Steve White’s Animaux

I went to London to get my old friend Julian married. I really loved it. There are city birds there that are familiar to North Americans, such as crows, starlings, and house sparrows, and plenty that aren’t. I was particularly pleased by the Woodpigeons and Eurasian Blackbirds that are common in the parks. The very conspicuous magpies are just the North American Black-Billed Magpie. (Funny, I had always thought of foreign species being introduced into the New World. This is a case that goes the other way.)

My one camping trip was in the Mt Baker park with my friend Ya-Hsun. In the late afternoon on the way into the park, we passed a big bird flying the opposite direction. I saw it light in a tree, and pulled over immediately. We found it there, but it was hard to see. Its spots were exactly the same color, size, shape, and spacing as the light green lichens that grow on the Sitka Spruce. Pretty sure it was a Spotted Owl, not 15 feet above us. It gave us a good long look, then spread its wings, sucked up all sound from the area, and left with it.

Ya Hsun says this was her favourite part of the trip. She was surprised at the ferocity of the mosquitos. But the owl made it worthwhile for her.

Went to Seattle’s wonderful Woodland Park Zoo with my ex-co-worker Todd. Never mind the other animals there. In the late evening, we were in the farm exhibit, and sitting on a fence was a bird that was not part of the zoo. It was a big owl, possibly another Spotted Owl. We had already seen what it was there for—lots of rats come out at night for the zoo animal’s feed.