The Owls of Blue Job
Date Planted: May 2, 2007
Authors: gollygee, littlmoon, and Gargoyle Girl
Address: Blue Job Mountain, 1st Crown Point Road, Strafford, New Hampshire
Hike length: About a half-mile uphill. It should take about an hour to hike up to the summit and back down using these trails, without stopping for boxes. I'd figure 2 hours just to be safe. :)
First aid: None required presently
Clue last updated: April 20, 2008
Each owl in this series lives in New England for at least part of the year. I've included facts about each breed of owl from www.OwlPages.com and AllAboutBirds.com. Enjoy! :)
To get to Blue Job, take the Spaulding Turnpike to Exit 13 and take a left at the bottom of the ramp. Follow the road until you come to a blinking yellow light and take a right onto Estes Road. At the blinking red light, take a left onto 1st Crown Point Road. Bear right at the fork and follow the road for about 4.7 miles. The way I find the parking lot is to pay attention while I'm climbing up the hill, and as soon as you start descending, keep your eyes out for the dirt parking area on the right side of the road. You will see a gate with various "Do Not Enter" signs just before the parking area. There used to be a sign that said Blue Job State Forest, but it is now missing. Look for a dirt parking lot on the right.
#1. The Snowy Owl
- It is also called: Snow Owl, Great White Owl, Ghost Owl, Ermine Owl, Tundra Ghost, Ookpik, Scandinavian Nightbird, White Terror of the North, and Highland Tundra Owl.
- It is the official bird of Quebec.
- Female snowy owls and juvenile snowy owls are more heavily marked than males, who may be almost pure white.
- Juvenile snowy owls are brown with scattered white tips of down.
- They can have a wingspan of anywhere between 54 and 65 inches.
- Snowy owls are active during the daytime, from dawn to dusk, although they may hunt at night as well.
- It is virtually silent during nonbreeding seasons, but during breeding season the males have a loud, booming, "hoo hoo".
- This owl is highly nomadic. Though it mainly resides in arctic regions, during periods of lemming and vole population crashes in the Arctic, or excessive cold and snow in winter, it will travel into southern Canada and the northern United States. This occurs every 3 to 5 years or so.
To find the snowy owl: From the parking lot, take the trail on the left that is marked in orange. Follow the trail until you come to a stone wall that crosses the path. From the wall, take 17 steps. Look to your right and up the hill for a small clearing. Take 17 more steps toward the clearing. Standing in the approximate middle of the large boulder on the ground, mark 40 degrees on your compass. You should see a small pine tree and juniper bush. Behind these, look for the snowy owl under a rock.
#2. The Barred Owl
- The belly feathers of some Barred Owls are pink, which may be the result of eating a lot of crayfish.
- It can have a wingspan of 39–43 inches.
- The female Barred Owl is larger than the male.
- This owl hoots in a series of eight or nine hoots at a time.
- The barred owl lives all over the eastern half of the United States, as well as most of southern Canada, and parts of Washington and Oregon states.
- In French, it is called Chouette Rayee, and in Spanish, Buhu Listado.
Continue up the path. After going up hill, the path will level off a bit. Look for a trail on the left near some white pines. Take about seven steps down this path and you will be standing next to a large rock face. Step on top of the rock and look out at the beautiful view. On the left, look for a juniper bush. The Barred Owl hides under the large rock beneath the juniper.
#3. The Short-Eared Owl
- The first description of the Short-Eared Owl was published in 1763 by Erich Ludvigsen Pontoppidan, a Danish bishop and amateur naturalist.
- Other names for this owl are the Evening Owl, Marsh Owl, Bog Owl, Swamp Owl, Grass Owl, Meadow Owl, Mouse-hawk, and Flat-faced Owl.
- When their coloring doesn't provide enough camoflauge, the Short-Eared Owl will play dead to avoid detection from predators.
- The average wingspan is about 41 inches.
- They hunt mainly at night and during the morning and late afternoon.
- During mating season, males show off by flying quickly into the sky, hovering, gliding down, and rising again, often 200–400 meters above the ground. Two birds may engage in flight, locking talons, and fighting briefly.
- The Short-Eared Owl nests on the ground, unlike most other owls.
Return to the main trail and continue along until you reach a bridge. Continue to follow the trail to a rock with an orange blaze on it. Take 12 more steps down the trail, stop, and take 25 steps east. Look to your right for a group of boulders. The short-eared owl hides at the base of the large one closest to you.
#4. The Northern Saw-Whet Owl
- A smaller owl, the Northern Saw-Whet's wingspan ranges from 17–19 inches.
- Thw Saw-Whet Owl can be found all over the United States and southern Canada.
- This owl likes to nest in tree cavities, especially old woodpecker holes, but it does not add nesting material.
- Its main prey are mice, which are usually eaten in pieces as two separate meals.
- When discovered, the Saw-Whet will sit still and not fly, leading many people to perceive it as "tame".
As you forge ahead, look for an old stone wall. Follow the wall right, past a small section of wall that runs perpendicular to the rest of it. Look for an arrowhead-shaped rock that appears to have fallen off the wall. Here you will find the Northern Saw-Whet owl.
#5. The Long-Eared Owl
- Other names for the Long-Eared Owl include Brush Owl, Cat Owl, Pussy Owl, Lesser Horned Owl, Cedar Owl, and Coulee Owl.
- They have a wingspan of 38–39 inches.
- The Long-Eared Owl is nocturnal, usually beginning its activity at dusk.
- This owl is adept at maneuvering while flying through dense brush.
- When roosting, the Long-Eared Owl will stretch its body to make itself look like a tree branch.
- Long-Eared Owls nest almost exclusively in old stick nests of crows, magpies, ravens, hawks, or herons, which are almost always located in wooded areas, screened by shrubbery, vines, or branches.
- To defend a nest under attack, the female owl will spread her wings out widely, facing the intruder, flare her flight feathers, and lower her head, which makes her appear 2–3 times her actual size.
- Another defense mechanism is to distract an intruder away from the nest by pretending to capture prey, or feigning injury, and flopping away from the nest on the ground making various noises.
- Unlike most other owls, during winter they may roost communally (7–50 owls). These sites are often used year after year.
Just past the wall is a fork in the path, take the trail marked "Fire Tower" to the right and cross the bridge over another stream. You will ascend a steep incline for a bit. As the path levels off a bit further up the hill, look for a tree that has fallen over and now leans on another tree across the path. The tree it's leaning on has a hiking trail sign that you can no longer read, and just a few feet before it is a tree that is shaped like a backwards letter J. Keep going and you will see two trees that form a giant letter U on your right. Stand in between these trees and walk ten steps to a pine tree. Look behind the pine under a rock. PLEASE be exceedingly stealthy here, as this owl has been stolen before, and despite this new location I am still very wary of muggles. The stamp was carved by littlmoon and is a replacement since the original long-eared owl stamp was taken for ransom.
#6. The Eastern Screech-Owl
- The Eastern Screech-Owl is common in urban as well as rural areas, and will readily nest in nest boxes.
- About one-third of all Eastern Screech-Owls are red. The rest are gray or brown.
- Eastern Screech-Owl pairs usually are monogamous and remain together for life.
- This owl has a wingspan of 19–24 inches.
Stay on the orange-marked path. On the right, you will soon see a trail that leads down the hill to the right. Continue past this trail to the radio tower just ahead, also on the right, and find the path that leads directly to the green building next to the radio tower. Walk down this trail and into the clearing, and stand with your back facing the radio tower. Mark 30 degrees on your compass. You will see a large rock with a hollow underneath it. Stand with your back to that rock, facing the beautiful view. Take 12 steps straight ahead to a bunch of large rocks. There is a flat, rectangular one in front of you. Reach under it to capture the Eastern Screech-Owl.
#7. The Great Horned Owl
- It was first seen in the Virginia colonies, so its Latin name, Bubo virginianus, was created from the Latin-ized version of the name of this territory, which was named after Queen Elizabeth I, the "Virgin Queen".
- The Great Horned Owl is also known as the Hoot Owl, Cat Owl, or Winged Tiger.
- The large tufts of feathers that appear to be horns on top of its head have nothing to do with hearing at all.
- This owl has a wingspan of 36–60 inches.
- The male's resonant territorial call ("hoo-hoo hoooooo hoo-hoo") can be heard over several miles during a still night. Most calling occurs from dusk to about midnight and then again just before dawn.
- The Great Horned Owl may capture prey 2–3 times heavier than itself, and can swallow rodents and small rabbits whole. Its favorite food is rabbit.
- It also enjoys preying upon rodents, mink, skunk, raccoons, armadillos, porcupines, bats, all other owls (except the Snowy Owl), crows, turkeys, young alligators, Great Blue heron, swans, gulls, turtles, scorpions, and roadkill.
- During nesting season, the males and females hoot to each other, and when close they bow with drooped wings.
Venture back to the main path, and Solar Flair would like to advise you to "try not to fall." Climb up the steep, paved portion of the trail to where it levels off for about 30 feet. Look for a group of baby pine trees on the right, in front of a pile of rocks on a small hill. Walk up to the large flat rock. Standing at the far end of the right side of the rock with your back to the trail, walk 15 paces straight ahead. Look for a tree with a very large trunk-sized branch that grows horizontally along the ground and up over a large boulder. Walk 5 paces along the large branch. The Great Horned Owl hides under the boulder. This is the second incarnation of the Great Horned Owl, the stamp was carved by littlmoon and the box was replaced by Gargoyle Girl. :)
#8. Final box
When you reach the top of the mountain, be sure to climb up the fire tower and take in the view. On a clear day you can see for miles! Maybe you'll even see an owl or two while you're up there! To find the final letterbox, look for the small white building with a green door to the right of the tower. Facing the door, go around the building on the right side, about four feet from the corner with the old flag pole. The last box is hiding behind a pile of rocks.
Note: There are two other boxes hidden on Blue Job, so you might want to print those clues too before you begin your hike! :)
Please contact me on AtlasQuest after you find these and tell me what you think! I'd especially appreciate feedback on the clues, since I know these aren't the easiest to find. Happy letterboxing! :)
NOTE: Before you set out you must read and agree to the Waiver of Responsibility.