St. Louis on the Air
4:23 pm
Mon December 30, 2013

An Insider's Look At Forest Park's Great Horned Owls

A discussion with naturalist Mark Glenshaw about his eight year observation of a pair of Great Horned owls and other wildlife in Forest Park.

Although Great Horned Owls can be found just about everywhere in North America, they’re not the easiest birds to spot, even when you’re looking for them.

Despite knowing there were Great Horned Owls in Forest Park and consistent exploration of the park’s wildlife, it took Mark Glenshaw years before he first saw one.

“I was seeing great stuff, but I wasn’t seeing the owls. But I was not surprised,” Glenshaw said. “I did not know much about owls, but I knew enough to know that they are incredibly hard to find. They’re active when we’re not. They are very well camouflaged, and they fly fast and silently.”

Then eight years ago Glenshaw got his break. When he was walking home from work at dusk, he sighted a mated pair of Great Horned Owls. When he went back the next day, he couldn’t find them, but little by little, he began to find them more consistently. Nowadays he can find the pair almost every time he goes to the park.

Mark Glenshaw describes the first time he sighted Great Horned Owls in Forest Park, back in 2005.

A self-described “amateur naturalist,” Glenshaw posts videos of the owls and writes down his observations in his blog, Forest Park Owls. He also shares his expertise in finding the birds in “owl prowl” tours.

To Glenshaw, Great Horned Owls are both romantic (they mate for life) and powerful (he’s seen them go after raccoons, snakes, even a Blue Heron).

“I think there are three big reasons why I’m drawn to Great Horned Owls,” Glenshaw said. “One is just coming out and connecting with nature….Two, the scientific aspect. Great Horned Owls are the most widespread, commonly found owl in North America, but there is still a great deal to learn about them. And three, just the sheer aesthetic response. These are beautiful animals.”

Glenshaw often takes video of the mated pair he follows hooting in duet and mating. Here’s one example from his youtube page.

St. Louis on the Air provides discussion about issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh.

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