Date: 1/6/21 5:33 am From: Steven Warmack <SteveWarmack...> Subject: Re: Harriers and short-ears
A few weeks back I was at the Stuttgart Airport looking for Longspurs and ran in to a birder/biologist from somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. He was in the state looking for the FTFL and swung by the airport looking for Smith's before going over there. As we talked, the subject of Short Eared Owls came up and he mentioned that he normally could find them by watching wherever the Harriers landed in the evening (or launched in the morning). He acknowledged that he thought it was pretty weird, but it was his experience.
I had previously heard numerous times "If you have harriers in the daytime you have short eared at night"... but that was the first time I had ever heard they were THAT closely connected.
I was skeptical... (and I still am)
BUT... just a few weeks later I went to a spot where Short Eared Owls had been seen in years past, (on the hunt, since I had never seen one) and watched as the Harriers glided low over the grass in the late afternoon right up until sundown.
Then, right at dusk, I noticed a little commotion above the grass and noticed one of the harriers in a short airborne scuffle with another bird of prey taking off from the ground just as the harrier was landing. They went their separate ways, and then I found myself watching two or three Short-eared Owls seamlessly taking over the night shift, hunting over the same fields. Once the harrier landed he stayed until it was dark and I left. It seems like the owls were lifting from almost right where the harriers were coming in for the night.
This is one anecdote... from one sighting.. in one field... and my only experience with the species thus far, but I found it interesting based on what the birder I met at the airport had told me just a couple of weeks before.