Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Fourteen owls yesterday

I saw four great gray owls while I was on the way to work, and TEN on the way home! I'm starting to recognize areas where I usually will see one. They don't like dense aspen or hardwood forest, of which we have plenty around here; I am more likely to see them in spruce/tamarack bogs or open pastures with scattered small trees. They seem to have staked out individual territories; many times I will see an owl in nearly the same spot every day. One of them has been in the same tree, along a fairly busy highway at the entrance to my kids' school, for two days now.

These owls obviously have little to no experience with cars or roads. While I was driving along slowly last night, I saw one swooping low, back and forth, across the road. At sunset, even though these owls have an enormous wingspan, their dark color makes them difficult to see against an asphalt road. There was a vehicle behind me, driving too close, and I was looking for a place to pull over so it could pass and I could enjoy my owl watching in peace! The driver, not noticing the owl, passed me and nearly hit the owl, which landed on the road right in front of me! I was driving slow enough at that point that I could stop. Owl did not move. I carefully pulled over to the other lane to drive around it, and it took off, flew in front of me, and landed on the side of the road, about six feet from me, staring with its yellow eyes.

I know far too many people who would hear this and say, "What a stupid bird". As if animals were supposed to have an innate knowledge of human inventions that have been around for only about a hundred years.

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