Hi Geoff, Nathan, Bruce, Dan, Gary, and everyone,
Thanks for all of your interesting input. Collectively all the input tells me there’s a simple answer to my original question, which was, “Did anyone else hear, or thought they heard, a Saw-whet Owl near the Crossbill site?”
The simple one-word answer seems to be, “no”.
So I’m happy to leave it at that, namely: maybe I heard a SWOW along the lower Agua Dulce trail. Or maybe not. Or maybe someone will get a chance to tape the mystery call. Or maybe the critter will send me a selfie.
At least I saw my FOS butter-butt, and a female selasphorus. Whoopee.
Happy birding to all, and remember, you never saw a bird that didn’t see you first.
Yes, all 3 are up there: chipmunk, ground squirrel, and owl.
San Diego, CA
Phil: It turned out the recording I was thinking of is a ground squirrel, which still sounds very similar, just slightly higher pitched. In my experience, these squirrel and chipmunk calls can carry quite a distance and pick up reverberations along the way that make them sound very un-chipmunk like.
My “one second” interval was entirely a spur of the moment estimate - the calls were very quickly repeated and could easily have been less than a second. But I won’t rule out chipmunk, either, except to say that the call seemed to be coming from a fair distance away, and if it was a chipmunk he would have needed a good set of lungs. Do you have a recording of whatever sp. of chipmunk would have been up there?
Not ruling saw-whet owl out but Birds of North America Online says calling speed is “about 2 per second.” I can vouch that an agitated saw-whet will briefly produce notes even faster. I think a speed nearing a second apart would be more in the Merriam’s Chipmunk range.
This morning (Tues.), while looking for the mythological Red Crossbill (aka the toilet paper bird), I heard at a distance an incessant call that seemed to meet the requirements for a Saw-whet Owl. The loud sharp notes, a whistled sup, sup, sup . . . , were about a second apart, and went on and on and on . . .
The Bird Atlas notes that it calls “rarely even at midday”. I’d estimate it was about 9:30 a.m. when I heard it while at the toilet paper site. That would be near the southernmost portion of its regular range.
Just wondering, if any one else who was up there looking for easily spotted wildlife (such as Bigfoot, Jimmy Hoffa, and purported Crossbills) also heard anything they suspected of being a Saw-whet Owl?