As visions of Long-Eared Owls danced in my head…

Recently Corey from 10,000 Birds  added yet another conquest to his birding big year in New York State, the Long-Eared Owl.

His sighting made me think back to my (currently) one and only sighting of a Long-Eared Owl.  Undoubtedly these birds are more common than reported, but they manage to stay hidden better than I think any other owl species.

It was late December, don’t remember the year.  My friend Mike had come up from Staten Island to help me scout for the Southern Albany County Christmas Bird Count.  As we drove around we discussed habitat and what birds could be found there.  In his opinion he thought that there was quite a bit of good habitat for Long-Eared Owls, just no one was looking.  Apparently this conversation stuck in my head.

About a week later, I had a vivid dream, I was walking out near the research ponds at the Five Rivers Environmental Education Center and started looking up the trunks of the evergreens there and there were Long-Eared Owls.  This was one of those rare vivid dreams you get every now and then, so much so, that I got up early and went to Five Rivers.

I trudged out through the ice and snow to the exact spot in my dream, now the evergreens line a path that goes for about .5 mile.  That’s a lot of tree’s to look up.  I decided I would and would examine every lump I could find.  It was going to take time, but I was ready.

Looked up tree #1, nothing, tree# 2, nothing, tree #3 ah, a lump, looks like a squirrel’s nest, oh well better look at it closer with the binos.  Huh?  I think the Squirrel’s nest just turned it’s head…

Sure enough there was a nice Long-Eared Owl starring back at me.  I might have let out a whoop of joy and scared the thing, but it didn’t move, just went into it’s skinny posture.

I ran back to my car, running into the director of Five Rivers, with whom I relayed my sighting to and like a kid at Christmas he was off to the back of the property to look for the birds.  I ran home and reported the birds to the local list-serv.  That of course opened a new can of worms about reporting the locations of roosting Long-Eared Owls.  You would think, the way people respond that these are the rarest birds in North America.  But because I reported them, many people had the opportunity to view the birds.  Eventually they were eaten by either a Northern Goshawk or more likely a Great-Horned Owl.  Their demise had nothing to do with me telling people where the birds are, although a few tried to blame me.

I guess this story goes to show that while dreams are dreams, sometimes it may be your sub conscious trying to tell you something.

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One response to “As visions of Long-Eared Owls danced in my head…

  1. Long-Eared Owls (LEO) have been coming to the conifer trees next to the field for several years. Both my wife and I have seen them. You can also find them in Coxsackie. When I told a local bird club about them, they just laughed and thought I was nuts. Even though I have been owling for 40 years.

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