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Mark Glenshaw observes 12 year anniversary of owl watching in Forest Park

Amateur naturalist Mark Glenshaw continues observing the owl community in Forest Park. He watches them close enough to recognize them, name them and conduct guided tours he refers to as “owl prowls.” He conducted 90 prowls just last year.

“Each year I keep breaking my own records, but 2017 was really special,” Glenshaw said. 

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked to Glenshaw as he observes his 12 year anniversary of watching and studying owls in Forest Park. Glenshaw’s hobby includes photographing, recording, blogging and reading about the owls.

He said his main goal when watching the owls is to “count heads” and make sure the owls – which he named – are alright. Some of the owls he studies are Charles and his mates overtime, Sarah, Samantha and Olivia.

Some nights, Glenshaw can spot the owls quickly, but other nights, it can take up to 55 minutes to spot or hear one.

“That challenge is one of the things that keeps me coming back night after night,” he said. He credits his findings on the principle of ESL – experience, skill and luck.

Glenshaw makes time to document his findings on his blog and YouTube channel, and gives lectures on the matter despite having a full-time job.

Glenshaw gives talks on the owls for groups and individuals during the guided tours he conducts through Forest Park an hour before sunset – the prime time when owls are active.

“Great-horned owls are nocturnal and crepuscular – one of the many words I’ve learned studying owls,” he said. Crepuscular means active at the edge of day and night.

Naturalist Mark Glenshaw talks about his continued observance of the owl community in Forest Park.
Credit Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio
Naturalist Mark Glenshaw talks about his continued observance of the owl community in Forest Park.

As to where the best spots are to find the owls in Forest Park, Glenshaw wouldn’t say but promised to show people if they are dedicated to going on the prowl.

“I’ve come to respect and enjoy the ethos of the ‘Show-Me’ state,” he said. “If you show me that you’re serious and you come out on a prowl, I will show you where [the best spots are].”

He reminds people to stay quiet and dress appropriately for the weather and environment during the prowl.

Listen to the full discussion and to learn more about the owls of Forest Park:


St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary EdwardsAlex Heuer and Lara Hamdan give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.

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Lara is the Engagement Editor at St. Louis Public Radio.
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