Big Country Audubon Society

Big Country Blog

Long-eared Owl Found in Taylor County

LEOW

Guest post by Heidi Trudell –

This afternoon (3/7/08) while heading back from work I spotted a lump of roadkill just off the shoulder of 351 and out of the kindness of his heart, my coworker obliged and we investigated the lump. Initially the lump looked like a clump of wood or Great-horned Owl, but Carson pointed out that it was too small and quite buffy. Sadly, I’ve never seen a live Long-eared Owl so I was hesitant to call it LEOW but nothing else would have been close. The whole critter is maybe half the size of a GHOW, has quite small talons, slender ear tufts, lemony yellow eyes, very heavily mottled back and wings and tail… The underwings are overall buffy with a distinct dark splotch near the “wrist.” It’s definitely an exciting bird for me, even if it’s not exactly countable – getting such close looks at fresh specimens of any species is exciting. Many thanks to Carson Brown, Laura Packer, Michael Retter and Jay Packer for their assistance in identifying, photographing, documenting and generally cooperating in getting the LEOW online and into the freezer!

***Please note that state & federal permits are required to pick up dead critters, the LEOW in question is under Texas A&M’s salvage permit and will end up in their collection. This is not to say that you should ignore fresh roadkill, but make sure that someone with permits is able to pick it up.

To see more pictures of this first Taylor County record (or until proven otherwise) click on the Long-eared Owl Photos.

7 Responses to “Long-eared Owl Found in Taylor County”

  1. John Ehlers Says:

    Heidi:
    why is the critter “not countable” ??

    Uncle John

  2. Edna Says:

    Wow – it’s lovely – I’m sad that it was a road kill.

  3. heidi Says:

    Uncle J,
    Happy birthday! Sadly, the only live (and uninjured, I suppose) critters are “countable” because part of the sport is being able to ID a critter behaving normally in the wild. Finding the bird is half the challenge, in this case I’d say it came to me. You raise an interesting point though, because one of the coolest birds I’ve never seen (alive) was a Buff-collared Nightjar – it was far more challenging than this owl because there was no body at all, just a pile of feathers. It was probably a better look than I’ll ever have of a live one though. Anyway, hope all’s well with you!
    -h

  4. Linda N. Says:

    A pity the owl didn’t get to live out it’s full life. I once found a barn owl dead on the road–it made me so sad. It’s too bad that they have to go this way.

  5. Lance Says:

    Just curious on any theories of how it died. Any marks on the owl that might give light?

    I’d assume if just natural causes that could be determined by glancing inside. Be interested to know why a rare owl in this area like this died.

  6. Jay Says:

    I would suspect that the bird was killed by a car. Owls are especially susceptible to auto collisions as the grassy medians of highways are rich with rodents, and favored places to hunt.

  7. Keith Arnold Says:

    Laura,

    I recently prpared the bird as a specimen for inclusion in the Texas Cooperative Wildlife COllections at TAMU. A female with enlarging ovary, the bird had a broken right humerus and two bad breaks in the cranium. I have no doubt that Jay correctlt called the COD.

    Keith