Sunday, January 11, 2015

A Proportional Response

I heard the chattering alarm of the wren first, just down slope in a mix of oaks and chaparral.

Then the wren zipped up into a valley oak, where several hummingbirds were also all-a-buzz.

And, while the sun angle was poor, I thought I could see another small bird in the branches.

Brown back, streaky white-brown breast, long tail... fox sparrow? Naw.

pygmy owl

My friends threw out "helpful" ideas.

"It's just a gall. Or lichen."

"Then why did it just turn its head and look at me?," I replied.

pygmy owl

A little predator? I noodled and moved toward a better angle.

"Oh - I see, said the same friend. Is it an owl?"


"Yes, that's exactly right - it's a pygmy owl."

About 6 inches tall and 2.5 ounces in weight, pygmy owls hunt small birds. Hence the harassing by the hummers and wren.

It was a proportional response.

And the four of us without binocs or big lenses. Dang.

But the pint-size predator did nicely kick-back and give us all a good gaze. And a few croppable point-and-shoot pics.

pygmy owl

pygmy owl

I've had glancing views and heard their calls before, but never long looks.

A daymaker species, for sure.