There are also two others that occasionally come here in winter, and when they do, birders (people who watch birds) go nuts. A few years back, birders from all over the US descended on Bend (some by the bus-load!) when a Hawk Owl visited us from Canada - and when the gigantic Snowy Owls drift into Oregon from the Arctic Circle they make headlines. And just about every logger and wood-product worker knows what the Northern Spotted Owl looks like - but do you? Take a look at the photos, do you know which is the Northern Spotted Owl?
Most of the owls that live and visit Oregon consume rodents like there is no tomorrow. When there's a lot of voles (small, mouse-like rodents) hundreds of Long-eared Owls can be found nesting in old hawk, raven, and magpie nests all the way from the Columbia River to Lakeview on the east side of the Cascades.
As far as I know there isn't an owl that actually "builds" a nest - that is, carries sticks and other nesting material to a tree or structure. Most of them do, however, lay eggs on and in other bird's nests, often before winter is through, dumping snow and making ice. Sometimes, Great Horned Owls find themselves in a heap of trouble when they use an abandoned golden eagle nest. When momma eagle comes back to use it, she has no patience; she just eats mom, dad and all the kids.
On the other hand, Great Horned Owls kill and eat anything they want to from ducks, geese and barn cats to gophers, mice, chickens, jackrabbits and skunks. For that reason, they are also known as "The Tiger of the Air," but they prefer gophers and jackrabbits. They are also formidable at protecting their young from human intruders. I had to have my ear stitched up and my glasses were destroyed when a GHO nesting near Alfalfa decided she didn't want her babies banded.
Barn Owls are nocturnal and come by their name because they've found old barns and deserted outbuildings make wonderful nesting habitat, and usually their favorite food - mice - are literally underfoot. These beautiful birds are among the most primitive of owls; fossils of these silent flyers of the night have been found in 60-million-year-old rock. They are also cosmopolitan, found throughout the Old and New worlds, Africa, Australia, and Asia.
With that, why don't you take a crack at naming the owls. If you would like to e-mail me your guesses, please do (firstname.lastname@example.org). Or flip to page 55 for the answers. Oh, by the way, there are certain people who are disqualified to take this quiz: Dean, Tom, Chuck, Diane, Don, Judy, Marilyn, and Craig, just to name a few - you know who you are - and no Googling!
If you enjoyed this week's quiz, wait 'till next week and we'll chat about the rest of Oregon's owls...
The following is a list of four common Oregon owls. See if you can match them to their photos.Match the owl to its photo below:
a. Barn Owl
b. Great Horned Owl
c. Long-eared Owl
d. Northern Spotted Owl