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Owl Study Revived

An Unexpected Visitor
by Dan Hartman

April 11, 2020

     Since my boreal owl research was shut down by the park closure, I've been sorta playing a waiting game.  Waiting for the road over Cooke Pass to open later this month which will revive my spring owl search in Sunlight Basin and the foothills of the Beartooths.

     Having said that, on a whim Cindy and I went out to check the upper 25% of my owl run two nights ago.  I had't been running it because it had given me so few results.  (six songs in three weeks).  I assumed this was because of our snow depth.

     However, on this short run, we heard three different boreals singing.  So I guess the owl study is back on!

     Adding fuel, Cindy was walking the highway below our cabin when she heard birds harassing.  She soon located the birds in a thick patch of timber just below our deck.  But she couldn't find what they were harassing.

     Later, around 10:30 she was sitting on the deck looking through the thick trees when a face turned to look at her.

     A saw-whet owl!

     She called to me and a nine hour watch began.  You really couldn't see much of the tiny owl except his face.  Every hour or so, the jays and chickadees seemed to remember the owls presence and returned to harass him.

     Towards evening, I set a camera on the saw-whet and let it run.  I checked at 7:30 and the little guy was gone.  So checking my footage he awoke at 7:20, blinked, looked around a bit, then hopped out into the open and flew away.

     Hopefully tonight we'll hear him singing his song.


Saw-whet Owl