owltalk 2002


1 April 2002


In response to the disappointment voiced by owling field trip participants during the past two weeks, I recently began trapping, transporting, and tethering northern forest owls at key vistas in my study area. Three northern hawk owls and 4 great grays may now be seen regularly during my field trips, and I soon hope to add several boreal and saw-whet owls. The bottom line is that despite an exponential increase in the labor costs associated with my study, now, everyone gets to see owls, provided their checks clear the bank.


To minimize disturbances to the tethered owls, live trapped red-backed voles were injected with Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH) and fed a high protein diet of lichen moss and power bars. Once the voles reach 22 kg in size, they are placed beneath the tethered owl and "brought to their senses" with a heavy stick. According to my calculations, the voles should be able to sustain each tethered owl for approximately 6.2 years.


Because of the pronounced physiological change to the voles however, I suggest a modification of the species' common name from "red-backed vole" to the "big frickin' vole". It seems much more descriptive since I would dare to venture that not many of you have actually seen the red back on a red-backed vole.


I am also pleased to announce that through a generous contribution of the MN Nongame Wildlife Program, I have recently purchased a remote controlled crocodile that rushes out of the black spruce during my owl outings and scares the participants. At that point, I am supposed to shoot it with my pistol. However, due to several prior felony convictions, I am unable to have a firearm in my possession and instead have to chase the crocodile away with a rock.


Until the end of my field season, I will grant birders and naturalists immunity for their claims of omniscience, provided they demonstrate some humility in the process. Repeat after me (we all know who you are) "I really don't know", "I really don't know"; and, "let me ask someone who does know"; "let me ask someone who does know." Don't you feel better already?


Although the DNR is convinced that taped playback surveys are necessary, I am now firmly convinced that their results would improve considerably if instead of the broadcast playback of owl vocalizations, they used a Snoop Doggy Dog remix, broadcast in the cardinal directions at ungodly volumes. Owls will definitely respond to that.


All told, I feel strongly that if we continue to manipulate the forests and its owls, we may some day all get to visit the "6 Flags Over Tofte" theme park. Put away your tapes and your statistics and let things happen. Oh by the way. April Fools.