[Tweeters] Owls & Flying squirrels

vogelfreund at comcast.net vogelfreund at comcast.net
Wed Dec 5 21:20:32 PST 2007


I haven't heard about any W. Screech Owl sightings in the Bellingham area in the past few years, that I recall. They seem to have just about vanished. In two different years I heard them outside my bedroom window, many years ago in south Bellingham. And there was a reported nest on South Hill, near here back then. Habitat alteration and maybe Barred owls might be to blame for there disappearence. On the other hand, maybe they just are not being looked for anymore.

Phil Hotlen
Bellingham, WA

-------------- Original message ----------------------
From: "J. Acker" <owler at sounddsl.com>

> I respectfully disagree with your assessment that "the only

> worthwhile data we have" is the Breeding Bird Survey, especially in the area

> of monitoring owl populations for long term trends.

>

> The Breeding Bird Survey does a poor job of assessing owl populations or

> trends. It is designed to assess diurnal passerine populations, not

> nocturnal owl populations. Yes, Barred, Screech, and Great Horned will call

> during the very early hours of the survey, but they certainly aren't

> uniformly represented by the survey. Additionally, by the survey's own

> standards, these species are in a "category (that) reflects data with an

> important deficiency." - namely, a lack of data. Saw-whet Owls, known

> breeders in the state, are not represented by any data. Does this mean that

> their populations are stable or decreasing?

>

> The Audubon Christmas Bird Count data, though not as scientifically

> collected, shows a steady decrease in Western Screech-owl populations, a

> very slight decreasing trend for Great Horned Owls, and Barred Owl

> populations are increasing exponentially. Additionally, many long time

> monitors of Spotted Owls and other owlers are noting similar trends.

>

> But most importantly, observers such as Tweeter members, are seeing and

> reporting information that is being mirrored in the Christmas Bird Counts,

> and to discount this information as "not worthwhile" is to ignore the truth.

>

> J. Acker

> Bainbridge Island, WA

> Owler at sounddsl.com

>

> A voice unspoken (or unwritten) is a voice unheard.

> Be heard!

>

>

> -----Original Message-----

> From: tweeters-bounces at mailman1.u.washington.edu

> [mailto:tweeters-bounces at mailman1.u.washington.edu] On Behalf Of Richard

> Carlson

> Sent: Tuesday, December 04, 2007 9:06 PM

> To: Stewart Wechsler; tweeters

> Subject: [Tweeters] Owls & Flying squirrels

>

> Tweeters:

> Tweeters:

>

> It is risky to generalize form local observations.

>

> Checking the Breeding Bird Survey data, the only

> worthwhile data we have, there is good data only on

> Great Horned Owls in Washington. GHOW are doing fine

> 4.6% increase. The tiny sample of Western Screech Owls

> shows no change. Barred Owl numbers are increasing

> pretty much everywhere.

>

> As to Flying Squirrels, put a floodlight on your

> peanut butter and suet feeders at night, and watch for

> them. They are surprisingly common. I've had a

> family living above our Tahoe home for decades. They

> eat out of my hand. I even petted one. Amazing

> creatures.

>

> Dick

>

>

> --- Stewart Wechsler <ecostewart at quidnunc.net> wrote:

>

> > Since the newer immigrant Barred Owl has become

> > common in our

> > state over the last 10 years in many areas where

> > there once were more

> > Western Screech

> > Owls, Spotted Owls as well as many other species

> > that are preyed on by the

> > Barred Owls, I'm interested in people's observations

> > and thoughts on where

> > Barred Owl prey species will survive due to their

> > adaptation to some

> > habitats that are not preferred by Barred Owls.

> >

> > While Western Screech Owls were relatively frequent

> > 7 years ago through the

> > wooded parks of West Seattle (the area I know best)

> > and elsewhere in our

> > area, the ones that I am

> > aware of are now largely restricted to the steep

> > wooded slopes above the

> > Puget Sound. In Lincoln Park with both flats a

> > steep (mostly) wooded slope

> > above the Puget Sound, it seems that the Barred Owls

> > are pretty much

> > restricted to the flat areas. The one Screech Owl I

> > heard there 2 years ago

> > (at about sunset on Christmas Day) was calling from

> > a relatively shrubby

> > wooded steep slope above the Sound. I'm also told

> > that the Spotted Owls are

> > still surviving tend to be on steep slopes in their

> > remaining old growth

> > forest habitats, while the Barred may have wiped

> > them out in the flatter

> > areas of the remaining old growth forest.

> >

> > It seems that Barred Owls are better adapted to

> > relatively flat wooded

> > areas. I think especially medium age or older

> > second growth, especially

> > near fresh water (They often hunt at the water's

> > edge). They may prefer

> > being near some forest edge (that would include all

> > urban wooded areas). I

> > suspect that Screech Owls will accept both all of

> > the habitats that the

> > Barred are now occupying (they too like to hunt by

> > water) as well as

> > accepting steeper slopes and possibly earlier

> > successional shrubby and

> > young, denser woods, but now have largely been wiped

> > out in the preferred

> > Barred Owl habitats.

> >

> > It may be that the steeper slopes are less desirable

> > habitats for Barred

> > Owls or both species, but that the Barred Owls have

> > not yet colonized these

> > less desirable habitats. I had hoped that the

> > Screech would find that part

> > of their niche was less acceptable to Barred and

> > that this would allow them

> > to survive. I imagine that the smaller owls may be

> > able to ascend and

> > descend more quickly, making it easier to hunt on

> > steep slopes. Their

> > smaller size would also allow them to fly through

> > denser shrubbery and

> > younger trees.

> >

> > Are other people finding the Western Screech Owls

> > (or Spotted Owls)

> > surviving on steeper slopes and that Barred are

> > largely absent from these

> > habitats. Do you have other observations of

> > differences in habitat that

> > each of these species are adapted to and surviving

> > or colonizing / not

> > colonizing?

> >

> > Camp Long in West Seattle, where I lead some of my

> > nature programs also used

> > to have flying squirrels, though I only rarely got

> > reports of them and was

> > never lucky enough to see one myself. I question

> > whether they can persist

> > in relatively small islands of habitat such as city

> > parks with so many

> > Barred Owls raising their young in these isolated

> > habitats. Any other

> > obvservations related to the survival of prey

> > species of Barred Owls, as the

> > Barreds move into new territory would be welcome.

> >

> > It also seems that Great Horned Owls are declining

> > in areas now occupied by

> > Barred Owls, do others have observations that relate

> > to this possibility?

> > They would at least compete for some food, but I

> > don't know how much that

> > would be a factor if the Barred is indeed to some

> > degree displacing Great

> > Horneds.

> >

> > Stewart Wechsler

> > Ecological Consulting

> > West Seattle

> > 206 932-7225

> > ecostewart at quidnunc.net

> >

> > -Advice on the most site-appropriate native plants

> > and how to enhance habitat for the maximum

> > diversity

> > of plants and animals

> > -Educational programs, nature walks and field trips

> > -Botanical Surveys

> >

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> > 11:10 AM

> >

> >

> >

> >

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> > _______________________________________________

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> >

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>

>

> Richard Carlson

> Full-time Birder, Biker and Rotarian

> Part-time Economist

> Tucson, AZ, Lake Tahoe, CA, & Kirkland, WA

> rccarl at pacbell.net

> Tucson 520-760-4935

> Tahoe 530-581-0624

> Kirkland 425-828-3819

> Cell 650-280-2965

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