Friday, February 17, 2012

Short-eared Owl and Angry Crows

Eric and I hustled down to Trustom Pond early yesterday morning to get in some birding before he heads back down to South America. We stopped at Allie's Donuts, a Rhode Island mainstay, on the way down for some breakfast. The combination of being up early and feeling rushed to order led to the puzzling choice of a Boston Creme donut for me. I never eat cream donuts...

Anyway, on to the birds. On the way out to the Osprey Point lookout at Trustom we were ogled by some rather tame deer, passed through a few flocks of titmice, and encountered a dismembered American Coot. Somewhat disappointingly, as I was really hoping to see one, we didn't spot any Canvasback or Redhead from the lookout. We did see a flock of Aythya - the genus of diving ducks that includes Canvasback, Redhead, and Scaup - in the distance, but we were looking into the sun and couldn't pick out any good markings.

Naturally, we decided to head to the other side of the pond to get a better view. On the way there we agreed that it was now probably too late to see a Short-eared Owl, although we would be passing some fields where one had been seen hunting recently. But, if you read the title of this post you can guess that we had a nice surprise. As we were scanning the Aythya flock (full of only Greater Scaup anyway) Eric looked up and noticed that a Short-Eared was getting mobbed by three crows directly overhead! After fiddling with his lens cap Eric snapped some great pictures.

As the Short-eared usually hunts for small mammals on "low-patrol", flying just a few feet above the ground similar to a Northern Harrier, it was interesting to see one flying so high. The crows grew bored after a few minutes and the owl finally escaped and flew off to the East along the shore.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome Jimmy. Such great shots, especially the last one of the owl with his wings fully spread. You can really see the coloring and markings on the underside of his feathers. Why would the crows go after the owl? Were they competing over some food perhaps?
    I loved the blog. Sounds like a nice morning with Eric. You guys always have the best time together.