Friday, April 15, 2005

Send Me An Owl

Yesterday morning I lay awake beneath an open window trying to pick out the odd birdsong behind the wall of noise put up by the cardinals, titmice and mockingbirds. Far back in the woods and floating nearly inaudibly above the immediate clangor, the hoo hoohoo hoo hoo of a great horned owl caught my attention.

The last time I saw, rather than heard, great horned owls was during a hike in the foggy twilight in the wintry foothills above Boise, Idaho with my brother VBC3 and his young daughters. The owls were perched in the bare branches of cottonwood trees and were periodically swooping at a flock of American robins pattering among the fallen leaves of scrubby western hackberry trees that were clinging to the sides of a rocky ravine that we were exploring. The misty twilight and the presence of hunting owls in the last light of day made the experience especially magical.

Later, on the morning drive across Paynes Prairie I saw three ospreys perched on the power poles that parallel the road. Then, at the north end of the stretch I saw the familiar pair of bald eagles that I always see. Ospreys commonly hunch over when at perch, whereas the eagles typically perch boldly upright. Even at distances too great to note differences in size or in the black and white coloration of the two raptors, one can frequently correctly distinguish and identify the perching birds by their silhouettes. In flight the ospreys soar with a crook in their wings, and eagles soar with their wings at the horizontal.

I do love seeing these majestic raptors at the start of nearly every day.

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