Posted by: atowhee | March 28, 2019


Here is email from owler Lee French who lives in Ashland during the few hours each week he is not out watching Great Gray Owls:

While in route to the Howard Prairie this morning I received a text from Karl Schneck’s teenage birding pal Jacob Mathison. Jacob said that he and his Dad were getting “awesome” views of a Great Gray Owl along Hyatt Prairie Rd. When I found them, they pointed me to their fabulous find. I set up my spotting scope and attached my cellphone to try and capture some still shots and videos. While spazzing away with this (new to me) technology, Jacob spotted another GGO nearby. I told them that it was on about on this date a few years ago that Sal Salerno got his tremendous footage of mutual preening behavior in this very spot. The owls remained on their respective branches and outside of an occasional “eek” or soft “whoop”, showed no interest in courtship. Jacob and his Dad had to leave but I decided to observe for a while in hopes of replicating Sal’s success. A couple hours go by but no movement. Being undisciplined in photography, I decide to vacate and explore other areas. I return about 45 minutes later hoping to see a change of scene. No dice, the birds are still as I left them. Frustrated that they are not “performing” for me, I leave again. This time to survey milepost 19 on DIMR. Nothing there, time to go home? Or should I give the birds in the hand one more shot? Hell, I’m up here… better go see if the pair are still stubbornly in place. I arrive to see that they have relocated and are in close proximity to each other. I get a bit of footage I hope you will enjoy.

I learned a lot today. Mostly about patience and luck. In retrospect, I should have just stayed in the magnificence of what was in front of me the whole time. Thanks to Jacob, I got lucky. Better to be lucky than good.

So click here to see the video of owl preening.
Marvelous, Lee.


  1. Cool footage! The male (I assume) didn’t seem to have the gentlest touch. He’ll have to work on his preening skills. I hear there are some good massage classes in Ashland…

    I’m due for some owling. My parents will be visiting next week, so my Dad and I will probably give it another “go”. He’s yet to get his lifer GGO.



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