Andy Kleinhesselink listens for owls in Green Canyon for the 2012 Christmas Bird Count.
Tonight we had a great field trip up Green Canyon with the USU chapter of the Wildlife Society. A total of 18 of us worked our way up the canyon after dark in the light snow, stopping periodically to broadcast owl songs and calls. It took a little over an hour to get our first response, a calling NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL. The owl started calling in the distance, but moved at least twice, coming closer and closer to us, calling all the while. It was great to have the owl so close and loud - often owling involves straining your ears to make out distant sounds. A little further up the road, we had our second owl of the night, a singing NORTHERN PYGMY-OWL. This bird started with a fast song that had us a little confused about whether it might have been another Saw-whet Owl for a moment, but soon settled in to a very typical single-note Pygmy-Owl song. At our next stop, we heard one owl give a single hoot, but we couldn't coax it into saying anything else and had to leave that one unidentified. On the way back down, two observers were pretty sure that they heard a WESTERN SCREECH-OWL sing once, but no one else heard it and we couldn't get it to respond to additional broadcasts. We ended a little after 9:30 PM, but not before helping someone else get their truck unstuck from the snow - they picked a lucky night to get stuck in Green Canyon!