Monday, March 6, 2017 Great Gray Owl, and Spread-Eagles drama

Seward, Alaska

I received an exciting report of a GREAT GRAY OWL spotted around 10 am this morning in the cottonwoods along the alley behind Essential One and Safeway. By the time I arrived, the unusual visitor was gone. I and three other birders cruised around the area, looking and listening for upset Jays, Magpies, or Ravens. When looking for a lost bird, anywhere is possible, and that needle could be in an infinite number of haystacks. We did not (yet) refind the owl but will keep looking.

While searching for the owl, I discovered two BALD EAGLES hanging upside down from opposite sides of a spruce branch about 35’ off the ground. It looked like a variation of the classic talon grab gone bad. The younger bird had a firm grip one of the legs of the older eagle, but I couldn’t see the other talons. Both birds had tired of holding their wings closed, and were spread-eagled.

The younger Eagle, however, had not yet tired of screaming at the other bird, just inches away from its sharp yellow beak. Fortunately, there was no retaliation or response, just stolid resignation and regret. A few RAVENS landed nearby to heckle the incapacitated pair with rude remarks and flew closer with bravado. Ravens are not ones to miss an opportunity like this!

I was on the cell phone about to contact the Alaska Sealife Center for rescue when they suddenly managed to break free, tumbled down then regained control and flew off. Yea! So relieved for the happy ending!

Keep your eyes peeled for that magnificent Great Gray Owl!

Tasha noted that owl biologists recommend against using playback calls when owls are in the early stages of nesting. Playback calls could scare the owls away and disrupt their establishment of territories and courtship. I don’t think this applies to a lost Great Gray Owl in the same way, but it is busy trying to find food, shelter, and stay safe. Please keep this courtesy in mind for the locals including Western Screech Owl, Great Horned Owls, and Saw-whet Owls.

Magic for us may be a nightmare for them and a loss for all.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

For a few photos, please visit my blog at

No comments:

Post a Comment