Feb. 23 – Saved by the Boreal Owl

I went to Kincaid Park again today and walked the trail down to the coastal viewpoints as I did yesterday. Today I stayed longer hoping that the Northern Harrier reported there previously would work its way past, but eventually I decided to look for birds elsewhere. Since I did have three species there today (Common Raven, Downy Woodpecker and Black-capped Chickadee), I tripled yesterday’s count.


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At Spenard Crossing (which can also be slow) things were a bit more lively today. As I walked into the park area just after noon, I at once heard a huge outcry by Steller’s Jays and Black-billed Magpies far down the trail. I ran the icy path toward the sounds and there met another woman running toward me from the other side of the sounds. Together we climbed over branches and uneven crunchy snow terrain toward a leaning-over dead spruce that was propped against a trunk where all the noisy action seemed to be centered. The jays and magpies were going crazy with agitation but all we could see was a dense tangle of dead spruce branches around a very dark area.


We circled the tree and with concentrated peering we could finally see a well-hidden Boreal Owl (first seen by my new friend, a visitor from Oregon).  If you look below the jay in the picture above, you can see the little lump that we eventually recognized as the cause of all the fuss.The jays kept up the noise, and were joined by a few scolding Black-capped Chickadees and a Red-breasted Nuthatch. Eventually the other birds wandered off, leaving the silent Boreal Owl. Its only movement had been a periodic turning of its head when the other birds were so “in its face”. This was probably the same owl that I saw earlier this month and has been seen at various places in the woods at Spenard Crossing.




Definitely a good way to end the birding on an otherwise slow February day!

Still at 110 species

One thought on “Feb. 23 – Saved by the Boreal Owl

  1. brighamstephen February 25, 2016 / 4:25 pm

    Great story. I marvel at the patience of the owl, just waiting out the screaming birds. You’d think the smaller birds would stay clear of the raptor.


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