Karl Overman: Birds and More


I got to know Al when he went to the University of Michigan in the 1970s.  Al does not view all birds as equal.  He will look at the dickey birds of the world but his heart isn’t in it.  Now raptors are a different story.  To really get his attention, give him Golden Eagles flying by a hawk watch on the Lake Erie shoreline in November or Griffon and Cinereous Vultures over the countryside in Spain in April.   Owls are a favorite of his.  On October 25, 1970, I was part of a Detroit Audubon field trip to Sarnia, Ontario and points up the Lake Huron shoreline to Ipperwash.  We were gathered together on Sarnia Bay, a built up area, looking for waterfowl.  Al detects that Starlings behind us are giving a predator call so he wanders away from the group to check a small isolated deciduous tree lodged between a warehouse and the street.  There sat a Saw-whet Owl clutching a mouse.  I have birded the Sarnia area many times over the next 39 years and have never seen another another Saw-whet there.

Al took a special interest in Barn Owls in Michigan in the 1970s and built nest boxes to place in barns and silos in Monroe County.  One night I joined Al as he looked for Barn Owls in Monroe Coumty.  We ended up seeing six Barn Owls.  Now they are gone from the state.

Al speaks fluent spanish and I was fortunate to bird with him in Columbia, Ecuador and Peru many years ago.  The photo of Al in front of the tents high in the Andes of Peru is after we had just seen Pardusco and Golden-backed Mountain-Tanager after they had been discovered only four or five years earlier.  While we were in Lima on that trip, we met up with Ted Parker who had done a birding insert on how to find these newly discovered species. He was taken aback that someone would actually undertake the arduous trip to actually try to see Pardusco et.al.  Now of course, bird tours go to see them.

Al now calls New Hampshire home.


Al Maley