In yesterday's NYT—sorry, another blockquote from the NYTJonathan Raban wrote about spotted owls and what the attempt to preserve them has done for forests of the Northwest. The short version: even though deforestation has slowed greatly, the decline of spotted owls hasn't. But it's not because of humans, Raban argues. It's because of barred owls.

Here's that sex scene I promised:

When barred owls meet spotted owls, sometimes they kill and eat them; more uncommonly, they mate. The lighter male spotted owl climbs aboard the female barred owl, and they exchange a vent-to-vent “cloacal kiss” lasting a few seconds. The rare offspring from such unions, called sparred owls, are diluting what is left of the spotted owl gene pool, even as the great horned owl feeds greedily on spotted owl chicks.

That last sentence makes me hungry. Delicious spotted owl chicks. I could go for a spotted-owl-chick taco right about now.