(I wonder if going out alone, on a Thursday afternoon has anything to do with it. Seems to me Owl Finding would be better on a Saturday night, don’tcha think?)
Anyhow, I’ve been lamenting my lack of owlness to friend and owl meister Scott Rashid. (Check out Scott’s new book, Small Mountain Owls!) He thinks it’s quite hilarious that I’ve only seen one Eastern Screech Owl, (snark!) one Long-eared Owl, (cough!) two Barn Owls, one Pygmy Owl, (snort!) one Flammulated Owl (thank you Carol!) many Great Horned Owls (yeah, yeah) one Western Screech Owl (choke!), one Snowy Owl (not too shabby) and one or two Saw-whet Owls (helping Scott band, so do they REALLY count?) – in my life. In probing further into my lack of owlness, after catching his breath and making a few, um, incredulous and unprintable remarks about my lack of skill in this area, realizing I’m dead serious in wanting some help, I get this by email. My first test!
After spending far too much time finding the owls and MAKING SURE of the numbers of owls in the pictures, I sent him my guess and received this reply: “Perfect, I knew you could do it.”
(what’s YOUR guess?)
In a picture maybe, but how about in real life?
So we went out together not long ago, mainly intent on finding the Snowy Owl that’s visiting Colorado, but also to drive though and study habitat, listen to Scott wax eloquent on his owl finding adventures, and get out and look for owls – our main target of the day after the delightful Snowy were Long-eareds. We didn’t find any that day, but I did get a good start to understanding owl habitat. And a really nice LOOOOONG walk alongside a very long stand of junipers.
So, generously, Scott took me out for another installment in my “Owlducation”. We had heard of Short-eared Owls nearby and went looking for them first. Below are two pictures of prime Short-eared Owl wintering habitat.Nice habitat, but no Short-eareds today. So on we went out east into the Prairie, intent on discovering good Long-eared Owl habitat. Look, here’s some.Thick brushy areas surrounded by miles of open prairie. They seem fond of human-planted juniper stands.Especially fond of dense thickets like this one. There are SIX Long-eared Owls in this picture!One..
This one flew to a cottonwood tree. It’s so fascinating to see how well they blend in!
Is that a lovely intense face or what? A couple of the owls stayed in parts so dense all we could find were hints of their presense. It was such a great experience to spend time with these owls and begin to get a grasp on where they like to be and when.
We soaked up all the owlness we could stand for the moment and softly walked away, leaving them to their dense safe thicket in the prairie.