We just completed our three days in the Malheur Basin, a birding trip sponsored by Klamath Bird Observatory. Our most-wanted list was topped by Long-eared Owl. With advice from local birder Tim Blount and Duncan Evered of the Malheur Filed Station, we scored. It only took 48 birder-hours to locate this one Long-eared Owl huddled down in the willows along Central Patrol Road at Malheur NWR. That’s about half-way between Krumbo Road and Benson Pond (this season a dry salt flat).
We looked one sunny, hot afternoon: nada. On our final day we were back.
Here is our owl pal, found by Donna Gould in the #4 car in our creeping four-car caravan at a location we had been by on an earlier day and missed that afternoon by the previous three vehicles. The viewing slot through the willow thicket that disclosed the owl was about 14 inches at most. This bird was a lifer for most of our group. Veteran birder Bill Oliver was part of our gang and had seen his first LEO back in 1946. Now north of 75 years old, Bill has a list of LEO encounters, four to be exact. This was my second LEO sighting, the first on the Pacific Coast where I have done most of my birding. For most birders this is a toughie–elusive, unpredictable, shy and nocturnal. His beauty was appreciated by all viewers. He stared us down, we shot our pictures and moved on. An hour later he was still on his limb back in the willow thicket.