Sunday, July 5, 2015

We Finally Saw-whet! I mean Saw It!

Last Friday evening I led a small group of bird and owl enthusiasts to some of the higher elevations of Utah's Wasatch Mountains.  One out-of-state birder had high hopes of seeing her first Flammulated Owl. That is a small mountain species of owl that many birders from around the United States and other parts of the world want to see when they visit Utah. Flammies, as some affectionately call them, are common for us locally during the spring and summer months because they come from Mexico to breed in our mountains so it is always fun to introduce others to them. One of the local birders who joined our small group had high hopes of seeing a Saw-whet Owl in the wild. I had one of my sons join us and he also had hopes of seeing his first Saw-whet.

Saw-whets are vocal during their breeding season, but they move about more silently in the dark after breeding season slows down. Consequently, this time of year is not ideal for locating Saw-whets. I was very confident we'd locate a Flammulated Owl so I spent most of my efforts locating a Saw-whet during the trip last Friday. We found our first of several Flammulated Owls rather quickly, but the Saw-whets were playing hard to get until our third and final stop and right up until just before we were about to call it a night. Our persistence paid off after we heard an adult give a call and then at least two juveniles calling back to the adult. One juvenile called long enough that I was able to locate it and put a light on it so everyone could enjoy its cute/awesomeness. The little owl was quite accommodating so I decided to capture a few images after others were able to enjoy excellent, close-range views.

Recently-fledged, Juvenile Northern Saw-whet Owl in Utah County, UT USA
Top/Back Side of Recently-fledged, Juvenile Northern Saw-whet Owl in Utah County, UT USA
Here's an image of an adult I found on a solo trip several weeks ago to illustrate how much the plumage changes between the juvenile and adult ages of the species. The branch in the foreground is unfortunate from a photographic perspective, but it's also very natural.

Adult Northern Saw-whet Owl in Utah County, UT USA

No comments:

Post a Comment