Thursday, February 16, 2017

Owls and such


The barred owl that provided the UFO freakout in the dark of the opening morning of deer season last November, is still in the woods on the home place. At least I like to think its the same bird. We see it a couple times a week, mostly on the five acres across the road. Night and day it silently flushes from various low branches before the dogs during our rounds. They are so used to its presence now that they hardly give it notice. Lately though, it has taken up residence close to the house. Close to where we feed sunflower seeds to the birds. The mice and voles profit from that feeding as well.

Two days ago, as I arrived home from the daily grinder, I went around the side of the garage for some relief, and while the day's problems and issues were draining, the owl went "Thump" into the snow from an unseen perch about thirty feet from my position. Yikes. That was unexpected. The owl seemed pretty unconcerned about the lack of space between us, as it looked first to me and then to its catch and back again, finally killing a little black shrew. A couple of flaps brought it about ten feet up into a low aspen branch. The black shrew dangled for several minutes from the beak of the owl before going down the gullet in one gulp. A fair amount of work for such a tiny reward. 

Chel Anderson talked the other day, about some of the owl issues this winter as they relate to the quality of the snow. The conditions are tough now, as a thick crust prevents the owls from getting at most of the mice and voles down below. You can hear it here  on WTIP Grand Marais.  This morning the owl was on the south side of the house, posing.

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