The day started inauspiciously enough; it was raining and cold when I got up to take my daughter to school, but things changed as the day went on and when it was time to meet Mark Glenshaw, the Owl Man of Forest Park, in front of the Visitors’ Center, it was downright balmy. By that time I had shed one of my sweaters and my coat, hat and gloves and was thinking perhaps Spring had come early.
Mark took a bit of time to educate us in the proper way to stalk owls and also to entertain us with some great owl stories, and we set off to find Charles and Samantha, our pair of Great Horned Owls. Sarah, Charles’ mate back in 2009, who gave him so many owlets over the years, died in 2015, leaving poor Charles a widower. Samantha, his current mate, has so far failed to nest and give Charles any additional offspring.
It took us a while to find Samantha, as she didn’t turn out to be in the first place we went to look for her. Mark likes to call it “counting heads” when he sets out to account for the whereabouts of his flock, and while we did find Samantha before too long, our scouting for Charles was interrupted by a Coopers Hawk that whizzed past us and landed on a nearby tree. We oohed and aahed over the hawk for a short while before he zoomed off and nabbed a bat, tumbling to the ground with his next meal. We followed and watched as he warily consumed his meal, keeping a close eye on any and all humans nearby.
xA bit more wandering after that and we had the privilege of not only finding a second Great Blue Heron and Charles, but also of listening to Charles hoot a song to his mate. It was a magical sort of evening, and it was over all too soon!