Thursday, March 7, 2013

Owl Prowl - 3/2/2013

Nine people gathered together at the Cumberland Farm Fields in Halifax and Middleboro late in the afternoon. The trip is run at this time of day because these fields have been a reliable place over the years to observe Short-eared Owls, which can be actively hunting the fields shortly before dusk. In recent years however, sightings have been scarce, possibly in line with a regional decline of this open country species.
No sign of Short-eared Owls this day (3rd year in a row on this trip), but these fields at this time of year have large flocks of mixed blackbirds and several species of waterfowl heading to nighttime roosts. Some of our sharp observers were able to pick out Wood Ducks, Pintails, and Green-winged Teals among the many Am. Black Ducks and Canada Geese flying around at dusk. At least 4 American Woodcocks were heard and seen well.
We heard 2 Great Horned Owls hooting several times at dusk from the south end of the fields along Wood St. This species is often vocal at dusk and then gets quiet for the rest of the night, before starting up again in the early AM hours (3AM- dawn). One of the Great Horned sounded higher pitched (female?), so we figured this was a pair. Great Horned Owls, our earliest nesters, would already be tending to young.

Eastern Screech Owl (gray phase)

We spent a few hours after dark attempting to call in other owls. Weather conditions for owling were close to ideal, with overcast skies, calm winds and temps in the 30sF. Calm winds make for great hearing and overcast skies aid in seeing an owl's silhouette in case it flies in. Eastern Screech Owls are common in this area and we were able to hear 5 and get nice looks at a few (both red and gray phases). Despite covering many areas and many different habitats we could not add any additional species of owls. Other species we had hoped to encounter were Barred and N. Saw-whet Owls, which nest locally but may not be on territory yet, or they could just be silent. "Who" knows?!
*Thanks to Liam Waters for providing these nice pictures.

Canada Goose 300
Wood Duck 10
American Black Duck 300 Conservative number
Mallard 25 Conservative number
Northern Pintail 5
Green-winged Teal 2 Heard only
Great Blue Heron 1
Northern Harrier 1
Red-tailed Hawk 4
Killdeer 2
American Woodcock 4 Calling and displaying, south end of field.
Mourning Dove 4
Eastern Screech-Owl 5
Great Horned Owl 2
American Robin 1
Song Sparrow 2
White-throated Sparrow 1
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored) 5
Northern Cardinal 3
Red-winged Blackbird 450 Rough estimate
Brown-headed Cowbird 20

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (

Vin Zollo

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