There are many places to look for birds in the Pikes Peak region. Take a hike around a mountain lake. Stroll around a mountain lake looking and listening for returning summer residents. Enjoy a hike in the aromatic junipers and scrub oaks of a foothill riparian area. Go higher in elevation and see what birds call the montane forests their home.
To refresh your memory, here is the photo from February’s Bird Quiz. It was taken in Florida during the month of January. Don’t read any further if you want one last chance to identify this bird.
I’ve mentioned in the past how bad I am at spotting owls. (That might have something to do with my typical 8:30 pm bedtime.) Well, a couple of weeks ago a birding friend called, asking if I wanted to join her and some others for an evening with Colorado College researcher Brian Linkhart, who has been studying Flammulated Owls for the past 30 years. We’d be traipsing through the Manitou Experimental Forest (west of Colorado Springs) in the dark, accompanying Brian and his student researchers as they netted and banded the tiny owls.
Of course I said yes!
To refresh your memory, here again is the photo for Bird Quiz #4. Read no further if you still want to have a shot at identifying this bird.
As I mentioned in the quiz, I saw this bird near Grand Junction, Colorado, in May. Even a non-birder will probably recognize the flat face and upright posture as belonging to an owl. The real question is, which owl?
At some time of another, most birders have a “nemesis bird”—that species you really want to see but you always seem to show up a minute too late. Or you show up in the wrong spot. Or you hear, “We always get that bird on this trip; I don’t know why it’s not here now!”
I’ve come to realize that I don’t just have a nemesis species—I have a nemesis family! For some reason, I have an extraordinarily hard time finding owls.
Saturday morning. Wakened by my alarm, I snuggled down into my sleeping bag and listened. Trucks rumbled by on the nearby highway. The bird in the trees overhead kept up a constant chatter. But no drops were hitting the tent. The rain had stopped!
Thankfully, our field trip this morning departed at a leisurely 6:30 a.m., the first of two days photographing birds with Bill Schmoker. This was my primary reason for attending the convention, and I was eager to get started.
I took this picture at John Martin Reservoir State Park in SE Colorado. Do you see a problem?
“Wesley’s eyes were a deep, inscrutable black. Even when they first opened, they harbored a great mystery and held my gaze. Looking into his eyes was like looking into infinity, into something far away and cosmic. It was a profoundly spiritual experience….”
This is not your average birding book. Stacey O’Brien adopted a baby barn owl when he was only days old, naming him Wesley. Nerve damage in his wing meant he’d never live successfully as a wild owl. Her commitment to live with and care for Wesley would span almost 19 years, until his death.
Barn owls can’t be kept in a cage, so Wesley and Stacey truly lived together with mutual love and respect. She adapted to “The Way of the Owl,” and he, having imprinted on a human, developed some very un-owl-like traits. For example, barn owls don’t typically like to get wet, but Wesley delighted in taking baths!