Mid-day Owls

Richard Bradus

Hi all

Well, "June gloom" arrived right on cue. But, perhaps because of the lack of sun (and the demands of parenting), it provided an unusual opportunity to witness some remarkable activity by owls during the day yesterday.

I was headed down Lover's Lane in the Presidio just before noon, intending to go through Tennessee Hollow and out to the bay, but was stopped in my tracks when an adult Great Horned Owl flew right over me carrying prey. It initially perched with the rodent in its talons (a gopher I think) in a Monterey Pine, looking all about, silently, eventually picking up the prey in its beak and displaying it. I think this was its way of calling its offspring to partake in the kill, as soon after a fluffy gray juvenile appeared (I couldn't tell if it had been hiding -probably- or flew in somehow). The adult slowly tore apart the prey and gobbled up some pieces and fed other pieces to the chick.

Some passers-by got a chance to witness as well and, while I was explaining the action and pointing out the other birds in the area the adult flew off. A while later it, or another, adult emerged suddenly out of the brush carrying prey with some entangled grass and debris, and flew to a relatively exposed perch in a eucalyptus a hundred meters or so away. It provoked quite a reaction from the other avian residents, enduring alarm calls and fly-bys by a couple of Robins and a Scrub Jay (among others) and repeated screaming and strafing by a pair of Steller's Jays. Eventually it flew back to where the chick was waiting and, taking its time, slowly tore up the rodent and fed the chick (a bit) and itself (mostly). The two of them shared some quiet time digesting before the adult flew off. A very satisfying spectacle!

Despite the lousy conditions (foggy, windy and a bit of drizzle) and the poor sight lines, I managed to get some photographs, and posted a few illustrative photos to my eBird checklist: https://ebird.org/checklist/S89442337 should any one be interested.

Just a reminder that, while the spring migration season may be coming to an end, there are still many wonders to behold as our residents and summer visitors go about the most important life goal of reproduction and the perpetuation of their kind. 

Keep looking up!

Richard Bradus
San Francisco