why study owls?

 

Nighttime. You either get used to it, or turn a light on.  The only problem is that electricity pretty much ends on the Shore of Lake Superior.  Instead, in the north woods of Minnesota, the halogen glows of civilization are an hours' drive away. No convenience stores…no Ding Dongs and bad coffee for a midnight snack. Nothing. Only darkness and often, a deafening silence. But sometimes there are owls. Owls that hoot and owls that scream. Owls that whistle and owls that sing. Owls that glide on silent wings.  And whether they are singing or silent, they beckon me to follow them into the darkest reaches of the boreal forest.

 

That I should spend the last dozen winters of my life chasing owls defies logic. Before I began, I festered with the pervasive apathy of modern civilization. Why investigate something when the I-Team will do it for you? It was okay for someone else to be curious, but hey, I had TV to watch!!!  For me the fascination is simple: owls represent the continuum of life. Humans pillage the environment and homogenize the forests. We drive Sport Utility Vehicles the size of a house and hunt for pleasure.  And when the hunting turns sour, we shoot road signs.  Owls adapt, they have no other choice. They hunt to survive.  There are no pleasurable diversions.  They hunt when the temperature is 100 above- or 30 below-zero; when the mosses are green or covered by four feet of snow.  And when they don't, they perish.  Theirs is a simple biologic equation: eat or die. For me, owls define the word survival.

 

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