Thursday, April 14, 2016

A Whole New Owl Adventure

Cava's favorite birds are any birds of prey. So he was thrilled when I happened to look out out kitchen window and saw a Barred owlet on the ground. This is the second time it's happened (

Both Cava and I went outside to check on the owlet. Just like last time, he was too young to fly and had fallen out of the same oak tree that Soren did before. As we got closer, the owlet began to click his beak, raise his wings and puff up in an attempt to scare us off.

We kept our distance from the scared owlet, who we named "Ada" (after Lady Ada Lovelace the child of poet Lord Byron who was a great mathematician, regarded as the first computer programmer, who worked with Charles Babbage on his early mechanical general-purpose computer). We named the owl this since Benjamin is away for his TSA (Technology Students of America)  state competition. One of the reasons we kept our distance was the owlets parents stood watch overhead in the oaks.

Cava could barely contain himself at the fact that we had three Barred Owls in our yard. "It's Archie and Soren," he exclaimed. 

Little Ada made her way across the yard. 

We watched and I snapped photos.

Very photogenic.

Just like last year, Danelle called the Carolina Raptor Center. They had us cover Ada so that nothing could get to her. We took our laundry basket and carefully placed it over the owlet, who clicked angrily at being falsely imprisoned. I interpreted that as, "You'll be hearing from my lawyer!" Who knows, maybe Netflix will create a documentary series on the subject. 

The Raptor Center wanted us to bring the owlet inside for the night, but since I didn't have the protective gloves that the guy who came last year wore to gently pick the owl up, and because I didn't like the idea of trying under the watchful gaze of two owl parents, I declined and they agreed to come and get her, as the temperature would be dropping tonight.

Cava could not stay away from being so close to an owl. This is all like a dream to him. I knew that this experience would only add fuel to the fire of his passion for birds.

He kept delightedly repeating, "This is sooo awesome!!!!" 

And while he watched Ada, her parents watched him. They also communicated to their owlet with a series of eight hoots that sounded like oo-aw. Being a parent myself, my heart felt for them.

Barred Owls really are beautiful birds. Though I was disappointed that they still weren't delivering any of us a letter to attend Hogwarts, I did enjoy not only taking photos of them, but also looking up information on them.

I learned that an adult can get up to over 5' tall with a wingspan of 4' feet.

They live in the cavity of our backyard oak tree. 

Last year, the owlet Soren fell out of it. This year it's Ada's turn. Young owls fledge over 4 to 5 weeks. This is the period when their feathers and muscles develop for flight. Clearly, Ada's not there yet!

Barred owls eat small mammals like squirrels (go to it!), mice (have at it!), and fish (that explains what happened to my koi - thanks a lot!). 

Encounters like this makes me realize how truly amazing nature really is. While we sleep, the owls are awake, flying through darkened skies. As I lay dreaming, it sees a world we will never see. The French writer Charles de Leusse wrote, "When the owl sings, the night is silent."

They really are incredibly beautiful birds. It's easy to see why they are viewed as magical. 

"Can I keep Ada as a pet," Cava asked. 

"Owls aren't pets," I replied.

"Harry had one," Cava corrected me.  And I knew, in Cava's mind, Ada would sit on his arm the way Hedwig sat on Harry's.

I think that would be one more way Cava would identify with that heroic, wizard of an orphan.

It was around 7:30 before the volunteer from the Raptor Center arrived. When she arrived, she wanted to see where the owl's nest was. When we showed her, another owlet popped its head out to see what was going on.

We named him "Babbage" after Lady Ada's friend and colleague. Since Cava has a difficult time pronouncing this name, he just calls him "Baby." (Nobody puts Baby in the corner!)

Unlike the previous call, this time she decided to take the owlet with her so that they could check it out, do x-rays to ensure Ada wasn't hurt, take care of her during the chilly night, and then return tomorrow to put her back in her tree. 

Danelle and I had to explain all of that to Cava more than once since he was none too thrilled they were taking his "baby owl." (In fact, before he went to bed, Cava prayed, "Lord, take care of my owl and make sure they return her tomorrow. Amen"). He was over-the-moon that Ada left an owl pellet, which he had me pick up with a paper towel and put in a Zip-lock bag so that when it dried he could check it for bones. (Yuck. The things we do for science in this house).

While I felt sorry that Ada the owlet fell from her tree home, I cannot help but feel it was a small gift to Cava. "I can't wait to tell everybody at school about this," he smiled. We may not have gotten acceptance letters to Hogwarts, but the experience was still pretty magical!

The link to the Carolina Raptor Center:

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