I have just read a news article on Owl Attacks in Bangor Maine. The owl article states that a number of people have been attacked over the last three weeks by one or more owls in the forest areas of a cross-country ski resort.
Now as you will read in the article, they go on to say it is a Great Horned Owl and that “It’s the boldest nocturnal raptor and the one that has the best reputation for the occasionally bizarre,”. Of course they have statements from skier who were attacked to get the feel in the article of how dangerous and traumatizing the experience was.
This brings up a few questions. The first being, has anyone decided to do some research on Great Horned Owls up there? It is common knowledge to anyone who knows anything about Great Horned Owls that their nesting season for the northern woods is right about now. If they were not nesting then they could easily have been sighting out a nesting spot within their territory and eying up an old nest site to use. They are well known for scouting out nesting sites long before they actually nest. Since Great Horned Owls can be seen nesting from January all the way through June and sometimes July, depending on where you are in the country, one must look at the latitude. In the northern forest of Maine the owls I have watched tend to nest around this time. It also is determined by the individual pair of owls as well. To find their nests in the forest you need to look to the evergreen trees. Especially the tall and filled out ones. Since Great Horned Owls do not build their own nests they will use old nests left behind by other birds such as hawks, jays, other owls, etc. When the owls nest they become very territorial. Much more so then usual. They will defend their territory with force if they feel threatened. Since they are quite large, fly in silence and have razor sharp talons they can be very formidable. Here is another point. Owls in general hunt at night. Now as they sit in the tree limbs above, the dark furred vole is quite easy to spot of the white snow below. They will hunt near their nests. Their survival depends upon their hunting skills and good hunting territory. Now what happens when skiers and their noisy dogs go tromping through the snow below the owls nesting and hunting site? The owls food gets scared away and the owl has to work much harder in finding food on those frigid nights to survive. This would make anyone a bit perturbed.
Another question is why did they continue to allow people to ski that trail at night after the first attack? Not much in the way of brain work there.
Instead of posting an educated article they slander the owl by making it seem the monster of the nighttime woods. Ridicules! They give the natural creature a bad name through the writers ignorance.
Imagine you are the nighttime cross-country skier and you are sliding along in the peaceful north woods. All of the sudden you are attacked from behind by a large and aggressive owl! As you begin to fall forward from the blow to the back of your head and crash to the frozen ground flailing your arms wildly in an attempt to scare away the owl you might say, “I wonder if I could have avoided this unfortunate incident if I had only learned awareness skills and learned more about the creatures who make their homes in the woods that I share with them?”
You see, all it would take to remedy the Owl Attack situation would be to educate people and have people take the responsibility to educate themselves. My Teacher always said that Awareness Skills were the most important in life. That goes for living in the wild or living in society. Awareness skills are the key to all other skills.
Think for a moment. If the people up there in Maine would have thought first, they could have avoided these incidents all together. If they were trained in the Awareness Skills they would have known that they had prime owl nesting grounds in the ski area. They should have had someone who was skilled in spotting nests go out through the trails this time of year and locate any active ones. Then post that that area will be off limits to any access for the length of the nesting period. How hard is that? It is not hard and that is the point. This knowledge is easy if we all take the time to learn. We share the earth with our animal relations. They know about us because they are all masters at observation. We need to take the time to learn their ways as well so we can all learn to exist together.
So good luck to the owls as they try to endure the ignorance that so quickly slanders them in their attempts to survive. And good luck to the “victims” in becoming more aware of their surroundings, so that they can more thoroughly enjoy the owl in its natural and peaceful setting, instead of fleeing for their lives from its razor talons!
For anyone who wishes to learn more about Wilderness Skills feel free to visit me here in Vermont! See ya in the woods!