It’s happened to all of us. You think you’re home alone unwinding and then … ding dong … unexpected visitors drop in.
It’s never bothered me, I always assume they have to take me as they find me, and that can be pretty messy. In fact, isn’t that when those visitors are most likely to arrive? Your house is a landfill. You’re slouching around in old mismatched pajamas and although it is noon — you haven’t done much in the way of personal hygiene.
So it was for my terrier, Ivy Claire, and myself last Saturday morning. I was sitting on the sofa working on my laptop with my trusty sidekick snoring at my side. Suddenly, I heard the sound of unexpected guests.
On the roof. Crows. Lots of big, black crows screaming out “Caw! Caw!” What in the world? It became apparent that the unpleasant birds were having some kind of a tiff on the top of my chimney. I heard a bit of flopping around and thumping, then the rabble of obnoxious birds flew off.
Ivy was growling in her throat now and looking at the fireplace. It grew silent. I was relieved that the birds hadn’t fallen down the flue and were trying to get into the house. There are glass fireplace doors which were nearly closed, but not quite.
I have some LED candles arranged in the log basket. I suddenly thought I saw something looking back at me. It was staring at me, in fact.
A little round face and bright eyes. It was an owl. I can’t make this crazy stuff up! It was a little screech owl (I think) and it was sitting very, very still and very quiet. I guess it was trying to camouflage itself with the dark, smudgy grays in my firebox while perched on the candles.
I got up to look at it a bit closer — and close the glass doors. It did not startle. Its head kept turning, and according to my bird book, their heads can turn 270 degrees. In fact, they can’t turn their eyes — they have to turn their heads! Who knew?
Owls are nocturnal. Everyone knows that. What was this little guy doing up at 11 a.m.? Nah. Couldn’t be an owl. Then it flew against the glass, which it probably couldn’t see. I nearly had to change my underwear! I pulled on my jacket and ran to my next-door neighbors. Now, I have been living alone for almost 30 years. I don’t scare easily. But, I didn’t want the little owl to keep flying against the glass and possibly hurt itself. I needed a hand.
I went to several neighbors and no one was home. So I went back to check on the owl. My sister, Ruthie, is a naturalist at the Eau Claire County Nature Reserve, and she put me in contact with the volunteers at the Antigo Raptor Center and we came up with a plan. Catch the owl, put it in a box and then wait for a volunteer transporter to come and pick up the owl so it could be checked by a vet.
But, when I arrived home, I was so relieved — the owl was gone. It had figured out how to fly up and out of the chimney, I guessed.
The next morning when I was coming downstairs I heard a bit of thumping. What now? I wondered. It was the owl. It hadn’t escaped up the chimney like I thought. He (or she) was now sitting near my window sill. Then it flew around my living room a few times before kind of diving behind the sofa.
I threw a quilt over the back to kind of keep it from flying out again. I ran back to my next-door neighbors, and this time they were home. “I need some help! There’s an owl in my house and I need to get it out!”
Bob was right on my heels as we headed back. He had thought to put on some heavy leather gloves, and he quickly pulled the sofa out, bent down, and said, “I can see it. I think I can reach it.” I held the other end of the quilt up so it could not fly back into the room. “I’ve got it!” he yelled. Then we turned and went out onto the front porch and after a few minutes, Bob raised the quilt and we both looked at the beautiful bird for a few moments, before it flew off up into the big tree in my yard.
“I never thought I’d ever see anything like that!” he claimed.
I felt honored, and maybe like I’d seen something very magical, and I was especially glad that I could capture the sweet bird and see it fly away into its tree.
It is said that there are many spiritual messages that owls bring. One of them is death, but I am still alive so that can’t be it.
Next step? Closing off the chimney!