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Owl Season

January 14, 2011

Beloved Birders! Thanks to the illustrious Rick Wright, I now know that what I saw this past Saturday was in fact a Northern Hawk Owl (Surnia ulula) and not a Brown Hawk Owl (Ninox scutulata), since those are virtually unknown in the Americas as they hang out mainly in south Asia and southern China. I made a few other gaffes in my previous post, but I’ll correct those in due course…

There he is in all his majestic glory. I’m afraid we didn’t make eye contact, but I did get a hearty look at his plumage. (The coloring in this photo reminds me of a fabulous cake I recently ate — layers of sponge cake smothered in vanilla-hazelnut custard. It tasted a whole lot better than it sounds and looked exactly like this Hawk Owl’s furry torso.)

In honor of Owl Season, here is a great take on the bird by the awesome poet, Mary Oliver:

The Owl Who Comes

The owl who comes
through the dark
to sit
in the black boughs of the apple tree

and stare down
the hook of his beak,
dead silent,
and his eyes,

like two moons
in the distance,
soft and shining
under their heavy lashes —

like the most beautiful lie —
is thinking
of nothing
as he watches

and waits to see
what might appear,
out of the seamless,

deep winter —
out of the teeming
world below–
and if I wish the owl luck,

and I do,
what am I wishing for that other
soft life,
climbing through the snow?

What we must do,
I suppose,
is to hope the world
keeps its balance;

what we are to do, however,
with our hearts
waiting and watching–truly
I do not know.


One Comment leave one →
  1. February 3, 2011 11:16 pm

    I had no idea there was such a thing as an “owl season.” What do you mean by this? I am very curious now, because the only time I’ve heard owls here at home has been in late winter . . . is there something to this?

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