An Ungraceful Visitor

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is GRACEFUL

Which immediately makes me think of SWANS. Don’t they always look so graceful when they’re floating serenely in a stream?

Swans my webst

Other birds just don’t have the knack.
Duck down. Alexas Fotos

🙂

Which calls to mind an rather ungraceful visitor we had one morning some years ago.

Great horned owl.Pexels
Image: Pexels — Pixabay

On the wing, a great-horned owl can be a very graceful bird. I’ve read that the owl has a feather construction and placement that allows the predator to fly without a whisper of sound, swooping down with no warning on its prey.

Its efforts on the ground are another matter, rather ungainly, as we were to learn one day.

We’ve often heard a great-horned owl in the woods beside our yard and in the evenings we’d see one flying over the pasture behind our acreage. We’ve heard them and have seen le Grand Duc, (Grand Duke) as the French call it, many times in the tallest bare trees, surveying their domain or looking for some unsuspecting morsel of lunch. One evening we saw two owls in the treetops hooting back and forth to each other, discussing prospects.

One September we could hear a screech or squawk and decided that this noise was coming from a young owl. Then we went away on a five-day trip to visit friends in mid-September, and early on the first morning at home I let our long-haired black cat, Panda, go outside. A few minutes later I was hearing this funny loud peeping or squawk outside, so I glanced out the window and beheld a fascinating sight.

A great-horned owl chick was sitting in our driveway near the car shelter, staring toward the house with its big golden eyes and letting out a screechy sort of peep about once a minute. Fluffy and cute with its pointy “ear tufts,” this young owl looked almost white to me. Our huge black Panda, about the same size and shape, sat silently on our deck eyeing the owl with her big golden eyes.

Were they curious about this odd specimen in front of them? The way it was peeping, you could almost think the chick was lonely and thought Panda might be another owl for company. Or were they sizing each other up, wondering who should eat who? Perplexed as to what should be done about this strange white cat – or black bird, depending on whose viewpoint you took?

I decided not to take any chances, so I let Panda in and the owl soon got bored sitting there. It proceeded to make its way down the driveway and back again, snapping up grasshoppers as it went. Its “running” was quite amusing and anything but graceful — a kind of waddle-and-hop from side to side as well as forward.

For a couple of hours the owl chick stayed around our yard, entertaining us and eliminating some of the many grasshoppers we had that year. It did the rounds of our garden and lawn, flying up to roost on the clothesline post in between. We never did see it fly away, nor see it again. My husband guessed the chick had made itself to home in our yard while we were away; it must have decided not to come back when people were around.

7 thoughts on “An Ungraceful Visitor

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