They always look bigger in the tree than they do in the hand, don't they? The photo shows a Flammulated Owl that was captured during a banding session with Lance Benner and Dr. Walt Sakai in July 2011. Unlike many owls, this species is migratory, spending winters in northern Central America. It migrates to our local San Gabriel Mountains to breed in summer. By June, they are firmly established in higher-elevation Douglas Fir forest. They require tree cavities, often former woodpecker nests, to build their own nests.
This small owl hunts at night, mostly for insects, particularly moths and butterflies. It will occasionally take a small mammal.
"Flammulated" refers to the flashes of rufous color among the predominantly grey plumage. Like other screech-owls, this species spends the day in a camouflage posture with an erect, slender body, ear tufts raised, tail down, looking as much like a piece of tree bark as possible.
By the time the September Wrentit is published these owls will be gone, headed back to their southern wintering grounds. Go find them while you can.