Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Saw-whet & Great Horned

At my home in Vermont, I have had several oblique contacts with the Northern Saw-whet Owl. A neighbor who rehabs raptors had one in his barn that he was nursing back to health. Another neighbor found a dead saw-whet owl in his wood shed. Yet another sent me a photo of one on his front porch. And one more tells me about hearing them in the woods around his home. But until yesterday I have never seen or heard one.

Yesterday, I ticked my first Northern Saw-whet Owl - not in wilds of the Green Mountain State, but within the city limits of Philadelphia, at John Heinz NWR at Tinicum. The little fellow was tucked into a tangle of bittersweet vines about 20 feet from the bike and jogging trail ...

Northern Saw-whet Owl at Heinz NWR, Philadelphia
Northern Saw-whet Owl
It seems like a disconnect to see a "wilderness" bird within the city limits of a major city, but the Northern Saw-whet Owl was not the only such disconnect. Before seeing the saw-whet, a large brown mass in the top of a tall tree drew the focus of my binoculars - a Great-horned Owl. I have had good views of this fierce predator on several occasions in Arizona and Texas. But, around my home in Vermont on only a very few occasions have I heard the haunting hooting sometimes rendered as "who's awake ... you too." From his tree top perch, he followed my steps on the path below ...

Great Horned Owl - Heinze NWR, Philadelphia
Great Horned Owl

Though most of the impoundment and ponds of the refuge were in the frozen grip of winter, the Great Horned Owl was, or soon will be, on the nest. The resident Bald Eagle pair has been remodeling its tree top aerie and will also be on the nest soon. Nearby, planes took off and landed at the Philadelphia airport.
Frozen impoundment at Heinz NWR
Good birding!


Laurence Butler said...

Good eyes Chris! nice work picking out and photographing that deadly little fluff ball.

Denise said...

Love this post of your siting of owls.If you go back I think a couple of post of mine,maybe two,you will see My post on My siting of My white owl :)

Unknown said...

How wonderful to see an owl. I've been searching the trees around my property with binoculars hoping to catch a glimpse of one. I'm in upstate New York for over two years now--I'm still searching. Any Pointers?

eileeninmd said...

Great owl sightings! I would love to see the Saw-Whet owl.

Anonymous said...

Awesome owl sighting. They are incredible creatures. I've heard a few but never actually seen one.


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