Jan 25, 2019

The Hidden Lives of Owls

the Science and Spirit of Nature's Most Elusive Birds
by Leigh Calvez

This is a very nice book about owls. The author herself became interested in owls- beginning with their presence in cultures and mythologies across different cultures, and then delving into personal study of the owls themselves. She describes eleven owl species that populate (or visit) the Pacific Northwest, and how she sought to find them. In several cases it was simply bird-watching: a glimpse in a tree, a chance at a few photographs, conversing with other bird-watchers, observing hunting or nesting behavior for a short time. In other cases she got a lot more involved, helping teams that measure and band wild owls. She visited a burrowing owl colony where people are helping the owl population recover by providing nesting sites (pre-dug burrows), perches, and constantly monitoring their numbers. I was fascinated by the descriptions of the burrow owls' behaviors, not knowing much about them before. She also visited the nesting site of a great gray owl who later lost its mate, and volunteers stepped in to supplement the mother owl's food supply (with live mice) in order to help her chicks survive. Her participation in assisting this wild owl while avoiding too much familiarity (which could later endanger its young) became very personal. There are spotted owls, norther pygmy owls, snowy owls and the adaptive, some-think-invasive barred owl in here, also an owl I never heard of before: the flammulated owl. Every chapter has some information on the particular owl's required habitat, feeding preferences, nesting behavior, usual range (different species roam all the time, stay put in a home territory or migrate seasonally) and so on. There's even an owl that hunts in the daytime. Interspersed with enough personal observation and individual up-close experiences that it was an engaging read.

Which I got through in two days, because it was due back at the library with no renewal option (someone else wants to read it!) I found this one browsing the stacks.

Rating: 3/5                      205  pages, 2016

1 comment:

bermudaonion said...

I know next to nothing about owls so I'm sure I'd learn a lot if I read this book.