Saturday, April 18, 2009

Evening Visitor

It has been a very busy and stressful few weeks with many activities and commitments, and I have had to completely put this blog aside for awhile.  As busy as it's been, we have enjoyed seeing owls almost each evening on our drive home.  We generally see them perched on the very top of the birch and aspens at the base of our hill, basking in the evening sun about 7:30 pm,  but always far enough away to make them hard to identify.  We often hear the calls of the Great Horned Owls around our house, but have never been lucky enough to see one up close. So imagine our surprise on Wednesday to see a Great Gray Owl perched in a birch tree very close to home!  We stopped to admire him, but realized we didn't have our camera.  We quickly drove home and returned to find him still there, lazily enjoying the sun.  Photos are courtesy of Alyssa.

When we went home, we looked up facts about the Great Grays.  They are the largest owl in North America, with a 60 inch wingspan!  They are quite rare to see, although they are active in the evening hours. (Remember, there is no "night" in Fairbanks in the summertime!)  Great Grays have amazing hearing.  They can hear a vole under 2 feet of snow, and dive in head-first to capture their prey! We were surprised, and none too happy, to find that the Great Horned Owl is the main predator of the Great Gray.

We were happy that the hounds were NOT with us when we saw this magnificent raptor.  Gus is a very visual hound, and would have most definitely tried to climb the tree to sniff the owl, and the coonhounds, well, it's hard to say what they would have done had it moved from the birch tree...


Bentley said...

Hi Edie, Gus and all hounds and humans! My humans and I hope things will settle down and be less stressful soon.

The owl is amazing. There aren't any birds that big here. I'd be scared! Well, maybe the turkey vultures, but they don't land close by - thank goodness.

My human mom was wondering about the snow - has it melted yet? And it's so amazing to hear about the long days...without any nights. How does a hound know when to sleep?

Edie and Gus said...

Things are settling down a LITTLE, but I am still pretty overwhelmed. Next blog, maybe I'll do a little photo essay about all of our events!

Here's some information I am sure you will appreciate about Alaska:

As of today, we have 16 hours, 37 minutes of daylight. The sun rose at 5:30 a.m. and sets tonight at 10:08 p.m. We are still gaining 7 minutes of daylight a day. Our total visible light is 19 hours! Woohoo!

Yes, the hounds as well as humans have a hard time knowing when to go to bed. We have to be sure to close all the blinds to keep it as dark as possible, otherwise EVERYONE is up all night. Even so, the hounds are frequently up at 2 or 3 a.m., thinking it's time to eat breakfast and go outside. Ugh.

And finally, yes, we still have plenty of snow. Probably a good 16-18 inches deep in the yard. The good news the weather is really warm this week--maybe record breaking warmth!!

Ina in Alaska said...

How lucky to have owls nearby. I have never seen an owl and quite frankly would keep the poodle pack inside if I did see one. Beautiful creature! Thanks for going to the trouble of going back to photograph the evening visitor. Come on down to Anchorage to de-stress!! We'll have lunch!

Ina in Alaska said...

PS the snow is mostly gone in Anchorage and it is still light at 10 PM. I needed only a vest for today's walk. On the dog walks I see yard crews and neighbors doing yard clean up. Very nice. The winter seemed long this year.

Edie and Gus said...

Hi Ina!
I WAS supposed to be in Anchorage this whole week while my husband had back surgery. But wouldn't you know it, the doctor's office called us an hour before he got on the plane and told him he had to reschedule. So now surgery is scheduled for the end of June. I had the kids all ready to go stay with someone for a week, had all the dog's vet paperwork to the kennel, all my lesson plans written for a sub, meetings rescheduled, etc. Now here I am, rescheduling the rescheduled things. Just what I needed. We will be back down there, end of May and early June for sure. Maybe we can drop back into the Cook for another glass of wine! :-)

Ina in Alaska said...

Edie, oh what a mess.... but I certainly forward to seeing you again! Keep me posted.

Bernie said...

Wow--those owls are impressive. I would have stood under the tree baying the whole time!

Ms. ~K said...

How kind of Mr. Owl to wait for you to go home and get the camera...lovely shots!