December 26, 2005, Tulsa, OK

     While checking my e-mail this morning, I remembered the Snowy Owl being seen west of Bartlesville in the past week, so I turned off the computer and drove up to Hwy 10 to see if I could find it.  Not knowing exactly where "CR 3775" was, I followed Hwy 10 all the way to its intersection with Hwy 99 before deciding "it's not here."

     Then I recalled someone posting on OKbirds last week that they'd found the bird while driving _north_ into Bowring, so I headed south on the "Bowring Road" to see if I could find it.  As I came over a rise in the road about 3-4 miles south of Bowring, I suddenly noticed a large, fluffy, white-and-brown blob moving around on top of a big metal electrical box of some kind right next to the road and only a couple hundred yards away from my car.

OH, SH*T!!!!" I exclaimed (to myself).  "Is that it??"  I stopped the car and reached for my binocs.

     Yep, that was it!  Lifer #434, a Snowy Owl right here in Oklahoma!!!!!!

     I parked near the barn at the intersection of the "Bowring Road" and CR 3775 and hiked downhill toward the bird with my scope, to get as close as I could and get a better view.  As I got closer to it, Joe and Charlotte Hawkins of Bartlesville drove up behind me, and I invited them to take a look at it through my scope.  While we were watching the bird (who paid very little attention to us and seemed to be dozing in the bright sunlight), Jane Boren and Donna Stone drove up and spotted the bird at just about the same place I'd first seen it.  And before you know it, we're having a veritable bird party by the side of a road in the middle of nowhere.  I'll bet that big rectangular metal box she's perched on is warm, too.  Eventually, we crept closer and closer to within 50(?) yards of the bird before she finally decided she'd had enough of us and she flew off.

     But not very far.... Joe and Char got back in their car and drove after the bird, to see whether it had stopped at the pond just over the rise.  They found it perched on a fencepost right beside the road, and said it then flew down to the center of the road, right next to their car!!  Then another car came along and the bird flew again, and as I drove up behind Joe and Char's car, I watched it fly off.

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December 30, 2005, Tulsa, OK

SOMEBODY SHOT THE OWL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
     Some redneck probably, who just shot it because he could.
     My friend 
Brenda Carroll and her husband drove up there yesterday afternoon to see the owl and found several other birders already there.  The bird was on the ground, apparently injured, and didn't even try to fight when they approached it and picked it up.  Brenda said she held "Snowy" on her lap while somebody drove back to the Sutton Avian Research Center in Bartlesville (10-20 miles away; there's no cell service out where the owl was) to get Teresa Wolfe, the State and Federal wild bird rehabilitator in Nowata County.  Brenda said Snowy kept trying to grasp Brenda's thigh with her great talons, but she was so weak, she couldn't even do that much.  Teresa took Snowy to Dr. Welch, a bird vet in Tulsa, who confirmed that it had been shot through the right shoulder, right where the wing joins the body.  The wound was badly infected, and the bird was in severe shock, stressed out, hypothermic, dehydrated and probably emaciated, and her pupils were fixed and dilated.  The vet cleaned up the wound, gave the bird intravenous fluids and antibiotics, and sent it "home" with Teresa.  An owl in this condition is very difficult to treat, even for Dr. Welch, a leading expert in raptors; just the process of treating them is sometimes enough stress to push them past tolerance.  Teresa reported later that she got Snowy to eat a few morsels of mouse, so that was good, but Snowy died not long thereafter. 
     Meanwhile, I know about 300 birders who'd like to find the guy who shot that bird and beat him senseless, then hang him up by his little teeny-tinies until they fall off, and THEN shoot him!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Snowy Owl by Steve Metz
(c) by Cyndie Browning 2007