Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Owl-ology, merci

In nature, form follows function. I have two arms because it makes t-shirts fit better. Owls have the most splendor faces, actually designed for sensory input, round like satellite dishes with huge eyes. They have excellent hearing and eyesight. If you are a mouse moving in the forest detritus in the dark, it's hard to go undetected. Just sayin'

Thank you to all who attended my Owl-ology 101 class at Ijams last Sunday afternoon. We learned all about the local species of owls, enjoyed some owl-licious snacks and dissected owl pellets provided by StayPuff our adopted barred owl. And yes, some mouse skulls were found!

The photo at the top and to the right is of a red phase eastern screech-owl, the first bird I worked with at Ijams in 1998. We did hundreds of programs together, she was a real show-stopper.

And the photo to the right is an elderly great horned owl. As a group, they all seem to be born mad and stay mad. They're intense enough to even kill and eat a skunk. But not this one, his advanced years made him gentle. And the bottom photo is a barred owl with those large black Muscle Shoals bluesman eyes. I handled the flightless wonder for a number of years. All of these three have since passed away. Heartbreak!

There is a chapter in my upcoming University of Tennessee Press book, Ephemeral by Nature, about owls and my relationship with them at the nature center. 

Young naturalists have been coming to Ijams to learn about birds since the 1920s and they love owls. I am but a link in the chain. 

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