The Secret Language of Birds

OwlsWowowow! After a terrible, no good, very bad day in the office, and getting sick on top of everything else, a silver lining appeared in the form of a family of Great Horned Owls at the Federal Courthouse park recently.

Here’s how it came about. With family and friends, we were throwing a frisbee after eating take out, (already an excellent end to the day and week), when I decided to investigate the very vocal flock of crows that were insistently alarming around us. I thought our presence might be causing this. I walked over to where they were clustered and looked up to see a VERY LARGE BIRD, a Great Horned Owl, perched stoicly on a tree branch above me.  I immediately called the others, and we lay under the tree for a long time, watching the owl watch us, and gradually accepted that this huge and beautiful creature was not going anywhere, despite the flock of crows (and our) best efforts.

We gave up our hope to see flight and wandered back to our picnic table to watch from a distance. Owen then noticed some bird poop plop down from the tree above us. He looked up to see two MORE Great Horned Owls, a mama and her baby, sitting RIGHT ABOVE US!!!! They must have been there the WHOLE TIME (watching us eat dinner, play frisbee, etc.) It’s amazing how oblivious us humans can be!

The baby Great Horned Owl looked a bit like a seal with fuzzy teddy bear fur, and big dark eyes. Baby and mama perched and observed us with curiosity, not at all afraid, while we did the same of them. (Although at one point the kids wondered if we might be mistaken for prey!) Finally, as we were leaving, the mama gifted us with witnessing her flight to a nearby tree.

So many questions raised – what were the crows trying to accomplish? Was the owl threatening the crows’ young? or another baby bird’s nest? Or were the crows threatening the baby owl? The mystery and the magic of the time remain, and remind us that signs are everywhere and one can never underestimate the power of nature – to nourish, to heal, to put us in our place and to put things in perspective. Paying attention to bird language is a really simple and easy way to learn about what is happening in the forest and world around you.  Next time you hear a bird sounding alarmed, pay attention. It is definitely for a reason!

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