14 September 2009

Megascops asio

The cool, humid breeze blew down the levee, carrying with it a faint whinny and tremelo call. "I'm telling you, he is right here." The Barred Owl pair called into the darkness, hoping to assert themselves as the top predator in these woods. We stared at the brush before us, waiting for the Megascops asio, the Eastern Screech-Owl, to appear. We scanned the trees and bushes with our dying spotlight, waiting for the inevitable darkness to win out and force us home without our bird. Just then, Chris West paused momentarily in the low bushes. "Got him!" I looked down, and instantly replied to Chris that "It's a red morph!" Adam Ulissy, my friend from LSU and ride for the night, just stared at the bird. "This is so cool." As we watched the little owl, I looked at Chris and asked if I could have the spotlight. I had a feeling we could get a whole lot closer. We began creeping up towards the owl, using the spotlight to keep ourselves hidden from the bird. When I paused for the last time before it took flight, we were four feet from this incredible bird. It was the first Eastern Screech-Owl Adam or I had ever seen, and it was Chris's first red morph bird. It was spectacular. However, karma came back to us for spotlighting all those owls, as we crested the levee and in turn were spotlighted by the Baton Rouge Police Department. After breifly explaining what the three of us were doing, the cop left and told us to have a good night. I wondered why he checked us out until I checked my clock and found it was four minutes after midnight. We had been looking for the owl for an hour and a half almost. And it was all worth it.

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