Unfortunately, I’m beginning to understand a little bit how Sandy Komito must have felt during his 1987 “Big Year”. Long-eared Owl was his nemesis bird and according to Mark Obmascik’s book “The Big Year” (to be released this fall as a 20th Century Fox Movie) Sandy missed it in Toronto; San Diego; Casper, WY; Missouri; and Connecticut before finally seeing one on Dec. 31, 1987!
As I read this little piece of trivia in the book last year, I smugly thought “Well, at least I won’t need to worry about Long-eared Owl….I’m participating in the Barr Lake CBC”. We always get Long-eared Owls on this count. In fact I lobbied the compiler, Bill Kaempfer to have the CBC in 2011 and not 2010 for this specific reason. I mean we always get them! As I previously chronicled, I missed the owl on Jan 3. Since then, I’ve learned that Long-eared Owl populations are down this winter throughout the Great Plains region. So Friday, Gary Matthews and I went out to the Pawnee National Grasslands to search a couple of extensive juniper hedgerows that held six LEOWs on the Nunn Christmas Bird Count in late Dec. Well, after thoroughly searching the junipers we couldn’t come up with any! On our trip home, we also tried Wellington Wildlife Area and struck out there as well.
I’m not ready to panic yet…..but I sure don’t want to be scurrying around on Dec. 31 like Sandy Komito was in 1987.