A few weeks ago, I was driving down the main artery of my housing subdivision and noticed a flock of spectators standing at the side of the road. They were staring into one of the many large heritage oak trees that grace our community property. I have to say these oaks are pretty impressive, but I don’t think I’ve ever noticed a crowd gathering just to stare at one before. The people must have come from far and wide to view this spectacle, whatever it was, because the crowd included pedestrians and bicyclists. Many stood motionless, cell phones in hand, breathlessly ready to snap photos.
As I approached the band of sightseers, I slowed my car and peered at the tree as I passed. Then I saw what was captivating the crowd. There were three fuzzy, feathery faces peeking from a messy nest in the fork of the tree. These little puffballs with eyes were baby owls. Obviously, a worthy tourist attraction. I made several trips back and forth over the next couple of days. It was pretty easy to tell when the baby owls were making a personal appearance by the throngs of admirers gathered beneath the oak branches. The owlet view never got old. To be honest, I was gurgling and chortling with the best of them every time I drove by and saw… WHO? The young ‘uns, of course!
Once, I saw the mama and daddy owls. I’m not sure if an owl can actually be self-satisfied, but the avian parents sure seemed to be gloating over their breeding prowess. They stared out of the nest, languidly eyeing the fans below. I guess they deserved to exhibit a smidgeon of smugness. Those babies are quite an accomplishment!
Some days, all I saw was the nest. Before I saw the baby owls, I probably would have been excited just to see the nest. Now a collection of twigs and leaves woven into a bird condominium fails to impress me. I crave the whole baby owl experience.
About a week ago, I drove by and noticed that someone had secured an area around the owl-occupied oak tree with yellow police tape. Apparently, the hordes of admiring fans and cell phone paparazzi freaked out the baby owls. In the interest of wildlife conservation, someone decided to give them a little space. Not privacy exactly, because crowds still gather regularly to gape at the nestful of adorableness. Owl baby pictures are splashed all over the covers of Facebook. Still, now the owl aficionados have to maintain a respectful distance from the owl nursery. The cordoned off perimeter is sort of like an ecological restraining order. The owls are able to get their forty winks (and don’t owls just seem like they wink a lot anyway?) without worrying about a crazed birdwatcher committing some manner of nest invasion crime against them.
I like living in a community where yellow police tape means “please don’t disturb the owls” instead of “please don’t disturb the evidence!”
With the coming of the owlets, I guess spring is officially here! What makes spring official for you? Please share your perspective by adding a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sorry about the early post this week. I have to be out and about early tomorrow morning, so thought I’d post tonight.
Have a hoot of a day! 🙂
In the interest of full disclosure, I didn’t take this picture. A kind soul shared it on Facebook.