Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Search for Great Horned Owls

Tuesday December 6th
Cape Coral, Florida

Photographer and blogger, Bob Pelkey, had been keeping me informed this past week on the birds he's encountered on his birding vacation. I was unable to join with him till today and the quest was a Great Horned Owl that has been sitting in a nest near the Florida Scrub Jay location in northern Cape Coral. He and his British friends, the Bakers, had seen the owl twice and were familiar were it would be at sundown.

So the plan was to stake-out the site before sunset to try for some photo shots. I arrived at about 2 pm.  Bob was already there, following a morning visitation to Ding Darling on Sanibel. We got some good pics of three of the resident scrub jays who were very tolerant of our presence. I was informed that these birds would take a peanut right from someones hand.

We then got some pics of a resident Burrowing Owl.  Bob reported that just yesterday he witnessed an attack on what was probably this bird's mate, by a coopers hawk.  Apparently the hawk grabbed the owl as it was in-flight between nest holes.  After it had dispatched the owl, it carried it away for its meal. Very sad.  The bird we were watching today spent a lot of time scanning the sky.  It did disappear when a Red-tailed Hawk soared over head.

As for the the Great Horned Owl, the top of its head could be seen from the right angle as it rested in the nest.  As the sun set a second owl, which we had heard earlier, sat silhouetted by the pinkish hue of the setting sun atop a pine tree at a distance from us. Then, after waiting patiently for the first owl to descend to its usual perch, it flew low away from us to another tree, were it was momentarily mobbed an American Kestrel. Our photo-op was missed. Guess we were too obvious. But it was a good day.  Other sightings included Savannah Sparrow, Palm Warbler, Eastern Meadowlark, a flock of four noisy Monk Parakeets, Loggerhead Shrikes, Mockingbirds and Tree Swallows

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