#325: Long-eared Owl

Friday, Rob Jett found a Long-eared Owl in Prospect Park. I went looking for it yesterday afternoon without success, but this morning with the help of Steve Nanz I found it in the same tree where the Great Horned Owl roosted over Thanksgiving 2004. I’m going to have to keep an eye on that tree. There must be something about it when seen from the air that’s appealing to owls.

Long-eared Owl in pine tree

I started about 7:30 A.M. at the North end of the park in the Vale of Cashmere. This location’s always hit or miss, but today someone had spread out some bird seed on the columns which was drawing in a lot of birds including Red-bellied Woodpecker, Blue Jay, Black-capped Chickadee, White-throated Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Northern Cardinal, Red-breasted Nuthatch, and a lone late Ruby-crowned Kinglet.

Red-breasted Nuthatch in Vale of Cashmere

From there I walked through the Midwood over to Center Drive, where I fortuitously ran into Steve Nanz who kindly showed me where the owl was roosting. (Some birders find owls by listening for the jays and crows that harass them. Others look for whitewash on tree trunks. Still others play owl calls and wait for them to hoot back. Personally I’ve never found anything quite as effective for finding owls as wandering through the forest looking for a group of birders staring up into a tree with binoculars.) Shortly afterwards I bumped into Starr Saphir. She’d missed this species on her New York Big Year last year (though she still got more birds than anyone else I know) and she’d been looking for this one without success, so she was quite happy when I showed her where to find the owl.

Then I made the usual circuit of the lake. The regular species were out: Mallard, Northern Shoveler, American Coot, Ruddy Duck, American Black Duck, Mute Swan, Herring Gull, Ring-billed Gull, and Great Black-backed Gull. The Snow Goose is still hanging out though today it had moved to the eastern edge of the lake.

Snow Goose in Prospect Park

While I was scanning the gulls, I spotted a large black bird coming in low and fast over the lake. It spashed down and confirmed my suspicion: the first Double-crested Cormorant of the year. It was still swimming in the lake when I walked back along the Lullwater. Possibly I heard a Belted Kingfisher calling, but I’m not sure. It only called once, and I was unable to relocate it. However while searching the Lullwater for the kingfisher, I did spot a perched Cooper’s Hawk.

Snow Goose in Prospect Park

That’s almost it for the day. However, as I walked back home through the Botanical Gardens, I scanned some sparrows near the North Pond looking for the Eastern Towhee that’s been hanging out there lately. She’s still there, I’m happy to report:

Eastern Towhee in Brooklyn Botanical Gardens

34 total species, plus a possible kingfisher. Not bad for a January morning.

2 Responses to “#325: Long-eared Owl”

  1. Mokka mit Schlag » Save the Eurasian Wigeon! Says:

    […] On a personal note, I’m still waiting for yesterday’s six Boat-tailed Grackles to be approved. (I have pictures. The birds were there. I promise you.) I’m one of four New York State reports to find Hermit Thrush (and the only one to find it in Brooklyn.) I found two of the eight Yellow-rumped Warblers reported in the state. I’m one of six people to report Pied-billed Grebe and Long-eared Owl (and I’m sure five of the six Long-eared Owls were the same bird that’s been hanging out in Prospect Park for the last two months.) I was one of seven people to report Double-crested Cormorant. Not a bad weekend. […]

  2. Mokka mit Schlag » Looking for Owls Says:

    […] I certainly could have used that help this morning. Beth and I met up with Don Burggraf, a birder from Maryland, about 7:30 A.M. He’d come to New York specifically to find the Long-eared Owl that’s been hanging out in Prospect Park for almost two months. I had checked it out on Wednesday, and it was still sleeping in its usual tree. However, Murphy’s law prevailed; and today for the first time since Rob Jett first found the owl back in January, I couldn’t find it. […]

Leave a Reply