Night Owl

Great horned owl in flight (composite)
Image via Wikipedia

(This posting every day is killing me.  How do you all find the time and relevant topics?)

Sleep eluded me last night.  I tossed and turned in the moonlight (we keep our windows open at night for the fresh air), tearing at the bed sheets as the night creatures prowled the farm.

I just couldn’t sleep.  With a full moon out last night, neither could the two Great Horned Owls that reside in the big oak tree RIGHT ABOVE OUR HEADS.

Normally, these two killing machines do just that – kill.  We rarely hear them.  We may hear some cat-sized (or larger) critter in its death throes as the owl’s talons bury themselves deep into their flesh, but otherwise, those two predators are as silent as death on the wind.

Hell, they are quieter than that.

On one of our usual pre-dawn walks, one of the owls was perched on a grape-vine.  Of course, I hadn’t seen it.  I was just walking on by, minding my business, and Alby, my dog, was doing the same. He went to pee on the base of the vine the owl happened to be resting on, and this huge shadow detached itself and flew off – no sound.

I heard nothing.  It was like watching a movie with the volume off.  No sound.  Not a low whoomp as it beat its wings.  Not a rustle from the grapes.  Nothing.

If my head hadn’t been turned in that direction and if I hadn’t seen a mass darker than the morning sky lift off, I would not have known the bird was there.

So, normally, these things are just there on the farm, doing their thing, and we are barely aware they exist.  Some evenings we might see the pair, one perched high on the old redwoods on the property, and the other one on a low branch of the oak tree, staring down at our dog…but we haven’t heard boo out of ’em.

Until last night.

It must be mating season or something.  I’ll have to look up their life cycle, but last night they hooted at the moon like there was no tomorrow.  A lovely sound, really, but at 2am in the morning?  Not…so…lovely.

I can’t begrudge their likely amorous conversation, really.  I mean, think about all the noise we humans make.  It’s a wonder they can stand the din we make with our cars, trucks, tractors, and other machines.

I may not have slept well last night, but I’ll sleep well almost every other night content in knowing those two are out there being their bad-ass selves and eating all the gophers.


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