[midvalleybirds] Re: Long-eared owl at Coffin Butte, Benton Co.

clearwater at peak.org clearwater at peak.org
Sat Mar 2 05:39:08 PST 2019

Alex & All, 

As I commented on the MidValley birding list after your eBird posting resulted in a rare-bird- alert ... This is indeed an unusual situation to find a Long-eared Owl in during broad daylight. My hunch is that the bird that got flushed from its daytime roost somewhere nearby, perhaps by people working around the back side of the landfill or the quarry area, and flew to that fence. 

If a Long-eared Owl is flushed from its roost, it will often fly just 100-100 ft and land in the first available substitute, then sit there "frozen" for some minutes, and finally move on if it figures out that it's too exposed. In that area there are huge numbers of crows and ravens which may pose more of a threat than passing trucks. Dropping down into the grass to hide before being mobbed by corvids might have been the best option. 

It was good luck that you happened to come by just when the owl was in that situation! 


From: "Alex Farrand" <dmarc-noreply at freelists.org> (Redacted sender 
Subject: [obol] Long-eared owl North Benton Co 
Date: Fri, 1 Mar 2019 15:42:04 -0800 

Went out to look for the Glaucous Gull reported yesterday at the Coffin Butte dump this afternoon. No gulls were visible from the road on the east side of the Butte so I drove west toward the backside along Coffin Butte Rd. Just past the split I saw an owl perched on the fence. At first I thought it was a Short-eared Owl based on size and habitat (fairly open) but then I saw the very prominent tufts. I pulled over and got good looks through my binos. I’m almost positive it was a Long-eared. Orange face with black and white stripes, checkered belly. Got some crappy photos that don’t show much except the tufts and the relative size which is much too small for Great-Horned. I will post later on e-bird when I get a chance. 

What made it even more weird was the fact that every few minutes a large dump truck carrying rock would come rumbling past less than thirty feet away from where this bird was perched. After 5 minutes of observation it dropped into the tall grass below the fence. I was hoping it had heard the sound of a rodent rustling in the grass and dropped down for a meal and then would fly back up to the fence to eat it, but it stayed out of sight. 

My only hesitation with this call is how unusual this situation appears to be. I always thought of Long-eared Owls as being strictly nocturnal and never out in the open. There was a few trees and shrubs nearby but otherwise very open. Any thoughts? 

Joel Geier 
Camp Adair area north of Corvalllis 

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