July 9, 2008

Who…who...who…is old?

Creak.

Crack.

Those are the sounds of my 30-year-old bones, people.

Yes, this week I left behind my wild and crazy 20s and joined the ranks of the sort of old. I realize that 30 is not ancient, and, if I’m honest, my 20s were never all that wild or crazy. But, I still can’t help but feel that life has changed. I rarely get ID'd anymore. I watch sports and am consistently shocked to realize that the athletes are YEARS younger than me. And Tums are no longer a foreign product.

It’s not over the hill, but it’s 100 percent in the adult world. Yikes.

Of course, there are some good things about being older. I can rent a car without too much hassle. I'm closer to fitting the market profile of Audubon Society and NPR members. And, there’s the whole wiser thing, right?

So in the spirit of acceptance for this, my fourth decade of life, I thought I’d highlight a bird that is often referred to as old and wise, but is also awesome.

Your BOTW is the Great Horned Owl.

Fact: The great horned owl typically has a brown and gray body with dark barring. It can be identified by its bright white throat. It has an orange facial disk with bright yellow eyes and a dark bill.
Fact: The great horned owl is named for its big ear tufts, which are widely spaced on its head.
Fact: The feathery ear tufts don’t cover actual horns (Do I need to specify that? You can never be too sure with this group.) They also aren’t actual ears. But I think we can all agree that they’re cool looking!
Fact: The great horned owl has exceptional night vision, but its hearing is even better. Its facial disk helps direct the slightest sounds to its ears.
Fact: The great horned owl has a wingspan ranging from 3 ½ feet to nearly 5 feet! Standing, it is almost two feet tall. Females are generally 10 to 20 percent bigger than the males.
Fact: The great horned owl is a bit of a bad ass.
Fact: It can take prey that weighs three times more than itself. It kills using its incredibly strong talons to sever the spinal cord of the prey in one quick squeeze. (I know I sound like Napoleon Dynamite.)

Fact: The great horned owl generally hunts at night and is particularly effective because it flies so quietly.
Fact: The great horned owl hunts rodents and rabbits, but is also known to take porcupines, raccoons, water birds, other owls, and even the occasional miniature pony. (Maybe not on that last one.) It is also the only animal known to regularly eat skunks.
Fact: Pet lovers beware. Great horned owls will be happy to take Fluffy or Roxy if given the opportunity.
Fact: The great horned owl will often eat its prey whole, crushing bones with its beak. Several hours after a meal, it will hawk up little black pellets of indigestible parts as well as the occasional entire skull. An owl can be found by spotting its pellets on the ground around a tree. Look up and you’ll often see the owl roosting silently above your head.
Fact: Great horned owls are extremely territorial when nesting. They will dive at your head with those nasty talons if they see you as a threat.
Fact: Speaking of nesting, great horned owls do not build their own nests. They take over abandoned nests made by hawks, crows, and other birds, and generally raise one to three owlets together.
Fact: Despite being bad asses (or maybe because of it), great horned owls often get mobbed by American crows. Crows really don’t like great horned owls roosting in their area, and when they find one they will gather up a big group and harass it until it moves on to quieter territory. See video.

Fact: Native Americans in the Sierras believed that great horned owls captured the souls of the dead to take to the underworld. So, now that I'm nearly over the hill, I should probably watch out for that.

This has been Your BOTW.

3 comments:

Tim said...

Who...who...who...is a dork!?

What's that they say? Something about never trusting a bird person over 30? Uh oh.

Happy birthday!

Rachel said...

Owls are so hot right now.

Happy birthday!!!

Kathy Dalton said...

Happy Birthday, Amy!

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