Monday, May 9, 2011

Testing An Owl Theory

May 2-4, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Monday into Tuesday night (5/2 into 5/3)
After visiting Cherry Creek Reservoir, I picked up Bryan Ehlmann and we headed to Larimer County.

Bryan Ehlmann and I wanted to test a rumor that we heard that Northern Pygmy-Owls do not call after dark. We also wanted to see if any Flammulated Owls had returned to Colorado. Again, a rumor out there said that they might be back, but would not call.

Summary: We enticed both Flammulated Owls and Northern Pygmy-Owls to respond to our recordings!

We knew that Pennock Pass was closed (gated near the ranger's station). However, we drove up, parked at the gate, and continued on foot for an owl search and camping trip.

At a nesting spot I have known about for several years now, we lured two Flammulated Owls into responding to our recordings. We played them for less than 15 seconds before two owls called. As a known nesting site, we did not use a spotlight to look at them but were satisfied with registering their presence!

On the way to a camping area, we heard a third Flammulated Owl calling spontaneously. He was a good 0.6 miles from the others.

It was a cold night (temperatures into the 20s); however, there was little wind. The sliver of the moon provided almost no light.

Tuesday into Wednesday night (5/3 into 5/4)

After a few hours of sleep, Bryan and I headed to Estes Park and the Rocky Mountain National Park (Larimer County).

In the last three hours of daylight, we hiked up the Cow Creek Trail. First, we detoured north from the trail at the west side of the research cabins. First, we ran into an American Three-toed Woodpecker. Several hundred yards up the trail, we ran into a Williamson's Sapsucker!

We then continued west to the intersection of the six trails (about 1 mile west of the parking area). Then we continued down to Cow Creek and continued south searching for Flammulated Owls and Northern Pygmy-Owls.

We found neither and started back to the parking area. Along the way, we did hear a Northern Pygmy-Owl called spontaneously. He was in a potential nesting area so we will be vague on the exact location.

We drove to the YMCA of the Rockies where we enticed another Northern Pygmy-Owl to answer our recordings. This was in a private yard where Northern Pygmy-Owls nested two years ago (again being vague to protect the nesting owls).

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