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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Northern Saw-whet Owl at Scotia Range

Northern Saw-whet Owl
Image Credit: Jim Weaver, All About Birds

Last week I received a tip from another birder that a Northern Saw-whet Owl (presumably a migrant) was heard near the rifle range at Scotia Barrens. I went out there last night to investigate. I brought along my recorder and parabola to capture a recording if possible. The weather seemed good for owls - it was about 42 degrees, clear and calm. The moon was near its first quarter. Adding to my optimism was the fact that I had heard two other owls (Great Horned and a Barred) at other locations on the same day.

I arrived at Scotia around 6:45 pm. I parked near the iron gate at the rifle range. After walking around a bit, I thought I heard a bark, so I played the Saw-whet calls from the Stokes CD (including toots, barks and wails). I got no response. 20 minutes passed. I moved down past the gate to the skeet range. I played the Saw-whet call and was able to get the owl to toot back. I got a crappy recording, but the owl sounded distant and I had a plane overhead. After a few minutes, I heard some wails back by the gate. I went back and played the CD again. The owl wailed again and then barked 3 times. It seemed fairly close by, but it was not vocalizing particularly loud. Either way, I captured both the wailing and barking on my recorder.