Northern Spotted Owls Welcome us Home

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Our family just completed a wonderful road trip to Portland Oregon, with stops at the Drive-Thru Redwood Tree, near Leggett, CA; the historic Victorian houses of Eureka, CA; the Rogue Valley Creamery in Central Point, OR, the Enchanted Florist chocolate tasting bar in Ashland, OR; and numerous diners, coffee houses, sushi bars, vintage stores, bookstores,and fun neighborhoods along the way.

Many photos of our trip will be forthcoming.

When we drove back into our driveway, an owl swooped over our car, we believe to a nesting place in redwoods near our house. We stopped the car and quietly got out, to see two owls perched in a nearby tree. We stayed with them a bit, and one came even closer and sat on the railing of our front porch. He seemed especially interested in Anna — we didn’t know if it was her light blue shirt or her lightness of spirit.

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We all just watched them (and they us). It was amazing to be that close to an owl, and I wondered if it would ever happen again. The owl’s eyes were huge, black and blinking. He/she really did look wizened. The feathers formed a beautiful pattern. The whole head swiveled to see things.

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While we were watching, the largest (and closest) owl coughed up a whole pellet of a mouse or other rodent! It was large, black and wet.

We figured the owls had become comfortable in our absence, and hoped they’d continue to make our home theirs. (We’d seen Northern Spotted Owls before, in summer, but they never seemed to linger.)

Since seeing our owls, we’ve learned that they are on the government’s Endangered Species List, with fewer than 1,500 pairs left in their habitat, the Pacific Northwest, from Northern California through British Columbia. They thrive in old-growth forests that offer a combination of redwoods, cedar, and fir, and those are fairly rare, with many having been lost to logging. (So, indeed, this is the same owl that was made famous by logging/environmentalist feuds.) Marin County is said to be relatively dense with Northern Spotted Owls.

Update: We saw the owls again, a couple days later, still watching Anna. Perhaps they’ve nested here!

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Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

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4 responses to “Northern Spotted Owls Welcome us Home

  1. I want to come over and see. I will be home on Sunday. Can I come over?

  2. Of course! I’ve suggested to folks to call first to see if the owls are hanging out near the house. They seem to come out in the late afternoon.

  3. David Wilson

    Nice photos and article. It is interesting to see the spotted owl in situ (as my old anthropology professor would say). In the public eye, the spotted owl is at the center of the logging/conservation controversies of the past few decades. Many reams of paper and gallons of ink have been devoted to the pushing and shoving of the combatants.

    It is nice to actually see a spotted owl and know that they are trying to be good neighbors.

  4. Hi David. And thanks. Yeah, that’s the same owl — and its “fame” adds one more layer of interest to it being here. I think they’re great neighbors. They make no demands, they eat rodents, they keep an eye on things, and they’re a joy to watch.

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