I finally saw a great horned owl this morning on my walk. Why is that significant? Well, I grew up nature geek, reading and learning as much as I could about the natural world around me. However, book knowledge rarely translated into actual experience. When I was growing up in the 70s, it was sort of a desert for wildlife. Deer hadn’t invaded the ‘burbs yet. DDT had made all birds of prey scarce to non-existent. Coyotes were still things of cartoons, not real life.
As time went on, many animals thankfully made their way back. Deer are now suburban forest rats, hawks and eagles are common sights, and coyotes and elk are in freakin’ Tennessee. Of course, we have other things that we’d rather not talk about like armadillos and killer bees, but it’s been nice for this nature geek to watch cool parts of nature come back.
But I’ve never seen an owl in the wild, which has always been a deep desire. I don’t know why, but I’ve always thought owls are cool. I even have a distinct childhood memory when I came to realize that the owl sounds I was hearing were just a bunch of mourning doves. It was an incredibly crushing moment for me. A couple of times as an adult I think I’ve been “bombed” by owls at night, but all I felt was a rush of air and a vague blur out of the corner of my eye.
I’ve heard our neighborhood owls before in the morning and fantasized over actually seeing them, but when you’re walking before the sun comes up the viewing conditions are very poor. However, this morning I heard them and then was actually able to see them high up in a leafless tree. All the other times they were in an evergreen tree so I couldn’t pick them out. This time they were just darker blobs against a pre-dawn sky, but it was easy to tell they were owls and that they were BIG. That’s the problem with learning about birds in a book. You have no idea of the real size until you see them in person.
I secretly hoped they would still be there when I finished my loop in brighter conditions, but alas, they were gone and silent, hiding until the next time it is dark.
I’m hoping one morning I’ll catch them flying home to roost for the day, but until then I’ll be content with them serenading me on the early part of my morning walk.
Categories: Local Adventure