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?
I watched an Eastern Screech-Owls fly out on Christmas Eve.
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.
On Saturday, I started birding at the Long-eared Owls. Both were visible.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Lola was on the Beresford when I looked for her early on Sunday afternoon.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.