Monday, March 2, 2009
Video: Joe Connelly of Dallas’ Old Lake Highlands neighborhood talks about his owls
They're named Max and Maxine. Though this is unofficial.
It may be a bit presumptuous to refer to Joe Connelly, who is actually a man of many parts, as "The Owl Man" of Old Lake Highlands. But he has been hosting a mating pair of screech owls in a nesting box at the top of a metal pole erected in his back yard for four seasons and counting, so there's some justification for the notion.
A neighbor of mine named Judy has recently retired from schoolteaching. She's a big animal lover (as in "big lover of animals," as opposed to "lover of big animals," such as elephants - though she probably has a fondness for them, too), and so spends much of her time walking around the 'hood with dogs on leashes. Sometimes they're her dogs, but just as often she gets talked into (if that's the proper characterization, given the fact that she loves it) taking care of neighbors' pets while they (the neighbors) are out of town.
It's through her regular walks along the Van Dyke & Waterview corridor that Judy made the acquaintance of Joe, who lives on Blanning. Somehow the topic of owls came up (maybe they were flying overhead?), and Joe let Judy in on his little backyard wildlife sanctuary secret. (Though he's doing nothing to hide it, and in fact is quite proud to show off his owl friends to whoever expresses an interest in them.) The male and female owls have been dubbed Max and Maxine (listen in on the video for advice on how to tell them apart), and they were - at the time of this interview - preparing to raise another brood of baby owlets. (Can I get an " AWWW!"?)
As you'll hear in our conversation, Joe's owls are not the only recurring seasonal residents of his back yard - there's also a duck house (atop a similar nearby stilt) that harbors a pair of wood ducks, who typically show up right after Max and Maxine have vacated the premises for the year.
The story of how the ducks first took up residence unfortunately was told off-camera, so I'll try to give you the gist of it here:
One fine spring morning, Joe heard a BANG! from the back of his house and had a sinking feeling that burglars might be trying to gain entry. When he discovered that the louvered bathroom window had been knocked open, he looked down under it and found a stone cold dead duck lying on the ground. Seems that the luckless duck and a rival male had been trysting for the affections of a comely female quacker, and this one got shunted into the bathroom window - at terminal velocity, you might say - while being chased away.
Joe can be frequently seen riding up and down the streets on his black ten-speed bicycle, and he's currently taking Photoshop courses at a local community center. When I called him up to arrange for our interview, we had to postpone it a day because of Joe's regular weekly 6 - 8 hour visit to the library. Which is all to make the point that Joe's a busy fellow, whose transient feathered residents are lucky to have him around.
Carry on, Joe!
Mike Bullock operated the camera on this shoot
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