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|OTHER WILD BIRD STORIES
Bird Watching Stories
(Go Back to Wild Bird Page Contents)
|» No Barbeque this Summer|
|» Barn Swallow "Mama"|
|» Just How Does a Bird Eat Bees?|
|» My Birdwatching Adventures in Costa Rica|
|» Just Another Golden Eagle|
| » Four Birds in One Tree:
A Few Days of Birdwatching in England
|» Four Calling Birds???|
|» A Very Unique Cardinal|
|» Narcissism or Territorial
Defense: Macho Cardinal
|» The Last Companion Carolina Paroquet|
|» The Ever-Popular Chickadee|
|» Convergent Evolution: Meadowlark and Longclaw|
|» Barrel Cactus Confrontation|
|» Galahs Playing Around and Around and Around ...|
|» Who Made Up This Stuff?
Bird Call Mnemonics
|» Mesmerizing a Goldfinch|
|» The Best Mimic?|
|» Prairie Chickens and Woodcocks:
|» Mob Mentality: Who is Really in Control of the Skies?|
|» The Owl Who Sat Down Beside Me|
|» Meeting Hot Shot: The Toddler Peregrine Falcon|
| » Seeing 'Sea Parrots'
|» A Rare and Unusual Bird
Meeting Roger Tory Peterson
|» Raven Showoffs|
|» Reddish Egrets and Canopy Feeding|
| » Robins and Worms
Hear, See, Smell, or Feel?
|» What Are You Doing Here? Scissortail Flycatcher|
|» Hospital Hallucination|
|» Wild Bird "Attacks": Just Misunderstandings?|
|» Drunken Waxwings and an Unusual Hummingbird Feeder|
|» Aransas in the Fog:
|» Acorn Woodpecker Defending its Stash|
|» Why Woodpeckers Don't Get Headaches: Built in Shock Absorber|
|THE OWL WHO SAT DOWN BESIDE ME|
By Sally Blanchard
A Passion for Birds
People often ask me how I became interested in birds. I think that I was always interested in them. I had a wonderful Budgie when I was a child and I loved to watch the outdoor birds. The better question would be, “when did I become passionate about birds?” Actually I could reverse this and the question might become, “when did birds become interested in me?”
I spent a lot of time sitting out at the edge of our property reading or just moping. One evening just after the sun had set, I saw something moving on the winding street below our property. It only took a second to realize that it was a large bird flying silently up the hill towards me. A second later I realized that it was a Great Horned Owl coming right at me. For a moment I was frightened but that moment passed quickly as the owl flew up and landed on the ground right next to me. He rotated his head and blinked at me with his huge eyes. I sat there stunned with no idea what to do. I was also in awe that such a situation was occurring.
It took me some time to gather my composure enough to get up. Once I did, I ran into the house and told my parents that an owl had just flown down and sat on my lap. My father sarcastically asked me what I had been smoking but the two of them got up and came out into the yard. We walked over to where the owl had visited me but, of course, there was no sign of him. As we were walking towards the front door, he appeared out of nowhere and silently flew down and it seemed as if he was trying to land on my mother’s head. I had never seen my mother run before and I never saw her run again, but she would have easily won the 50-meter dash.
For the next few evenings I sat in the same spot hoping he would come to visit me again. I neither saw him nor heard him. About a week later I was walking across the yard to my spot and he glided down in front of me and landed on a small tree branch that bent low with his weight. Then he flew off as silently as he had arrived. The next evening I decided to bring him something to bribe him down to visit. I made some small patties of raw hamburger combined with bread and egg. There was no Internet to look up the proper thing to feed him and I had no car to get to the library in hopes of getting any better information about what I should feed him. I didn’t even know he would eat anything from my hand.
None of this explains why this owl chose to be my friend and this remained a puzzle to me for some time. I had figured out that he was a fairly young owl because his feathers changed as I knew him. After a month or so passed, I saw him less frequently and eventually I only heard him on the hillside across the street. Then I began to hear the conversations of two owls and he completely stopped coming down to visit me.
Solving the Puzzle
Finally I got a car and a part-time job. It was at this job that I met a woman who lived several streets down the hill. The puzzle was solved. Her son had found two baby owls on the ground below a large tree. The babies were close to fledging but were not yet self-sufficient and there was no way he could return them to the nest. One of the babies died within the first week but he had been able to raise the other one until he could release it. He continued to call the bird down and feed him gradually decreasing the amount of food. Although her son was not sure the owl was ready to be on his own, he tried to make him self-sufficient because he had to go away to college. It was within a week after he had gone back to school that the owl came down to visit me.
The time I spent with this temporarily tame owl had a great impact on my life. Not only did his visits make a lonely time bearable, they were a major contributing factor in developing my passion for birds.