Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Red-phase and Gray-phase Screech Owl couple in the Ramble --12/6/05
Photo by Bruce Yolton

At some point in November, 2005, a red-phase screech owl was discovered in a Ramble cavity -- one of the Project X owls finally accessible to birders for regular observation. [I tell about Project X and the story of the Central Park screech owls in Central Park in the Dark]

People began gathering at the cavity day after day. By December, another owl roost had been located, this one used by a gray-phase owl. By the beginning of December, 2005 the two had become a couple --- very exciting.\

That 2005 owl couple is seen in the photo above. You'll have to read the book to find out what happened next. Hint: Just at that time a Great Horned Owl came into the park for a prolonged visit. But the story ended in total tragedy when a dead owl was found in the park by a passer-by on March 27, 2006. It was a red-phase screech, obviously Little Red.

We haven't had a red screech owl in Central Park since then. The owl couple successfully breedingsince 2005 in the northern part of the park is gray, and their offspring in all previous years have also been gray.

Here's the NEWS:
Last week a local rehabilitator [with the Park's approval, I assume] released a screech owl he had been nursing to health into a Central Park woodland.
WE HAVE ANOTHER RED SCREECH OWL in the park! So keep your eye out for this beautiful creature.

PS I'm off to Pennsylvania tomorrow morning, staying until Sunday, 10/26.
I'll be back in this space on Monday, 10/27.