Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Field walks: owls

I am happy to report the sighting of two horned owls on Sat Nov 7, 2009 7PM. The owls were singing loudly. I said owls, owls, and I followed the sound... And there, they were two beautiful, magnificent feathery creatures.

Two great horned owls were standing on a tree just above my head. One of them flew exposing its plumage, and graceful flying skills. It landed on a nearby tree. The second owl followed it. They stayed for awhile and watched me as I watched them. As Tracy Chapman's said "no words to say, no words to convey..." It was just a moment of bliss. I sat on my knees, looking at the sky, truly just to the branches of that tree. I was totally in awe. No, I was not praying, but perhaps that was what an outsider may have thought. A woman nearby was looking at me, I don't know if she saw the owls or if she thought that I was crazy. It did not matter.
The owls weren't there for very long, but believe me, that brief time had a sense of eternity. Perhaps, this communion with other species, is timeless for the brain, yet it last just enough for one to smile and enjoy that surreal happiness. The happiness that only those encounters with other species could bring to a humble human being--and in this case a biologist.

Owls are magnificent creatures. I know, one might say that they are just birds. Yes, it is true, they are birds, wild animals just like any other wild animal. At least, during that brief encounter, they were the only thing in the world in front of me. Such an encounter is like falling in love, seeing that one person and blurring the rest...But we know that reaction among humans is a game of evolution. I was left wondering what does it means, when it is another species, that bring in such reaction?

It is perhaps a reminder of our own roots. A reminder that we are sharing the same home on planet earth. In those moments shared with wild creatures, one may think that the animals are part of us, or a little like us, or we more likely we accept that we are another animal. Thus, we are a little like them, because, there is no sense of separation.
Would these owls know that owls are among my favorite animals? Could it be that owls like dogs sense when a dog/owl lover is close by? I can tell when dogs spot me afar. I have seen some of them running towards me, and I fear not, but sometimes they just sat, looking at me and waiting for me. Yet dogs and humans have shared the same territory for thousands of years. It is not the case with owls.

For the owls, I may have been just another naked ape that coincide in the same spot they were. I was there behind the trees they have found. I may had been even an annoyance to them 'because of that woman looking at them so intently, they needed to go somewhere else'. I would never know whether they enjoyed a human-owl encounter or not. I am no expert on owls minds.

This is not the first time I have seen horned owls, so why was it so special? I don't know, the moment perhaps.

Until the next inter-species encounter episode.

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