Centennial Museum gecko logo

Desert Diary


This page was designed with CSS, and looks best in a CSS-aware browser—which, unfortunately, yours is not. However, the document should still be readable, though not presented in the most sophisticated manner.

Pity the poor owl, so misunderstood. Just because it happens to be a predator surely isn't any reason to treat it badly, is it? Yet that's exactly how many an owl, busily minding its own business during the daytime hours, gets treated. Seems that no matter that all sorts of animals give way respectfully during the nighttime hours, the owl simply gets no respect under a bright blue sky.

Now you might be hard put to locate an owl during the daytime. Perched high, they blend in nicely with their surroundings. Every once in a while though, a frenzied group of small birds may draw your attention as they swoop and dive around—yes, an owl. Once spotted by a keen-eyed sparrow or mockingbird, an owl is soon surrounded by pesky attackers. Stealth and surprise serves it well as it hunts the night, but now its fearsomeness is no more effective than a person swatting at flies. This assault by smaller birds is known as mobbing, and the owl, like a person mobbed, has only one real recourse—frantic flight!
pen and ink


Contributor: Arthur H. Harris, Laboratory for Environmental Biology, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.

barn owl in daytime roost

A young Barn Owl taking no chances—safely hidden deep within the cover of a tree. Photograph by C. R. Crews.