With the temperature at minus 17°F, I was pleasantly surprised to see the barred owl again looking at me sitting at my desk. I aimed the camera that is almost always ready and saw that the picture captured the frost near its beak and rimming its eyes on its eyelids.
Next came the fox. She told me it was feeding time by standing with her forefeet on the window and looking in from less than four feet away. I got up and opened the door holding a smelly mouse next to a slice of bologna. She went straight for the mouse, backed up a couple feet, and dropped it on the second floor deck. She was about to eat it when I tossed a slice of bologna next to it. Changing her mind about the mouse, she ate the bologna then took the mouse down the steps and buried it in the snow. She ran back, and I gave her three choices—a slice of bologna, a mini blueberry muffin (that she often makes her first choice), and a small rice krispies bar. She was decisive. She nosed between the muffin and bologna to get the rice krispies bar. But as much as she seemed to want it, she saved it for later. She ran down the steps, dug into the snow with a blur of paw action, and covered it with 29 swipes of her muzzle. When she ran back, I gave her another piece of bologna that she also buried. It’s hard to know what she really likes best.
As it was getting dark, the barred owl was back on the same dead branch outside my window where it had perched earlier. The picture was not the greatest with glare from the snow and deck light, but it shows how round the owl looked with its feathers all fluffed for warmth on this cold day.
This evening will be fun. Each year, the Minnesota Audubon Center brings students from all over the nation and beyond to the Bear Center for a question and answer session. It typically lasts an hour or hour and a half with the questions triggering more and more. Donna is coming to hear the questions and my answers. The students’ excitement to learn is exciting to me, and each year several of them go on to be top notch interns at the Bear Center the following summer. They not only want to learn, they want to educate; and I am often amazed at their talent in speaking for and about the bears.
Thank you for all you and they do.
Lynn Rogers, Biologist, Wildlife Research Institute and North American Bear Center
Wildlife Research Institute
145 West Conan Street
Ely, Minnesota 55731 USA