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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Owl be seeing you. :)

I just had to share this beautiful little eastern screech owl that at first I didn't even see when I stepped outside to empty a flower pot off the end of my porch.  I was bent over the porch railing right next to this dying Boston fern.  I was blaming that fact upon wrens again even though I hadn't noticed a nest this time, although I could tell something had kept landing there and was just tearing it up.   They've killed a couple of my ferns over the years by nesting in it and this one was likely a combination of stress from our wacky weather, the encroaching cold,  and birds..but I figured out it wasn't wrens but another bird that was the culprit.  To the RIGHT of this owl in the photo, hannging there is a wind chime that my father gave me more than a decade ago.  I hung it there with hopes it might  discourage wrens from getting in my fern but never bothered to take it down after I'd watched fledgeling wrens take off in flight from being perched upon it.  That's right.  That is a windchime OF an Eastern Screech owl in flight.  Funny coincidence.

So, when I leaned over the porch rail and something hit me in the back of the head I said to my husband who just happened to be walking past on his way to his "mancave" shop, "something just grazed the back of my head? but I didn't hear anything fly by" He jokingly said with a grin, What, was it a chicken?

I laughed.  Went inside and didn't think any more about it until I opened the door again about 15 minutes later to throw out some cracker crumbs for the squirrels and birds I feed out there. 
Well..no sooner than I opened the door and stood on the top step but I turned and at eye level is this beutiful little reddish screech owl with green rather than yellow, piercing eyes,..so small yet so elegant and mezmerizing.

It was then I realized that what had hit me in the head before and I'd barely seen out of the corner of my eye was this little owl I must have startled ..that is what thumped the back of my head earlier when I stood with my head next to it! I didn't hear its feathers as I would have any other type of bird, owls are notorious for silent flight and their feathers are made so that they are so wispy on the ends they are indeed silent when they are right next to your ears!  Gosh I'm lucky this little thing did't want to go for me. That beak is formidable even as small as that little owl is.

It's "ear tufts" were raised and it didn't take it's eyes off of me.  As I backed inside its "ear tufts" lowered then raised again.  I ran to get my camera and came back and took a photo....uh oh..it had autoflash and the flash went off..I was afraid that would scare it off but it didn't even blink.
An hour later I opened the door to show our son, who had just arrived home.  We both stood there about a foot from it as it examined each of us as carefully as we examined it. We both were careful to move very slowly and quietly and then backed away back into the house.

Then about a half hour later I decided to risk another photo and took the second one with the lowered ear tufts ( their ears are not there, but lower and to the sides, but that's what they call those feathers raised to look like horns) I have a third picture but I'm not sure if I'll take the effort with my slow internet to try to load it.

This time it was looking straight into my eyes and followed me whereever I stepped..and I stepped down to the second step to try not to appear so intimidating by being at the same eye level..and snapped. It startled a bit but didn't fly off for another half hour after the sun set.  I loved getting to watch it so closely for so long as we could also see it through the living room and "study/library" windows.

I haven't seen it back in the fern since, but it was in the tree that is to the left just out of camera range last night, it was either it or a relative or friend..because I heard a little screech owl cry about midnight last night.

I believe this owl would be far too small to be a threat to the bunnies, but it could certainly go for the tiny field mice and shrews out and about at night.