[Tweeters] Not Owling

Jeff Gibson gibsondesign at msn.com
Sun Sep 27 09:40:53 PDT 2015

I'm always intrigued when reading reports on Tweeters of folks going owling. As I understand it, owling is a conscious and concerted search for owls. It sounds pretty cool, but I confess I've never done it myself.
No, my usual mode of operation is simply to walk around "outdoors" to see what I can see, or hear what I can hear, owl or whatever. I figure that with their ability to fly, and superior hearing and eyesight, the owls can find me easier than the other way around. I suppose the owls could call it "Jeffing", if they really had a plan to find me, which I imagine they don't. But they do find me sometimes.
Take last night for example, here in Port Townsend. I was having trouble sleeping, so I stumbled out into the very nicely moonlit night, for walk-it-off session, when a Barn Owl found me just about 100 ft away from the house. Oh sure, they're fairly common, but I really haven't actually seen that many over the years. The Barn Owl was winging about under the nearby hospital streetlights - like a giant white moth, utterly silent - until it disappeared into the darkness. That was neat to see and not hear.
Back a few years ago, I was working on boat refinishing in Seattle with my wife (the expert in that skill) and we were working midnight hours on a huge project at the Jensen Motor Boat Company on the ship canal right next to the UW campus. A wonderful building, built in the 30's, it's a big "boat barn" on the water, and had a Barn Owl that would roost up in the rafters at night - wonderful to see at close range as it silently flew in low over the boat to it's roost. An "indoor" owl. Back in the 80's I lived in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood and happened to have Barn Owls in the 'hood - never saw one, but regularly heard their sharp calls late at night.
Recently on tweeters there was a thread concerning Barred Owl attacks. I don't know nothing about that, but did almost get "nailed" by a Spotted Owl in the North Cascades years ago - in the mid 70's, before the big Barred Owl diaspora occurred. I was being "stalked" by two full grown immature birds (with traces of down still) near their nest site. As I walked down the trail away from them, my sixth sense kicked in just in time to duck , one owl just missing my head. This was at the end of August that year. I sensed no malice, or aggression from these two doofy young owls - seemingly they were just curious- but still those talons could do some damage, even on a benign head landing. Just sayin'.
This morning I hauled out the ol' birding life list book I've had for over 40 years to find out how many owl species have found me. I was mildly surprised to discover encounters with 10 owl species over the decades - more than I thought. Not too bad for never having owled, really.
Oh, and by the way, owls, I am available - you just have to find me.
Jeff Gibsonnot owlingPort Townsend Wa

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