I saw this little guy high up in an oak tree, above a playground in a city park. It's hot today, about 95 degrees, and still. No one was in the park. I was walking the dog, and heard some little birds twittering like mad in the tree above me. I stopped and watched them for a while, never identifying them - too high up, and too small, but some sort of bird I don't usually hear. Then I saw a great, big, terrifying eye and that really caught my attention! He was only about a foot high, imagine how intimidating he'll be when grown!
Best I can figure, this is a juvenile Great Horned Owl. They're common in this area, they often hunt in large public parks, and the young ones don't get their tufted ears till later (thanks, Barbara!). The fact that he was out in the daytime is worrisome in that they usually don't hunt in the middle of the day unless food is scarce. I can only assume this bird is out hunting in daylight because the drought has made food harder to find.
I looked at him for a long time, and he just stared down at me, not moving a muscle. What a magnificent creature. Did you know Great Horned Owls are monogamous? And, at the moment, not endangered. I'm thrilled I got to see this bird today.