Monday, December 3, 2012

Serendipity

Sometimes a walk is pure serendipity!

Yesterday Terry and I took a quick walk along Piney Creek,
because we were in a hurry to catch the Bronco game.

And wouldn't you know it!
At the 300 mile point of walking since I retired,
I spotted a silhouette in a cottonwood across the creek.

"Is that an owl?" I said to the ever-patient Terry.
"It can't be an owl!  I've only ever seen two in the park in daylight before."
And off I went with my camera, jumping the creek, and sneaking closer.
Sure enough!  An owl!  Serendipity!

The E-P never complained even though kickoff was approaching fast,
and we were more than a mile from home.

That dang cottonwood had so many branches, and the owl was lit from behind!
Every time I tried to zoom and focus, I would lose it.
It was watching me trying to get under its tree so I could get a better shot.
No such luck!
Off it flew on silent wings, chortling I'm sure!

"Was it a great horned owl? asked Terry.

"I don't know," I said.  "It looked a little small.  I need a better camera!"

"We'll see," said T.
This is his patient response to the hundred flights of fancy I have daily.

As soon as I got home, I transferred the few snaps I had to my computer,
with the not so patient E-P looking over my shoulder.
I played around with my iPhoto program,
and said, "I need Photoshop!"

"We'll see," said T.

And there it was!


Wow!  I actually got something!

"If I had a camera that zoomed better and worked better in low light conditions,
I could go down to the park in the evening and get good owl pictures!"

"We'll see," said T.
"Can you put it in my DropBox?"

"If I got a new camera,
like maybe that PowerShot SX50 HS,
I could bequeath you this one.
Then you could take your own pictures!"

"Don't talk about bequeathing!" said T.

"Okay, I could give you this one!"

"We'll see," said T.
"Is it a great horned owl?"

Is it?  I'm madly paging through my two bird books.
Barrel shape?  Check!
Neckless?  Check!
Widely spaced ear tufts?  Check!
Yellow eyes?  Check!
Heavily and horizontally barred?  Check!
17 - 22 inches long?  Not so much.  Maybe 15.
What else can it be?

Great horned owls (Bubo virginianus) are nocturnal,
which means that they're usually out and about at night
hunting for a variety of small animals found in this area:
birds, snakes, mice, voles, rabbits, frogs, and skunks.
Yes, skunks!
These owls do not have a strong sense of smell, 
so they hunt skunks, 
which may explain the eau de skunk that has awakened me on summer nights. 

They hunt from high perches,
swooping down on silent wings
to strike with their powerful and deadly talons.

Great horned owls are found everywhere in Colorado,
and they are the most widespread owls in North America.
They range from Alaska in the north to the Straits of Magellan in the south.

They nest early in the year, taking over nests made by other birds,
and laying one to six eggs in January or February.
The females incubate and brood, while the males hunt and provide food.
The baby owls hatch in four or five weeks and begin to fly in nine to ten weeks after hatching.

Owlet 

At about twelve weeks, the young owls begin to look after themselves;
but they remain dependent on their parents,
honing their hunting skills,
until the fall when they leave the home range of their parents.

Once you have heard the male's, Hoo, hoo-oo, hoo, hoo,"
or the female's "Hoo, hoo-hoo-hoo, hooo-oo, hoo-oo,"
you will never forget it.
Mated pairs can sometimes be heard hooting back and forth.

Reference:   Woodland Park Zoo website, Seattle, Washington.

Great Horned Owl
Calgary, Alberta, Canada

"If I had a new camera, I could take a picture of an owl like this one somebody took in Calgary!
Heck, I could go to Calgary and take one there!
Visit my sisters!"  I exclaimed.

"We'll see," said the E-P.
"We're missing the Broncos."

The Broncos won!

If you were wondering, "E-P" means "ever-patient."
Terry is an ever-patient husband with mecurial moi!


Fundy Reads:
Two great children's books about owls are:

1.  Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
     This picture book is about a young girl going owling for the first time with her father on a winter night. They meet a great horned owl and some other nocturnal animals on their walk in the cold forest.
The book won the Caldecott Medal in 1988 for its beautiful illustrations.  Jane Yolen is an American author who has written over 200 books.

2.  Owls in the Family by Farley Mowatt
     This children's novel is about three boys who find two great horned owls.  Billy adopts Weeps and Wols as family pets.   The story takes place in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.  Farley Mowatt is a Canadian author known for his humor and love of wildlife.

Now this is serendipitous!  My fellow blogger Jim and I were chatting about owls and how we both read this book aloud many times to our students just a day or two before I saw the owl at the 300 mile mark on my walk to St. Anthony!  Sometimes the universe seems nonrandom! 

9 comments:

  1. How fortunate were you Louise to spot this magnificent creature!! They are pretty rear around here but we do hear them in the summer. Actually we saw an Snow Owl at the beach once....all the local 'birders' were heading down there...we knew something was up.
    Owls in The Family....I will never forget the student's faces as I would read, then they would. You see I saw them one-to-one and this was perfect as there were no distractions. They (grade 4 to six) were spellbound by this novel by Farley Mowatt....as was I.
    Great shot you got there Louise. Who needs a new camera! Actually Christmas is coming so keep up with 'If I had a new....' It just may work!

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  2. Thanks Jim! Maybe birthday in March for the camera. I've been hinting about the new National Geographic gene study where they test your DNA and determine where your ancestors came from and whether or not you have Neanderthal and something else in your bloodlines. I missed out on the first study, so I really want in on this! My kids were spellbound when I read OITF too, although I never read it in a small group. I should have done that.

    And now I've got to go get supper! I need a live-in chef like my sister-in-law in New Delhi! They almost have to have one there because the food preparing protocol is quite complex - those sensitive western GI find it hard to adapt to Indian flora and fauna on the microscopic level.

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    1. Now you have me so intrigued about that gene study at National Geographic! I would SO love to take a peek at mine too....I think!lol I am going there (web site) now! Thanks. Your have such a good sense of humour Louise.

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    2. I went to my National Geographic catalog, and the program is called Geno 2.0. It's the next generation of the Genographic Project Public Participation kit.

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    3. It's Neanderthal or Denisovan - they crossed paths with Homo sapiens about 60,000 years ago.

      Terry said, "You don't need a kit to figure that out. How about if I drag you around by the hair? If you like it, you have Neanderthal in you. If I like it, I have Neanderthal in me. If we both like it, :) !!!" He just doesn't get it!

      He also told me that he doesn't read my blog. He just looks at the pictures. He said that he wouldn't have known what E-P meant either. Aaaarrrrggggg! But he does love the owl!

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  3. YOU ARE going to get something shiny and new with one eye for Xmas....I just know you are! Then Calgary here you come, I just know! ;-) ;-)
    At least you better....poor Terry...I really feel for him...!

    PS...we want to know what E-P means? Extra Person...English Posee....Essential Person!

    Now I know more about owls than I ever did before...I want to capture one as well. No such luck around here I guess.

    PS...Peter Cameron is on FB as well...just in case you didn't know.

    Ron

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    1. Hey Ron and Sophie!

      E-P means "Ever-Patient" as in the Ever-Patient Terry or the Ever-Patient husband. I call him that because he is calm, rational, and PATIENT in spades - which is totally opposite of me. Sometimes he drives me crazy!

      I would love to get the camera as well as the Geno 2.0 kit! Terry is demanding The List (for Santa) from me. He wants one every year, won't give me one, and gets what he wants for me regardless of what I put on The List!

      Does Peter have a blog? He's one of my Facebook friends, and we're connected on Linked-in. If he has a blog, I'm going to follow it for sure! I'm spending so much time blogging, I've hardly checked in with Facebook or gmail. And that mound of laundry is getting higher!

      Have a good evening!


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  4. Oh, he's a beauty! We have a pair of Great Horned Owls here on the ranch. It gives us a thrill to see and hear them.

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  5. Lucky you! I'm going to have to work up the courage to go down along the creek at night and quietly look for them! I love owls, and I was thrilled to see this one!

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