Monday, November 06, 2006

Urban owl

I live across the street from an apartment building where an owl is perched outside a window on the fourth floor. When I first moved in I could spy the owl through my bedroom window as I would fall asleep or wake up. It always caught me off guard. Is it real I would wondered. No way, but for the first year I would still look up at the window every time I passed by just to assure myself a fake owl occupied that site.

Image my surprise as I was returning with 3dogs this evening when I spotted what looked to be an owl sitting atop a no parking sign. No way, I said to myself, an owl, across the street, glaring at me from street level. But as I stared I noticed the sway as the big bird teetored on the top of the sign. And then the head went to the side and I gasped. My first thought was it was going to attack me and the dogs. Not so absurd a thought when one realizes that as a small child, mockingbirds would try to pull hair out of my head. And still today, as I walk down the street with 3dogs I get attacked (actually 3dogs get attacked) by mother mockingbirds protecting their young.

But the owl just stared. So I took in all its beauty thinking no one is going to believe this one. Why didn't I have my camera. But I was only a block away, ironically just around the corner from the 4th floor owl. I dashed home, retrieve the camera only to return to an empty sign. But the rustling of leaves led me to spot the owl relocated in a tree. His (or hers I suppose) eyes were mesmorizing. And he just stared. I took a few pics, but only one did him any justice. As I walked back home I ran into a neighbor and she too wanted to see the owl. When we returned, the owl stared back at us for awhile and then seemed to want to come closer.

All of sudden, up went his wings and down he came to perch on another sign just 10 feet from were we stood. But again, the sign proved too difficult a surface to keep balance, and as we motioned for a passing woman to join us, up he went into a tree. But he got caught in the branches and only managed about a two foot upward swing. At first he hung upside down and we could see his spotted wings. He was a mere six feet from us, but being upside down appeared to be a difficult position to sustained, and eventually he righted himself up and peered at us over the leaves.

Standing in the street, now four of us just staring at this bird, a taxi driver honked and screamed at us to use the sidewalk. But we all stood still, looking upwards, revelling in awe at this late night urban site.

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