Introducing Julio, The Great Horned Wowl


Saturday: who doesn’t love a Saturday? Usually best spent with the M&M’s (Museum and a Movie), your humble narrator decided to flip the script and head out to a park instead. Portland’s exemplary Forest Park, to be exact. And maaaaan, what a park it is. Over 5,000 acres and over 70 miles of trails, this place is big — beating Philly’s massive Fairmount Park by about a thousand acres. (For the record, Central Park in NYC is 843 acres.)

The place is totally impressive, a magical world submerged beneath a high-up canopy of trees…Douglas fir, western red cedar, western hemlock. Fallen trees are covered with more moss than I’ve ever seen in my life. Balch Creek is populated by Cuthroat Trout which roll in from the sea via the Multnomah Channel. How cool is that? Stuff from the ocean, found in the woods. Wild.

70 Miles of trails means one thing for your humble narrator: I got horribly lost. Not like Blair Witch Project Sun Going Down Oh Shit Now What Lost, but a little turned around. No thing, because I stumbled upon the Audubon Society of Portland, which is where we discovered our New Best Friend In The Entire World: Julio, the Great Horned Owl. The Audubon Society seemed completely abandoned save for two old men sitting on the porch arguing about salamanders, so I crept around back and found the cage where they keep Julio. As you may recall from previous posts, ever since my arrival in Portland I have been dying to see an owl. Although caged, Julio will do just fine. There he was, imposing and looking like a total menace in his cage, perched on a piece of wood, sleeping. Except not sleeping — Julio opened one eye just to check me out, before closing it again. If I made any noise he’d open just the one eye — like I wasn’t good enough for both? Or else this was reverse winking? — and then he’d close it again, not even interested in the plate of dead mice located below him. Goddamn he’s one beautiful bird! Julio! My friend!

Friend indeed. What struck me totally daffy was the fact that since my apartment is close to Fairmount Park this means I live within walking distance from a Wowl. Meaning that any time I want, I can put on a light jacket, lock up, shuffle down the steps, jump out the door and onto the sidewalk, head up the street, enter the woods, and be face to face with a GREAT HORNED OWL within minutes. This is amazing. This is fucking mindblowing. My life: now complete.

The sad thing was reading the story about Julio. Apparently he was found in a nest next to a cut down tree, without parents. The Audubon Society took care of him but by then it was too late — he had been around humans too long and so could no longer go back to Regular Owl Society. The line that got me was “Julio did not know how to be an owl.” Maybe the saddest sentence, like, ever? Well it’s okay, Julio, if you don’t know how to be an owl. You can still be my friend.

Aw! Julio!

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3 thoughts on “Introducing Julio, The Great Horned Wowl

  1. A few random facts about New York City’s Central Park! There are many playgrounds and other recreational facilities, including the Wollman Skating Rink. The Metropolitan Museum of Art stands in the park on Fifth Ave.; other points of interest include a formal garden, a zoo, an Egyptian obelisk popularly called “Cleopatra’s Needle,” a New York City reservoir, and the Mall. In the open-air Delacorte Theater, Shakespearean dramas and other plays are presented free of charge.

    That’s just to name a few!

  2. Just found this old post will doing some Googling.
    Audubon is one of my favorite places to visit in PDX. It’s a real gem, and lots of Portlander’s don’t even know about it. I believe they recently discovered that Julio is a girl owl. Shocking. They also just built him/her a new enclosure that’s very cool. Ruby the Turkey Vulture is now in Julio’s old enclosure.
    Another awesome thing about Audubon is you can go to Skyline burger fir a killer cheeseburger, or coast down Cornell into NW PDX for even more things to do.
    Last night I watched the sunset at Council Crest (highest spot in PDX) and watched little bats flying around us. Pretty neat. Council Crest is another cool PDX spot to check out if you’ve never been there.
    Have a good day. :]

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