[Tweeters] Boreal Owls (Long)

Ted Kenefick tgkenefick at msn.com
Sat Oct 9 01:12:52 PDT 2004

Dear Tweeters,

It has been a strange week for me. Boreal Owl is a species that not only
have I dreamed of seeing but one that I have spent many nights searching for
at Salmo Mountain, Hart's Pass, Tiffany Mountain/Long Swamp area.
I have gone from such a high after
finally seeing Boreal Owl at Mount Rainier to such a low after receiving a
highly critical message from a fellow Tweeter for whom I have deep respect
and admiration.

The crux of the message was that I should not have posted the fact that I
found and viewed the owl this past Wednesday. The messenger also assumed
that I used tapes to locate the owl. I have responded directly to this
person and have informed them that, at no time, did I use a tape to
lure the owl in. Perhaps, I am on very shaky ethical ground because I did
employ, on a very limited basis, whistled imitations of Boreals. I
backed off from the bird after seeing it and I left the area
immediately. I made every effort to keep disturbance to an absolute minimum
by staying on the road and only doing a few whistled calls. In fact, I
really didn't expect to get a response and was shocked when an owl responded
and came right in.

In hindsight, frankly, I wish I had not posted. I chose to post for several
different reasons:

1. There had been a message to Tweeters regarding a successful trip to
the same area
from last weekend.

2. The possibility of Boreals in the area is actually mentioned in the
recently published "A Birder's Guide to Washington."

3. I had read a quote from a Seattle P-I article from Dennis Paulson
who originally found the owls at this location in the early 90's detailed
below. I am not using this as an excuse but I must say that it did
influence my decision to share the sighting:

"But Erckmann and Paulson also acknowledge the other side.

'I'm always of mixed feelings,' Paulson said. 'I found a Boreal owl on Mount
Rainier a few years ago. I hesitated before I told people, it's such a
fragile environment. I finally decided: Who am I to withhold this wonderful
possibility from people?"

RE: Road Closure
I was perplexed by the information on the Mount
Rainier National Park website and the results of Mike Blue's contact
indicating that the Sunrise Road is actually closed after dark now.

I left Seattle at 4:00 p.m. based on the knowledge that Boreals had
been located at Mount Rainier National Park last weekend. I turned
right off of Highway 410 onto the Sunrise access road just after 6:00 p.m.
and proceeded up the road to the pay station where I paid my $10.00 at 6:15
p.m. and continued to the Sunrise Visitor Center arriving about 7:00 p.m. I
changed into warm clothes at Sunrise and commenced the search. At 8:45 p.m.
I located the owl and departed the area at about 9:00 p.m. At no time did
I notice any obvious road signs indicating that the area was or should have
been closed at night. There were no closed gates or any sign indicating
that the gates were to be closed shortly.

Because there is a great deal of apparent confusion among the park staff as
well as uncertainty among the birding community, I am planning on contacting
the National Park next week to discuss these important issues. The message
that I received from the fellow Tweeter indicated that, because of my post,
that this will be the end of Boreal Owl searches in the area. I sincerely
and deeply hope that this will not be the case. With this in mind, I plan
on discussing the possibility of arranging with National Park personnel for
a few different organized Boreal Owl searches next fall. There is,
obviously, a great deal of interest in this species. I do not think that
the park authorities know how many birders in Washington would
really like to find this species.

Thanks for reading this. I welcome all thoughts and discussion on the

Cheers and Good Birding,
Ted Kenefick
Seattle, WA

tgkenefick at MSN.COM

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