2018 SuperB Owl Winners – Top 10

It was a long year of hard work and dedication, with participants from across the country vying to win the ultimate prize on SuperB Owl Sunday. Would it be the established veteran, winning yet another title? Or perhaps a young, local upstart?  Fans from across the country enjoyed a heck of a competition, but a winner was finally crowned.

With that, here are the final rankings in this year’s SuperB Owl competition!  The young underdog scored upset after upset in the final playoffs, winning the title in a closely contested match. Congrats to this year’s SuperB Owl winner…a winking Northern Saw-whet Owl, taken at Newton Hills State Park in South Dakota!!

Northern Saw-whet Owl - Aegolius acadicus

Northern Saw-whet Owl – Newton Hills, South Dakota – 41 (quite arbitrary) points

Snowy Owl - Bubo scandiacus

2nd place – Yawning Snowy Owl – Near Sioux Falls, South Dakota – 33 points

Long-eared Owl - Asio otus

3rd Place – Long-eared Owl – Big Sioux Recreation Area, South Dakota – 30 points

Northern Hawk Owl - Surnia ulula

4th place – Northern Hawk Owl – Sax-Zim Bog, Minnesota – 28 points

Elf Owl - Micrathene whitneyi

5th place – Elf Owl – Near Tucson, Arizona – 25 points

Short-eared Owl - Asio flammeus

6th place – Short-eared Owl – Minnehaha County, South Dakota – 20 points

Burrowing Owl - Athene cunicularia

7th Place – Burrowing Owl – Near Brandon, South Dakota – 15 points

Great Grey Owl - Strix nebulosa

8th place – Great Grey Owl – Sax-Zim Bog, Minnesota – 12 points

Eastern Screech Owl - Megascops asio

9th place – Eastern Screech Owl – Sioux Falls, South Dakota – 10 points

Barred Owl - Strix varia

10th place – Barred Owl – Newton Hills State Park, South Dakota – 7 points

Owl Mobbing by Songbirds

Eastern Screech Owl - Megascops asio

Red-phase Eastern Screech Owl, trying to doze. His neighbors weren’t letting him though, with several different kinds of songbirds scolding him and occasionally flying at him.

Chalk this one up under the category of “something you hear about but haven’t seen”.  You always hear about songbirds “mobbing” owls, but it’s not something I’ve personally witnessed more than a handful of times.  Yesterday after birding, on my way home, I thought I’d do one quick drive up “Spook Road”, a road east of my hometown of Brandon that follows a little creek, and has some nice riparian veg and trees.  It’s been a good birding spot in the past.

As I drove slowly down the road with my windows open, I first heard the scolding of a Blue Jay, and then a Chickadee and Robin that were joining in.  With multiple species all scolding something, I figured it was likely an owl or other bird of prey. I stopped the car and looked around, but didn’t see anything at first.  But then a Brown Thrasher came into the picture and went flying at something, banking off at a sharp angle right before it got to its quarry.  There was a red-phase Eastern Screech Owl sitting on a branch, the target of the scolding by the mob of songbirds.

Two things were interesting about it, one, of course, being the mobbing behavior.  There was also a Swainson’s Thrush hanging around showing interest, a White-breasted Nuthatch, a Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and a few others.  It did make me wonder how much of a threat Screech Owls are to all these species.  I’m sure they will take a songbird when they get a chance, but I don’t think a Screech Owl would take a bird the size of a Blue Jay.  It didn’t seem to matter though, as it seemed like every bird in the area was intent on driving him away.  The owl, for his part, didn’t seem to care.  In fact, for most of the time he was being scolded, he had his eyes closed.

The second interesting thing was that it was a red-phase Eastern Screech Owl.  The gray phase if overwhelmingly more common in South Dakota, and in fact, the ONLY place I’ve ever seen a red-phase screech owl here is…right on Spook Road, within a mile of this same bird.  It’s been a handful of times where I’ve encountered them in this area now, so obviously the red-phase gene is sticking around in this particular spot.

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