Posts Tagged ‘Ogden Nature Center’

Chitters in 2010 -- Photo by Pat Bean

Chitters in 2010 — Photo by Pat Bean

“Let go of your attachment to being right, and suddenly your mind is more open. You’re able to benefit for the unique viewpoints of others without being crippled by your own judgment.” — Ralph Marston


Chitters is a great horned owl that I met back in the 1980s. And yes, he is unique. What other great horned owl twitters – as in chitters@ogdennaturecenter

He became the Ogden (Utah) Nature Center’s mascot when it was determined he couldn’t survive in the wild. But he did fly free for a short time, which is when I first learned about this magnificent bird.

A nature center worker called the newspaper where I was working after Chitters got loose. She was hoping for extra eyes to find him. The article I wrote in response to the plea noted that a female owl had been hanging around the nature center trying to attract Chitters’ attention. She succeeded, and at the first opportunity Chitters made his escape.

“Imagine that female’s surprise,” said the Nature Center’s spokesman, “when Chitters fails to bring her food, as courting males are supposed to do.”

Chitters turned up back at the Nature Center several days later, skinny and much the worse for wear. Perhaps he has progeny flying free over Ogden, or perhaps not.

The photo of Chitters above is one I took of him during a visit to Ogden a couple of years ago. Isn’t he beautiful?

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Chitters ... Photo by Pat Bean

“I remember a hundred lovely lakes, and recall the fragrant breath of pine and fir and cedar and poplar trees.  The trail has strung upon it, as upon a thread of silk, opalescent dawns and saffron sunsets.  It has given me blessed release from care and worry and the troubled thinking of our modern day.  It has been a return to the primitive and the peaceful.  Whenever the pressure of our complex city life thins my blood and benumbs my brain, I seek relief in the trail; and when I hear the coyote wailing to the yellow dawn, my cares fall from me – I am happy.”  ~Hamlin Garland

I remember the Ogden Nature Center when an old farm house served as its visitor center instead of this nature-friendly structure. ... Photo by Pat Bean

Ogden Nature Center

Before I left Ogden to continue on my journey to Idaho’s panhandle, I visited a couple of old friends at the Ogden Nature Center. The human one was my biker-chick friend Susan Synder, who teaches school children all about the magic of Mother Nature.

I bet she wished she had her bicycle with her during my visit because I walked her butt off – her words to our mutual friend Charlie Trentelman – on the center’s trails.

It was a fantastic hike in which we saw warblers, grosbeaks, chickadees and evidence of a bold beaver. He had built a dam and was chawing down trees – big ones. We both worried that the critter’s days at the nature center are numbered – and we both hoped he is moved to another location and not treated as the varmint wildlife officials classify his kind. You hear me guys. Make it so!

The Nature Center and I go back a long way. I moved to Ogden the first time shortly after it had been created. The transformation of its 152 acres of plowed farmland into a center-of-town wildlife and nature sanctuary is a miracle accomplished by many willing hands. It’s a perfect place to go to stress down from today’s crazy world.

Entries from the Ogden Nature Center's annual birdhouse competition can be seen along the entry trail through August. This unique birdhouse, built by my friend Susan to show her love of bicycling, is part of the permanent collection. ... Photo by Pat Bean

The non-human friend I visited this day was Chitters, a great horned owl that had been imprinted on humans at a young age and couldn’t survive in the wild. He’s the nature center’s mascot, and it was with delight that I told Susan about the time, in the early 1980s, when Chitters had escaped to dally with a female great horned who had been hanging around his cage.

I wrote a newspaper story about the love affair. But poor Chitters almost starved before he showed back up at the nature center a week later. Male great horns are supposed to feed their mates to show they are worthy of fathering children. Poor Chitters couldn’t even feed himself. The optimist in me wants to believe the female took pity on him and loved him anyway. If so, his offspring might just be one those great horns birders see around Ogden. I  hope so.

Chitters has passed the age that most wild great horned owls live. But his pampered life has left him still hale and hearty. Susan said she was delighted to know that zoo great horned owls can live into their fifties. Make it so Chitters!

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