On the Corner Vol. 10 Issue 4

A “who-who-whodunit” in Lower Chautauqua

By Bryan Wallace, Senior Scientist, Conservation Science Partners, Inc.

A text buzzed my phone on a Friday night. “Hooty hoo,” read the caption underlining a dark photo. Although taken with a camera phone at night, the photo’s subject was unmistakable. Fifteen feet up, perched on an enormous apple tree, a Great Horned Owl stared back at the camera. She had that iconic owl shape, the “horns” (which are actually just feathers) erect atop her large, disc-like face, eyes shining like LED lights.    The photo came from a buddy who lives in Lower Chautauqua. The apple tree stands in his yard, and is a magnet for Boulder wildlife. I’m a wildlife biologist, so this friend likes to send me updates about what cool critters he has seen parading through his yard, feasting on fallen and ripened fruit. A couple of months back, it was a big mama black bear and her two fat, yearling cubs.    Around 8 o’clock the next morning, I got another text from the same friend. His wife had just found the owl dead, lying at the foot of the same tree, directly beneath her perch.