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Odd owl behavior

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Old Tuesday 25th October 2011, 00:36   #1
zippetydude
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Odd owl behavior

I've come across an odd behavior by some small owls just after it gets dark, and I was wondering if anyone can help me understand what they're doing. When I'm out on a trail in the hills by my house (in southern California, in the foothills at the base of Mt. San Gorgonio, near Big Bear, at elevation 3000 - 4000 feet), I will have 3 - 4 small owls, with a body length of maybe 10-12 inches (it's hard to say for sure since I only see them at night) begin to circle back and forth and around above my head, maybe 10 to 20 feet up.

What would create this behavior? Are they territorial and want me to leave? They're not showing any aggressive behavior like swooping down at me...

Could they be hoping I'll flush out small creatures on the ground? I've never seen one drop down and attack anything...

The only ideas I can come up with don't seem to pan out. Can someone give me a better answer?

Thanks. I'm just a beginner at this, but I'm very curious about understanding what they do as well as identifying the birds.

z
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Old Thursday 27th October 2011, 08:47   #2
Raptor-man
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Are they definately owls? Do they ever go and perch anywhere or are they continuosly flying around your head?

Sounds a bit like a bat to me, but A) don't know if you get bats that big where you are B) don't want to insult your ID skills

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Old Thursday 27th October 2011, 09:24   #3
Andy Hurley
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Hi Zippetydude, welcome to the forum.

You might try looing here http://www.sangorgonio.sierraclub.or...ia_spotted_owl It gives plenty of info and you might find your owls among them.

Good luck

Andy


EDIT Flammulated owl Otus flammeolus could fit?

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Old Thursday 27th October 2011, 10:04   #4
rockfowl
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Hurley View Post
Hi Zippetydude, welcome to the forum.

You might try looing here http://www.sangorgonio.sierraclub.or...ia_spotted_owl It gives plenty of info and you might find your owls among them.

Good luck

Andy


EDIT Flammulated owl Otus flammeolus could fit?
Sorry Andy, a flock of circling 'otus' is just not right, anywhere

They sound like bats to me, taking advantage of disturbed insect prey.
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Old Thursday 27th October 2011, 10:08   #5
Andy Hurley
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fair enough rockfowl,

having never seen them in RL and as the op shows no images, I was just trying to find some possibilities.... I think the website might still point to what they are as it seems all encompassing.

Andy
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Old Thursday 27th October 2011, 11:04   #6
rockfowl
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fair enough rockfowl,

having never seen them in RL and as the op shows no images, I was just trying to find some possibilities.... I think the website might still point to what they are as it seems all encompassing.

Andy
No probs. I guess the other possibility would be again a Nightjar species - see zippy's other thread, but not owls.
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Old Thursday 27th October 2011, 21:24   #7
zippetydude
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Hi. Thanks for the responses; sorry about the delayed response, I've been away for a couple of days.

I'm sure they were owls, because two of them landed about 100 yards away from me one evening, though not near each other. They had the smooth gliding flight of an owl as well, not that herky-jerky flitting of a bat.

They were totally silent, and in the deepening dusk it was hard to make out more than their shape and size.

I'll check out the link provided above and see if I can identify them.

z
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Old Thursday 27th October 2011, 21:32   #8
bitterntwisted
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Really doesn't sound like owl behaviour to me, but as Mark suggests they could be the same Common Poorwills, or another species of nightjar, as in your other thread.

I can't find a picture of one in flight, but there is a sketch here... http://identify.whatbird.com/obj/379..._Poorwill.aspx
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