fledglings
photo by Cal Vornberger

Yesterday, though the weather had treacherously turned, I and a small number of birders gathered at the West Drive bench to see the Screech-owl flyout. [Farmers, of course, would not call the resumption of cold weather "treacherous." Warm weather in winter can ruin their crops.]
At 5:40 the first owl flew out and headed west. As we stood there in the penetrating cold waiting for the second owl to exit, along came Bob Levy, the author of the soon-to-be-published book about Central Park birding and birds --
Club George. He promised to stay a while longer and let us know if and when the second owl emerged. Gratefully we headed for a warmer spot...and the Rolling Stones at half time.

Bob kept his promise. Here is his report:

February 5, 2006 Central Park Owling

In truth, as opposed to “truthiness”, I remained behind to see if the second of the two gray morph Eastern Screech-Owls would fly out after you left with Noreen and Lee. I stayed past the 6:15 PM deadline I gave myself. By 6:35 PM I had still not seen the owl and I gave up.

Your readers will be interested to know that the red morph Eastern Screech-Owl was seen in its “old” tree cavity. At 5:38PM the small group of birders there heard the red morph make one tremolo call. It was especially enjoyable to hear this particular call because two of the birders, Ann Shanahan and Ken Hicks, had never heard the Eastern Screech-Owl before. Being with people who have a birding experience like that for the first time always increases my enjoyment of it as well. We all would have liked to hear the owl call again (a prior report says birders heard it call nine times) but a single call was all the owl had to say.

Yet the red morph did provide us with a bonus. When it flew out it stopped on a branch below but directly in front of its cavity. There is perched in the lamplight and preened, giving us a fantastic view. It stopped grooming when its head began to swivel to the north, then to the south and back again. We lost track of it after it dove down close to the ground heading southwest. There was no point following it. We lost track of it at once.