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Owl at Castle Island

Adam Balsam reports he and the kids spotted this owl up on a wall at Castle Island on Thursday morning - a few weekends after they'd driven up to Plum Island to see an owl, only they didn't.

I love that we we were ultimately able to see one so close to home.


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The owl is just so adorable Magoo wants to cuddle and snuggle it and talk cutesy Ootsy Bebe talksky to the ittle cutesky. Magoo.

Voting closed 8

The structure of owls' eyes is extremely complex, which gives them extraordinary vision. But because of that complexity, owls cannot move their eyes from side to side and can look only in the direction their faces are pointing. And that, in turn, is why their heads can swivel nearly 180°.

Voting closed 11

To me it seems the need to rotate the head is a prerequisite for precise auditory triangulation from a perch; an owl's preferred approach for predation. The diurnal aspect of these predators more heavily weigh auditory sensing over visual means to locate prey. Once head rotation was evolved to facilitate auditory triangulation it is a straightforward optimization to fix the eyes inside the socket.
That being said fixing the eyes substantially improves stereo parallax inference. It is physically impossible to do precise stereo-parallax if the optical axis are moving relative to each other and the reason why man-made stereo setups always fix the two cameras rigidly and almost always are fixed-focus (more elaborate setups can encode stereo calibration as a function of focus distance). Thermal variation is a significant factor for man-made stereo but not an issue for warm-blooded animals. Aperture does not affect optical calibration. I would guess an owl would fix it's optical parameters once it's full-grown. Other than improving stereo-parallax I see no other benefits to fixing the eyes within the socket.
This may well be a audio-visual co-evolution where rotating the head optimizes both features.

Voting closed 18

Is that Who? Where has Who been? What has Who been doing? When did Who do what Who did? How did Who do what Who did when Who did what who was doing?

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Where is the best place to see them these days? Does anybody know? We struck out at Plum Island, too.


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Saw two at Plum Island yesterday! One at the Hellcat observation tower and one on a wooden next out in the marsh.

I checked ebird before I went to see where they were spotted that day and went from there. Other birders were helpful in directing us as well!

Voting closed 22

I've seen them there during the past year - just look for tripods.

Plum Island is okay, you just have to get lucky. I took the day off a couple of years ago and biked onto the island from the visitor's center and there were two just hanging out on the marsh on the mainland side of the bridge. I posted some pics and a birding friend was all "WHAT? That's no fairrrr" as he had struck out repeatedly in the same spot.

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Bird nerds are quite sensitive, I'd be careful not to brag!

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At one time, you could find them at Logan. Don't know if that's still true.


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By Bass Rocks a year or two ago.

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While walking my dog, It had an almost dead rat in its grasp....welcome to the city.

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