The week after I brought Pip home, we saw the other large owl that could make an easy meal of her—a Snowy Owl in Superior. It was more than a month before Pip saw another wild owl—an Eastern Screech-Owl in Ohio during the birding festival called the Biggest Week in American Birding. She was already familiar with screech owls because of my little Archimedes, but the Ohio bird was her first in the wild.
|I saw this Eastern Screech-Owl at the Magee Marsh the year before Pip was born. But it COULD be the one she saw, too.|
Pip added lots of birders as well as birds to her lifelist in Ohio.
|J. Drew Lanham and Pip are good friends! And Pip got to hear his voice this December on the radio when Drew and I were guests on Science Friday!|
Pip and I didn’t see another owl until that September, when a saw-whet was calling and hunting in my backyard one evening. And then we went more than a year before Pip added another owl to her lifelist. That was about one in the morning on November 3, 2016, the night my beloved Chicago Cubs won the World Series. The game was over at 11:47 pm, very late for me, but I was so elated that I couldn’t pull myself away from the TV for over an hour. When I took Pip outside, a Boreal Owl was calling away, and moving from one neighbor’s yard to another to my yard, apparently actively hunting. My education owl Archimedes was trilling in response. Nature itself approved of the Cubs finally winning, and Pip was still wearing her little Cubs jersey as she added this splendid lifer.
That was it for owls on Pip’s lifelist until just this week. On Monday, February 19, exactly the day the Duluth Curling Club, a.k.a. Team U.S.A., started winning games in the lead-up to Olympic Gold, Pip started seeing owls again. That is when we went birding with my friend Susan Szeszol.
... and the great gray flew too quickly...
... but nevertheless they were lifers for both Susan and Pip. Tragically, I forgot all about my practice of serving brownies after seeing owl lifers.
Then on Friday, I heard crows cawing somewhere nearby and took Pip to check it out. We found another Great Gray Owl, this one barely photographable, roosting in the aspens across from St. Michael’s Church. Those noisy crows, intrepid little chickadees, a couple of Downy Woodpeckers, and a Red-bellied Woodpecker bombarded it as it sat tight. I didn't get any photos showing the actual bombardments, but if you look carefully above and to the left of the owl, you can see a Downy Woodpecker raining expletives on the poor bird.
Then on Saturday, Pip and I went to the bog again. This time we got even better looks at a Great Gray Owl, on the power line on our side of Highway 7; after several minutes, it dropped to a lower perch for a while. Pip was fascinated—I think this was her best look at any owl ever except for Archimedes. I was so darned intent on photographing the owl that I didn't even think to take a photo of Pip watching it.
Apparently thanks to the Duluth Curling Club having just won the Olympic Gold Medal at 2 am that very morning, Pip and I also saw a Boreal Owl—a Boreal Owl seems to appear for Pip right after extraordinary achievements of our favorite teams. As with the owl after the Cubbies' win, I couldn't take a photo—too many people had hiked too close to the owl already. This time Pip wasn’t wearing a Duluth Curling Club jersey, but apparently whatever deity arranges these wonderful coincidences knew what was in our hearts. Susan had returned to Chicago with the northern owl trifecta. Pip had two lifers and now yet another acknowledgement that Nature itself approves of our beloved teams. That was a win for all of us.