Saturday, November 22, 2014

Owls...and Ultrarunning

Of all the critters Ive seen over the years along trails and roads, surely the most fascinating has been the owl.

Perhaps because they are quite elusive, I just have a fascination with this bird family, and have blogged about owls before at Mister Tristan (the blog, not the 6 year old human being) here and here.

Image credit Gary

This owl statue above, among several which grace our humble property, is our latest acquisition and marks the occasion of our 40th anniversary in August.  It is a beast of a carved river stone, standing about 24" high, and is just past the limit of what I can lift in terms of weight.  I had help loading it and was able to let it down from the seat in my minivan to the ground...barely.  Thence I wheeled it around the yard on a hand dolly.

I hope to run down on the C+O Canal here in a few days and would like nothing more than to repeat the owl experience I had there in which I stopped to pee at a tree--unbeknownst to me--that just happened to have a pair of large owls resting in it.  They, of course, took off and I was treated to a rare sight.

One final owl tale.  A couple of weeks ago, the bride and I attended an evening owl walk at Renfrew Park in nearby Waynesboro, PA.  The leader gave us a talk first, then we headed out into the woods where she played owl calls to try to lure in a live owl.  Things were simply not happening that night--perhaps due to a persistent wind--until all of a sudden a tiny screech owl showed up in response to the recorded call.

This owl landed nearly directly above the bride's head, only some 20' away, and oblivious to the 30 some people standing quietly there in the dark, proceeded to answer the recorded call.  The screech owl has an array of calls, and this one sounded most like a horse's whinny.

Wow!  So if you ever get a chance to go on a naturalist-led owl walk, by all means do it.

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