Monday, March 25, 2013

7710 Terrace Avenue

Just because you can walk right up to a Great Gray Owl, doesn't mean that you should.

What will happen to the Terrace Avenue Great Gray Owl that seems so out of place? We'll soon find out. All of us who have seen this magnificent visitor from Canada's boreal forest share this concern. What are its chances for survival here in downtown Middleton? I felt a little uneasy when I heard it was observed flying low over Highway 14 last night. My sense this bird might meet an untimely fate in Middleton increased just a little bit.

While sounds of rush hour traffic on the beltline can't be helping it listen for prey, so far the owl is successfully hunting and appears to be roosting comfortably when it needs to. Some have asked if the dozens upon dozens of curious onlookers and photographers are disturbing it. I'd say probably not, but I think it's best to give the owl plenty of space, at least 20 to 30 yards.

While I don't think it's technically correct to think of it as tame, there's no doubt in my mind that this bird has zero natural fear of humans and cars. It does, however, have innate discontentment for crows and jays that occasionally harass it. The owl isn't clacking at people or cars, but it does so at pesky corvids who eagerly express their displeasure by the owl's presence. Having said that, the only credible and immediate threat to this bird is highway traffic. That's my only worry.

Before checking the owl's usual daytime roosting locations, the past few mornings I've driven up and down Highway 14 and the Beltline searching for evidence of its demise. Perhaps a little pessimistic on my behalf, but I recall what happened during the Great Gray Owl irruption of 2004/2005. I've mentally prepared myself for the worst, but I'm hoping for the best outcome for this wonderful owl.

All images © 2013 Mike McDowell

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