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Great Horned Owls on Bernal Hill
July 31, 2007 3:40 PM   Subscribe

In the winter of 2007, a pair of great horned owls was staying at the top of Bernal Hill. On April 9th, one of these amazing creatures was found dead. And today, July 19th, the body of the other was found as well. The first died of an avian herpes virus. We still don't know what killed the second. These owls were great ambassadors of nature to our hill, and we'll miss them.
posted by subaruwrx (39 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
"In the winter of 2007..."

Wow! Photos from the future!

posted by jpburns at 3:43 PM on July 31, 2007


If I figure out who gave those owls herpes, there will be hell to pay.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:47 PM on July 31, 2007 [6 favorites]


This was really sad, it was great fun to see them up there. It was neat to see the little cluster of folks with kids and dogs in tow, and they were a real community focus. It's hard to not take it badly, but I hope people don't.

On the bright side, we have "how to live with coyote" doorhangers everywhere. I would probably be OK with the second owl getting et by a coyote. Cycle o' life kinda thing, innit.
posted by freebird at 3:49 PM on July 31, 2007


You know, Winter typically runs from December through March. So, technically, most of Winter is in the new year.
posted by subaruwrx at 3:50 PM on July 31, 2007


Isn't this just local news? I mean, I know all about the Bernal owls because I live in Bernal Heights and walk my dog every morning right by the tree they lived in. They would even swoop silently by my head. I've seen all the notes. I know when the first one died. I've seen all the memorials. I've discussed this with my neighbors...

But, still, isn't this just local news?
posted by vacapinta at 3:53 PM on July 31, 2007


..





I'm always amazed at the amount of wildlife that lives in our city. And sorry I didn't go see the owls while they were there.

There are still kestrels and red-tailed hawks on Bernal, though. All probably breathing a little easier without a couple of Great Horneds around! Great Horned Owls are some of the major predators of other raptor and owl species.
posted by gingerbeer at 3:55 PM on July 31, 2007


The first died of an avian herpes virus.

Ron Mexico strikes again!
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:55 PM on July 31, 2007


O RLY?

I mean

.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:56 PM on July 31, 2007 [4 favorites]


Vacapinta, it is, and its also a beautiful flickr photoset. And its a couple of good pieces of writing that show the coming together of community to rally around nature. And its an interesting topic when you consider man+nature and what happens to animals in urban environments. I think its deeper than "just (a) local news" piece.
posted by subaruwrx at 4:03 PM on July 31, 2007


If I figure out who gave those owls herpes,

Dammit, people, don't screw with the owls.
posted by Malor at 4:05 PM on July 31, 2007


Maybe you confused Metafilter with the bottom of page 22 in your local newspaper.
posted by fire&wings at 4:11 PM on July 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


maybe nothing ever belongs on metafilter.
posted by quonsar at 4:13 PM on July 31, 2007 [16 favorites]


My apartment has a very good view of the hill, one mile away.

Yesterday I watched pigeons landing and being very still while a big crow flew overhead.

This morning I was wondering with one of my roommates what kind of predator has taught these pigeons to cower like this, since to my knowledge crows don't kill pigeons in mid flight.

Now I know the answer: The Gliding Death That Came From The Hill.

Many pigeons in the city are clearly diseased, there are questions on askMe about their deformed feet. Many have herpes. Revenge of the pigeons?

I am saddened by this death. I felt equally bad when I found one of the neighborhood red foxes dead when I lived in London.
posted by Dataphage at 4:15 PM on July 31, 2007


But, still, isn't this just local news?

And that discounts the thread? So this should not warrant attention, but a bloated thread about Lindsay Lohan should?

This brings to mind other birds and another S.F. hill -- The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill (and Mark Bittner). Previous MeFi thread.
posted by ericb at 4:18 PM on July 31, 2007


Ignore the naysayers, subaruwrx, I very much enjoyed the links.
posted by Abiezer at 4:19 PM on July 31, 2007


It was an innocent question. I'm not one of the "naysayers." I'm asking what makes this story more than local news, which suabruwrx did answer above.

And that discounts the thread? So this should not warrant attention , but a bloated thread about Lindsay Lohan should?

Whoa there... as I said, *this is where I live* - my house is a few hundred feet from the Owl tree. I had drinks last week with artolog - the guy who took all those beautiful flickr photos. So, please, I'm not trying to "discount" this in any way. You're picking on the wrong guy...
posted by vacapinta at 4:24 PM on July 31, 2007


but a bloated thread about Lindsay Lohan should?

Let it go man.
posted by smackfu at 4:24 PM on July 31, 2007


A pair of Peregrine falcons that have been roosting at my local library for the last few years. They make an unbelievable screeching sound, I suppose primarily to irritate the librarians.
posted by ba at 4:25 PM on July 31, 2007


I feel like a doofus that I never went to see them, since I can see Bernal from my back porch.

I've seen a couple of juvenile redtails around the neighborhood recently, though, so the local breeding pair must have made a go of it again this year. Always nice to see them scatter (and sometimes catch) the pigeons around SF General.

Poor owls.

.
posted by rtha at 4:26 PM on July 31, 2007


?
posted by ZachsMind at 4:29 PM on July 31, 2007


"In the winter of 2007..." Wow! Photos from the future!

You know, Winter typically runs from December through March. So, technically, most of Winter is in the new year.

Exactly. In the northern hemisphere our winter starts with the winter solstice (December 21 or 22 | December 21, 2006) , and ends with the spring (aka vernal) equinox (March 20 or 21 | March 20, 2007). That's 10 days in 2006 and 79 days in 2007.
posted by ericb at 4:33 PM on July 31, 2007


vacapinta -- my apologies for misreading your comment, as I think the OP also did ("Vacapinta, it is, and its also a beautiful flickr photoset. And its a couple of good pieces of writing that show the coming together of community to rally around nature. And its an interesting topic when you consider man+nature and what happens to animals in urban environments. I think its deeper than "just (a) local news" piece.")

I read your comment as in keeping with other ones (e.g. "Maybe you confused Metafilter with the bottom of page 22 in your local newspaper.").
posted by ericb at 4:39 PM on July 31, 2007


9835; Who gave the owls herpes? 9835;

Who? Who? Who? Who?

9835; Who gave the owls herpes? 9835;

Who? Who? Who? Who?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:01 PM on July 31, 2007


Was lookin for ♫ there. Ah, well.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:02 PM on July 31, 2007


The owls are not what they seem.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:11 PM on July 31, 2007


Man, that herpes virus is killing things all over the place. Coral and pandas and owls and more.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:22 PM on July 31, 2007


I knew I shouldn't have fucked that owl.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 5:31 PM on July 31, 2007


If Lindsey Lohan gave the owls herpes, now that would be important news.
posted by spiderwire at 6:04 PM on July 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


8 years ago, a very young horned owl decide that my front porch in Austin would be a nice place to spend its evenings. For a couple of weeks, the creature would sit on our windowsill and make soft noises from dusk until just after it got really dark. It was surprisingly friendly, watching my roommate and I stonedly watching it. We'd fill up the card on my then-newfangled digital camera with pictures of one happy looking little owl.

Then it died of Gonorrhea, and you know what? The shit on a shingle American-Statesman didn't even run the story! Bastards. I sent many threatening letters to editors in every department, hoping for just a little recognition. Again and again I was ignored, until finally I'd had just about all I could take. I took the bus downtown (two transfers) and burst into the mayor's office.

"Motherfucker, I sent you multiple letters asking for a few kind words in print, and you and your fatcat stroking publication don't even have the decency to fucking acknowledge them!"

"Guards, seize him! I've never received letter one from you or your kind!" The mayor looked like he meant what he said, and it was then I realized that I'd sent the letters to the newspaper, not the mayor.

The mayor's personal guards tackled me, knocking the stick of dynamite I'd just lit free from my sweaty hand and right into the mayor's open lap.

"Noooooooooooooooooo!" was the last thing heard befor the thing blew the poor bastard to a low spot in heaven.




And that's how I blew up the mayor of Austin.
posted by item at 6:09 PM on July 31, 2007 [2 favorites]


Actually, it would be more newsworthy if she didn't.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:09 PM on July 31, 2007


I'll have to ask my friend who rescues exotic birds (parrots, macaws etc.) how prevalent avian herpes is in the wild -- he tends to know that sort of stuff.

But, for what comfort the long view may offer, birds have been dying of diseases for aye and ever. It's saddening to me to read that you and your community have bonded with them, to the degree that's possible with wild raptors, only now to mourn their loss, but take heart in this: If Nature abhors a vacuum, then now there's an ecological niche going unfilled by their newfound absence, and bye-and-bye there'll be other raptors coming to roost and hunt there on Bernal Hill. Pigeons and other prey, don't get too darn comfortable just yet -- this is just a pause to reload.
posted by pax digita at 6:50 PM on July 31, 2007


I always find the hooting of owls thrilling. I am sorry for your loss.
posted by chance at 7:04 PM on July 31, 2007


or was that the owling of hooters...?
posted by quonsar at 7:36 PM on July 31, 2007


It should be added that the diagnosis was from the Hungry Owl Project. The person who found the first dead owl gave the owl to them.

At first we all thought it was a predator or perhaps even a dog; if you visit Bernal hill (aka "poop hill") at all is a big off-leash park with an over abundance of dogs.
posted by vacapinta at 7:55 PM on July 31, 2007


I did not have sex with that owl.
posted by From Bklyn at 8:03 PM on July 31, 2007


The owls are not what they seem.

cotton balls. We're going to be SO RICH!
posted by longsleeves at 8:12 PM on July 31, 2007


First San Francisco's Magellanic penguins die of chlamydia, and now this.
posted by obloquy at 10:33 PM on July 31, 2007


Astro Zombie FTW
posted by analogue at 6:07 AM on August 1, 2007


artolog informed that there's an Owl Wake tomorrow night.

More info here.
posted by vacapinta at 2:56 PM on August 6, 2007


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