Thursday, February 6, 2014

An Illustrated Life List: Long-eared Owl

I've avoided birding posts for most of the life of this blog - mainly because I thought it would distract from my main goal of learning more about mushroom identification, and because I didn't really think I'd have much to add to the multitude of excellent websites already in existence.  But this blog has, of course, evolved, so I think it is time to open up it up to the world of birds and birding.  After all, birding was my first love (in a temporal way, not numerically - Sara, Naomi and Adele come first, and maybe even a good bowl of spicy noodles is higher on the list than birds).

I thought I would spend some time posting about my life list.  Yawn, you are probably saying, we don't really care.  But my life list has always been more than a list or scorecard.  Many of my life's major events, travels, and tribulations have been recorded and entered with a particular bird in the journal form of my life list (for the record I have three versions: a homemade, taxonomically ordered list, the journal version, and a copy of The Clements Checklist of the Birds of the World).

I've thought for awhile that an illustrated life list would be pretty cool.  And usually in February I get a little list crazy and plan an improbable trip to some exotic and warm location in the world - but instead go further north and drive up to the North Shore or Sax-Zim Bog in the hopes of adding a boreal forest inhabiting bird to my list (last year I saw a Boreal Owl!).  But for a variety of reasons I haven't had a chance to make any trips this year; and it's been so cold this year that I've barely been out to search for potential new life listers more locally . . . such as Long-eared Owls.

I've never seen one.  It's one of the top birds one my nemesis list.  Perhaps this post should be titled An Illustrated List of Birds I Really Want On My Life List.  They are a difficult bird to find in Minnesota; they are very nocturnal, secretive, well camouflaged, and seemingly sporadic in their choice of locations - which might the hardest part of finding one.  It's probably the bird I've spent the most time looking for, but haven't found, if such a thing could be quantized; maybe a better way to put it is that it's the bird I've spent the most time wishing and hoping to find, while out and about in the woods and fields.