Barred Owl (I took this photo in the Florida Everglades)

I invented a weird game several years ago while traveling alone many hours on the highways of Ohio. It’s a Roadkill contest. I’m the only one playing. (Hey, it kills time and keeps me alert.) Perhaps it is better described as a scientific wildlife survey. Whatever the case, here’s how you play: keep a mental tally of how many of what kinds of animals are on side of the road of which the vehicle is traveling. There is one exception to the rules: a dead deer can be counted no matter which side of the road it is spotted. It may sound morbid but it was very interesting to discover population patterns in during different times of the year. For instance, skunks are more prevalent in late winter/early spring. Groundhogs in the summer. Possums and raccoons tend to be found year round. I noted the decline of cottontail rabbits and the increase of coyote. Occasionally I’d spy a bird of some sort but it wasn’t the norm.

So when I recently glimpsed what I thought was a dead owl on the side of the road, I could hardly believe it. THAT’S a first for me. I checked it out later and discovered a beautiful barred owl that did not appear to be damaged – other than being dead. It seemed such a sad tragedy for such an gorgeous work of nature. I did what I had to do – and brought him home. Barry, as I affectionately named him, is now off to Wahkeena Nature Preserve (Fairfield County, OH) south of Lancaster, Ohio where he/she may be added to the natural history collection in Wahkeena’s Nature Center. In case you wonder about the title of this post, it is my interpretation of the call of a barred owl. You can listen to it HERE.

If you are alert, you too may find nature all around you – even at this time of the year. Keep your ears open for the great horned owls who are in mating season right now. I have heard that the male has a hoot/call that is lower pitched than the female. Keen ears may also hear coyote who are in mating season as well.

Educational Opportunities

Greene County Master Gardener Program

If you live in Greene County and would like to become a Master Gardener Volunteer,  Master Gardener Applications are being accepted for the class starting in February 2012. Detailed information is available under Master Gardener Volunteer Program at http://greene.osu.edu or by calling 937-372-9971.


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