Field Guide to Owls of California and the West

Field Guide to Owls of California and the West

Hans Peeters
Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: 1
Pages: 346
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt1pp7kg
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  • Book Info
    Field Guide to Owls of California and the West
    Book Description:

    Most owls are almost perfectly adapted to life in the dark. Their vaguely humanoid faces reflect the spectacular evolution of their hearing and vision, which has made flight, romance, and predation possible in the near absence of light. This accessible guide, full of intriguing anecdotes, covers all 19 species of owls occurring in North America. More than an identification guide,Field Guide to Owls of California and the Westdescribes the biology and behavior of owls to make finding and identifying them easier and watching them more enjoyable. The guide also explores the conservation challenges that owls face and tells how owls provide insights to scientists working in fields from technology to health.* Color plates illustrate each species * Range maps show the western distribution of North America's owls, 14 of which occur in California * Offers tips for finding and watching owls * Gives information on how to design, place, and maintain nest boxes * Describes human attitudes toward owls through history, including in Native American cultures of the West

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94116-8
    Subjects: Zoology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-ix)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. [Maps]
    (pp. xv-xvii)
  5. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-9)

    Many birds have adaptations so astonishing as to test our credulity. The Whooping Crane(Grus americana)has a nearly five-foot-long windpipe, partly coiled beside its breastbone, to produce stentorian, distance-spanning sounds that remind us of trombones, and the kiwi(Apteryx),a rotund flightless bird of New Zealand, smells its quarry through the nostrils at the tip of its long beak while truffling for worms.

    But owls stand out with their ingeniously modified plumage,their telescope eyes, their sound funnels, their very skulls sometimes twisted asymmetrical by evolution to facilitate three-dimensional hearing—all this, plus finely honed weaponry. To obtain food in...

  6. AN OWL’S BODY
    (pp. 11-51)

    The overall appearance of an owl is so familiar that probably most people on the planet can recognize one, whether it be the 40 g (1.4 oz) Elf Owl(Micrathene whitneyi)or the Snowy Owl(Bubo scandiacus),which may weigh as much as 2,951 g (over 6.5 lb). Even city dwellers can tell you that an owl is a rather plump, big-headed bird whose enormous, forward-directed eyes are surrounded by what appears to be a small satellite dish antenna, but few people are aware of the marvelous complexity of those unique owlish features.

    Owls are sometimes seen after dark as...

  7. AN OWL’S LIFE
    (pp. 53-93)

    Three endeavors dominate the life of an animal—eluding predators, eating, and producing offspring. Although the order of importance is likely the reverse of the above for most animals, owls appear to be extraordinarily tasty to a great many consumers and have evolved sophisticated countermeasures to becoming a meal; escaping an enemy’s notice by hiding and by camouflage are common means of survival.

    Most owls are expert foragers, although many of their prey have evolved protective behavior and colors as well. The nighthunters have countered these with amazingly sophisticated sensory systems that are so effective that owls can seemingly afford...

  8. FINDING AND WATCHING OWLS
    (pp. 95-121)

    A quick look at the distributions of North American owls reveals that the West, and in particular the Pacific states, boasts the greatest diversity of owl species in the country, leading perhaps to the assumption that this region also holds the greatest number of owls. But the person who has actually gone looking for them by day has to wonder just how abundant these birds really are, given how difficult it is to glimpse even one in habitats known to hold several species.

    Unlike many hawks, which sit out in the open, most owls are not conspicuous, chiefly, of course,...

  9. OWLS AND HUMANS
    (pp. 123-155)

    Owls have infused the art, myths, and literature of humans since prehistoric times. Paleolithic cave paintings in France dating back to 15,000 to 20,000 B.C. include a depiction of two Snowy Owls(Bubo scandiacus)with their chick, as well as some sort of horned owl. In ancient Egypt, the owl pictograph stood for the “m” sound, and the ancient Maya utilized owl glyphs also. The Greek goddess of wisdom, Athene, is often shown in the company of an owl. The perception that owls are wise persists to this day, an idea bolstered perhaps by their deliberate behavior and unwavering gaze....

  10. SPECIES ACCOUNTS
    (pp. 157-273)

    Both common and scientific names of birds, as well as the taxonomic sequence used in this book, are in accord with the American Ornithologists’ UnionCheck-list of North American Birds,seventh edition (1998), and, conforming to the University of California Press policy, the official common names are capitalized. Note that “Barn Owl” refers to the widespread species of owl found not only in North America but also on several other continents, but “barn owl” means any member of the barn owl family (there are 16). Similarly, although there are various species of pygmy-owls, only the Northern Pygmy-Owl(Glaucidium gnoma)is...

  11. PLATES
    (pp. None)
  12. GLOSSARY
    (pp. 275-279)
  13. REFERENCES
    (pp. 281-303)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 305-323)
  15. ADDITIONAL CAPTIONS
    (pp. 324-324)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 325-328)