ellensagh

42. The Great Northern Owl Hunt

In 2005, I ask a friend if she wanted to go on an Owl Hunt. She did and glad I did. Was worth going. I called it “The Great Northern Owl Hunt.” Something fell into place for me. Met the owl bander in a mall parking lot. Got in his van with my friend. Already three people and a bunch of mice in the van. The mice are right behind me in a cage. When we are about an hour north of Saskatoon I turn around and saw the cage door open from hitting the potholes and immediately told the driver. Thank goodness he was just in time and able to grab the one escaping.
I was happy I was able to say “Not me,” about putting it back in the cage as he was stopping the van. Two and a half hours after driving north, we saw our first Great Grey Owl. It was sitting there perched in a tree by the side of the road. The van stopped. A square three by three foot piece of white drywall and a fishing net were taken off the top of the van. The drywall was flung out on the snow in the field just past the ditch.
The bander’s hand in a big glove picked a mouse out of the cage; walked out and set it on the drywall. Dressed in painter’s white, the bander sat motionless in snow up to his waist. Did not have to wait long. Within minutes, the Great Grey Owl swooped for the mouse. The bander swooped for the owl. The net closed over him or her. The bander picked the owl up by the feet and walked to the van where an assistant had supplies at the ready. Banding was over in minutes and the owl released. It did not seem to hurt the bird and I asked if the birds want to be banded but that wasn’t answered. I don’t understand the point of banding or learning about them besides studying them. I am not going to be a person putting a mouse in my mitt and walking around with it nor could I catch the owl. I didn’t want to hold it. Maybe if I had to.
I usually was the one that spotted the owls. Throughout the day, we found two hawk owls and eleven Great Grey Owls and were told the amount found was highly unusual.

-Ellen Sagh
summer:  306 382-5204
winter      480 373-1734
writings:   ellensagh.com

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