This morning I had my first sighting of one of Charles and Sarah's owlets in 2015! Woo-hoo! Fantastic! Awesome!
It was two brief glimpses of a wing and body. The wing flapped aka "hitting the gym" twice and I was able to get a portion of it in my camera. All of the owlet photos have been cropped for greater detail. As always, be sure to double click on each photo to see a larger version of it.
When I lead an owl prowl or give a talk, I try to emphasize how there are so many aspects of the owls behavior and lives that one simple never tires of observing. The first glimpse of an owlet each nesting season certainly fits this criteria. I wish I had seen the owlets face but just seeing the owlet was more than enough! Last year's first owlet sighting was on March 3. The 2014 and 2015 breeding cycles were quite chronologically similar and I hoped to see an owlet this week. Each day without seeing an owlet raised hopes higher for the following day. The bitterly cold weather earlier in the week made a first sighting less likely. As the week went on and the temperatures rose, my hopes for a first sighting followed suit.
So why was I out in Forest Park on a Saturday morning? Well it was a special Saturday even before I saw the owlet. The first Saturday of every month, unless the rain or snow are pouring or it is a holiday weekend, is the Forest Park Beginner Birder Walk. A joint venture of Forest Park Forever and St. Louis Audubon Society; these walks have been going for a good chunk of years. After letting my pillow win the argument about whether to wake up and bird or not, I began going on these walks several years ago. I have enjoyed this walk ever since and regretted that I did not go earlier! It is my immense honor, since October 2013, to be the co-leader of this walk along with Forest Park Forever Nature Reserve Steward, Amy Witt. As the co-leader I am not filling the Grand Canyon-sized shoes of my predecessor, Dr. James H. Wilson , who, along with Amy, asked me to be the new co-leader. Rather I am making a gesture of a hint of a notion of a scheme of a theory of an attempt at filling his shoes.
I always go out before the walk begins, we meet at 8;15 and head out for two hours at 8:30, to look for and see the owls. The vast majority of the time I talk some of the walk goers to see the owls after the walk concludes. I did so today and these folks were thrilled to see Charles and Sarah. I hope you can come out on one of these walks soon-we have a blast and see great birds and other wildlife! For more details and other Forest Park birding information, please visit this portion of Forest Park Forever's website.
As sunset drew near, I returned to the park eager to see more of the owlet and any others that might be in the nest. I found Sarah and then with the help of J.R. Ball, an owl fan of several years, I saw Charles. I told J.R. about seeing the owlet and we started watching the nest. A new owl addict Praveen, and his lovely family, joined us and like J.R. they were excited to hear about the owlet. We did not see the owlet and as they headed home, my girlfriend, Wendy Schlegel, joined me. Wendy, a connoisseur of the cute, was keen as ever for a first owlet sighting and she proved to be the magic ingredient. Soon after she arrived I looked again in the nest and saw the owlet's face and body! We exclaimed with delight as we honed binoculars and cameras for a better look in the fading light. What a beauty! [Both Wendy and the owlet]
A great way to end the birding day and the week! The week was full of interesting behaviors by the owls some explicable and clear and others puzzling, confusing but no less fascinating.
Thank you for reading!