Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Barred Owl Family

From last week's information, we didn't expect much. Maybe it was lowered expectations that caused our owl hunt to be so successful. We went out with a local birdwatcher and professor at Allegheny College, Dr. Mumme. His idea was to go to a graveyard in Meadville and go looking for owls. In Pennsylvania, there are seven species of owls that are either native there or are present during their breeding seasons. The most commom are the Barred Owls, Great-Horned Owls and Eastern Screech Owls. Some other owls present during their breeding seasons are the Saw-Whet, Long-eared, Short-eared and Barn Owl. Probaly the most common owls to see are the Barred Owls and Screech owls.

Dr. Mumme, pronouced like "Mummy", took us to a huge ravine in the graveyard and took out a radio. At first I wasn;t sure what to expect; Dr. Mumme was obviously very knowledgeable in the field of birds. He explained to us about the calls of the different owls and even demonstrated some himself. His calls were amazingly accurate, no doubt he was practiced. After though, he took out a radio with calls of the three most common and began to play them.

We had just about given up when out of the blackness of the ravine there came the call of a Barred Owl. We couldn't believe it. At first we thought it was a dog, but suddenly the sound came from the tree directly overhead. We all turned on our headlamps and didi our best to spot the owl. We saw the owl fly back into the ravine and heard it call. To our amazment another call answered it. Suddenly we began to here the sound of two owls, presumably a male and a female, making the calls that signaled their familiarity. Both owls presented themselves to us briefly, and then one vanished. We didn't see it again. After the one owl had left we began to hear high pitched squealing shrieks that Dr. Mumme quickly identified as the calls of Juvinilles.

Instead of seeing just one owls that night, we managed to find and entire family. In all, there were four owls, two juvinilles and two adults. This was more than we would have ever anticipated or asked for. It was one of the most amazing, eerie, and, magical times I've ever spent in a cemetary. (also one of the few.)

I can't wait for the rest of the week!!! I personally hope that everything we do is everybit as exciting and intriguing as this.


Will said...

Sounds like fun. Owls are so cool. We had an owl family in our back yard until our tree fell down :(

Fluffy said...

Owls are awesome and really difficult to find! You all sound like you are having a wonderful adventure!