athene (from Greek goddess of wisdom, Pallas Athene, to whom the owl was a sacred bird) cunicularia (burrower)
Thursday, September 18, 1980 — 12:00 noon
Hammond, Indiana — 110th Street and State Line Road
All summer long, this bird hung around in a narrow power-line corridor wedged between a blue-collar residential area and Interstate 90. Every time I called the hot line, it was reported. I felt like I should probably go down and see it, but I kept putting it off. I finally decided that if the bird was going to stay forever, I might as well give it a shot.
I drove down through an unappealing section of Chicago, full of industries and tiny homes. I found the spot and parked on State Line Road (on the Indiana side). I strolled into the field under the high-tension wires.
I spotted the owl right away. It was standing on the ground next to a pile of steel beams. It appeared to be resting on its belly as its legs were out of sight. I walked slowly toward it, stopping every so often to take a look. I got within five feet before it took off and landed on a cross bar of the power-line tower. It stood and bobbed a few times, calling occasionally. It looked around, turning its head as much as 180 degrees, for about 25 minutes, then took off again. It flew low over the ground and glided to a landing on a fence post. When it flew, its head and tail looked very short.