Friday, March 18, 2011

Owling In Boulder County

March 16 into 17, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I decided to go owling in Boulder County this night. Our favorite target bird would be a Flammulated Owl (trying for an early date). The biggest handicap in getting an early date is access. We suspect that Flammulated Owls are back in Colorado; however, they are in woods where access roads are covered by feet of snow.

Before tackling Skunk Canyon up the Mesa South Trail, we stopped at several locations in the eastern county. Long-eared Owls were found at two locations (we promised not to divulge possible nesting spots).

A hike along part of the Boulder Creek trail did not find any Eastern Screech-Owls tonight. Winds were calm and the hike was quite enjoyable. In past years, Eastern Screech-Owls have been found along here. Not so much in the past two years, older taller cottonwoods have not fared well in old age, high winds and drought.

A problem with owling the Mesa South Trail is access. Finding a legal parking space after sunset can be difficult. We chose to enter the Open Space from Marshall and hike the trail along Boulder Creek. There was a plan as we did find an Eastern Screech-Owl before reaching the Mesa South parking area. The hike from Marshall (Hwy 93) to Mesa South is about 2.0 miles. (relatively flat).

We then continued another 2.0 miles up Shadow Canyon. This part of the trek is not flat. Most of it is not strenuous however does involve an elevation gain from 5600 feet to 6550 feet. Snow covered trails at times were a bigger problem.

We stopped every 0.1 miles, listened for owls, and then played recordings (Northern Pygmy-Owl, Northern Saw-whet Owl and Flammulated Owl).

The only response was from Northern Pygmy-Owls at two locations.

Perhaps Flammulated Owls are not back in Colorado yet?

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