Thursday, January 10, 2013

Canvasback and Barred Owl!

Late Sunday morning after the group bird walk and early afternoon, I unexpectedly added two bird species to my neighborhood bird list. Soon after the group bird walk, Barry Noret texted me that he found a Canvasback on the Parmer Village pond. A few of us from the bird walk had gone to eat brunch at Z-tejas as usual. Afterwards, Bill Dodd and I stopped by the pond. We found two Canvasbacks among mostly Ring-necked Ducks actively diving in the pond. Both Ring-necked Ducks and Canvasbacks are winter-resident ducks in central Texas that feed by diving underwater and eating mostly aquatic plants, but also catching small fish and other aquatic animals. Canvasbacks are much less numerous and are usually found in deeper water. I had never found one on our creek or in the Parmer Village pond, so I was excited to see these. They were species number 215 on my neighborhood list. Here's a photo showing two on the left. The ducks on the right are Ring-necked Ducks.

Canvasbacks and Ring-necked Ducks

When I got home I sat at my desk in my office as usual to transfer photos from my camera to my computer. Looking out my window I saw a large bird fly into my neighbor's tree.
Thinking it was a Red-shouldered Hawk I grabbed my binoculars to make sure. And I was surprised to see that it was a Barred Owl! I've only ever seen and heard Great Horned Owls and Eastern Screech-Owls in our neighborhood, both expected urban and suburban species. Barred Owls are usually found a little further away from the city, and they are very vocal with a distinctive "Who-cooks-for-you!" pattern to their song. I've never heard or seen one in the neighborhood before and didn't expect to. So I suspect this bird was a fluke. It probably was on its way to find a new patch of habitat further from town. But I could be wrong, and I'll definitely keep my eyes and ears open for them here. This was species number 216 on my neighborhood list. Here's a photo I got through my office window. I went outside to try and get some better photos, but I scared the bird away before I could take any.

Barred Owl - 3

What a thrill! First a new duck species for my neighborhood list, and then a new owl species! Many thanks to Barry Noret for telling me about the Canvasbacks. And I still can't believe I saw a Barred Owl while sitting at my desk in front of my computer! Whenever you're near a window, always keep your eyes open!

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