Many people know that Ashland and its surroundings offer outstanding birding, but most limit their viewing to the daylight hours. A whole new experience and world await those willing to venture out in the evening and night hours. While the rest of our familiar birds are on their roosts for the night, Ashland’s avian night watch begins. A variety of Owl species begins the nightly patrol of our skies in search of their next meal, or perhaps a partner during nesting season. Owls are raptors that have evolved to take advantage of the night. While the ever familiar Hawks, Falcons, and Eagles fly the daylight sky, Owls own the night. Extra large eyes, facial disks that concentrate sounds, offset ears that allow for triangulating the location of sound, and wing feathers that make no noise in flight allow Owls to catch prey in complete darkness. Owls are the original stealth flying machine!
Luckily for us it’s not always necessary to venture out in the middle of the night to view and enjoy this remarkable group of birds. The Ashland area offers the opportunity to see eight species of Owls all occupying their own niche in our local landscape. The following Owls all call the Siskiyous and Cascades home: Great Horned Owl, Great Gray Owl, Barn Owl, Spotted Owl, Barred Owl, Northern Pygmy Owl, Northern Saw-whet Owl, and Western Screech Owl. To see a few of these species try the following sites and areas: Lithia Park and Granite St nearly always have one or two Western Screech Owls. Look for them tucked away in the daylight hours in knot holes in trees or the occasional nest box. The Ashland watershed is home to Spotted Owls -try hiking Road 2060 above Four Corners. The familiar who-who-who of the Great Horned Owl can often be heard throughout town during January and February as they seek mates. Look for their silhouettes perched high in a Ponderosa pine. For many people the ultimate local Owl to view is the Great Gray Owl. North America’s largest Owl (although not the heaviest – that distinction belongs to the Great Horned Owl) is often seen along Dead Indian Memorial Highway in the vicinity of Howard Prairie Reservoir. Look for them at forest edges and in meadows often perched on fence posts or stumps.
Good luck in your search for these impressive birds of the night sky and feel free to call or stop by the Northwest Nature Shop for more details about these birds or the latest sightings!
Join the Northwest Nature Shop with one of our upcoming events:
Make a Heart Shaped Bird Feeder Saturday February 7th 2-3 pm $10
Just in time for Valentine’s Day. Kids ages 5 and up will love to make fun heart-shaped seed feeders.
All about Moss! Sunday Feb 15th 2-5 pm $15
Learn what makes moss different from other plants, explore a mossy area and make a moss garden to take home.
Klamath Basin Area Birding Field Trip Sunday, February 22nd at 7 am $25/participant
February is an ideal time to plan a visit to the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge. Winter is the peak of raptor and waterfowl concentrations in the refuge. Join Northwest Nature Shop expert birder, Terence Philippe for an all-day outing to the Lower Klamath Wildlife Refuge. Birders of all skill levels are welcome.
Build your own bird house! Saturday March 14th at 11 am $7
Spring is the perfect time to build a birdhouse. Birds are a valuable resource for gardeners, birdwatchers and farmers, aiding in insect control and pollination of plant varieties.