New Librarian Gives a Hoot

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New Librarian Gives a Hoot

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Some avid library attendees may have noticed a new addition to Pius XII Memorial Library recently. Saint Louis

New librarian Mark Glenshaw has made a name for himself through his work with Great Horned Owls (Shah/Yuqing Xia)

University has welcomed Washington, D.C. native Mark Glenshaw to school this year. Glenshaw has joined the Billikens on campus this year as manager of shelving materials at Pius Library and as manager of student workers at the Circulation Unit.

Glenshaw comes to SLU from Washington University in St. Louis, where he worked in audiovisual and technical support for the Brown School of Social Work and as supervisor of the Office of Student Workers. Glenshaw said that his experience as “the new guy” has actually been quite enjoyable due to the welcoming staff atmosphere and emphasis on SLU’s mission statement. Working at the library allows Glenshaw to satisfy his diverse array of interests.

“I have a host of interests, and I pursue them all at libraries and have done so since I was a kid,” Glenshaw said. “I like working at them because the mission of libraries aligns with my own: Learning, growth, and research.”

Glenshaw’s “host” of interests includes something extremely unique: Great Horned Owls. Since the age of five, he has had a strong interest in wildlife. His frequent interaction with libraries allowed him to acquire knowledge on different wildlife animals that interested him, especially owls.

Before his interest in owls took full flight, Glenshaw said his mission was to interact more with the beautiful Forest Park, spend more time in nature and learn more about the wildlife that inhabits the St. Louis area. His brisk walks around the park held more than just an opportunity to appreciate scenic walk paths. On one of these walks, Glenshaw spotted his first pair of owls in the park.

“I had heard there were owls in the park. I didn’t know a lot about owls but I knew they were going to be challenging to find. They are active when we are not. They move very quickly and completely silently, and they are very well camouflaged. Other than that, it’s a breeze to spot an owl,” Glenshaw joked.

After his first owl run-in, Glenshaw began researching owls and embarking on what he refers to as “owl prowls” nearly every night in the same area where he had first seen the owls. His sightings were inconsistent at first, but with some extra help from friends and his determination to witness the owl again, Glenshaw rediscovered the same pair of owls on Dec. 29, 2005, a date he dubs his “owliversery.”

“I saw what turned out to be the male of a mated pair of Great Horned Owls fly into a hollowed part of the tree, hoot and then fly off,” Glenshaw said.

Glenshaw’s research helped him realize that these owls most likely resided there and called the hollow their home. Glenshaw knew where to return every night during his owl prowls.

Five and a half years later, Glenshaw still follows the same pair. Whenever Glenshaw goes on an “owl prowl,” he finds at least one of his beloved owls.

Glenshaw has named them Sarah and Charles, and he refers to them as the “Angelina Jolie” and “Brad Pitt” of owls because of their exquisite beauty. Glenshaw said he actually finds it difficult to leave them when vacationing.

Glenshaw takes pictures and videos of everything from hunting to nesting, and he wants to eventually get a paper published on his knowledge of the owl pair.

Glenshaw now leads public owl prowls in Forest Park, gives lectures on his owl knowledge and shares his interest to anyone who inquires.

Glenshaw has also gained recognition from the St. Louis scientific community. He received the Academy of Science-St. Louis Citizen Science Award in 2006 for his work on St. Louis Bio Blitz, a day-long exploration and documentation of bio-diverse natural areas. Glenshaw has also established a presence on the Internet. He maintains a blog titled ‘Forest Park Owls’ which documents his pair of Great Horned Owls and other wildlife in Forest Park. He also documents his owl exploits on YouTube and has received nearly 11,000 views.

Glenshaw encourages everyone to explore nature and immerse themselves in the experience.

“Nature is all around us. You don’t have to be interested in owls or anything, just find something that catches your eye and dig into it. But, you have to hit the books and do the fieldwork,” Glenshaw said.

To view his blog, visit forestparkowls.blogspot.com.