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Northern Pygmy-Owl Surprise

posted by Tim Avery at
on Tuesday, December 14, 2010 

I went to lunch on Tuesday not expecting anything different from my usual Tuesday. That was until I saw a post come across birdtalk about a flock of Evening Grosbeaks still coming to a feeder in Summit Park. I don't know why, but I am a sucker for that species--so I took an extra hour at lunch and headed up I-80 to go see what I could find.

As I made my way to the area the birds we reported there were no grosbeaks. However, the chorus of Mountain and Black-capped Chickadees, along with Red-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, and Golden-crowned Kinglet got me thinking about an owl being around. I started to imitate a Northern Pygmy-Owl, and almost immediately I was in a whistling duel with a bird just off the road. My whistle must have been on point today, because after about 2 minutes the bird flew into sight and set up for me to watch. I shot a couple of pretty cool videos with my cell phone--surprisingly way better quality than what my point and shoot gives!

Here is another video from a different angle:

And of course I had to take a few shots--I have never managed a shot of one before, and these were by far the best looks I have ever had at one.

All photos link to a gallery on my website.

Northern Pygmy Owl. Copyright Tim Avery

I ended up watching the owl for about 45 minutes before I had to take off and get back to work. In that time it moved to about 5 different perches, and if you look at the gallery, you will even see it enter an old flicker cavity. What a great consolation prize for missing the grosbeaks... Oh, except I had a flyover of between 25-30 Evening Grosbeaks before I left. That and a Northern Goshawk made for a nice afternoon at Summit Park.

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Blogger Birding is Fun! said...

N Pygmy Owl is one I have not seen. I suppose I'll need to visit Summit Park.

December 15, 2010 at 8:24 AM  
Blogger Tim Avery said...

The great thing about Salt Lake City is the numerous canyons just minutes away from the city. For the most part each one has a number of good locations to go owling. And in most of them with enough work you can probably pick up a Pygmy-Owl! Once you get down here, we'll have to get you out for some owls.

December 15, 2010 at 9:15 AM  
Blogger Jeff Bilsky said...

Northern Pygmy-Owls are incredible. That is all.

December 15, 2010 at 10:01 AM  
Anonymous Dave the Birder said...

Wow! That's way cool!

December 15, 2010 at 12:00 PM  

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