After reading Mike’s post on Long-eared Owls at Croton Point Park a couple of weeks ago I was eager to get there for a shot at seeing the owls that have repeatedly eluded me.

These owls were supposed to be steady, having roosted in the same stand of pines in autumn and winter for at least a couple years. Armed only with a map Mike had conveniently labeled with a bright red star and my binoculars and camera I was ready to track down Mr. and Mrs. Flashyeartufts.

I got to the proper parking lot and commenced my examination of the grove of pine trees. A pair of passersby were queried; they affirmed I was looking at the correct pine trees. The thick crust on top of the snow crunched underfoot as I searched diligently. My neck started to hurt from all the looking-up so I looked down at the Carolina Wren that had been busy picking apart piles of pine needles and carefully examining the area where tree trunks met snow.

Carolina Wren

He entertained me for awhile, as did White-breasted Nuthatches and a lone Red-breasted. A Downy Woodpecker picked at some bark and Song and White-throated Sparrows foraged in the plowed parts of the parking lot.

I resumed my owl search. My neck got sore again. What was that wren up to?

He really was really going at it, tossing pine needles over his shoulder and sticking his head into little cavities he formed. He didn’t even mind when I moved in for a close-up:

Carolina Wren close-up

Back to the owl-search. Still not there despite the assistance of another birder. Out of pine trees in the immediate area. What about those pine trees over there? No owls. There’s another pine tree! No owls. Etc. Etc. Etc.

An-hour-and-a-half later I packed it in, driving slowly out of the park, depressed by the dip. Wait, was that Mike driving in? Time for some cell phone fun…

Mike: Hello?

Me: You’re not going to see any owls.

Mike: What? Corey?

Me: You’re not going to see any owls…

I turned around and went back (because it’s nice to see Mike but also because I figured if he found owls I’d overlooked that I’d not hear the end of it).

Still no owls. But good conversation, good blog advice, and no life birds for either of us (the first time that has happened when we’ve birded together, hopefully a trend that won’t continue).

And each of us saw Bald Eagles on our rides home.

Written by Corey
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy and Desmond Shearwater. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.