Sunday Showcase: Long-eared Owls

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

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Adult Long-eared Owl. Photo by Tony LePrieur, Calgary, June 26, 2016.

Long-eared Owls are fairly common in the Calgary area and breed in and around the city, but they are nocturnal and so secretive that many birders go years between sightings. In early summer I was told of a Long-eared Owl nest in the city with young in the nest. Here are some photos of this family taken by several local birders.

(Note: The birds are secretive since they are vulnerable to predation from Great Horned Owls, magpies, ravens, crows, porcupines, and hawks. It is very important when observing them to not give away the location of the nest. This nest was very close to a public pathway.  Although the young have fledged long ago now, the owls may nest in the same area again next year, so I won’t reveal the location. I did share it with Dan Arndt, Andrew Hart, and a couple of young birders who had never seen this species before, but we didn’t want to put undue stress on the birds or draw attention to the location by having too many people go to see them.)

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Adult Long-eared Owl, Calgary, June 9, 2016. Photo by Dan Arndt.

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June 9, 2016, Calgary. Four young were in the nest. Photo by Dan Arndt.

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June 11, 2016. Only one young remained in the nest. We were concerned that they had been predated, so stopped visiting for a while. But later on we saw two fledged young together near the nest, so they may just have fledged at slightly different times. Photo by Dan Arndt.

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Another adult on June 9. They are about 14 inches (36 cm) tall. Photo by Dan Arndt.

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A close-up of one of the young in the nest, June 9, 2016. Photo by Dan Arndt.

On June 26 Andrew Hart and I went to see if the last of the owls had fledged. The nest was empty, but we found two very vocal and active young owls nearby.

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Recently fledged Long-eared Owl, Calgary, June 23, 2016. Photo by Andrew Hart.

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Photo by Andrew Hart.

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Vocalizing fledgling. Photo by Andrew Hart.

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Photo by Andrew Hart.

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Photo by Andrew Hart.

Tony LePrieur had found this same nest independently and visited it a couple of times.

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Long-eared Owl, Calgary, June 26, 2016. This looks like a younger owl than the ones Andrew and I saw three days previously. Photo by Tony LePrieur.

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Vocalizing adult Long-eared Owl, Calgary, June 26, 2016. Photo by Tony LePrieur.

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