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Tag Archive | "owl"

Owl Relationships


By Ranger Steve Mueller

 

I wonder about the important relationships.

Sunday morning I stopped at Ody Brook’s road entrance where I saw a dead bird. At first I thought it was a Ruffed Grouse but quickly realized it was a gray phase Eastern Screech Owl. I drove to church.

During silent prayers I prayed for Greg and Cindi in regards to what is appearing to be a terminal cancer for Cindi. Then I prayed for the owl that lost its life and also for its family.

I received a call in January from a man that found a Great Horned Owl dead in the snow.  Upon retrieving the owl, he realized it died a strange death. The owl was flying close to the ground and flew into a grape vine. The vine branched into a V. The owl’s neck got caught and wedged in the V. The owl was hanging limply by the neck. The skin was ripped and the neck broken. I hoped the owl died instantly instead of hanging helplessly wedged by the neck.

Now that it is dead, I wonder about its mate and plans that were made. It is breeding season. Owl pairs have probably found some advantages and some disadvantages to the two plus feet of snow received. The snow surely affected hunting and daily routines. Males are catching prey to present to females. Nest selection and refurbishing has been underway. Territory boundaries have been claimed and posted with vigilant calls and patrols. We heard a Great Horned Owl begin hooting here this week.

What now? Was it the male or female that died? What emotional strain would envelop the remaining owl? January is a hard month without the loss of a mate.

Males offer food and females expect it. Females may have begun egg laying and should be sitting tight to nests waiting for mates to bring nourishment. The forest must sound empty without the nightly hoots of her mate.

Many think that only people experience emotional loss and associated loss of contributory sustenance when a spouse dies. In nature niches, many species help sustain mates, especially during the breeding season. When a mate suddenly disappears without a trace, the emotional strain must be great. No one notifies the family member of what happened. Emotional strain is a combination of chemical and nervous stimulation. Only in a few social species do others comfort and assist the grieving.

Personal survival demands the owl continue valiantly. For the owl, a lone female left to survive will probably continue but her eggs may not hatch. Exposure while she hunts might be too great and the embryos will likely never develop.

Life is hard with emotional traumas. When a bird’s nest is raided, an ant’s food taken, or a person’s body withers from disease, these organisms experience emotion. How we choose to interpret nervous and chemical changes and then define emotion is our choice.

Emotion may be quantified and even dismissed by some scientific standards for some organisms. Perceptive people will recognize what I call many realms of reality. Ants, owls, and people share experiences of living and emotion. We are all of the same DNA.  Our perceptions and emotions are different in degree with links dating back to the beginnings of life.

I wonder about the important relationships.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at odybrook@chartermi.net Ody Brook, 13010 Northland Dr, Cedar Springs, Michigan 49319-8433.

 

Posted in Ranger Steve's Nature NicheComments Off

Residents rescue trapped owl


Concerned residents rescued a Great Horned owl last Friday, after it was caught in a soccer net.

zOwl1 The owl was discovered in the net late Friday afternoon, January 18. Linda Willetts, who lives just west of U.S. 131, in Algoma Township, called nature lover Marilyn Keigley and both started calling nature centers, the DNR, and others hoping to find help for the bird. The owl’s wings were knotted up tightly in the rope and it wasn’t moving except for an occasional turn of the head.

zOwl7After gathering advice and learning that bird rescue places want you to “bring the bird to them,” Willetts and Keigley said it was evident that they, “the untrained,” would have to try to free the owl. A call to Ranger Steve Mueller in Cedar Springs landed them some good information. He reportedly told the pair, “Be sure to cover the head so he can’t see to attack you and if it is not rescued tonight it will probably die of hypothermia.”

zOwl8Luckily the bird was quite calm and probably had been trapped a good portion of the day. Linda’s neighbor, Tonya Walkons (using welding gloves) and her son Dylan, put a thick blanket over the owl and all three went to work cutting and untangling the ropes.  After the delicate task of freeing the wings, the bird was free and sat still for another two to three minutes. The group of rescuers was unsure if it was injured and had a rescue center lined up if it couldn’t fly. Shortly, it flew off, proving the event was a success.

Steve Ross, naturalist from Mecosta County, told Keigley a day later, “I’ve handled those guys a lot in the past and have had the talon go right through a thick leather glove. And they don’t let go.

 

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