great horned owl chicks wow birdwatchers

owl chicks in golden gate park (photo by Janet Kessler)

The following is excerpted from an article by Katie Worth in the San Francisco Examiner (4-9-11):

“In the mottled light behind the trunk of a pine tree, four poofs with eyes huddle together. And they’re watching.  Those poofs are in fact baby great horned owls, and for the last few weeks, they’ve been watching — and being watched by — a growing number of birders, gardeners, joggers and the occasional lucky tourist.

The nest is high in a pine tree on Strawberry Hill, the waterfall-laden lump of an island in the middle of Stow Lake  .  .  .  The nest is one of two that are common knowledge among Golden Gate Park birdwatchers; the second is near the buffalo paddocks.

Golden Gate Audubon Society member Dan Murphy, who leads San Francisco’s annual Christmas bird count, said it’s possible there are a handful of other great horned owls in the park that haven’t been spotted by birders. However, the species is territorial enough that there’s not room for many in the park.

Murphy says all of the babies are unlikely to survive. Many die in their first year, sometimes being pushed out of the nest by their larger siblings or mother if food is scarce.  “As long as there’s plenty of food, the younger ones will probably survive,” he said.  There once were also barn owls and screech owls in the park, he said, but they haven’t been spotted in a long time.”

Read more via Great horned owl chicks a hit with birdwatchers | Katie Worth | Local | San Francisco Examiner.


About fromthethicket

I'm a landscape historian and professor emeritus of landscape architecture, UC Davis. I live in San Francisco.
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