Slings And Sparrows

The last few evenings we have had a regular backyard visitor. In the early evenings, when the sun has set below the tree line, I can hear the birds grow angry and raucous. They normally quiet down at this time of day, but not when the owl is around.

He is a tolerant thing. I’ve watched him for several evenings now. Saturday night he perched in a branch of the old oak in my back yard, ducking as the song birds dived at him. A squirrel, more foolish than brave, clung to the tree trunk opposite him and chattered madly.

When he can take it no more he spreads his wings and glides off or floats to the ground as if he were nearly weightless. If the little birds annoy him enough he will leap from the branch and with one, two, three beats of his impressive wings he is off, high above the roof and soaring across the street towards my neighbors. From there he will continue to hunt, ducking the troublesome little birds, and circle around to my back yard, where it is growing dark and the fireflies begin their nightly hovering dance.

Wisdom is attributed to owls, largely because of their looks. Our owl is a fine specimen. But he has also attained some useful wisdom. He could waste his energy by striking out, perhaps devouring a few of these pesky little birds, but instead he surveys the ground, ducks when they grow too bold and come too close, and keeps focused on what he really desires. When he sees what he wants, he never hesitates or consults with his critics, he simply spreads his wings and glides with focused ease, snatches his prey, and with a leap and another easy flap of his wings, finds a branch to enjoy his meal while the little ones scream.

Criticism is a very useful tool, but with wisdom and experience you can, like my owl, separate what is helpful and necessary from the chatter of “You can’t!”, You shouldn’t!”, “You’re not good enough!”

You can. You should. And with time and focus, you very well may be not only good enough, but great.

I am not skilled enough to identify if our owl is male or female, so I’m arbitrarily assigning it the male gender. I can tell that he is a Barred Owl.

In recent evenings he or she (there’s some debate in our household) has shown up with two hatchlings. They’re grayish white, they complain a lot, but they can fly.

Here’s a video (not mine) of both a momma and papa owl feeding their owlets.

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