Monday, December 27, 2010

A Rare Find

I have something on my desk this morning that is both sad and yet beguiling.  Something one rarely gets to see up close.  It is a Screech Owl.  Unfortunately, not alive.  MM found it on the dirt floor of the garage yesterday.  Somehow its life came to a sudden end and try as we did, we were unable to assign a cause, as the feathers and body are apparently intact.

At first I simply felt terribly sad, as I had only recently stood out on the porch one night, listening to the conversation between two of these lovely animals, spaced widely, one on the North side of the yard, the other on the South.  Their quavering voices give haunting beauty to the darkness and I remember thinking of the trust they share, knowing the other is there.  Now, however, there was just the one.

On the other hand, when MM brought the little owl to me, I reached out and discovered so many things about it!  It was a rare opportunity to admire the incredible softness of the feathers, the sweet face, which, even with eyes closed, seemed so alive!  Little tufts of short whiskers  wreathed the tiny curved beak, and dainty, fur-covered feet with  curled claws tucked neatly beneath surprisingly long feathers.  And soft....did I already say that?  Oh, how very, very soft!  The little feathers protecting its ears stood up stoutly.  And the entire owl fit very well in my hand!  I marveled at the bark-like feather colors.  One could never see this little wonder in the wild, for the camoflage of wing and body is simply too good a "hide."

The vocabulary of the screech owl is quite extensive, and many a nighttime hiker has been terroized by the ghostly sounds the owls can make.  Their wings are outsized compared to their delicate little bodies, allowing them to loft silently through the night almost as if they are on cushions.

Best of all, for the farmer out here JOTOLR, Screech owls consume copious quantities of mice.  And that's probably what attracted the little bird in the first place.  Since it was on the floor, it almost looked as if it had flown fast and smashed into the wall, like a songbird against a window...but, of course, we'll never know.

I so hope another will arrive to fill the void.  They are always welcome and it's sad to lose one. It was a mixed treat to be able to see and touch this gorgeous creature.


  1. Elora -- So sad when we come upon a beautiful dead bird. Yet, our inquisitive nature sets in and we note its beauty close up rather than in some far distant tree. I find your treasured bird rather mystical. Nature will provide another for the mate. Thanks for your story on the beautiful screech owl -- barbara

  2. You are so right - I would have had mixed feelings about this find too what a special treat to see one up close, yet a sad way to do so. Thanks for sharing your lovely story! xo

  3. Bittersweet, as you say. A wonderful opportunity to appreciate the beauty of the bird. Thanks for sharing with us.

  4. Beautiful, beautiful creature! Thank you for sharing, Elora. Magical really.

  5. Thank you, all, for your lovely, lovely comments!Barbara, Elora, Vicki...and CARLA! (So happy to have you drop by for a visit, and so lovely to see that Chickadee on the icicle!! What a shot! HOW??????!!! Love you, girl! I'm subscribed again...don't know how I "got lost"!!!)

    Well, I took the little guy out into the woods where he belonged and laid it it a hollow log. But I was so grateful for the experience of seeing it, and marvelled again at what a miracle these little birds are!