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Where's LEO?

On Christmas Eve day, we had three Long-eared Owls in their favorite tree.  But on Christmas day, I  could only see two.  Where's LEO number 3?

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The three Long-eared Owls.

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No.1

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No. 2

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No. 3

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The most visible of the two on Christmas day.

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Eastern Screech-Owls on Christmas Eve

I watched an Eastern Screech-Owls fly out on Christmas Eve.

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This one stayed asleep for the longest time.

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Then after being awake for a few minutes.

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Like magic, there was a switch.

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Hello owl number two.

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It's amazing how owls change shape.  Look at this photo and the one above it.  See how the feathers puff out to create what looks like a chin.

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Always a look right and a look left before fly out.

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Fly out.

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Then very quickly the other owl appears.

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And a fast fly out.

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Everyone is gone.

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I couldn't photograph it, but we had two copulations tonight.

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The owls scoped out their old cavity from last year.  This one watched as the other one went in.

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They stayed around but it was cold, so we left before they did.  A rare event.


Hawk and Owl

Today, I saw a hawk and an owl.

I started out doing a sweep around the pair of Eastern Screech-Owls, where we've lost track of one of the owl's daytime roosts.  I started out at a tree I thought was a likely candidate, and heard two crying squirrels.  I looked around and saw a first-year juvenile Red-tailed Hawk finishing up a meal.  The prey had already been well eaten at this point, so I couldn't figure out what was for dinner.

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I went down to the regular cavity and there was no sign of an Eastern Screech-Owl until quite late.  There was this first glimpse at 4:42.

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A real look didn't occur until almost 5:00 p.m.   I don't know if it was the extra light from the reflection off the icy snow or the cool temperatures that delayed the fly out.

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We had the usual look left, look right exploration of the suroundings.  The fly out was at 5:19 p.m.  I missed the actual fly out and could not find the bird after it had left the cavity.


Owls and Hawks

On Saturday, I started birding at the Long-eared Owls.  Both were visible.

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The most visible owl.

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The second owl, which is usually impossible to photograph finally had some light.

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More of the shy owl.

I then when north, trying to do a practice run for the Central Park Bird Count.  On my way north I found an adult Red-tailed Hawk that was having fun scaring the hundreds of Grackles north of the Reservoir.

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As I kept track of the Red-tail, I ran into a Screech-Owl.  Needless to say, I was side-tracked by the owl for the rest of the afternoon.

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Is there one or two?

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An unhappy Chickadee.

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Keeping track of a Red-tailed Hawk.

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Just before fly out.

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An empty roost?

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Not exactly.  There were two owls in the cavity.

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One of the owls after fly out.  I couldn't figure out if it was the first or second to fly out.

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Juvenile Cooper's Hawk

A belated post of photographs from Sunday of a Juvenile Cooper's Hawk.  In the field, we thought this was a Sharp-shinned Hawk.  But looking closely at the breast pattern and plain white belly, made me revise the I.D.  Accipiters are really tough to tell apart.

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Eastern Screech-Owls on Sunday

I felt I had neglected the Eastern Screech-Owl pair, while looking for the other Screech and the Long-eareds, so I went back to see them on Sunday evening.

When I arrived one of the owls was already visible.  We would quickly find out that the owl was sleeping alone. After fly out, the second owl came to join its mate, and they quickly copulated.  They then stayed close by.  They moved from tree limb to tree limb, but they seemed in no rush to fly off.

After about ten minutes, they slowly flew from tree to tree making their way to the top of a hill and then went across an exit road from the park.  We lost one of them, but were able to keep track of the other as it moved into a children's playground.  We were able to keep track of the owls for forty minutes after fly out.

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What may be the crimped end of an identification band.  This type of band was used for the birds that were first re-introduced into the park and were most likely used for the three fledglings that were just returned this spring.

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Our first view of one of these owls on the ground.  The owl was in a playground, which was locked up for the night.

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An owl on a jungle gym.  The bolts and beams give you a sense of how small these owls are.

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My Fourth Eastern Screech-Owl Of The Season

I had already seen three Eastern Screech-Owls this fall.  One few over my head a few weeks ago in the northern part of the park, and I recently discovered two more which have been the subject of recent posts.

Today, I saw my fourth, which may be a bird I heard over a month ago.

I was following up on reports of a Saw-whet Owl.  When I asked around I was told to go to a popular birding spot.  When I got there, I heard the reports about Friday.  Some had thought it was a Saw-whet, some knew it to be a Screech-Owl, and one couple insisted it was a Long-eared Owl since it had ear tufts.

The bird has been in a London Plain Tree on a low branch.  While I was asking people what they had seen, I noticed a small cavity in a nearby London Plain Tree.  Tufted Titmice would hover eighteen inches outside the hole, move to a nearby tree and cry out an alarm call.  Other birds would appear, and also call out an alarm.  They would inspect the other cavities in the tree, even landing on them, but all birds avoided this one hole.

This happened four times, so I had to stay and watch the cavity at dusk.  Here's what I saw between 4:30 and 5:00 p.m.

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Nashville Warbler in December

While watching the LEOs (Long-eared Owls), a father and daughter came by to watch them.  We got to talking and they went over the birds they had seen. One of the was a Nashville Warbler. 

Now any warbler in December would be unusual, so I had to check it out.  It was located just west of the North Gate House on the Reservoir.  It was between the fence and the water.

Update: I got a nice note from Tom Fiore, explaining that there is a history of late Nashville Warblers in Central Park, and they've even been on few Christmas Bird Count lists.

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Long-eared Owl becomes Long-eared Owls

The number of Long-eared Owls in the park doubled, when a second owl was discovered at Friday's fly out by Ben Cacace and Jean Dean.  Both were visible, although one was a lump in the shadows and impossible to photograph.

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The two owls.

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Long-eared Owl

Congratulations and thanks to Lincoln Karim for finding a Long-eared Owl in Central Park today.  It was the first sighting of a Long-eared Owl in the park this year.

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More Eastern Screech-Owl Photographs...

Our two owls seem to be sleeping in separate beds each evening.  We have one sleeping consistently in one cavity, who is then greeted by a second owl, who appears out of nowhere, just after fly out. 

On Tuesday, Marianne Girds saw the two owls copulate, so we definitely have a couple.

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Sunday Around The Great Lawn

Lola was on the Beresford when I looked for her early on Sunday afternoon.

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She was looking down at something, so I went to look for it.  I was hoping for a Long-Eared Owl, but found this...

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...young hawk.

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I then saw Pale Male at the bottom of the Great Lawn.  He switched trees a few times.

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Here he's taking off to fly to another tree.

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A scratch,

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We had a number of "intruders", including a Cooper's Hawk, American Kestrel and this Turkey Vulture.

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Pale Male on one of the baseball backstops.

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Pale Male on the MET.

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Pale Male flew south and then a hawk flew north.  I was sure it was Pale Male, but finding the bird around 86th Street, it was a juvenile. 

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Pale Male was found to be on his favorite MET security camera.  He soon flew off, towards Turtle Pond.

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While watching for owls, the first year hawk came by.

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It ended up in a tree for the night in what I call the DMZ.  The zone between the Central Park South hawks and Pale Male and Lola.

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Enjoy the winter in Central Park, but remember you're going to be kicked out come spring by the old folks!


Screech Owls On A Snowy Sunday

I came into the park during a break in the snow storm to look for the screech owls. 

There was no sign of them, so I went off hawk watching.  It was a good day for watching Pale Male and Lola, as there were other birds in their territory including a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk, an American Kestrel, a Turkey Vulture and a Cooper's Hawk.

I went back in the late afternoon to look for any sign of the owls and got to see one fly out and then got to watch them for about an hour after the fly out.  The combination of the snow and low cloud cover created a glowing background to see the owls in the dark.

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The first sign of an owl wasn't until 4:50 p.m.

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It really took its time getting up.

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There was only one owl in this tree cavity tonight.  This shot of the owl reminded me of the owl Jean and I saw on April 30th.  It has the same fine streaking on its head.

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It took its time flying out.   But finally it flew.

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I lost it at first by found an owl after five minutes.  Soon there were two and I lost track of who was who.

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I missed getting a photograph of the two owls together, as its nearly impossible to focus quickly in the dark.  But both came together for a brief moment.  One owl also lead me to another cavity location, which it went in and out of about three times.   Eastern Screech-Owl males are known to provide a selection of cavities, sometimes with food caches for their mates.  I might have been witnessing this behavior, but can't be certain.

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This pair's roosts, as well as the Pool and West Drive owls are all in very public locations.  I wonder if being in an area with lots of dog walkers helps protect them from raccoons.  Is a more public roost in Central Park safer for a nocturnal bird, then a wooded space in the Ramble or the Loch?


Eastern Screech-Owls Rediscovered

After being away for Thanksgiving, I was finally able to get back into Central Park on Saturday.  I was able to relocate the Eastern Screech-Owl I had seen two weeks ago.  It was in a nearby tree.

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Owls have very expressive faces.  Over the course of an hour, I got to see many expressions as people, dogs, blue-jays and a juvenile Red-tail hawk were in the neighborhood.

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Later in the day, we discovered that there were two owls. 

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I can't tell them apart just yet.  It will take a few more visits.

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This one flew out at 4:50.

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The second flew out a good 13 minutes later at 5:03.  I was able to find one of them at around 5:10 in a tree at the top of a hill.