Weekly Bird Report
5:04 pm
Wed December 25, 2013

More than Snowy Owls: Searching out Nocturnal Raptors offers Birding Rewards

More than just Snowy Owls, the Weekly Bird Report, by Vern Laux
Young Great Horned Owl on a Pine Tree
Credit Hunter Desportes / flickr

As special as the Snowy Owl incursion is this winter, Snowys are not the only owls around. With the start of the Christmas Bird Count Season 11 days ago, the attention of birders shifts to finding all the nocturnal raptors possible. The Cape is fortunate to have good numbers of several owl species. A small owl called Screech Owl is fairly common and widespread on the Cape. Using woodpecker holes and natural cavities as well as man-made boxes, these attractive birds come in two morphs, or color phases: red or gray. Their distinctive calls, almost sounding almost like a horse whinnying, are a familiar sound at dusk and again before dawn in most areas.

The other widespread and fairly common owl on the Cape is the Great Horned Owl. These owls are the first birds to begin nesting and pairs stay together year-round. On calm nights at dawn and dusk their dueting can be heard in all Cape towns. Their deep booming calls carry for a great distance in the calm night air. As in all owls the females are larger than the males and her booming is more powerful.

A very Merry Christmas to all!

This is an excerpt of this week's Bird Report. Audio of the full essay is posted above - give it a listen.