Monday, May 4, 2009

Lake View Ave: Hoo Are You Looking At?

Photo: Russell Bates, May 3, 2009. Great Horned Owl in Eucalyptus tree on Lake View Ave. (Click on photo to enlarge for awesome feather detail.)

Red Car Property neighbor, Russell Bates sent this amazingly detailed photo of a Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) in his Eucalyptus tree. Several crows and a hawk kept circling the owl while it hung out in the tree yesterday. According to Bates, the noise of the birds harassing the owl was cacophonous.

I once saw a progression of birds similarly harass an owl in a neighbor's tree. Red tail hawks, kestrels, crows, mockingbirds, a variety of little birds and even hummingbirds all took their turn dive-bombing and screaming at the owl for a couple of hours one morning. Owls are stealthy hunters. They fly completely silently due to specialized feathers, so it's no wonder the other birds try to chase them off. Bates pointed out, "It's also fairly bone-chilling to have an owl stare at you."

Last December, many neighbors on Corralitas Drive and Riverside Place reported routine sightings of two Great Horned Owls calling to one another. A Corralitas neighbor reported an owl flying right past her head while she was standing on her deck, just a couple of weeks ago. Lately, the owls have been "hooting" around Corralitas the pre-dawn hours.

You can listen to the calls of Great Horned Owls on the Ojai Raptor Center's website. (They rehabilitated and released one of the red tail hawks we rescued a few years ago.)

Several neighbors have tried to snap photos of the owls. Bates is the first to succeed. Kudos!

If you have photos of any neighborhood wildlife, please send them to Diane Edwardson at with info pertaining to when, where and who took the photo as well as any other observations of the animal's behavior at the time. DO NOT attempt to pet or feed wildlife.