Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Watched by the wise guys?

Pleased to, recently, see the Long-eared Owls that nest near my home; not least because opportunities to watch this, largely nocturnal, species hunt, in daylight, are rare. Curiosity did, of course, get the better of me, so I made a few squeaky vole-like sounds, to observe the response, of one, as it passed, low, overhead. The result was, in fact, alarmingly effective, as its face descended toward my own; forcing me to cease my teasing and wave the bird away, with a folded tripod!
Certainly, it seems that, otherwise, contact would have been made and the incident appears to support a contentious theory; that owls are close to blind during daylight, relying, almost entirely, on their extraordinary hearing abilities. My impression, anyway, is that it wasn’t intended to be an assault upon a perceived predator, as occasionally happens when humans enter their breeding grounds; much more, an attempt to home in on the source of the rodent-like sound. Additionally, this ties in with an experience, earlier that same day; when a perching bird had tried to monitor my movements, by way of sound, although we’d been eye to eye with each other and at very close range. The apparently maniacal bobbing and twisting of the head (its face even being turned briefly upside down!) were clearly indicative of sound-location, although the degree of inability, to see, remains impossible to establish.
Whatever the truth of it though, it's a pleasure to have these, usually elusive, birds on my doorstep and should readers get the chance to watch owls in the wild, I’d say it’s a wise move. Just mind how you go!


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