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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Hootin' Around

We were on a mission that cold Saturday afternoon.  A mission to spot the Great Horned Owl that has been roosting at Prospect Park.  It was a successful operation!  But first, here's a bright red Cardinal set against a snowy, gray backdrop.

Northern Cardinal

Downy Woodpecker

At last! The elusive Downy Woodpecker.  Well, not elusive to the birdwatcher, we see several of these guys pretty much every time we're at the park, but we've never been able to get a good shot of one because they're always spiraling their way up and around trees much like the Brown Creeper.

Great Horned Owl

The fact that there is a Great Horned Owl apparently putting down roots in Prospect Park is kind of a big deal. A pair hasn't roosted in Prospect Park in something like 100 years.  There has been a pair at Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn for the last 4 years or so but never at P.P.  Owls really like it quiet...dead quiet.

This is actually part of the problem.  Many of the other birdwatchers we met also observing the owl are concerned that come summer time, this high traffic area of the park will no longer be a suitable habitat for the owls and they'll get out of dodge.  However, if the pair mates successfully this year, they'll be permanent residents at the park.

It was super freaky when she was looking DIRECTLY AT US!  If we'd had a small dog with us I would have been concerned.    Owls will eat pretty much anything, including other owls!  I'd love to go back and see her on a full moon.

We got to see her leave the roost and fly over to the next tree.  6' wing span on this bird!  Also, notice how her head is totally turned around.  Rotate your owl.  For science!