Last night Russ took Joey and Nina for an impromptu pickup truck ride. It was so spur of the moment that Nina went wearing her nightgown, which she had put on early. I declined to come along because it was a little chilly for me to ride in the open back, and Vincent was off somewhere doing his own thing. I was surprised when not ten minutes later they were back, parked out front, and Nina came running up the trail. "Mom! Bring the camera! We saw a great gray owl!" So Vincent and I jumped in the back after all, and headed up the road. Just about a mile from our house, as the (owl) flies, there it was, perched quietly and very inconspicuously in a dead gray snag. I may have missed it had Russ not pointed it out. We stopped the truck and I was able to snap a couple pictures, although unfortunately I didn't have film in my good camera. The owl was very cooperative; it had not been disturbed by the truck driving by twice before, and it was still there when we drove by and stopped again on the way back.
I had not seen a great gray owl since late March, and was wondering if a few of them would stay around here for the summer. After seeing ten or twelve of them per day for weeks (see the archives, January-March 2005), I missed them even though I had the thrill of seeing new spring arrivals. I think a few of them did stay around, just during that time period they became more secretive in their habits, not perching out by open roads looking for food. And with the absence of snow they became more difficult to spot. I'm hoping to see this one again, or maybe even see some of its offspring. There are some large tracts of spruce and alder bog around here where a pair of owls could nest relatively undisturbed.
This sighting overshadows, but does not diminish, the joy I felt in finally seeing the first hummingbird of the season arrive at the feeder. I had filled the feeder Friday night, and Sunday morning a ruby-throated male came by several times. How does a hummingbird even survive these freezing temperatures we've had? The weather is supposed to turn milder this week, but I'm still shivering (30 degrees) this morning.