Saturday, July 28, 2007

Encounter with a Curious Owl

Yesterday afternoon found me in an oak woodland northwest of Gainesville, FL, looking at the existing trees and vegetation where a small residential phase of the Town of Tioga planned development will be built among the trees.

Twenty to thirty years ago this land was clear of everything but the larger southern red oaks. In the years since, laurel oaks have invaded and closed the canopy. While observing understory favorites like dogwood, buckthorn, and sassafras, my colleague directed my attention to a barred owl perched on an overhead branch just 20 feet away. The large owl was watching us intently. We watched it for several minutes and then went about our business. We noticed the owl was shadowing us as we walked the centerline of a future street. We tried to get it to talk to us without success. We did circle around it and were able to entice it to swivel its head just over 180 degrees.

Listen to audio clips of various calls of this species here, here, and here.

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