For the second straight day our Great Gray Owl field trips here at the Mountain Bird Festival in Ashland have been attended not just by eager birders (including two from Yorkshire in Merrie Olde) but also by the owls themselves. This morning we drove first to Two Pine Meadow where a GGO has been performing the previous two mornings, Beautiful singing Western Tanager…then we move south toward Hoxie Meadow…there we got MacGillvray’s, Yellow-rumped and Hermit Warbler…nest-building Robin…no owl. Back to Two Pine…all quiet. So we then headed back north along Keno Access Road toward the forest re-growth area just over a mile southeast of Dead Indian Memorial. Might as well look for Green-tailed Towhee, right? As we reach the pull-off spot we notice the trailing cars are missing. No answer on the handy-talky. Back we go hoping they haven’t stopped for another Flicker.
Clever birders. One sharp-eyed lady had spotted this over-sized pine cone in a dead snag. The cars stopped stopped…both adult Great Gray Owls in the local pair were perched in clear view east of the road among the twenty-foot ponderosas. The female soon flew into the forest but the male (probably) with the same brownish plumage of the owl seen previous days remained, and continue hunting from a series of perches. A full serving of Great Gray Owl was devoured by all birders including two birding friends newly arrived on the scene from Rocky Point: Two adults hunting together this time of year means…possibly their nest has already failed…possibly the cool spring has caused them to postpone egg-laying so far…perhaps nesting its yet to come? Normally the female would not leave an active nest sight until the nestlings become fledglings.
After the hunting male also departed into the deep forest we went back to the stump forest and found our Green-tailed songster and even heard hi soft, lilting melody, a serenade to a cold spring morning. Other birds we found included Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, here at the northern extent of its western range…Orange-crowned Warbler, battling Black-headed Grosbeaks, Caspian Tern on Howard Prairie Reservoir, Yellow Warbler, Violet-green Swallows, Spotted Sandpiper. And a pair of cranes, one resting in the tall grass of Howard Prairie:
Bumper sticker should read: bumble loves vetch:
Afternoon storms come to the southern Oregon mountains.