We first saw the owl from a distance. We were walking across the park and on top of the far hill I spotted a blob. The binoculars showed it as a bird. The scope as an owl.
We knew this owl was here, and in fact two short-eared owls had been reported at the Pennypack Park in Philadelphia.
We kept walking to get a better view. And we did.
The bird looked at us and decided we weren't worth worrying about and we happily snapped away. Getting great looks.
As we were leaving we ran into some birding friends and as we were pointing out this bird, getting it in the scope for them from the field were we first saw it, the second owl flew over us. So off we went to to get a better look at that bird.
We weren't able to get quite as close as this bird was a bit more skittish. It flew as we approached. Perhaps it was because we were now a group of seven rather than two. Notice that it is much darker than the first bird.
But before it left it regurgitated a pellet, the first time I'd ever seen this, which we were able to collect and examine.
Lacking teeth owls swallow small prey whole and larger prey in chunks, including such indigestible parts such as feathers, fur and bones. These indigestible parts are then regurgitated as pellets. In the pellet we found there were a number of small mammal and bird bones including a small mammal skull.
We would see this second bird again as we were leaving the park and even though it was well up on top of a tree, and we were again only two, it flew off well before we were within a 100 meters. In contrast, the first bird was pretty much in the same place we had first spotted it.
Any day you see an owl is a good day. Seeing a pellet regurgitated was a bonus. And seeing three owls in the same weekend without leaving the city is very cool.