Berkeley owl family grows, more reports of dog swoops

A nest of owls in a Eucalyptus tree on Berkeley’s Claremont Canyon trail has attracted a lot of attention. Photos: Charlie Benton

Last month we brought you news of a pair of Great Horned owls that had made their home in a Eucalyptus tree above the Claremont Canyon fire trail. Berkeleysider Charlie Benton took the photos above which provide evidence that the owl family has grown.

After we published our March 12 story, several readers reported that the owls had been swooping down on their dogs, including the 80lb golden retriever owned by Rob S. of Rockridge, and the 115 lb dog belonging to Matt Eccles. The owls’ natural instinct is to protect their territory and their young.

Mark H. reported seeing one owl sitting in an adjacent tree while another one sat on the nest. “It was the presumptive papa who swooped on my two Husky mixes, the day after it grabbed a large German Shepherd by the scruff of the neck. We now take the upper access off Stonewall to grant the owls some peace,” he wrote.

East Bay Regional Parks has made its signs, asking that dogs be kept on leash, more prominent and has also moved them to cover a longer section of the path.

For those interested in trying to spot the owls, the nest is on the second stretch of the switchback path towards the top. The nest is best viewed by walking a few feet beyond the tree, which is on the right side, and looking back. Even if you don’t see them, you may hear them. For recordings of owl calls and sounds, visit Owl Pages.

Owl sets up home on Berkeley trail, dog owners on alert [03.12.12]

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  • Biker 94703

    Much better signage on the trail than a few weeks back.  Yesterday saw 4 dogs all on leash.  Thank you responsible dog owners!

  • Finkster

    Is it illegal to shoot down one of these things?

  • Finkster

    To clarify, in self-defense; or dog-defense.

  • Anonymous

     Yes, just like it’s illegal to shoot dog owners.

  • Irisandjules

    Thank you for the story and the most fantastic photos! 

  • what font did you use on the Owl photos?  I love it!

  • Chris

    Killing any kind of owl is beyond sick. They are beautiful creatures.

    There are very few birds it’s legal to kill in the US (not considering hunting). I believe the following are allowed by the migratory bird act, in addition to other non-natives, but I’m not 100% sure.

    house sparrow
    european starling

  • Dislike

  • stephenkaus

    I thought I would share these pictures I found on line from 2008.  I tried a week ago and did not do nearly as well.

  • Biker 94703


  • Biker 94703


  • Alioxenfree

    I have hiked this path about 10 times since signs went up and rarely seen dogs on leash. Even if you dog is calm, it sets a bad example for everyone else including dogs with obnoxious manners. Typical “does not apply to me” attitude. It might help if the signs should indicate how to access the trail by water-tower that bypasses the owl nesting area, but some will always feel too entitled to bother.

  • World Freedom

    Even if “you” dog is calm? Seriously?

  • Meliflaw

    I wouldn’t try it. Since an owl can fly much faster than a human can run, you’d feel his mate’s needle-like talons in the scruff of your neck PDQ. (And some of us would be there, cheering her on.)

  • springs

    Please. Feels like I’m teaching 5th grade again when I read something like that. Did the minor typo really prevent your ability to understand the poster’s point? Practice some tolerance; it really makes life much nicer :)