Ask the Naturalist, August 2013

South Bay Burrowing Owl Counts

by on August 29, 2013

 
Western Burrowing Owl, Athene cunicularia. Photo: Annette Hurz/Flickr
 

 

This week we welcome Santa Clara Valley Audubon’s Bob Power as our Guest Naturalist!

Dear Bay Nature,
What is the 2013 count of burrowing owls at Shoreline Park? How many breeding pairs were observed?

— Sharon

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Dear Sharon,
This year, Shoreline Park in Mountain View hosted 5 pairs of Burrowing Owls.  Three of the pairs fledged 1, 3, and 3 chicks respectively for a total of 7 chicks.  One of the breeding pair vacated the park in the middle of the breeding season.

The last breeding pair failed to fledge young but moved to a second burrow and the female remains in the burrow. So although it’s late in the season, there is hope that this pair will fledge some young this season.

Burrowing Owls forever,

Bob Power, Executive Director
Santa Clara Valley Audubon

Bob Power, Guest Naturalist

Bob Power, Guest Naturalist

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2 comments:

fototaker Tony on August 30th, 2013 at 8:49 am

By chance I am heading south this weekend to get away from the City. I’ve heard of the owls last year. is this a certain spot at the park and where can one quietly observe the owls without disturbing them? when is the best time? thanks for the great info. I’d like to know if the breeding pair abandoned the park due to natural reasons or presence of humans and human actions.

Bob Power on August 30th, 2013 at 9:21 am

Late June and early July are the best times to observe Burrowing Owls as they guard the burrows closely and you have a chance at seeing emerging fledgling owls. Typically the owls are best observed between dawn and 10 a.m. and between 6 p.m. and dusk, but are certainly seen throughout the day.

Unfortunately, the owl population is so precarious in the South Bay that providing precise directions is not appropriate for the owls’ safety. We can hope that someday we’ll be able to build the Burrowing Owl population up to a point where this is not an issue.

As far as the owls that vacated the property this summer, there are many theories about why owls relocate, but there are no certain answers. Natural reasons are far more likely than human disturbance.

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