Friday, July 19, 2013

Owl Deja Vu

I first saw the Philippine Eagle-Owl just after the new year of 2012. It was the first owl Jops and I ever saw and it was amazing! I can still remember being with fellow birders, led by Karen, enjoying the large and very behaved Philippine Eagle-Owl perched atop an acacia tree in the middle of Karen's busy office compound. I also very clearly remember the surprise and awe that rippled through the group as another owl flew in, and then led us to a juvenile owl in a nearby concrete plant box! A family of owls to start the year!

Fast forward to 2013, Karen is now in another continent and the owls have long left their nesting place. Luckily, Karen infected her office mate, Jayce, with the birding bug and he was keeping an eye out for the owls. He spotted them recently and Jops and I signed up for the second viewing of the owls.

We arrived a little past 5PM and saw Jayce and Brian already observing the owl. It was in the same tree as when we saw them last year. Anthony B. pulled up shortly after we parked and we all got our cameras and scope ready and walked to see the largest owl species in the Philippines. (It was a lifer for Anthony! So he walked faster than us =P)

The owl was curiously observing us and other passersby walking out the compound on their way home. The afternoon sun was shining gently on the owl... and pretty soon it began to rain. We took cover in a nearby building and waited for the rain to stop. Thankfully it did and we went back to watching the owl. Jayce and I looked for some pellets and found some on a patch of grass under the tree.

This pellet has mostly hair and a few large bones...
This one had mostly bones,
including a small rodent's mandible!
Jayce collected and wrapped the pellets in paper
to be further studied

Tina A. and her friend Malou arrived to view the owl (lifers for them too!) Light was fading quickly but we stayed, waiting for the other owl to fly in, as it has been observed doing that previously. After some minutes of chatting and waiting, Tina spotted something huge fly in from the trees to the area behind us! Jayce and I crossed the street to get a better view but saw nothing in the trees. Then suddenly, a huge shape flew towards our side of the street! It was the second owl and it came from the concrete plant boxes. A few seconds after, I saw a head pop out from the plant box... there was a juvenile owl there!

A bonus sighting for all of us!

The rest of the group quickly crossed the street to get a view of the young owl. And what views we got! The juvenile owl hopped up on the planter's ledge and started walking the length of the box. It would stretch out its wings and practice going airborne for a few seconds before landing again safely on the ledge. It was really amazing to see it "practice" flying! The first owl was still on its perch, watching over its baby, while the other one hadn't returned yet. We were all ecstatic having just seen an unexpected owl family! It was definitely owl deja vu for me and Jops!

Just like last year, we got to unexpectedly see a whole family of owls and here we were again, just as surprised and just as lucky to see all three owls - two adults and a juvenile! Apparently, these Philippine Eagle-Owls reuse their nests and as long as they are not threatened or disturbed in any way, will continue to do so to the delight of us birders =)


  1. if someone had told me 10 years ago that owls were still to be found in qc (much less breeding!) i probably wouldn't have believed him. look how far we've come!

    great update maia!

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