Friday, May 22, 2015

SPRING AND THE OWLS ARE CALLING

The owl hoots echo through our windows as loud as a foghorn, with that same haunting undercurrent of sadness. When we first moved to our house over 30 years ago, an owl couple inhabited the neighborhood. The owls liked the crossbeams on our neighbor's house. They would sit there in the evening and hoot at each other. One evening as I stood at the top of our hill, one of the owls glided slowly by me. Its wings stretched wide as I ducked out of its way. There weren't many trees then for them to nest in. The owls disappeared from our neighborhood until recently.

The redwoods that we planted on the hill have grown taller than our house. We didn't think as we planted them that it would matter that they grow several feet a year. After 30 years, they are over one hundred feet tall. The owls have come back and call out in the spring one to the other in their deep, lonely voices. They sometimes screech and are joined by the yips of the family of coyotes who come to hunt ground squirrels on the golf course next to us.

The two owls call to each other until midnight. I imagine they are Great Horned Owls, who inhabit large areas of North America. They have found a good spot in our neighborhood where there are plenty of mice, squirrels, birds, rats, and other creatures that take refuge in the dark.



They have been calling since the start of an unusually dry Spring in February, while the daffodils flowered, while the evergreen pear leaves unfurled into the Spring green that I love, and while the cherry blossoms filled the air with their sweet scent. They still hoot as the rose bushes begin to fill out their leaves, the wisteria shoots out flower buds, and the birds clamber over the bird feeders -- one species pushing another out in their frantic Spring feed after a cold and barren Winter.

The owls continue to stay even as the crows, new to our neighborhood, have chased the one hawk until she has temporarily abandoned her nest in the sycamore in our front yard. I would like to see the owls, but our backyard is too dark at night and the redwoods give the owls plenty of cover to hide from prying eyes. Their slow hoots are a welcome sound, an unusual Spring welcome in our hurried world.


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