Owl Encounter    Don Bertolette
   Oct 16, 2003 20:55 PDT 

Several years back, I was mapping vegetation of the Walhalla Plateau, on the
North Rim of the Grand Canyon...we were spiked out at an abandoned gravel
borrow pit...after our camp dinner, we were having an after dinner smoke,
relaxing before our 8 or 9 PM bedtime. Off in the distance we heard a
hooting, actually to my ear a whistling. We had wildlife biologists
surveying the North Rim for Mexican Spotted Owls that year and subsequent
years, and were familiar with their call. The "whistling" call, we guessed
to be a Sawhet owl...my co-worker (Dan) challenged me to 'call in' the
sawhet owl, so I began mimicking it's distant call...it wasn't long before
it responded, from closer locations, with each subsequent "reply"...soon we
saw it fly into branches perhaps twenty feet away and twenty feet up in a
nearby conifer...Dan told me to keep calling but with more "urgency"...I
must have done so, successfully, as the owl flew down towards Dan with claws
outstretched, and wings "backpedalling"...Dan didn't assume this was a
friendly gesture, instead he dropped to his knees, with arm upraised, head
Dan was 6 foot 4 inches tall, the sawhet was four inches tall, on tiptoes!
-Don (the Sawhet hooter!)