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Calling night stations for owls can often seem monotonous and you find
yourself trying to make every little noise in the forest into something
much cooler than it actually is. Although you do hear and see the
occasional black bear, porcupine, raccoon, and of course elk and deer.
However, on that rare, or should we say endangered, occasion.... a
faint 4-note of a Spotted Owl filters through the canopy. This is it,
you tell yourself. This is a moment to be savored. All of your senses
become heightened and alert. Now it is time to track the sound of that
owl and try to get a visual on it...that is, if your smiling eyes would
open up large enough to see anything clearly....
Luck is on your side...or maybe it is skill. The undergrowth is no match for you tonight; after all, you are on a mission. Moments later, you find
yourself standing underneath a ball-of-fluff predator who musters enough
strength for his tail feathers to twitch with each call.
Unfortunately you have to say goodbye for now to your new acquaintance.... there is more work to be done tonight. You know you will be back tomorrow, mice in hand... so you hike back to your truck, high on nature.
Day two.... a return trip to find the Spotted Owl, this time in daylight. You have brought along 2 co-workers and 8 mice. The terrain is steep
and you cross your fingers hoping the sleepy owl will awaken and show
himself off somewhere close-by.
Now it is time to mouse.
Once again, the owl responds to your calls and is found relatively quick and easily.
(Click to see a past post about how and why we mouse, etc.)
A stick is gathered and you place the unsuspecting mouse upon it
and make squeaky mouse imitating sounds.
The Spotted Owl leaves his perch and you catch a glimpse of its outer toe swiveling from the front to face the rear and grasp it's cylindrical
prey....... an easy meal.
For the next hour and a half you follow the owl from perch to perch while juggling mice on sticks, mosquitoes, and cameras. You're there to see what he does with those
What an exquisite creature.... You could sit for hours and hours just watching.
Even if the owl decided to close its' eyes and sit motionless.
Nonetheless, there is more work to be done and the evening is coming
to a close. A once in a lifetime experience? Certainly hope not. You
spend the rest of the night calling stations nearby wishing, for the
Spotted Owl's sake, not to hear a Barred owl too close by.