Friday, November 11, 2011

Screech of Delight

Last week, I had the most amazing birding experience, completely by accident. As my husband and I were making popcorn in preparation for watching Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole, I turned toward our large kitchen window and saw what looked to be a large leaf flutter upwards and out of view. That might not be so unusual given the season, except it was not windy enough that night for any leaf of that size to be blown upwards. Curious (and more than a little hopeful), I stepped onto the deck and into our yard to take a peek at what I believed would be a neighborhood bat.

I never expected what I saw; perched above the kitchen window, neat as you please, was an owl. I do believe my heart actually stopped, and I watched him for a moment on the roof before he winged to a nearby tree, giving me another great view from less than 20 feet away. It was only a minute later, when he flew off to the north along the property line, that I realized I'd been too shocked to take the requisite mental notes for proper identification. But what an experience!

Two hours later, after the movie (not too bad as anthropomorphized bird movies go), I couldn't resist bundling up against the freezing temperatures, grabbing my field bag, and heading into the neighborhood for a bit of hopeful owling. Once I got outside, though, I really didn't know where to start, so I went back to the beginning, where I'd seen the owl earlier. Even before I lit my flashlight, I saw a suspicious lump above the kitchen window, and lo and behold, it was the same owl, in the same spot, with the same mildly disgruntled look to give me. Again he perched on the roof for a few moments before flying to another tree, but this time, I was able to observe him from only a dozen feet away for several minutes - enough time to note the brilliant yellow eyes, gray and black streaked plumage, rounded tail, and overall field markings that positively identified him as a western screech-owl.

Not only a remarkable new yard bird (well worth the cost of moving, in my opinion), but a tremendous new lifer I'd never have expected. And all because I saw a "leaf" outside and opted to investigate. Never miss an opportunity to look for birds, no matter how unlikely the situation might seem - you never know what might be flying by.

Do you know these 20 Fun Facts About Owls?

1 comment:

Birding is Fun! said...

Awesome experience! In my Bountiful, Utah yard I get Western Screech-Owls occasionally. I've heard them way more often than I've seen them. I'm thinking about putting up a screech owl box and see if they will roost and maybe even nest in my yard.