Owls, Owls, Owls! Meeting our feathered friends at the Fruitlands Museum

from www.wickedlocal.com
Marcia and Mark Wilson; from http://www.wickedlocal.com

I love birds and I love cats. So it makes sense that owls, with their cat-like eyes, should capture my heart. I had the thrill of seeing these beautiful creatures up close and personal at the Fruitlands Museum in Harvard, MA in a presentation by Marcia and Mark Wilson of Eyes on Owls.

Passion for owls

The Wilsons are unique in their ability to care for owls and to educate the public about them. Marcia comes by her interest honestly with a mother who worked with owls throughout her life and kept a Great Horned Owl in the family home. Mark is a professional photographer with credits including the covers of National Geographic plus twenty years of service to the Boston Globe.

Lifelong commitment

Both are passionate about birds to the point of housing some eighteen owls on their property. Some of these birds live over fifty years so it is indeed a lifelong commitment. It’s a heavy financial commitment as well with each bird getting their own aviary (at a cost of some $4000 per aviary) plus fresh rodents daily for their diet.

Owls in their care

Each owl adopted by the Wilsons has some kind of disability, whether it be a missing eye or broken or missing wing (often times these injuries are due to the birds being struck by cars as they hunt along the roadside); some were hatched in captivity and therefore had to remain in the care of humans.

Hoots!

The Wilsons provided an entertaining and educational hour, showing stunning photographs Mark had taken during their owl expeditions (including an owl coughing up a pellet!) while Marcia demonstrates her skill at owl hooting.

Finding owls in the wild

I learned a lot about how to hunt down owls as they are hard to see (such as looking for “white wash,” aka bird poop, spotting pellets on the ground and noting ridges in the tall grass indicating rodent trails).

Meet the owls

The best part, of course, is meeting the owls in person. We met these:

screech owlEastern Screech Owl (very tiny, about 6 inches tall, can be grey or red)

barred owl2Barred Owl (you can imitate his hoot by using the saying “Who cooks for you, who cooks for you all?”)

barn owl4Barn Owl (one of the rarest of the New England species)

Great Horned Owl
Great Horned Owl (in every state in the union except Hawaii)

Still photos do not do these birds justice – here is a video I shot as they were displayed:

We are fortunate to have people like Marcia and Mark Wilson dedicate their lives to the care of these creatures and the educating of the public about them.

Have you ever spotted an owl?

Have you ever seen an owl in the wild? I was fortunate enough to see a grey screech owl tucked inside a hole in a tree (super cute!) and I also saw a nest full of baby Great Horned Owls. I also spotted the white wash Mark spoke about on a massive fur tree with the Great Horned Owl at the top.  I saw these owls at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, MA so if you live in the area and want to see owls, be sure and visit this grand and historic cemetery during birding season in the spring.

Tell us about your owl sightings!

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Birding at historic Mount Auburn Cemetery, circa 1960

Mother’s Day in our family was always celebrated with a trip to Mount Auburn Cemetery for the Spring Warbler Migration. It’s a magnificent trip to a truly historic place awash in beautiful mature flowering shrubs and trees surrounding three different picturesque ponds. And the birds! Warblers are tiny, often colorful wonders with a wide variety of songs to challenge the most experienced birder.

willow pond mt auburn 05-2011-4

On lucky trips, you might even catch site of a Great Horned Owl nest with owlets, or there might be a tiny owl wedged in the hole of a tree, blending in seamlessly.

owlets mt auburn 05-2011-1

It’s time outdoors, time spent with historic figures, and time spent enjoying a competitive, stimulating and truly fun hobby. Here’s a look at birders from the famous Brookline Bird Club at Mt. Auburn in 1960: http://www.mountauburn.org/media-archive/bostonglobejune1960/

Click to Tweet & Share: Birding at historic Mount Auburn Cemetery, circa 1960 http://wp.me/p2D9hg-tA

Would you like to learn along with Susan how to live your life
in single flow?
Send an email to susanwbailey@gmail.com
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Listen to Susan’s music Read Susan’s blog, Louisa May Alcott is My Passion