The recent sighting of Short-eared Owls at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge has created quite a stir, with photographers and birders vying for a look at the rare visitors.
Jack Chiles checked the bird census reports for the Refuge, and found that this particular owl has not been sighted since 1991, but previous to that was seen every few years.
The following is a list of recorded sightings of Short-eared Owl on the refuge.
1971 - 2 were seen on 2/7, 1 on 2/27, 1 on 3/10 and 3/22.
1974 - 2-5 seen on 11/23 to 12/17
1979 - 1 on 11/30
1982 - 2 on 12/18
1983 - 1 on 1/28 and 2/10
1984 - 1 on 11/11
1986 - 1 on 5/29
1989 - 1 on 1/26 and 2/2
1991 - 1 on 11/10, 11/11, 11/14, 11/16, 11/19
And the current series of sightings starting with the sighting by Skeeter and Marolyn Lasuzzo on Thursday, January 12, 2012, at the marsh on Silliman Rd.
According to David Sibley (Sibley Guide to Birds, Knopf, 2000), the Short-eared is a medium sized owl and so aerial that it may be confused with the Northern Harrier and like the Harrier, is found in open expanses such as marshes and prairie, hunting rodents, often seen during daylight hours. The winter range covers most of the lower half of the U.S. as well as the upper West Coast. Welcome back to Hagerman!
Photo - Short-eared Owl, by Mike Chiles