Sunday, September 20, 2009

Great Horned Owl

While on a recent camping trip, I had the opportunity to see a Great Horned Owl.  Up close and personal.  This isn't something that happens everyday, so I was pretty excited.  

I was driving to one of the picnic shelters when I passed the pump house, and noticed him/her sitting in the open, on the ground, in the middle of the day.  I did a double take, turned around, looked again to make sure I was seeing right, and went to the ranger's office.  I let the head of the park know (who is a friend of mine) and he grabbed a couple of guys to check it out.  I went back to the camper to grab my camera, then headed back... 

This is what we saw:

As you can see, we were within feet of him/her.  The owl was obviously not healthy, as he/she could have clawed our eyes out simply for being too close.  It was lethargic, but did manage to watch us as we moved about.

The park officials called a rehabber that specializes in owls.  While waiting for the rehabber, they were able to drop a blanket over him/her, and put him/her into a box in the nature center to keep it secure.

Later that day, we got an update that the owl was a juvenile, probably born in January or February.  It was malnourished (so not hunting well) and was infested with "flat flies".  Several days later, it was determined the owl couldn't be saved.

Sad as it was, it was incredibly awesome to be able to see such an amazing creature up close.  

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