Could it be a petrified dinosaur egg?

My friend Sylvia Arnett was out riding Little Guy, her horse, along the dry creek bed at the east end of Juniper Canyon when she saw what appeared to be an egg. An egg like this was out of place as it was suspended in a three-foot tall bush, somewhat like a Bitterbrush bush. There was no nesting material in the bush or even around the area. The egg was kind of dimpled with a dull, off-white color and some specks of brown, or perhaps you might call it a buff (yellowish) color like a stone.

Sylvia picked it up carefully and walked Little Guy back to their home at the north end of Fish Springs. She got out a ruler and measured the egg to be about two inches long and one and one-half inch wide. About the size a bantam hen would lay. Sylvia said it looked weathered, like a petrified dinosaur egg. Wouldn't that be neat? I shook the egg and definitely something moved around in there, but not something that was alive. I'm sure glad I didn't crack it open as I know it would smell just terrible.

I called my favorite "bird lady," Linda Hiller, to see what she thought about this unusual discovery. What kind of mother would leave her single egg alone in a bush during our frigid winter? We talked about several different big birds that may have laid an egg about that size. Could it be from a Canada goose or a hawk or a golden or bald eagle?

Bird lady Linda said that great horned owls and burrowing owls are nesting right now. They are kind of lazy so they often take over the nests of other big birds, like hawks, eagles, even magpies until they hatch their babies.

My field guide, "Birds of North America," says that great horned owls habitats vary from "forest to city to open desert" and they nest in "trees, caves, or on the ground." That "open desert" and nesting "on the ground" sounds like the egg Sylvia found just might be from a great horned owl. Recently, we've been hearing their nocturnal call of "three to eight loud, deep hoots." I usually hear three notes, "whoo , whoo, whoo." My yoga teacher, Jill Mustacchio, plays the recorded owl's hoots during class. It's very beautiful, and so are they.

Some years ago, Fish Springs residents Tom McCormick and his daughter Mary got an up-close and exciting look at a great horned owl. It was about 11 p.m. when they were driving down old Windmill Road and the headlights shone upon some commotion near the side of the road ahead. They slowed down to see what appeared to be a very large and majestic great horned owl feasting on a jackrabbit. It looked to be at least 2-feet tall and was standing straight up as its strong, hooked beak tore open the belly of the sizeable jackrabbit. Its powerful feet and sharp talons held his prey down.

You don't see high drama like that in the big cities. We've lived here for 26 years now and I'm sure hoping we get to spend the next 26 years still enjoying the wildlife of fascinating Fish Springs.

n Linda Monohan can be reached at 782-5802.


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