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Field Trip Report: Give a Hoot

By Linda Winnie

Barred OwlMore than 30 people had an amazing up-close visit with a Barred Owl when they participated in Pete Fisher’s GIVE A HOOT field trip Saturday, April 16.

The trip started with Pete leading a caravan of cars to a privately owned wooded area at the edge of the Swan Range in east Flathead Valley. There he began calling to the Barred Owls he knew were nesting there. Forget about the “Who Cooks for You” ditty. Pete’s call was the real thing – the hoarse hoots and guttural moans of a genuine Barred Owl call. The male Barred eventually came to investigate, and landed on a distant tree. Good looks through scopes and binoculars were easy. He then flew out of sight, and a mix of loud squawks and grunts told us he had met up with his mate at the nest.

Pete-Fisher-calling-to-owlNow Pete had some real work to do since it was likely that the male would just stay with his mate for the night. Pete had to convince him that there was an aggressive intruding owl on the scene that needed to be checked out. Again Pete bellowed out hoarse hoots and moans, now interspersed with loud raspy partial calls and aggressive grunts. He was really talking to that owl! It took a while, but eventually the owl came flying back — right over our heads, and landed in a nearby snag. All cameras turned to the snag – ranging from fancy high tech cameras with long lenses on tripods to simple cell phones. And there were big smiles all around.

Pete has been doing this field trip for more than 15 years. THANK YOU PETE! He has given lots of people an evening of amazing owl viewing. Many have been on the trip more than once. It is never the same, so you don’t know what you will see when you go. If you haven’t been on Pete’s GIVE A HOOT trip yet, don’t miss it next year!

Some of the owl watchers

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