For most of my life owls have seemed mysterious, rarely sighted and solitary. To see a nesting pair was a great coup. However all of my preconceptions were thrown out the window last week as I saw 27 owls comprising 5 different species, all in two days!
To begin with, this was only possible with some expert help, a bit of luck and a quirk of some owls’ habits. Turns out, some owls, like Short-eared and Long-eared, winter together in communal roosts, clustering together in relative proximity on their wintering grounds. The fact that this happens in Colorado and I happen to have a friend who had discovered roosting spots was exceptional good fortune.
The last bit of good fortune was finding two owls at Pinello Ranch, a Western Screech Owl, first found by one of our volunteers, and the second a Great Horned Owl, a pair are nesting somewhere on the Pinello Ranch/Venetucci Farm border. In all, I saw 10 Long-eared Owls fluttering around their day roost in brushy groves of Russian Olive trees, 14 Short-eared Owls erupting from open prairie riddled with ground squirrel burrows, 1 Barn Owl also amongst Russian Olives and Cottonwood trees, 1 Screech Owl roosting in a hollow of a Siberian Elm tree and 1 Great Horned Owl swooping amongst ancient Cottonwood trees. Unfortunately, only the Long-eared Owls and Western Screech Owl were obliging photographic subjects.