Mercey Hot Springs Owls / by Walter Kitundu

Mercey is known for its Long-eared Owls but in the summer the population thins out. The resident Barn Owls were in abundance though. I found 5 of them in the near 100 degree heat keeping their cool in this stand of trees.

Not many visitors this time of year... but they are thinking of raising the "birdwatching fee" to $25 from the present $5, because some folks have been staying over 5 hours staking out the owls. Most people there for the birds only linger an hour or so and I'm guessing the fee increase will keep a lot of them away.

I didn't see this owl until it froze me in place with that spine tingling scream.

I took a quick picture and backed off. They are gorgeous birds and I was feeling a little guilty for disturbing them at all.

The famous long-ears weren't showing in their usual numbers but this lone individual was not hard to find, obscured as it was, in the tree they always use.