By Wendy Langhans
This is the third in our series on owls - our localnight-flying birds of prey. When youhead outdoors tonight on Halloween night, we want you to be prepared for thingsthat go “whooo…” in the night.
OK - here’s the situation - imagine you’re a “mad scientist”(visualize Gene Wilder in “Young Frankenstein”). It’s a “dark and stormy night”. Suddenly, there’s a knock at your door. (Andno - it’s not Madeline Kahn). It’s a bird,who wants to hire you to turn him into a ferocious night-flying owl. He needs:
- Excellent night vision
- Excellent depth perception
- Eye protection against critters with teeth and sharp claws - critters who don’t want to be eaten
- A low weight-to-lift ratio
What will your design look like?
The eyes will be facing forward. This will provide the bird with the binocularvision needed for depth perception. (Totest this, close one eye, hold your hands out to the side at eye level and tryto make your index fingers touch as you bring your hands together.)
Each eye will have three eyelids for protection: the top(closes when blinking), the bottom (closes when sleeping) and the sideway. (This third sideways eyelid is call the “nictitatingmembrane ” and closes from the inside to outside.
The retina at the back of the eye will contain many rodcells, which are adept at gathering light and detecting movement. However, there is a downside; your bird willhave limited color vision, since rod cells are not good at detecting color.
A low weight-to-lift ratio will be the most tricky toachieve. Larger eyes will gather morelight but weigh more. Aha! You have a solution:
save weight by removing the muscles that allow the eye torotate. But won’t that restrict thefield of vision? Aha again! You’ll add a longer and more flexibleneck. That way, the bird be able torotate its head 270 degrees.
And now you know why owls rotate their heads and not theireyes. All the better to see you with, mydear. BWA HA HA.....HAPPY HALLOWEEN....
Shout-out: My thanksto the 80 volunteers who came to PicoCanyon last Saturday on Make aDifference Day. You know one the secretsto a happy and fulfilling life: it is ingiving that we receive.
Upcoming Outdoor Events:
Weekend Errands. Nowyou can recycle your compact fluorescent light bulbs at your local HomeDepot Store . Take your expired, unbroken lamps to the returns counter atany Home Depot Store. According torecent Waste Management newsletter, one CFL can save $30 in energy costs overits lifetime, reduce coal consumption by 200 pounds and prevent more than 400pounds of greenhouse gas emission. Butcarry those expired bulbs carefully, because they contain toxins .
Saturday, November 1, 8:30 AM.Los Pinetos (Walker Ranch) hike. This 8 mile hike is uphill for the first 3miles to the ridge. Then you traverse the ridge to the Wilson Saddle, and thenreturn back to Walker Ranch, all downhill. Bring water and snacks.
Directions to Walker Ranch trailhead: Exit SR 14 at PlaceritaCyn Rd. If you’re coming from the South, turnRight. If you’re coming from the North, turn left onto PlaceritaCanyon Road. Then, turn right into a turnoutmarked with a wooden “WALKER RANCH TRAILHEAD” sign on your right, ~3.5 milesfrom Hwy 14.
Sponsored by the Community Hiking Club .
Saturday, November 8 and 22th, and every Wednesday, 8:00AM. Trail Maintenance Volunteers at Towsley Canyon .
Come join our trail maintenance volunteers for camaraderieand a heart-thumping workout. For more information contact Steve Ioerger  at 661-291-1565.
Saturday, November 8, 8:30-noon. Nature Center is Open at Towsley Canyon .
Stop by for close-up view of our displays, including amountain lion (stuffed, of course).
Sunday, November 9, 3-5 PM. Autumn at Elsmere Canyon. Join usfor an easy walk as we explore Elsmere Canyon at the end of a fall day. We meet at the Whitney Canyon parking lot.
Sponsored by the Mountains Recreation and ConservationAuthority.
You can listen to stories like this every Friday morning at7:10 a.m. on "The Hike Report", brought to you by your hometown radiostation KHTS (AM1220) and by the Mountains Recreation and ConservationAuthority.