Ever since James told us that Burrowing Owls could be found in Berkeley, I've been a bit obsessed with the idea of seeing this elusive little bird. The fact that we failed to see one for so long just made this weekend's sighting all the more thrilling. Robb needed to get some exercise, so we took his trike and the camera gear and went out owl hunting.
The Burrowing Owl looks remarkably like a baked potato on legs, and skinny legs at that.
Burrowing Owls live, not surprisingly, in tunnels in the ground. Around here, they seem to favor the burrows dug by Ground Squirrels. Like so many birds, Burrowing Owls' populations are in trouble because of habitat destruction and predation.
You wouldn't think that these tiny little fellows had anything to fear, by the way they behaved. They proudly perched out in the open, much to the delight of bird-watcher and photographers. The swarms of Ground Squirrels didn't seem bother them, nor did the joggers or (ahem!) off-leash dogs. Of course, birds tend not to show stress, so the owls may have been sweating bullets for all we know.
The squirrels are a part of the owls' diet, so maybe they had something to worry about as well. Pretty amazing, when you consider the relative size of these two animals. Robb saw one of the owls yawn at one point, and he said that it was like seeing a cut-in-half tennis ball split open. That little owl face has a very large mouth.
And speaking of which, do click on the squirrel photo for a closer look at those teeth. I've rarely seen anything quite as strange as this.
Oh, who am I kidding? Robb and I live in a very strange world!
I took this photo before we headed out on the trail. This is Linguine, rolling around in a sunbeam.