Thursday, March 23, 2017

talkin' owls

with great horned owl

Special thanks to the Norris Woman's Club for inviting me to talk about one of my favorite topics in our universe, and maybe any other universe. But like my hero Carl Sagan, this is the only one I know.

with barred owl
I love owls! We have four species that live in my portion of the Pale Blue Dot, the Tennessee Valley: screech, barred, great horned, barn; and one that nests on the top of Old Smoky: northern saw-whet; plus two species that sometimes visit us during the winter: short-eared and long-eared. Once you know these, their preferred habitats (the short-eared is a grassland hunter, the barred likes woods near water) and their unique hooting calls you know your local owls.

with eastern screech-owl, gray phase
With proper habitat around your home, you can maybe attract two of the species—screech or barred—by simply putting up an appropriate size nest box in the woods behind your house. And, if you live in a more bucolic area and have a barn, good for you! Look for barn owls in the rafters.

My new book Ephemeral by Nature: Exploring the Exceptional with a Tennessee Naturalist, due to be published this summer by the University of Tennessee Press, begins with a chapter that might as well be titled "My life with owls." 

I have been working with the injured non-releasable nocturnal hunters at Ijams Nature Center for 19 years. And somewhere over the past two decades, I became a gray-phase human.

- Owl photos by Chuck Cooper, Shelley Conklin and Pam Petko-Seus

- Thank you Loretta for arranging the details of my visit to Norris

Norris Woman's Club (and a few guys) 

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