Monday, February 25, 2008

Wild, Wild Life

When life gets a little too exciting, it is nice to chill out and commune with nature. And sometimes there is no better place to do that than from your own yard. (There is a lot of stuff going on lately that I haven't disclosed in the blog. Maybe later, or maybe never. Some family stuff and lots of drama at work, among other things. Thus, the lack of posts other than photoblogging lately.)

I spent some time outside in my yard at dusk this evening after a draining day at work. Moxy was entertaining as she hunted squirrels from tree to tree. Zima followed me around as we watched Moxy's exploits. Moxy's becoming quite the climber. Getting back down is still the hardest part, but eventually she figures out that she can't go down head first and it all works out.

Standing at the edge of the woods with the cats, I heard a familiar call - "Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you-all?" It was a barred owl (strix varia), perched in a nearby tree. The owl was watching Moxy, too. I fetched my binoculars for a better look and the owl obliged by sticking around for a while. It was too dark to get a decent photograph, but not too dark to observe the owl with binocs. There are a pair of them who have claimed our neighborhood as their territory. These owls are frequent visitors to our yard, which has lots of hardwood trees and a creek running through the back. We hear them more often than we see them, but both owls made appearances tonight. If we are lucky, there will be some owlets to watch later in the spring and early summer.

If you find owls as fascinating as I do, you may enjoy exploring the OwlCam website. Some folks in Eastern Massachusetts built an owl house, and a pair of barred owls took residence and raised families there over multiple years. They have a lot of information and some spectacular photo and video footage of the owls and owlets, as the owl house was wired for audio and video. There is a nifty library of owl sounds, so you can figure out if the hoots in your own yard are from barred owls.


wa11z said...

Owls are terrifying and fascinating at the same time. There eyes alone are enough to send a shiver down your spine.

fermicat said...

I like watching them swivel their necks nearly all the way around. Yes, they have a piercing gaze. That owl was watching me and my cats. Hopefully the cats are too large to be of too much interest as prey.

LL said...

Barred owl? Now what did he do to get 86'd from the joint?

We have barn owls and horned owls, as well as those that live in little holes in the ground, but I'm not sure what they're called...

But that raises the question... where did barn owls live before there were barns?

Dianne said...

wow, that owl site has been doing this for over 10 years! thanks for the link - I'll surely spend some time there. Have never seen an owl in real life, just photos and videos.

are the cats worried about the owl?

Beth said...

Such great pics of Moxy. And I love owls. I think they're beautiful.

You're one of my favorite people in the blogosphere, so I hope whatever you're going through doesn't take much longer to pass.


fermicat said...

LL - Or the related question, Which came first? Barns or barn owls?

dianne - OwlCam is amazing. My cats were aware of the owl, but not terribly interested in it. The squirrel antics had their attention most of the time.

beth - thanks. One way or another, all of it will resolve itself in time.

LL said...

Ok... you just blew my mind. :P

dr sardonicus said...

We see owls occasionally on Pole Hill. The nice thing about living a little ways out is being able to commune with nature, watching the birds, the groundhogs, the deer. Our property seems to be a sanctuary, as the McMansions creep closer to us every year.

Dave said...

Many years ago, I was out in the woods with my father walking with my father on a firetrail in a state forest in the northern lower pennisula of Michigan in mid-November.

Fire trails are straight. They serve as a bit of a break in the event of a fire and a way to get around in the woods.

Way down the trail there was something moving towards us, chest high, slowly.

As it came closer, though it was hard to process, it looked like a bird. The hard to process part was that it's wings filled the middle half of the fire trail. Some bird.

As it got maybe ten feet away, without any discernable movement, it drifted up, and passed maybe three feet over us.

We turned and watched it glide till it disappeared, never a twitch of its body or its wings.

It was, later inquiry determined, we think, an Arctic (Snowy) Owl.

Something special.

Kathleen said...

Owls are very cool.

Cat sitting on my right arm, so typing with one finger.

fermicat said...

dr s - McMansion creep sucks. My main problem with them (besides their ostentatiousness) is that they are usually built on a postage stamp of land.

dave - very cool. I once had a similar experience with an eagle while driving a country road. It damn near buzzed my car it was flying so low, but it was so cool.

kat - cats are cool, too.

Ben O. said...

Owlcams rock.

Looking forward to that possible disclosure.

Or not.


Ben O.

Scott said...

I love owls, although I've only seen one in the wild. If I ever get all girly I would want to collect owls, but I'm not ready just yet to turn in my man card.

Thanks for the link.