Posted by: atowhee | January 5, 2010

Is that a Pygmy-Owl or is that Alan?

For much of the January 4th Christmas Count scouting day in the Ashland area Edith Lindner and I birded within easy earshot of a Pygmy-Owl.  But this was no pedestrian Pygmy-Owl, this one passes as attorney Alan Contreras on most work days.  Somehow the freezing mornings and leafless woods of Christmas Counts bring out the little owl in an otherwise seemingly sane human.

And thanks to Alan’s owly sounds we got several good species of birds thagt we would otherwise have missed.  Our first proof that Owlan Contreras was going to produce some good sightings with his tootling:

This Pygmy-Owl was at Willow-Witt Ranch, 4600′ elevation on the eastern slope of Grizzly Peak in thre Cascades.  The tootling brough not only this small owl bu several Red-breasted and a pair of White-breasted Nuthatchs on high and vocal alert. From this Ponderosa he flew to an even more exposed perch:

And he demonstrated an owl’s ability to nearly swivel the head 360 degrees:

Without Alan’s calls we would never have seen this guys:

That flashy fellow is a male Evening Grosbeak near the lower end of Conde Creek Road.  Two vague figure is lower right: Cassin’s Finches.  We saw dozens and they,

along with Siskins, came into to admire Alan’s owl act.

And the Red Crossbills we saw at Lily Glen also responded to Alan.  As did countless small birds wherev er we stopped: Oak Titmouse at 4000′ elevation, both local nuthatches, Chestnut-backed and later Mountain Chickadee.  Sparrows, Juncos, even the California and Spotted Towhees.

Not needing all calls to appear:

Northern Shrike at Howard Prairie, youngster with no mask.

Say’s Phoebe at the Ashland Airport, the only one on our count.

Altogether our trio of birders got over fifty species and some killer mountain views:.  Can you say “serene volcano” without being ironic? And here’s Mountain Ashland from the Cascades:

Thanks to Alan and Edith for a great day and a couple dozen other birders for a good start to what should become an annual event with ever-improving knowledge or our neighborhood’s wintering birds.


Altogether our two dozen birders counted over 105 species.  For the 2010 official count the circle has been centered at the cement spillway on Emigrant Lake and now includes more of Mt. Ashland and more territory west on I-5 in the Siskiyou foothills.


  1. […] Here’s my blog after last year’s effort to check out our territory for reviving the coun… […]

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