Nearly six years ago, while sitting at my desk, I heard rumblings about some odd goings-on in the Rolland F. Perry City Forest.
Owls were running amok. Or flying amok. Or just doing whatever territorial owls are supposed to do when humans invade their territory. Take your pick.
After a few phone calls, I wrote a story about the incidents, which ran under a spectacular all-caps headline: “OWLS ATTACK: Warnings posted at Bangor city forest.”
After a week or two of conversation, that story slipped my mind … almost.
Then, three years later, I received a call from a woman named Phoebe Judge. She was the producer of a radio show that aired on National Public Radio, and she wanted to know if I’d give her an interview. About owls. More specifically, about OWLS THAT ATTACK.
Sure, I said. And for 15 minutes or so, we chatted about owls. Not long into the interview, I learned why a North Carolina-based radio producer had an interest in owls here in Maine.
It seems that after a trial in North Carolina, a lawyer had discovered evidence that suggested that the man who had been accused with, and convicted of killing his wife, might have an alibi.
Some other owl did it.
At the time, the producer asked me what I thought, seeing as how I was (by virtue of writing a story about owl attacks once) an expert on the bloodthirsty nature of owls.
I told her that my knowledge was limited, but did tell her what had been going on in Bangor … and that it made sense that North Carolina owls were probably just as territorial as our ornery Maine owls were.
Here in Bangor, a great horned owl had been swooping down upon unsuspecting cross country skiers, batting them on their heads, and flying away. Three skiers ended up with small lacerations.
A biologist said at least one owl was likely tending its nest, and had become aggressive toward the interlopers.
After re-reading the story I’d written three years earlier, that’s what I told the interviewer. After that, life went on, and I when I was unable to find a link to the radio show online, I forgot all about that interview.
A couple weeks ago, I remembered when an editor here at the BDN shared a link with me.
It was the owl story … kind of … on a podcast called “Criminal.”
After doing a little research, I learned that Phoebe Judge had teamed up with Eric Mennel and Lauren Spohrer to create “Criminal,” which has become one of the web’s hottest podcasts.
And when “Criminal” debuted in January of 2014, they decided to focus on the story of the North Carolina owl story in an episode they called “Animal Instincts.”
The podcast has received rave reviews from Time, Huffington Post, Vogue and Buzzfeed, and explores a new crime mystery once a month. Each episode is short enough (“Animal Instincts” is 18 minutes, 30 seconds long) that listeners can enjoy them in one sitting.
I’m happy to say, though I might not have been able to solve the case during our 2012 interview, Judge did include part of our conversation in the episode.
And I’m especially happy to learn so many details about the case that I’d been blindly commenting upon back in 2012.
Give it a listen.
And watch out for those owls.
Follow me on Twitter: @JohnHolyoke