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Daytime saw-whet owl of 9/3/19 revisited

On 3 September 2019, Phil Pryde reported a possible Northern Saw-whet Owl at 9:30 AM near the so-called crossbill spot along Agua Dulce Creek (Escondido Ravine Road) in the Laguna Mountains. The owl was calling. Today, Hank Ingersoll and I heard what we believe to have been a saw-whet owl at around 10:30 AM further south and upstream, actually where the creek bed flows over the road about 0.5 mile downstream from the pump house.


At the time, we questioned the Pryde sighting as saw-whets are *almost* completely nocturnal and calling mammals such as Merriam’s Chipmunk can be mistaken for them. Several folks wrote to say that in many years of owl study they had heard daytime saw-whets only once, and that would apply for me also. I have had many nocturnal encounters with calling saw-whets.


We believe that the mellow “toot” calls we heard, 7-8 about 1.5–2.0 seconds apart, were clearly from this species and we believe Phil Pryde could have heard a saw-whet owl, possibly this individual as the distance separating the locations is minimal. I overlooked this also, Birds of North America Online says that short bursts of advertising song (whatever short means) are often emitted in midday in response to playback. There was no playback in either instance so other stimuli must exist.


Hank’s eBird report for the day will be up soon. We had frequent Haemorhous finches (Cassin’s / Purple) singing and frequent calling flyovers from Red Crossbill. Weather was great but there is still a fair amount of patchy snow all over. Creek flow was minimal considering snowmelt. The usually open gate at the south end of Wooded Hill Road was closed but the usually closed gate on Wooded Hill Road at Agua Dulce Trailhead was open, possibly for fire crews as we saw a lot of fire hose along the trail near the middle portion of the creek.  



Geoffrey Rogers

San Diego, CA


Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports