Owls in Ferndale? Not So Uncommon, Says Bird Biologist
Ferndale residents share recent owl sightings.
Have you ever seen or heard an owl in your Ferndale neighborhood? You wouldn't be the only one. In fact, owls may be more common in the area than you think.
On Wednesday, a reader posted on Ferndale Patch's Facebook page asking if anyone else had been seeing owls in their backyards. We re-posted the question, and many local residents responded saying they have.
"Last summer I saw a mother owl and several of her babies in my backyard, but they were gone by the time I got my camera," wrote Patch reader Nikki - one of many residents who shared sightings.
Types of owls
Seeing owls in an area like Ferndale isn't as uncommon as you might think, said Karen Cleveland, all-bird biologist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
"A lot of folks don't realize they're there because they're out doing their thing at night," since most owls are nocturnal, she said.
Of course, that doesn't make spotting an owl any less fascinating.
"They're really cool," Cleveland said. "It's one of those ones that feels really, really special when you see them or you hear them because we so often don't."
The owls most commonly seen in this part of the state during the winter include the Great Horned Owl, Barred Owl and the Eastern Screech Owl, Cleveland said.
Now is the time of year when Great Horned Owls - a larger owl - are nesting, she said.
"The Great Horned Owls come in much, much earlier in the season and will nest and raise their young and get them out of the nest before everyone else starts thinking about that it's time to make babies," she said. "[Residents] may be hearing them more because usually during the breeding season birds tend to get more vocal."
Eastern Screech Owls are much smaller - a bit bigger than a fist - and nest inside holes in trees, Cleveland said. These owls are also willing to nest in backyard nest boxes that can be built (you can download instructions here).
Owls eat insects, mice, rats, small birds and more, Cleveland said, with Great Horned Owls also going for larger prey such as rabbits and squirrels.
Readers share sightings
Here are some of the other comments readers posted about owl sightings in Ferndale.
Justin: Two years ago we were frequented by a gang (at least 3 of them) for about a month in northwest Ferndale. We haven't seen them since. Here's a photo of one: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1990722363684&l=9cc956678d
Erica: We had several young owls two years ago on Drayton in the summer who could be seen near dusk and one very large majestic one last winter in our yard late morning.
David: I saw a male and female on a high limb of my neighbors Oak tree 3 months ago. Manistee and Oak Park blvd.
Kristi: We saw a little brown owl in the fall around dusk when we were walking our dogs. He was "whoooing" in the tree and when we looked up...there he was. Just a little guy.
Cheryl: Yes a pair of new ones each for the past two years! In the spring! Beautiful and not fearful of a flash night as I viewed them at night as they were making a unique chirping in the trees
Jenny: My friends have two that regularly visit their yard (9 and Pinecrest area) around dusk. We think they're saw whet owls.
Sarah: Yes, we had one sitting on our fence a few nights ago in Oak Park.
Rebecca: Neighbors and I just watched and listened to a screech owl near Drayton Ave. church for 10 minutes or so. It was not afraid of us, but a car scared it off. I've heard them in Ferndale off and on for close to 10 years.
Have you seen or heard owls in your neighborhood? Tell us in the comments section below. If you have any photos, upload them to this article!