[Tweeters] Clellensburg report - owls and more - 5/21/14

Barbara Deihl barbdeihl at comcast.net
Fri May 23 13:53:21 PDT 2014

Easily prompted by a couple of you Tweets, as well as my own undying owl love, I just HAD to get over to Cle Elum to check out the unusual nest scene in the front-yard of the CleElum High School, before the young hopped/fell out of the mouth of the totem. Two of the 3 owlets and a doting mom were visible to different extents during my visit. A friendly school librarian/IT guy told me some of the background on the owls using this site and a few anecdotes from this and the past 2 years. He also pointed out the well-hidden parent up in a nearby pine - I would have missed her until she called out to the youngstas that it was getting to be time to wake up and smell the posies - I suspected that the flowers on the 2 trees next to the totem, were wafting some scent, stimulated by the warming sun, and that the kids were starting to recognize the connection between those scents and the upcoming dinner hour(s). Yes, the angle of the sun and amount of ambient light might be clues, too, but, for whatever reasons, the mom gently 'musically' signaled for them to rouse themselves and that she was there. It took quite a while for the big guy in the front of the nest opening, to open his eyes and keep them open. Then I noticed below him and to his left, another owl shape, that one looking smaller and darker, but it was just probably my perspective and the lighting. The two young owls seemed then to 'lean to the left', likely so that both could get a view out. The librarian said that they would probably eventually tumble to the ground, pick themselves up and, using beak and talons, make their way back up into the nest - they weren't at that stage yet, I don't think. So, if you are in that area today or this weekend, you might be able to see them up in the 'mouth'. Please let us know if you go and notice anything.

Between the totem visit and the drive up Umptanum Rd., I went down the Vantage Highway, looking for other nests, but only seemed to notice the nice scenery, so I went back into Ellensburg, had a bite to eat and sped (oops - bad choice of words...:-)) on out Umptanum Rd to check on the GHOW nest scene at the spruce tree - found nothing there, so I was free to explore and photograph the always-super scenery up there and listen to the mixed chorus of bird sounds - recognizable ones included Mourning Doves, Western Meadowlarks, Brewer's Sparrows, Great Horned Owl hoots, California Quails' 'Chi-CA-go' refrains and a couple of Common Poorwills. Lots of unrecognizable (to me) other sparrow and maybe bluebird calls, one weird call down in the woods near the Umtanum Creek trailhead - some sort of owl (I must investigate that) - it was a constant call, every 3-5 seconds, for as long as I was there. It was pretty dark by that point and about 10 p.m. so it was time for me to mosey on back to Seattle.

But my owl thirst wasn't yet quenched, so before going home, I made a stop at Magnuson Park to catch a few Barn Owl hisses coming from the Community Ctr. owlbox. Ah, how superb !

Again, my photos can be viewed via the following Flickr links:

https://flic.kr/s/aHsjYkP8to Totem Tots in Cle Elum

https://flic.kr/s/aHsjYg3XSy Out on Umptanum

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