Thursday, April 7, 2011

Owl Survey

I conducted my first Owl survey route earlier tonight. Each survey route consists of listing for five minutes at 10 stops a mile apart. The clear sky and relatively calm winds were ideal for the survey. I did not have high expectations based on a ride-along for two routes last year, but I was pleasantly surprised tonight.

I heard owls at four of ten survey stops, with four Barred Owls and one Great Horned Owl counted! Two of the owls were very close to the road, resonating their sound through my head and sending chills down my spine with their awesome calls. At another stop two barred owls were calling back and forth on opposite sides of the road. I also heard a Savannah Sparrow and two Wilson's Snipes for the first time this year. Along with the Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker and Fox Sparrow in our yard today, it was a good day of birding!

In addition to birds, I saw five deer and a raccoon tonight. The unexpected survey guest showed up right after the five minute survey was complete at my 9th stop. I had just returned to the car and was jotting down notes when cop lights came on behind me. The cop was very kind and checked to make sure everything was alright. He asked how the survey was going and seemed interested when I mentioned a barred owl was calling within a couple hundred yards of we were parked. He drove off right away without listening however. I was too frightened to get out of the car and point out the call, but I should have. I've read about this happening to birders before, but not me. The episode with police has given me a good chuckle after the fact.

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