If there is someone who dreams of going around the country to talk about owls, or take people on guided tours of an owl’s nesting grounds, there is good news for them. It can be done! And you can get paid for it! By it I mean talking about owls.
But of course, you need experience.
(That seems to be the caveat for everything.)
My editor at Missouri Life magazine assigned me to interview and write a short feature on a man in St. Louis who is the area’s expert on Great Horned owls.
Enter Mark Glenshaw. He works at the Jack C. Taylor library at Fontbonne University during the day and goes on “owl prowls” in the evening. Sometimes, he leads a group of people on an owl prowl so other city slickers can see an owl. Maybe.
What had started as a desire to reconnect with the outdoors and acquaint himself with the wildlife of Forest Park, St. Louis, turned into a love affair that turned the spark into a flame. He first spotted a mated pair of Great Horned owls in the fall of 2005. Since then, he returns to the area 200-300 days in a year (his words). If he is not visiting the owls, whom he has named Charles and Sarah, he is either giving a talk about them (40 talks in 2014, mostly in Missouri) or reading about them. He has even started writing a book about everything he has learned about the couple.
The focus of his dedication is simple: he wants people to realize “owls are incredible animals.” He also wants people to go outdoors and enjoy their natural surroundings. It seems to me as if most people would go on an owl prowl mainly to get bragging rights of being to say they saw an owl in the wild. But for every one of those bragging-rights-seeker, I’m sure there is someone falls in love with the great outdoors a little bit more (and does something about it?).
Although the 1-hour, 20-minute interview gave me plenty of material, it left me with no immediate inclination to go on an owl prowl. I feel like I got a mini-talk on owls. I learned that owls are at the top of the avian food chain. I also learned that single owls (who have not mated yet) are called “floaters.” But for everything that Charles and Sarah have taught Mark Glenshaw, their age is still an elusive mystery.