Thursday, August 11, 2011

Bronx Owls Don’t Give a Hoot Last Night at Bartow-Pell Mansion Owl Walk and Talk

Bronx Owls Don’t Give a Hoot Last Night at Bartow-Pell Mansion Owl Walk and Talk

Last night I attended the “Summer Owl Walk and Talk” at the historic and beautiful Bartow-Pell Mansion in Pelham Bay Park. Urban ecologist Dr. Robert DeCandido , AKA “Birding Bob”, was the center of everyone’s attention as he attempted to summon the pair of Great Horned Owls that lay claim the territory.

It was a pleasant night with just the right temperature and breeze. The sky and stars were crystal clear. The crowd was larger than I expected. About sixty-five people attended. There were lots of curios children and teens accompanied by their parents. Many of them brought folding or even lounge chairs so they could relax during the spectacle. There was even a high power telescope so we could secure a close up view if or when the owls graced us with their presence.

The event started at 8pm, with a short discussion on owls. We were told if all went well, by about 8:45pm the owl couple that claims the territory would perch themselves on a barren tree branch that towered over the open field we congregated on. The strategy to attract the local owl couple consisted of playing a recording with various owl species hooting. The hooting by “rival” owls, even though just a recording would be deemed a threat to the dominant owls that lay claim to the territory. When the owls came to defend their turf, we would be treated to a glimpse of the wise and beautiful Great Horned Owls. It was a devious plan but we were in. It was Man vs. Bird. The crowd was deathly still as we waited. The die was cast. Since it was already past 8pm, it became a race against night fall as well.

At one moment a large winged bird flew over us. Our fearless leader quickly told us it was an Osprey, not the owls we were waiting for. He also informed us the bird specie had made a comeback after being devastated years back, due to various industrial toxins previously dumped in our waterways. At another instance we saw a deer creep in the woods behind us. Yes, there are deers in some of the larger Bronx parks. The beauty and grace of both animals were enjoyed by everyone. The nature combined with the company made it a perfect evening even though the owls never did make the grand entrance we hoped for.

The general assumption was that the music from the near by social event kept the owls away. I came to a different conclusion. My belief was that these were Bronx owls that were hip to the scam going on. I assumed we entertained them, as they sat watching us from some hided tree branch. After all they are not just ordinary owls; they are owls from the Bronx.

In any event I am sure I will go back to enjoy this event or other similar events when made available. There was a $10 per person fee however it was well worth it.


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