Monday, February 18, 2008

Alice's Latest TV Gig

I certainly haven't written much lately! Not much overly exciting going on here. Alice ended her super-nesty phase in early December, and other than that the only excitement has been gopher parts of poop in a few unexpected places and more beak trimming.

But a couple of weeks ago we spent time with Boyd Huppert and his cameraman, Jonathan Malat from KARE 11 TV in the Twin Cities. They were doing a segment on Houston County, Minnesota, and somehow got the idea that owls figured prominently in that picture. Go figure.

This year we're actually having a real old-fashioned winter with lots of snow and wind and cold temperatures. So the first date we had scheduled to meet with Boyd was cancelled due to a blizzard. The second date had a small amount of freezing rain, but they came and did the shoot anyway. True Minnesotans.

They came over to our house in the late afternoon, after Alice was up for the day, and did some filming of Alice in the house. She hooted and hooted and hooted for them, which I'm sure meant "Hey, there are strangers in my territory!" She did well with the cameras until they got REALLY close to her, then she turned tail and tried to push her way into the bedroom to escape.

By that time it was owling time anyway, so we left her to chill out a bit. Boyd had asked me to get some friends together to go out calling wild owls after dark. Although I had called several people, everyone said it would depend on the weather, and when it came right down to it, the only ones who came were my friends Julie and Tat from Hillsboro, Wisconsin an hour and a half away! Freezing rain, schmeezing rain.

At our first stop we all piled out of our vehicles and while I set up the CD player, Boyd and Jonathan set up lights and such so they could film us. I started with a screech-owl recording with no luck, then moved on to a Great Horned Owl recording, and then just imitated the Great Horned Owl with my own voice (which I'm quite comfortable doing after hooting for years with Alice.)

And an owl answered me! Julie and I couldn't see worth a hoot due to the flashlights necessary for filming, but Ken and Tat were having too much fun playing with the night vision we had brought along. The owl continued to call from the same location for quite a while, and the crew even managed to record the call.

We tried a second stop where Julie did a kick-butt Eastern Screech-Owl imitation (she used to live with one when she was a naturalist.) I chimed in later with Northern Saw-whet and Barred Owl imitations. All we got were a couple of short contact calls from a screech and a single whinny. But the crew had what they needed.

The next morning Boyd and Jonathan came back to our place to film Alice's commute to work. They taped a little camera on the dashboard of my Tracker, did some filming outside of the vehicle as we drove, and partway there Jonathan hopped in with the big camera. Alice was distracted by Bald Eagles feeding on a dead White-tailed Deer carcass, so she wasn't overly perturbed by the big camera in the car.

We finished off with filming just a bit in the nature center, then I took them up to the hill that overlooks Houston for some scenic shots

At any rate, the segment aired last night on KARE 11. You can view it online at to see what this area looks like if you haven't been here before.
Alice is featured throughout, so don't stop watching when they switch topics.

We're also gearing up for our big International Festival of Owls February 29 - March 2. Not even two weeks to go! Full details are at