Tuesday, January 29, 2008


It was just after dawn on a crisp winter morning not long ago, Christmas Eve day actually.
I was on my way to work, and some happy quirk made me take a different route than usual.
As I drove slowly down a quiet street I saw an unusual huddled and bulky shape on a telephone wire and I pulled over to get a closer look at it.
It was a large owl.
I've very seldom seen them, and the ornithologically-minded side of my self combined with the superstitious omen-seeking side of myself to give me a momentary shiver of delight at such an unusual sight.
I walked slowly across the street and we regarded one another.
I don't know what species it was, but it was tall and had ear tufts so it may have been a Great Horned Owl. It looked down at me with that slightly unnerving round-eyed glare, and then took wing down the street until it alighted in a tree not far away.
I love the way owls fly--it's like they are drifting through the air. *shivers happily again at the memory*
The last time I saw an owl was in Kenya, two years ago. I was at Fishermen's Camp near Naivasha and had to leave my tent on a nature-call in the middle of my first night in Africa.
I was feeling a little bit nervous because even though this was not a game reserve, there was still plenty of unfamiliar wildlife making strange sounds in the dark. Hippos laughing in the nearby lake and giant two-hundred pound frogs (no, wait, those were later determined to be colobus monkeys making the strangest monkey-sounds I've ever heard). There was also a creeping white ground fog that bounced my flashlight's beam right back at me and made the way to the outhouse particularly daunting.
But despite initially regretting drinking so much Tusker beer right before bedtime, I was so glad I ventured out because of the owl.
He was perched on a branch by the showers. I wouldn't have seen him except that I'd followed the sound of his calls. Hooooo...hooooo....hooooo. He was large and by my flashlight I could just make out his large shape. I was thrilled.
A bird book from the overland truck we were travelling in identified my owl as most likely being a Verreaux eagle-owl, a kind of owl that will actually wade into the water to catch fish and who may particularly like to snack on hedgehogs.


グラント said...

Owls are the heralds of doom. Or maybe I'm thinking of the NKotB reunion tour. One of those is very bad.

Tai said...

I love owls. I have seen so few, but have always been delighted when I have.
I saw a snowy owl, once, drifting lightly over a field and it's one of those memories that don't fade.

Grant is right about the NKotB being heralds of doom...do you suppose he could be an honorary member of the WaVANKotB?

Sugar said...

Uh-oh. I see owls all the time! I dream about them too... hmmm... I wonder what that could mean?


The night before my mother's death two owls flew figure 8's over my brother's house. He called me to tell me they were doing so. The next morning my mother died at 8:00am. My brother collects Owls, or rather things with owls on them, or pictures or whatever. He feels that my mother's spirit sent the owls to say goodbye. I am not sure what I feel.

Crazy Me said...

I haven't seen an owl in years. I guess I'm too much in the heart of the city.

kimber the wolfgrrrl said...

My friend N is terrified of owls because his friend, who worked in a wildlife rescue agency, had her breast torn off by one. Nothing frightens him, save for owls.
This alone gives me great respect for them, and as beautiful as they are and as special as it is when I see one, I give them lots of space.