Photo by Wally Skalij (@wallyskalij
This photograph from November 9th, of an owl sitting on the beach in Malibu as the Woolsey Fire approaches has garnered quite a bit of social buzz, so Assistant Travel Editor @maryforgionehikes
looked into it and sent over this note: The owl in Wally's photo is a great horned owl, which would never be found on a beach. These owls hang out year-round in the canyons, oak woodlands, and any residential area with tall planted trees in the Santa Monica Mountains. "Perching on the beach sand is well outside the normal behavior of this species, so it seems pretty clear it was a 'fire refugee,' " Kimball Garrett, ornithology collections manager at the Natural History Museum of L.A. County, wrote in an email.
On his viewing of the photo, he wrote: "My best guess would be that the bird was displaced by flames and took refuge in the nearest flame-free zone, which happened to be the beach. It's hard to tell from the photo if the bird was injured or singed -- mostly it looked wind-blown." He also said "lots of smaller chaparral birds probably were unable to out-fly the flames, and mortality was probably high. And even those that survived would have a hard time finding the habitat and resources they would need to survive and reproduce." •
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