2011 Student Conclave – Owl Trip – March 2011

Spotted owl

Due to the tsunami in Japan our field trip choices were limited. Originally we were going to go tide pooling in the Pacific. Instead we were given the choice between looking for reptiles or looking for spotted owls. A few of us choose to go look for spotted owls. We were driven out to old growth Redwood forest and then hiked about ¾ of a mile into the forest where a resident biologist was aware of a Spotted Owl breeding pair. When we found the owls we took turns mousing them. Mousing is essentially placing a mouse on a 3ft long stick and holding it up in the air. The male spotted owl would fly down and grab the mouse off the stick right in front of you and then take it up to the female as part of their courtship. We also looked around until we were able to find some owl pellets and dissected them to find out what they were eating (which in our case was almost exclusively woodrats, Neotoma fuscipes). This was an amazing, once in a lifetime, up close and personal interaction with a beautiful, majestic and unfortunately endangered animal. It was the highlight of the conclave trip for me.

Tony Bush

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