The Owl and the Mockingbird (and the Hawk)

The mockingbird, playing with fire.

About 11 AM on Wednesday (1/5/11) Facilities Tech, Al Gustafson spotted a Northern Mockingbird harassing a Barred Owl in a small pine tree 30 feet or so from the east entrance to the Farm Yard.

Al radioed me, and I was able to get a dozen or more photos of the bird. And, many Museum visitors were able to get close looks at a bird that most folks would have passed by unseen. Thanks Al.

Barred Owls are quite common in our area, even within Durham’s city limits. They are the most often encountered owl. Locally, I see more Barred Owls than any other species of owl.

The owl. Seemingly unconcerned with the mockingbird, or the people staring at it, this owl was, however, listening to and watching every move that the bird, and we humans, made.

As it perched quietly in the tree, the owl appeared to be “sleepy,” but it was both watching and listening the whole time that I was there. It would ever so slowly turn its head at any sound or movement, or slightly open its squinting eyes. At one point something beyond my sight or hearing apparently startled the bird and it immediately flew off to another perch higher up in the trees.

The owl changed perches several times throughout the day.

It was a good day for seeing raptors. Later that day I saw both a Red-shouldered Hawk hunt from a perch in a tree in the swamp above the Lemur House, and a Cooper’s Hawk nearly snatch a songbird out of the air.

This Red-shouldered Hawk intently, and patiently, peers down for any movement in the swamp below.

A good day in the “Wild!”

4 responses to The Owl and the Mockingbird (and the Hawk)

    • Greg Dodge says:

      I’m sorry you missed it too!
      You never know when they’re going to show up. The owl was spotted again a few days later in another close situation.
      I probably walk past theses owls more often than I’m aware. If they sit quietly, which they usually do, it’s easy to miss them. Of course, the one in the photo was out in plain sight for all to see.
      Have a good one.

    • Greg Dodge says:

      Yes, it was very cool to see the owl so close!
      And of course, it’s always fun to see the hawks going about their business.

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