Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Three Great Horned Owls in the Neighborhood
A great Horned Owl graced my presence the other day. A friend invited me to her place to photograph not one, but three of these gorgeous creatures. They were about 30 feet away in a big birch tree. I had my telephoto lense but still it wasn't powerful enough to capture the owl in a more focused manner. Ah, I'm being fussy, but I did so want a clear shot. I do admit that I had my tripod with me, but it was laying next to me on the floor. I was so excited about the owls that I did not want to take the time to fuss with the tripod I might have gotten clearer shots if the tripod had been used, but my excitement overtook me. Alas. Also, I was pretty far away from the birds. I was ready to go right up to the tree for some really close-up shots. But my friend wouldn't let me any closer for fear they'd fly away and never come back. So I stayed behind the glass enclosed patio door and shot away, moving from window to window trying for the best view. At one time during the afternoon, a feral cat, who is a regular visitor, moved through the snow and towards the birch tree. The three birds flew quickly away to a nearby tree. My friend said, "Oh that would have been a great shot of them flying". Yes, it would have been but it had happened so fast I couldn't react in time to get that beautiful action shot. They were so interesting perched on the tree branches, heads turning all the way around, checking out the cat's status, while their bodies remained immobile. Such flexibility. The owls went into protective stance, with their wings tucked tightly to their bodies and horned ears pointed straight up into the air. I enjoyed being in this spot of nature, where the birds seemed oblivious to the houses around them and any human activity going on (well, except for the cat and myself). Otherwise, they seemed to be in a meditative contemplation.
My friend wondered why they had chosen her house, her birch tree, to settle into. I don't know, perhaps these creatures had a message to deliver to her. I was reading a book called Medicine Cards, which talks about the symbolism of animals and birds. Traditionally, owl sits in the East but these birds were sitting in the Southwest, which seemed curious to me. The book also mentioned that owls have a tendency to collect around certain individuals because they recognize a kinship with them. So we talked about this a bit, which made the owl experience just a bit more magical. I am usually quite shy around people, and this was a new friend who had invited me over, so I was a bit on edge at her place. But the photography process and the adventure of taking photos of these owls soon overtook any reservations I was feeling about being there. In addition, squirrels, male and female cardinals, doves, and sparrows also shared the spotlight with the owls, and I happily tilted my camera this way and that as they scampered around the yard.
I could pretend for a little while I was in a wildlife refuge. I am thankful my friend has such an appreciation of nature and treats these creatures in such a reverent way. In the middle of suburbia, it was a breath of fresh air for me. I think I'll go back again soon when the sun is shining on them. I would love to catch the glint of light reflecting in their eyes and get to know these magnificant birds a little better. Oh, yes, and I'll use my tripod, for sure!