David Hauer writes:
“I parked opposite the marina around 30 minutes before sunrise on Monday, and immediately spied my friend the Great Horned owl at the very tippy-top of the tallest tree across from the Doubletree (as per the first photo from months ago, before definitive ID had been made.) The sky was lightening somewhat, rendering the bird clearly visible in silhouette.
“However, it was still too dark to get a good picture, so I walked east through the meadow, hoping the owl might follow me to one of the shorter trees along that path, and be visible on my backtrack, when the light would be better.
Just as I reached the trail junction at the east end and was turning around to head back, I noticed a distinctive large, dark mass in a tree off to the south—somewhere near the bus stop and dumpster along lower University Avenue. It was too far and too dimly lit for positive ID, but, judging by the size, could really only have been a GH (or maybe a red-tailed hawk—but I’ve never observed one of those in a tree like that, nor out and about so early); not having seen the first fly by me, I briefly wondered whether this might be a *second* owl. That seemed unlikely, though, since there had only ever been one (as far as I know) in my numerous sightings.
“Still, I was excited at that possibility, and headed back towards my car hoping the first owl would still be perched atop the tall tree—thereby confirming that there were indeed two in the neighborhood. (Or that there was one, playing games with me!)
About midway up the path, I suddenly noticed the two unmistakable silhouettes on a low-ish branch maybe 25 feet ahead—exactly where I’d originally hoped the first bird would relocate to. I stopped immediately so as not to startle them—they were right next to the path—and used the flat top of one of the fenceposts as a monopod. The owls were moving around quite a bit, and appeared to be checking me out—though it was hard to tell in the gloom, given the back-lighting. (I later realized from the pictures that they had their backs to me much of the time–hardly a sign that they felt threatened by my proximity.) After giving them a bit of time to get used to me, I walked slowly to the next fencepost, and took a few more shots. They ultimately let me get still one fencepost closer, and snap a few final pictures, before flying off up the path. Who knows if they were perturbed by my presence, or simply heading home after a long night’s hunting?
“Thrilling as it was to see the two together, it’s fun to contemplate that there could actually have been as many as *four* Great Horned owls in the meadow that morning.
“Also: The day before the second owl appeared, I learned of the unexpected passing of an old and dear friend. While not a believer in literal reincarnation, I find it comforting to think of this suddenly-appearing-out-of-nowhere bird as my departed friend in a new guise.”