Great Horned Owl

Early this evening, when the sun was low but still well before sunset, a Great Horned Owl appeared in a tree on the edge of our back yard. I say “appeared” because we didn’t see it arrive. We’d been sitting on the porch and talking, and when we looked in that direction – there it was. A big, beautiful Great Horned Owl sitting silently on a low branch overlooking our old Ford tractor. It faced in our direction, in very clear view. With its big, broad chest and wise-owl face, ear tufts standing up, and intense round golden eyes, it looked almost unreal. The perfect storybook owl.  

Its plumage was an intricate pattern in several shades of dark brown, tawny brown, black and white. The main impression I felt as we watched was of how very big it was. And a sense of power. It appeared to have almost no neck at all, but turned its head in one direction and then another, and then swiveled its head all the way around to look backward and stayed that way for several moments. Then the head turned back, and the big, hypnotic eyes looked right at me.

After several minutes, the owl lowered its head, stretched out the upper part of its body, spread its wings and pushed off from the branch, wings beating deeply two or three times and then outspread flat, as it glided across the yard and into the trees and woods on the other side, and out of sight. As it left the branch and flew, there was nothing that felt startled or hurried in its movement. Just that it was ready to go. Its flight looked strong and direct, and swift. Regal.

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