Sunday, June 3, 2012

Bird Watching

Bird watching you!
While I enjoy all wildlife, birds are my favorite.  From the smallest hummingbird to the largest Eagle, I am always on the lookout for them and I love to see all the new and returning birds who visit my gardens and bird feeders.  Whether it’s from my front or back yard, while I hike in the woods or even while I drive, I enjoy the sight of any bird that may catch my eye.

Small birds are fun to watch and have great variations in size and color but my absolute favorites are hawks and even more so, owls.  We have owls who return every year and I hear them talking to each other just before and after dusk.  There are two screech owls and one barred, or hoot owl.  It never fails to make me laugh when I hear the screechers talk back and forth and in the middle of that, the hoot owl tries to worm in on their conversation, which falls short of any reply from the screechers.  It is true that the hoot owl sounds like he is singing out the question, “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?”  We’ve never seen the hoot owl but we’ve learned how to hoot at him and he thrills us by responding in return.  A few times the screechers have completely made my day by landing in a maple tree above me, and once on the roof of my shop, as I sit by my fire pit in the evening.  It is a rare sight indeed.  Most recently I had the extreme pleasure of spying a baby owl as it sat at the top of a fence post in our driveway.  I will admit I was in absolute awe.

Each time I get to see any owl, it is a real treat...even the one we accidentally ran over. 

Don’t worry, the story ends well.  Thankfully, the owl did not move as we drove over him because by the time we saw it, it would have been too late had the owl decided to fly.  I encouraged my husband to turn around so we could check on the pour thing and we were pleasantly surprised to see the owl alive and well and still standing in the exact same spot.  Why did he remain there?  Turned out he was standing on top of a mouse he did not want to lose.  He did not finally fly away until I exited the truck to check on him.  Of course, he took the mouse with him.

I also have a favorite hawk I usually spot on my way to or from work.  He is always at the same location above a certain freeway, sitting on a lamp post as he watches traffic go by underneath him.  If I don’t get to see him, I’m a bit disappointed but he doesn’t often disappoint me.  The other morning he offered something new: rather than just sitting on the post in his usual fashion, he impressed me as he sat with his feathers fanned out to his side, showing some of his size I would not get to see unless he was flying.  Whether he was trying to impress, or scare off, another bird or was preparing to fly, it was an added delight to my morning.

Eagles are also great to spot but are not often seen close to our house.  However, we have had a few sightings the past couple of months, with one of the first occurring towards the end of last year.   It was the middle of November, just after my great aunt passed away.  The very next day, in fact.  I was working from home when I saw the Eagle fly right over my front yard just as I happened to look out my home office window.  It’s hard to explain but as I grieved over the loss of my aunt, the sight of that majestic bird made me feel better.

The birds I can do without are the turkey vultures. **Attention:  please be advised this story may be distressing to some animal lovers.** While these scavengers are a necessary part of life, I’ve never liked them after they kidnapped one of my cats, Misty.  I’m not kidding.  She is a beautiful silver cat and I was devastated, not only for the fact that she was gone but for all the horrible thoughts that went through my head as I envisioned what she had gone through. 

However, things do not always end as you might expect. 

Believe it or not, three months went by before we finally found out what happened to Misty.  My husband had left the house to run an errand but he returned only a short time later.  I figured he forgot something but instead, he entered the house holding Misty in his arms.  I was dumbstruck.  In fact, I wasn’t sure I was seeing things correctly.  Maybe it was a cat that just looked like Misty.  But, no, it was her and she was pretty freaked out, to put it lightly.  I checked her over and other than a wound on her head that had not yet completely healed, she was pretty healthy.  My only thought was that she fought for her life, causing the awful-minded turkey vulture to drop her where she must have struck her head.  My husband found her as she was crossing our driveway so she was close by but apparently she had not yet figured out her way home. 

Ever heard of a cat with amnesia?  That was my favorite guess as to why she never made it back home on her own.

Ever heard of a cat with agoraphobia? 

I will say for a fact that Misty had agoraphobia.  She would not exit our house to go outside for a full six months after she was brought back home.  She would go to the door.  She would peer out the door when I opened it.  But after a few sniffs, she would quickly turn around and scramble back into the living room.  And when she finally did venture out?  It was to go out the front door, walk alongside the house under the eaves all the way around to the back door where she would immediately want back inside.  A few months after that, she was brave enough to go outside to the garden area but only if it was to hang out with me.  I’m happy to say she is now back to her old, ornery independent self, and she completely enjoys being outside. 

All the phobias are gone.

But you can bet, every time I see a group of turkey vultures pass over our property, I am checking to make sure I know exactly where my cats are napping.


  1. This story is not very uplifting and you severally brought my happy sunday to an end. Thank you very much! That poor cat!

  2. I am so sorry - I did not mean to ruin your Sunday afternoon! That event happened many years ago and my cat has been in great health ever since, even now at 15 years old.