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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!

Kristi Kauffman February 07, 2013 at 03:59 PM
DO NOT POISON MICE...I posted a comment during the discussion yesterday. This is a reminder NOT to poison mice as a means of disposal. The chain of events is that owls eat the mice and they ingest the poison and perish. Far reaching and tragic consequences. See below: I died today. I was found by a kind, sweet woman who does wildlife rescue. I was so sick, I could barely open my eyes. She took me inside, cradling me in her warm arms, and made me warm and comfortable. I opened my eyes and looked at her and thanked her for making my last few minutes as comfortable as possible. But i was too sick to keep fighting anymore. I had eaten a mouse that was poisoned, and it made me very sick. I closed my yellow eyes for the last time and went somewhere else. Please, all I ask is never use poison to kill the mice. poison kills owls, like me. All I wanted was a mouse for dinner. I died today.... Please SHARE this for poison awareness. Stop the use of poison for rats or mice. Please. Save a precious life today. it only takes one share to spread the word.See More .
Jessica Ingolia February 07, 2013 at 04:23 PM
good point, do not poison mice OR rats for that matter. regardless if an owl eats the dead animal or it wanders into your yard and dies and your dog eats it, in the end it is the same sad story. with any luck the owl will help with our growing rat problem! i heard an owl about a week ago near the pleasant ridge boarder in the evening, really neat!
G-Money February 07, 2013 at 07:12 PM
Haven't seen any owls, but have seen a lot of other birds I wouldn't think to see in downtown Ferndale, or even my backyard. For years now, a woodpecker comes to my backyard in the Fall to peck at the dried up yucca stems. I have seen some kind of Falcon around the downtown when it was chasing a pigeon down west Troy and then through an alley. I saw something the size of an eagle or hawk hopping from perch to perch on top of the west Nine mile buildings. And once two summers ago I even saw a hummingbird in my backyard.
Betsy Rose February 07, 2013 at 10:14 PM
I live near the Pleasant Ridge border and I have been hearing an owl at night for years.

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