Friday, September 10, 2010

In Which We Encounter Nature With A Bang

There's never a dull moment around here, I swear.

This morning I dropped Connor off for school and then spent a quiet morning puttering around the house with my cell phone in hand, catching up with friends and family.  It is physically impossible for me to talk on the phone and stay in one place, so I was slowly circling the house, chattering away.  I was in the middle of a conversation with my friend Julia and wandering towards our dining room table when there was a tremendous BANG and our closed sliding door curtains rattled violently.  In the same moment Cricket, who had been curled up in between the closed curtain and the glass of the door, levitated backwards about four feet and then shot past me, puffed up to about six times her normal size.  After I quit screaming into poor Julia's ear, I cracked open part of the curtain and looked out. 

It was an owl.

A Northern Barred Owl, to be exact, and an extremely large specimen of one.  He was sitting on the deck a few feet back from the sliding door looking rather dazed, as if he wasn't sure exactly what had just happened. 

I'm pretty sure that owls have stellar eyesight and don't normally make a habit of flying into doors, especially those that have shut opaque curtains behind them.  He must have either not been looking where he was going, been going after another bird and didn't manage to pull up in time, or thought that Cricket's head, which was probably the only part of her visible through the glass, looked like a particularly tasty treat.  At any rate-- after a very worrisome minute in which Jeremy and I stared at the owl through the glass and tried to figure out who the heck we would call if it was injured-- the owl seemed to recover and flew up onto our fence. 

He sat there for about ten minutes or so recuperating.  Jeremy and I were able to go out and take some pictures of him; he didn't seem phased by us at all!  He spent much of the time looking around (completely around-- backwards and everything), squinting up at the sky, and then looking at the cats through the door as if to say "Um, what was that?"  Every time we moved he'd snap his attention back to us, but otherwise didn't show any distress.  I took these pictures standing about eight feet away!  It was pretty amazing because I've never been that close to an owl in the wild before.  He somehow managed to be intimidating, gorgeous and unbelievably cute all at the same time.  Now that takes talent.


See what I mean?  Isn't he unbelievably cute when he does that?

We went back inside after a little while to discover both of the cats crouched about ten feet away from the sliding door and staring fixedly at the owl, the fur completely raised up on the ridges of their back and their tails puffed up like bottle brushes.  Loki was growling loudly.  Both cats spent the next six hours startling at everything and tearing around the house at top speed.  It was hilarious.

The owl flew off into the tall trees surrounding our house shortly afterwards, but I could tell exactly where it was because all the birds in the immediate area were going nuts.  There are a lot of nests in those trees and the woodpeckers, crows, grosbeaks, and even the thrushes and sparrows were all calling as loudly as they could and gathering together in ominous clouds in preparation of dive bombing the owl.  He flew off for quieter realms and things immediately settled down, but for a while there it was a total cacophony of bird noises outside.

So that was our crazy wildlife encounter for the day.  I'm glad that all parties involved were okay!  While our cats are far too big for the owl to carry off, I would be willing to bet they are very happy right now that they are indoor cats.

~Jess

18 comments:

Katy said...

One night my husband was running and an owl swooped TWICE and tried to pick up his head in his claws. I think he thought his hair looked tasty or something.

Herding Grasshoppers said...

That looks like a pretty good sized owl! Would love to have seen the cats ;D

Kristin said...

did you name the owl?

Jess said...

No, but I'm taking suggestions. My first thought is Whump, but it might not be cute enough.

It's pretty much the sound he made, though.

Cathy said...

Department of Fish & Wildlife is who you would have called if it had been hurt. They can direct you to the proper resources that can legally handle injured wildlife.
Strange that it was out at that time of day. Totally cool that you got to see it though. Great photos of it too!
I think Whump is good enough.

Melanie said...

WOW! That first pic doesn't even look real. We have owls in our backyard but I have never actually seen one.

Jennifer Jayhawk said...

Gorgeous pictures. I always hear owls but I have never seen them in the trees.

Niksmom said...

WOW! Gorgeous photos. He looks enormous! Of course, I only see our owls in the woods behind our house from a good 100+ feet away! Glad all is ok.

spherescamp said...

At first glance at the first pic, I seriously thought it was a sculpture. Some detailed arts-and-crafts owl that you plunked on the fence.

I think Whump is cute!

Lin said...

Hahaha! The cats are so brave---when they see wild beasts from INSIDE. :) We had to trap raccoons by our place for the past two weeks and my two kitties were wide-eyed at the sight of the raccoons right outside the window. Both cats were freaked out for days! Hobbes was afraid to go outside after the traps were removed. Scarred for life, I guess.

Anonymous said...

Jess, I think it is very ironic that you had an owl in your backyard just days after receiving/posting those owl prints you got..... I think it's a sign that those owl prints were a perfect purchase! :-) Kelly Carrick

Anonymous said...

I love that second picture! If I were 13, I'd be squealing.

AliciaD said...

Now there's something you don't see everyday.

Supposedly owls with black eyes are solely nocturnal hunters. Maybe the owl was uprooted from it's nesting spot and can't see very clearly during the daytime?

I think Whump is a suitable name.

Alisa said...

I don't know about you but I think this is a sign! I would think that you associate Sylvie with owls and you are looking for closure and hoping that Sylvie find happiness with her new family. What are the chances that an OWL would slam into the side of your house? I think that is awesome!!

Greymare said...

What a cool bird!! I think Loki at least would be a bit hefty for a bird to fly off with, even one of that size!

Renate said...

While owls have excellent eyesight at night, I believe that they don't see all that well in the daytime. And Whump sounds like the perfect name!

Julia O'C said...

The photograph of the owl looking up with its eyes closed is so sweet that it makes me want to weep.

What an amazing experience, to see a bird like that up close!

Wherever HE Leads We'll Go said...

The pictures are really cool! Glad that he was OK. We had a bird fly into our living room window the other day - scared me half to death! I saw him flying away so I assume he was OK.

 
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