Posted by: atowhee | May 29, 2020

FACE-TO-FACE WITH A KILLER’S EYES

The owl who comes
through the dark
to sit
in the black boughs of the apple tree
and stare down the hook of his beak,
dead silent,
and his eyes, like two moons
in the distance, soft and shining
under their heavy lashes-
like the most beautiful life-
is thinking of nothing
as he watches and waits to see…

What we must do, I suppose
is to hope the world
keeps its balance:
what we are to do, however,
with our hearts
waiting and watching-truly
I do not know.                       —Mary Oliver

I rejoice that there are owls. Let them do the idiotic and maniacal hooting for men. It is a sound admirably suited to swamps and twilight woods which no day illustrates, suggesting a vast and undeveloped nature which men have not recognized. They represent the stark twilight and unsatisfied thoughts which all have.         –Henry David Thoreau

Owl’s well that ends well.                                              –William Shakesparrow

The dog and I walked into the Cozine Forest this afternoon.  About twenty yards in from the busy road two large birds flew away from us, from treetops going further into the woods.  There was barely a wing flap. there was no noise.  “Owls!”  my brain shouted silently as an owl’s glide.  Sure enough.  The dog and I stood silently for about twenty seconds and one of the forest hunters returned to an open perch to give us the eye.  I suspect a large black dog aroused the co-predator’s  jealousy, or curiosity.  The stare began.  I took as many pictures as needed for the blog.

I assumed the two Great Horned Owls we’d flushed were siblings.  Curious youngsters, full-sized but still quite naive, in owlish terms.  They could be about five months old.TALONS (2)

Admire those talons, in an adult they can be two inches long, as well as needle sharp.  When they stare at you, there can be no doubt this is a fellow predator.  Keen-eyed, calculating.  No hedge fund manager could be more dangerous to any possible victim.  A friend in rural California had found a half-eaten Red-shouldered Hawk carcass.  “Eaten from the the head down?”  I asked.  “Yes.”  “Great Horned Owl.”

Outside of breeding and rearing season GHOs eat what they need, and leave the rest.  I cannot think of another predator hardy enough to take a Red-shouldered Hawk that would not carry off the remainder or cache it or hide it.  I have seen half-eaten coots and other prey and nodded knowingly.  Somewhere in the nearby trees rests a well-fed GHO.

Steller’s Jay being stealthy, pewee never hides.

Yesterday I had my first orioles of the season, at Wennerberg.

Cozine Creek forest, Yamhill, Oregon, US
May 29, 2020 4:15 PM.  14 species

Eurasian Collared-Dove  X
Mourning Dove  1
Turkey Vulture  2
Great Horned Owl  2
Western Wood-Pewee  1
Pacific-slope Flycatcher  1
Steller’s Jay  4
California Scrub-Jay  1
Bewick’s Wren  1     SINGING
European Starling  5
American Robin  10
Purple Finch  X     SINGING
Spotted Towhee  1
Black-headed Grosbeak  2     SINGING

Wennerberg Park, Carlton, OR, Yamhill, Oregon, US
May 28, 2020 1:40 PM
Protocol: Incidental
17 species

Eurasian Collared-Dove  X
Turkey Vulture  4
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Red-breasted Sapsucker  1
Acorn Woodpecker  X
Northern Flicker  X
Pacific-slope Flycatcher  1
Common Raven  1
American Robin  15
House Sparrow  X
Purple Finch  2
Lesser Goldfinch  X
Chipping Sparrow  X
Song Sparrow  1
Bullock’s Oriole  2–my first of the year
Yellow Warbler  X
Black-headed Grosbeak  3–violent conflict

 


Responses

  1. Thanks so much again, Harry. Your info on our hawk/owl mystery was invaluable. We wondered by both hawk and owl were dead, 10 feet from each other. Maybe your subscribers would like to read your reply to me in explanation. We were fascinated by the info you gave us.
    This blog post was fun. Love the quotes.
    Another thing I wondered about GHO was a loud barking squawking call I heard about 5 am when I fed the dogs. It was a big bird sound so I thought it might be another call by a GHO. Just listened to GHO calls on Audobon app and the sound was very much like either an immature or an alarm cry of mature. What would alarm a GHO at that time in morning? Do they have any natural predators?

    • In daylight some other large birds might pester a GHO. In daylight I have seen them chased by faster birds from jays up to buteos. It would take a bear, martin or wolverine to really be much of a danger. Those two-inch talons are pretty serious. The loud call could have been warning to somebody getting too close or maybe to warn off another GHO. All this year’s young should be well out of the nest and getting to be self-[sufficient by now.


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