A Distinguished Visitor

This morning I was out on the porch soaking up warm California sunshine and talking to my dad on the phone when Conal exclaimed something to the effect of, “Wow, there’s a huge owl in that tree!” Dad then got to hear me squeal excitedly about the huge owl in the tree for a bit before we got back to our conversation.

Great Horned OwlThe owl was perched rather picturesquely on a craggy oak branch about, oh, sixty feet away. Conal retrieved the binoculars so we could get a closer look. I was very impressed by the face that leaped into view in the binos.

I’ll call the owl a him, although I haven’t a clue if it was a male or female. He hung out on his branch for several hours, resting perhaps, or scouting our hillside for potential meals. He’d gaze directly back at us whenever we came out on the porch to check on him. Who, ahem, was watching Who?

I’d guess he was maybe 18 inches tall. He was also fairly stout, exhibiting a perfect Halloween silhouette. His face bore a grave expression, his eyes magnificent yellow lamps with huge black pupils. He blinked them one at a time at me, and occasionally spun his head around, which Conal especially liked.

I’m guessing he was a Great Horned Owl, because he was great big and had horny protrusions of feathers on his head. Googling for images of the breed, I came up with the picture here, which is a pretty good likeness of our distinguished visitor.

I happened to be out on the porch watching him when he began to shift position on his branch (the first time he’d moved anything besides his eyes and head all morning). He lumberingly turned about on the branch to face downhill away from the house and took off, swooping away toward the meadow at the valley bottom.

Ah, country life.

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