Thursday, October 22, 2009

Eastern Screech Owl

Several years ago, I pulled into the carport one night just as my cell phone rang. I answered it, then sat in the car for about 10 minutes while I chatted with a friend. When I got out, I reached up to grab the top of the door to close it and found myself face-to-face with an Eastern screech owl. He was literally less than two feet from my face, yet didn't fly away.

We stared at each other for a minute while I held my breath. I'd seen a screech owl in the oak tree in our backyard before, but never had been this close. I gently closed the door far enough to turn the inside light off, but didn't shut it all the way. He had to lift his foot to keep from getting it caught, yet still, he didn't leave. I backed away a few feet and watched him for a while before going in.

Those few minutes were extraordinary. Being in such close proximity to something wild makes my heart race. Not in fear, but sheer delight. Growing up in the country, I saw many of God's beautiful creatures up close, but today, those types of encounters are more rare. The owl took up residence in the oak tree and for years, I'd sit on the back deck and search the branches for him. I'd always find him. One year, there were no sightings, which worried me. None the next, or the next. Finally, I stopped looking for him.

This spring, I was in the laundry room when I glanced out the window and saw two familiar eyes staring back at me from the fig tree. I don't know how long screech owls live, so I don't know if this was my old Friend or a new one. But I grabbed my camera and took a couple of shots through the window pane. Isn't he beautiful?


  1. I love those little owls also. So small, so much dignity! One of the stables where I boarded my horse had a breeding pair on a nest there and they raised two little ones and returned often for visits. When you have horses, you have grain on the ground, rats, mice, snakes, coyotes, bats and owls. It's like a zoo there but you have to sit quietly and pay attention to the surroundings.

  2. Sometimes one comes and haunts the father's bamboo. So cool.

  3. Ours finally returned after Ike, then disappeared again. Playing "Where's Waldo?" in the trees is such a (can't help it) hoot!

  4. reminds me of an encounter with a screech owl early one morning on my paper route in Jasper. nothing like the call of a screech owl to get your full attention...especially for a young teenage boy in close proximity to a public building that was rumored being haunted.... had to get some help to finish my route that morning...great memory though

    jake / bmt-tx