Saturday, February 7, 2009
Owl Miss You
Here is a drawing I made of an owl.
We had a little owl in the woods at the back of our yard. At different times of the year, late at night or in the very early morning while it was still dark, we heard his quavering tremelo. Sometimes my sister and her husband heard him too. Their home, a quarter mile away was apparently in his territory too. Lately though, we had not heard from him.
Two mornings ago, Mac came in from walking Rigby around the barn and reported that there was a bird party in progress out in the woods in back of the barn.
When dawn broke that day, the temperature was hovering around 5 degrees farhenheit. Since Mac is a carpenter and his current job is strictly outdoors, it would not be a working day due to the bitter cold. As he waited for Rigby to take care of her business in a snowbank, his attention was drawn by two, big Blue Jays, a pair of cardinals and a legion of slate-colored juncos all fluttering around one particular tree. We puzzled over what could be stirring them up. There didn't appear to be any food or seed around, and he had not seen any predators lurking.
We forgot about the birds as we became absorbed in the tasks of the day.
Later that evening Mac and Rigby were again near the spot and the dog started pulling on her leash, desperately trying to get over near that same tree. Although it was now gathering gloom in the woods, Mac thought he could see a small dark shape in the snow at the base of the tree that looked out of place. He would take a closer look in the morning when it was light.
The next morning as I was making my eggs and pouring coffee, Rigby burst into the kitchen with Mac close behind her.
"It's an owl...there's no sign of injury, but he is dead", Mac told me. "He's just lying there at the base of the tree. Almost looks like he's sleeping. That must be what all the birds were fussing over."
Later I walked out to have a look. We never saw him while he was alive, but there he was. A screech owl, I think. He was small and precious and he did look almost as if he was asleep. All his pretty grey feathers were intact, little ear tufts trembling in the cold breeze. I feel sad in my heart that he's no longer alive and I wonder why he died. Surely, being a northern bird the cold weather wouldn't have bothered him too much, at least I wouldn't think so. The other birds may have been harassing him, but there wasn't any blood - no sign that they had hurt him. Maybe he was old by owl standards and it was just his time. We will miss hearing his voice. All things must pass.