20 July 2010

Night Owl Movement a First at Dundee Place

There was a spectacular movement of night owls in central Dundee just before midnight on a Saturday night, July 17th.

They glided in silently, with only a few suddenly arriving, then more in larger groups until there was a regular stream. They gathered for a time at the west edge of the district to cool down, relax, appreciate a refreshing drink, and then went onward, leaving nothing behind to indicate that this like-minded bunch had even been present.

Earlier, there were some subtle signs of the pending owl riders, distinct in the after dark time about this midtown Omaha business district. Some were transporting towards to east, with a couple flashing their way along the streets in the same direction.

While returning from an evening spent watching Purple Martins at their Medical Center roost, and a Chimney Swift gathering at a local building, and bicycling onward to my own destination, it was obvious that something was going to happen along these streets. Barricades had been placed at appropriate corners to indicate the proper direction to reach the next destination. Some dangerous potholes were marked by white paint. Yellow, plastic arrows were stuck on the streets to also point the way.

The early signs brought expectations, of the pending arrival, at a time suitable for these owls - with their diverse and ever-different features - to be about on a night following a really hot and humid day. There was nothing luke-warm, or tepid to be expected.

It became a matter of waiting among the usual Dundee seen. Some of the birds already about were given some bits of attention. They looked right fine in their unique and distinct way. Prominent colors of their locks were black, blonde, mixed shades and brunette, to give some examples. Since it was a Saturday night in the city, some were strutting about, with an occasional pose detected. Their garb was individually distinct, being subtle or bright, or maybe even garish in coloration. Each of them had their distinctive markings, with some showing a form especially pleasing to a guy's eye. Markings on a few were no different than a tattoo.

Arrival of the first night owls happened suddenly, as they flowed along Underwood Avenue, going westerly. The mash of colors was a splash of brightness in contrast to the black of the night and the garish street lights of the corner at 50th street.

Along the avenue, they continued to pour in. Their passage was quiet, in the silent manner typical of any owl. There were no fumes like those spewed by a motor vehicle. Only the occasional voice of a human intruded upon the setting. Vehicles along Underwood had to deal with the gathered flock and needed to be especially cautious. There were cautionary signs in place to indicate there could be a potential threat.

While noting this unique event, standing across the street from the KFAB building, the waves of arrival were ongoing once the first owlers were on the scene. More and more then arrived. The groups' presence seemed to be timed according to the changing of the street light at 50th Street and Underwood Avenue. Once it was green in an east-to-west direction, more came west, past my vantage point.

My personal tally was at least 625, based upon counting the groups as they flew past: 17, 49, 45, 53, 36, 77, 67, 68 and etc., each bunch noted in a standard manner to get an accurate indication of how many were present. Nearly all of them slowed, stopped, and then stood around in regal manner, along the avenue in the immediate vicinity of the Pitch pizza restaurant and Grandpa's C Mart. This was a major focal point for the congregation, during their inter-city movement.

When asked, the local foot-patrol officer said there had not been any out-of-the-ordinary happenings because of the gathering of the night owls.

There were indication this bunch had first gathered as a group at the riverfront, east of downtown Omaha. The congregation then went to Midtown Crossing at the former Turner Park - where according to sources on the scene, there was no reason to stop so the journey kept on and very soon arrived in central Dundee.

After a relatively short time, the restless bunch appeared ready to leave the local scene. Clues and bits of ancillary details projected that their route would go along the Happy Hollow, through the dark of Elmwood Park and past the silent boughs of Wood Creek, and onward to Aksarben Village.

This is the first occurrence of this sort in the river city, and apparently can be expected to occur in following years. It was a wonderful indication of how this group expresses the green scene that can be appreciated in the city of Omaha.

Since there aren't many birds that can be seen post-dusk, to have witnessed this movement - and right among the neighborhood - was truly an event to appreciate and celebrate for its significance to the local scene.