Love is in the Air

Our cold and snowiest month seems an unlikely time of year for hot and steamy romance. After all what is sexier than long underwear, runny noses, thick beards, chapped lips and frost bitten cheeks? February is the courting season of an unlikely resident with the devilish nickname ‘’tiger of the air’.

Since late fall, great horned owls have been hooting back and forth, pairing up and marking territory. Shacked up in an abandoned raven, red-tailed hawk or heron nest, even a tree cavity, the female lays 1-5 eggs. Over the snow moon, constant incubation produces usually two or three hungry, demanding owlets forcing both parents to trade off care and continual hunting.

Owls are the earliest bird to breed in Fernie. They can be heard hooting at night, especially along open forests, perched nearby to spot their favorite prey. Wary snowshoe hares, mice, voles, domestic cats and skunks are easy prey for the silent winged predators. I sometimes hear them at dusk or dark while cross country skiing at the golf course, walking along the forest edge on Dicken Road or snowshoeing with headlamps in the open forest and ski runs near Fernie Alpine Resort.

Owl behavior inspires me, as I consider human relationships, in preparation to celebrate a decidedly human event this month - Valentine’s Day.

Owls are rather practical in choosing a mate for life. Recognizing the time, energy and resources required to establish a home and raise young, sharing the responsibilities of life are probably the best reasons for monogamy. In my 25 years of marriage life has been better together. When our work is done, there is more time and energy left over for fun, friendship and passion.

Secretive and silent, noted for speed, sharp senses and watchful wisdom, owls are powerful defenders. Also talented, these tufted pillars of feathers can turn their heads a full 270 degrees, or three quarters of the way around, using highly developed binocular vision in low light to hone in on their next meal. Speaking of humans: fit, protective, capable, and talented, are all enduring qualities when the shine of the honeymoon tarnishes.

Love is in the air this month. Listen in the night for owls calling out to each other while defending their territory. When spring arrives, look for fluffy owlets perched on the branches of trees building confidence first by hopping between branches before soaring solo.

Perhaps avian antics will inspire your passion with a special person on February 14!