Horned Owl Sighting and Spider Discovery

by Eric Neubauer

Saturday, January 16:

6 AM: I currently have two Horned Owls calling at the same time from approximately the same nearby place. Typically, one starts and the second, with a slightly higher pitch, starts about a third of the way through so that the notes alternate. And, they’re still going on. This has been for at least 12 minutes.

Sunday, January 17:

Again, there was one on the power line in front of my other neighbor’s house at dusk. I watched him fly down to the ground, then up to the top of the fence, then up to the power line in front of my house. As it got too dark to see, it flew toward the back of my property and disappeared.

When interests intersect:

On Friday, I walked down to Alligator Creek for the first time in a while. On the way back, I walked slowly up the ditch looking for anything that moved. In a few places I found some tiny spiders.

I decided to go back today with a container to scoop up some the spiders for better photos. I looked carefully for about 50 feet without seeing any. Now where did I see those spiders the day before? Finally I saw one, looked around, and then it hit me: all I needed to do was follow the food chain to find the spiders.

Here were some small Texas Bluebonnet plants and other forbs, grasshopper nymphs, and tiny spiders. They were steps in the same food chain all gathered together for my convenience. On the Texas Blackland Prairie, grasshoppers and spiders seem to be the predominant arthropods. Take away the mixed vegetation of the prairie and there would be no grasshoppers, take away the grasshoppers and there would be no spiders. Take away the spiders and there would be no spider wasps, etc. I had noticed last year that the spiders’ gathering places shifted from week to week. No doubt they follow their food. Doh!

One of the Alligator Creek Spiders, identified as Dotted Wolf Spider Rabidosa punctulata by its location and subtle differences from the Rabid Wolf Spider.

Commonsense, but it took me a while to learn and understand. By the way, the spiders appeared to be a new Lycosidae species for me.

Here’s a rabid wolf spider Rabidosa rabida Eric found in another location.

And here’s his best photo of a dotted wolf spider.

Compare and contrast.