[Tweeters] Barred Owl/Squirrel + West Seattle migrants

Tucker, Trileigh TRI at seattleu.edu
Sat Aug 27 15:35:37 PDT 2016

Hi Tweets,

Well, it seems that between Ed's message below and Joan Miller's report from yesterday afternoon, I'm the only West Seattle Tweeter whose yard the Black-throated Gray Warblers are passing up at the moment. I'll have to spend more time out there.

But still it's offered some interesting sightings. Last night Rob and I were settling out on the deck for some reading around dusk, and I saw a large brown bird fly from a tall Doug Fir at the edge of our yard. That was the beginning (at least, the part we saw) of a 15-minute-long episode involving a Barred Owl and an Eastern Gray Squirrel chasing and attacking each other. There is an active squirrel nest on that Doug Fir, and I believe the two squirrels involved may have been either the parents or a parent and a youngster. One squirrel gave a continuously repeated alarm call from a thicket of branches as the other engaged the owl.

At first I assumed only that the owl was after the squirrel - but then several times Rob and I witnessed the owl attack the squirrel, which then circled back around the tree trunk and leaped at the owl, or rushed along a branch to the owl. I had the sense that the squirrel was defending its nest by drawing the owl away from it. I'd never seen this behavior and found it fascinating.

The owl seemed to be carrying its right wing unusually low, and several times landed awkwardly among the branches, and we wondered whether the wing had been injured by the squirrel or something else.

By the end of the 15 minutes, it was too dark for us to see anything, and the owl seemed to give up and fly off. (Sure would've loved there to be enough light for good photos, but that's always the inherent problem with owl photography.)

You never know when you're going to get an education just by sitting on your deck or hanging out in the yard...

Good birding,

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Trileigh Tucker
Pelly Valley, West Seattle
Natural history website: Naturalpresencearts.com<Naturalpresence.wordpress.com>
Photography: Flickr.com/photos/trileigh

From: Ed Swan <Edswan2 at comcast.net<mailto:Edswan2 at comcast.net>>
Date: Friday, August 26, 2016 at 10:33 PM
To: "tweeters at u.washington.edu<mailto:tweeters at u.washington.edu>" <tweeters at u.washington.edu<mailto:tweeters at u.washington.edu>>
Subject: [Tweeters] West Seattle migrants

Nothing spectacular or unusual but it was interesting to see in the climax of the heat from 5:30-6:30 this afternoon/evening quite a bit of activity. The resident towhees, Song Sparrows, Bewick's Wrens, Bushtits, House Finches, Anna's Hummingbirds, creepers, nuthatches and both chicks were active but also a number of flycatchers, warblers, vireos and tanagers. The tanagers were definitely migrating through with at least four feeding actively when they've only had a scattered presence in the spring and summer and I also had a Black-throated Grey Warbler first sighting since we moved here 18 months ago. Also present were at least one each of Pacific-slope Flycatcher, Hutton's Vireo, Orange-crowned Warbler and Wilson's Warbler. All of these species were present through the spring and to some extent into summer, so it's hard to tell if they were migrants or birds that bred or were born this year. All were feeding pretty actively and at the same time chasing each other. The warblers especially seemed obsessed with chasing the chickadees as they went back and forth from the woods to the feeder.

I also saw the Black Turnstones back, about 20 or so, along the rip rap just north of the water taxi dock and a number of Savannah Sparrows. Do the turnstones always come back this early this far into the Sound?

Ed Swan
Nature writer and guide
edswan2 at comcast.net<mailto:edswan2 at comcast.net>

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