Thursday, January 21, 2010

Get out, get out, get out and get away

Owls. Let's just come out and say it.....they're pretty trendy right now. The hipsters are loving the's like the new wolf. If you were unaware of that fact, or are wondering what exactly a "hipster" is, just know that this has its ups and downs. I mean, any positive publicity for our big-eyed friends is a good thing, right? However, certain birdwatching people who are dimly aware of culture outside the realm of birdwatching are pained by this fact. I mean, let's face it....I've been way into owls way longer than you have. I was doing Spotted Owl surveys in highschool, for god's sake.

It's pretty much the same problem music nerds have from time to time....for example, old diehard fans of Against Me! wept only when they signed to a major label. Many simply cast the band by the wayside. Part of this was born out of a fear that the band would subsequently abandon some of their ethics and musical stylings (which turned out to be true down the road), but most of it was due to the fact that the bad wouldnt be their little secret anymore, it would be for the masses. Common people's music...which admittedly, is pretty awful.

But I digress. We're talking about owls, not the pitfalls of punk rock. Anyhow, owls are problematic for me. Not in that they are especially hard to identify, its just that they are so damn hard to find at all. At least for me. Several species I have heard but not seen (which is incredibly aggravating), and my owl list is just not too impressive. I've never been around for the Snowy Owls that have showed up in California the last few years (which is extremely, extremely aggravating), nor have I seen any of the other facemelting northern owls (Northern Hawk, Great Gray, Boreal).
At any rate, I am excited about opportunities this spring and summer to see some new ones, in Arizona and beyond...

Best owl story that comes to mind: We were camping (er, trespassing) in a wash south of Patagonia, Arizona during last July's Monsoon Reun(ion). I was drinking copious amounts of Gentleman Jack, when late at night we were engulfed by Elf Owls calling all around us. Steadfastly, I staggered up the road with handle of Gentleman in one hand and maglite in the other. For no reason at all, I managed to actually find one next to the road within a couple minutes, where it cooperatively sat and offered itself as a life bird to the other folks present. Accolades were heaped upon me, and things have not been the same ever since.

Right. Have a good day, I'm going to go up my field-nerd status by buying some double-kneed Carhartts.


  1. Owls are a problem for me. For a start a weird consequence of being tongue-tied until my early thirties means that I can't even pronounce them. For me they are Als

    That aside, I am a huge fan of crows and Owls tend to like biting their heads off, which kind of sucks.

    It sucks when Owls are actually amazing!

  2. If you go to Flour + Water on Harrison and 20th, the manager there has a big tattoo of a Barn Owl on her back. It is awesome.