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View Full Version : Whooooo, whooooooo, SPLAT! Owl experts help!



IntegritySporthorses
Apr. 9, 2011, 07:08 AM
Now that I have your attention.....

Wed evening, DH and I went to see a movie. About 2 miles from our house, on a lightly traveled blacktop road we encountered an owl. A HUGE owl. I'm not sure what species we have here in N TX but this was maybe a great horned or something of similar size.

Anyway, he was standing in the road, minding his own business, we swerved, screamed and missed him. He flew, although at the verylastminute. Everyone was fine. We assumed he had been eating something.

Fast forward about an hour and a half. Movie theater was not open (:confused:) so we went to the redbox and came home. There he was again.... Same place, again, we swerved, he hopped out of the way and then flew.

We assumed since he flew both times he wasn't injured and just chalked it up to a strange coincidence.

This morning, when we left for work at 3:45 am, there he was AGAIN!!!

What is he doing?????? None of the times have we actually seen him eating or seen something dead in the road that he could be munching on...

The real question is.... Is there anything I can do, short of putting up an "owl crossing" sign, that will keep him from getting run over? His coloring blends in suprisingly well with the asphalt. He doesn't seem to move out of the road very quickly....

Ideas? Thoughts?
TIA!

bird4416
Apr. 9, 2011, 08:29 AM
Its an owl playing chicken. :lol:

Guin
Apr. 9, 2011, 10:43 AM
I have heard of "burrowing owls" that make their nests in the ground. Could it be a female that has its nest near the road? Maybe during daylight you could go and look around nearby.

hoopoe
Apr. 9, 2011, 10:50 AM
A burrowing owl would be distinctive in size and color, pale, medium sized, certainly not huge.

It is an unusual behavior and I would wonder if this is a rural road.

Small possibility that this is a bird hearing or sensing something under the road ( a conduit/ creek run off, electric sounds?) and is hunting on it.

This bird might be in trouble with eye problems.

It may be worth a report to your fish and wildlife department in your county.

Other thought is that there is a nest near by and this spot has a visual or defense advantage.

You could go back and post a "caution, silly Owl in road" sign

Thanks so much for caring, Owls do good work but have a hard living.

IntegritySporthorses
Apr. 9, 2011, 12:33 PM
It is a very rural road with little traffic. He could probably easily sit there for an hour or more and not encounter a vehicle.

Yeah, he/she is definately a large owl... I actually thought it was a bobcat sitting in the road the first time I saw it. :eek:

But, bobcats don't fly.... :lol:

I might just post a sign. ;) I love birds of prey and would hate to see him struck by a car.

Sipsi
Apr. 9, 2011, 04:43 PM
Background on me: I am a wildlife rehabber - specializing in hawks, owls and eagles....

I'm not doubting that it was a "huge" owl, but I have a very different definition of what "huge" actually is! I get people all the time showing me the wingspan of birdzilla and it turns out to be a barn owl (small in a rehabber's book). A GHOW (great horned owl) is the largest species that we have in TX. Yellow coloured eyes, tufts of feathers etc. And in point of fact, we call them "bobcats of the sky"! so you are not far wrong :)

Other than the burrowing owl or the vultures, in general, no bird of prey nests on the ground. Roadways are prime feeding ground for many raptors (which is why we get so many hit by car victims.) GHOWs can go for prey as large as skunks. Many times a particular stretch of road is also a convenient highway for prey species.

As for the eyes, well, birds that have vision issues tend not to fly. And he is going back to the same spot. So I doubt it's vision.

Now, owls are not known for their brilliance, especially the GHOW. Two thirds of their skull is taken up with their eyes and that only leaves one third for their brain. Do the cognitive math....They can, however, be tenacious.

If the owl is still there or gets injured in any way (by someone not as swervy or as loud ;) ) you can go to http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/huntwild/wild/rehab/list/ It lists all the rehabbers in TX by county.

Hopefully, whatever is drawing him to that particular spot will be gone and so will he.

And thanks for Swerving!

ponygirl
Apr. 9, 2011, 06:00 PM
Sispi- not to hijack but I have 3 GHOWs that have decided to move in on my place. I think it's 1 adult and two juveniles who are nearly the same size as the 1 adult. I don't know where the 2nd adult is. They are gorgeous and huge and I genuinely like them but....the 2 juveniles "screech" all hrs of the night and they do that whilst partying on my house roof or in the nearby trees. The grown adult "whoots" which is pleasant sounding. The screeching- not so much. The "Screech" THUNK! THUNK! on my roof is driving my 3 indoor cats bananas. I find myself traipsing outside at 3:30am in my PJs with a flashlight to have a candid conversation with the 2 teenagers, explaining that they will not catch a darn thing as they have alerted all of the neighborhood they are here. How long am I to expect this behavior? It's been 3 weeks now. And they seem to like it here.

Sipsi
Apr. 9, 2011, 06:18 PM
Well, the good news is that they are probably fledging. The call you hear are food cries to the parents. If they are starting to fly, the parents tend to use the wee ones hunger to sort of spur them on to follow.

Okay, the bad news is that the young GHOWs tend to stay with their parents for 8-9 months (read the above about cognitive function ;) ) Hopefully as soon as the babies fledge (another week or more) they will move someplace else.

I think the owlets are so darned cute because they can be so annoying. I have three right now that couldn't be returned to their nest for one reason or another. And they are demanding. All the time. Good thing I have a separate facility from my house. Hubby would have divorced me years ago!

Enjoy them and maybe buy some ear plugs? Oh, and keep the cats in.....

Cheers!

coloredcowhorse
Apr. 9, 2011, 08:00 PM
While doing my night time delivery route in a rural area I often saw great horned owls on the roads....managed to miss them every time but they really didn't tend to move until the last possible instant (and there was evidence that some didn't move fast enough).....on occasion they were hunched over a road kill rabbit or even one of the kangaroo rats we have here. They seemed unwilling to move off their prey (or find) even with several big headlights moving toward them quickly....as mentioned...not that smart. This time of year we are seeing more of the burrowing owls getting hit along the sides of the roads. Not sure just why that's happening unless they too are cleaning up road kill or have discovered that prey crossing the road is easier to see and to grab (flying through the sagebrush has to be difficult!).

Several years ago I was walking along an old irrigation ditch looking for wild asparagus (yum). There were several old lombardy poplars and cottonwoods along the ditch. I knew there were GHO in the area as I lived there and heard them nightly. Suddenly there was a noise up in one of the poplars that sounded like a seal barking...very weird sound. I began looking for the source and noticed a big nest in one of the trees...thought probably a red tail hawk nest as we had a lot of those as well. Sound kept coming and it was from near that nest....stranger and stranger. Then I caught a movement out of the edge of my vision and saw a great horned sitting very near the trunk of the tree and barking at me. I stepped a bit closer and she (?) flew off to the next tree, maybe 30 feet, and was obvious about settling on a branch and then barking at me again. I followed her another tree or two and then looked back and at the edge of the nest could see 3 small heads peering over. I'd been "lured" from a nest by other birds (mostly the killdeer that are here every summer) but never seen an owl do this. Or heard this particular vocalization from one. Interesting.

Foxtrot's
Apr. 9, 2011, 08:17 PM
If you see any owl pellets they are not owl poops, but regurgitated. Our kids had a fascinating science project - breaking apart the pellets and reconstructing the bones of the owl's last dinner - teeny, tiny ribs, tailbones, spines, claws, skulls, etc. from voles, mice, etc.
The science teacher at your local school might be very excited to receive some.

IntegritySporthorses
Apr. 9, 2011, 09:45 PM
If you see any owl pellets they are not owl poops, but regurgitated. Our kids had a fascinating science project - breaking apart the pellets and reconstructing the bones of the owl's last dinner - teeny, tiny ribs, tailbones, spines, claws, skulls, etc. from voles, mice, etc.
The science teacher at your local school might be very excited to receive some.

Yeah! I did this as a kid and it was soooo cool! :yes:

Mom was a little grossed out when she realized what I was doing on the kitchen table.... I put down newspaper first, geez :lol:

IntegritySporthorses
Apr. 9, 2011, 09:49 PM
Background on me: I am a wildlife rehabber - specializing in hawks, owls and eagles....

I'm not doubting that it was a "huge" owl, but I have a very different definition of what "huge" actually is! I get people all the time showing me the wingspan of birdzilla and it turns out to be a barn owl (small in a rehabber's book). A GHOW (great horned owl) is the largest species that we have in TX. Yellow coloured eyes, tufts of feathers etc. And in point of fact, we call them "bobcats of the sky"! so you are not far wrong :)

Other than the burrowing owl or the vultures, in general, no bird of prey nests on the ground. Roadways are prime feeding ground for many raptors (which is why we get so many hit by car victims.) GHOWs can go for prey as large as skunks. Many times a particular stretch of road is also a convenient highway for prey species.

As for the eyes, well, birds that have vision issues tend not to fly. And he is going back to the same spot. So I doubt it's vision.

Now, owls are not known for their brilliance, especially the GHOW. Two thirds of their skull is taken up with their eyes and that only leaves one third for their brain. Do the cognitive math....They can, however, be tenacious.

If the owl is still there or gets injured in any way (by someone not as swervy or as loud ;) ) you can go to http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/huntwild/wild/rehab/list/ It lists all the rehabbers in TX by county.

Hopefully, whatever is drawing him to that particular spot will be gone and so will he.

And thanks for Swerving!

Thank you!! You are exactly the "type" of person I was hoping would chime in :D
There is so much knowledge in COTH. I just love it.

Well, it's interesting to know he/she isn't very bright. Yes, it's large, maybe huge was an exageration but definately the size of a bobcat sitting on it's haunches.

It must just be strange coincidence that we've seen it so often and in the same spot. We have seen it flying in the creek area about a 1/2 mile East of where it's been sitting in the road.

I feel better knowing it's probably healthy just a little dense ;)

ponygirl
Apr. 9, 2011, 11:28 PM
Okay, the bad news is that the young GHOWs tend to stay with their parents for 8-9 months (read the above about cognitive function ;) )

:eek::eek::lol:
Please let my GHOWS be smart!



Hopefully as soon as the babies fledge (another week or more) they will move someplace else.

I think they moved here so the parental unit can leave them. :lol: They are flying all over the place but like my house roof best. Right now, one is in the woods behind my house, the other is on the a fence line.



Enjoy them and maybe buy some ear plugs? Oh, and keep the cats in.....
Cheers!

My chickens are complaining about the noise and being on lock down. No worries about the cats. They are strictly indoor kitties.

birdsong
Apr. 9, 2011, 11:33 PM
Sispi- not to hijack but I have 3 GHOWs that have decided to move in on my place. I think it's 1 adult and two juveniles who are nearly the same size as the 1 adult. I don't know where the 2nd adult is. They are gorgeous and huge and I genuinely like them but....the 2 juveniles "screech" all hrs of the night and they do that whilst partying on my house roof or in the nearby trees. The grown adult "whoots" which is pleasant sounding. The screeching- not so much. The "Screech" THUNK! THUNK! on my roof is driving my 3 indoor cats bananas. I find myself traipsing outside at 3:30am in my PJs with a flashlight to have a candid conversation with the 2 teenagers, explaining that they will not catch a darn thing as they have alerted all of the neighborhood they are here. How long am I to expect this behavior? It's been 3 weeks now. And they seem to like it here.


I Loved This! What a great visual.

Polydor
Apr. 10, 2011, 07:00 AM
Love the visual ponygirl! Hope they are smart for your sanity too!

P.

ps. Love burrowing owls. Mom ( who's a naturalist/park person/bird watcher) had one at work ( local nature centre) for about 5 years. He ( the owl) was raised in captivity to be a PR bird and teach people about conservation and birds. So he would come home fairly regularly and fly/walk around the house. Very cool bird!

atr
Apr. 10, 2011, 03:32 PM
ColoredCowHorse, we have a couple of owls that sit in the Oakbrush next to our front porch and bark at us on summer evenings.