As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Thursday 1 November 2018

A rare burrowing owl spotted at Cesar Chavez Park in Berkeley

By Martin Nicolaus Oct. 10, 2018, 6 a.m.
The bird stood on one foot on a rock at the edge of the water. It faced north, but frequently rotated its head in both directions, showing its eyes in various states of alertness — closed, squinting and wide open. It would occasionally and suddenly swivel its head 180 degrees.
Had the bird chosen a perch two feet east or west, it would have been hidden by vegetation, and human eyes would probably not have seen it.
A ground squirrel watched the bird carefully from a higher rock a few feet away. This particular bird — a burrowing owl — is too small to attack ground squirrels, but it is big and scary enough to evict ground squirrels from their burrows, and take them over as their seasonal homes for the winter, if it intends to stay. The owl first spotted around 8:45 a.m. Tuesday morning rested on a rock and showed no interest in a burrow, however.
The burrowing owl population has been slowly declining in California, and particularly in the Bay Area, likely due to the impact of development. The owls that arrive here in October, when they arrive, probably come from Idaho and points north, where they breed in the summertime. They come here to escape the frigid northern winters. If they stay, they’ll rest up and build their strength and then migrate back north around March.

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