Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Western Screech Owl

Last night Alan and I ventured into Cave Creek Canyon above Portal, as wind swayed the sycamore branches, and a thickening crescent moon shone over the scene. We joined friends Dave Jasper and Rick Plage to see the location of a likely owl nest that Dodie Logue and Bob Hautman had found a couple of days ago.

Night deepened. We listened, hearing mostly the rustling of the leaves. When darkness was complete, a Western Screech Owl began to call, but it wasn't the usual territorial whistling or trilling. Dave thought it was perhaps a male's pillow talk. I wondered whether it was the female announcing to the male that she was ready for her evening meal. "Her" intensity while vocalizing in the cavity entrance made it clear that she was including the magic word: "Now!"

A Western Screech Owl calls in Cave Creek Canyon
(Photo by Narca)

Cave Creek Canyon is renowned for its small owls, which also include Whiskered Screech, Northern Pygmy, and Elf. Occasionally a Flammulated will also breed at lower elevations in the Chiricahua Mountains, though usually they are higher in the mountains.

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