Owl encounters are not uncommon in these parts. If the surrounds are suitable, the eats plentiful, chances are good for visitations. Several species have habitat here and while most visits are welcome, the occasional traveller can be a bit alarming...
The first autumn in this house surrounded by woods, a juvenile barn owl must have decided to explore the chimney opening a bit too closely and fell right down the shaft. Alone here at the time, I had no idea what was causing all the racket -- all I knew was that unnerving sounds of shuffling and scratching were coming from inside the chimney and something ALIVE was trapped. The damper was closed so no chance of said creature escaping into the house, but how in the world was I going to get this poor trapped thing, out?
Good friend Sam, well versed in all things animal and raptor-like, responded in his utterly chivalrous and true Sam style (as he has since done several times over the years) and arrived armed with everything one might need for a rescue. The plan was to temporarily "blind" whatever it was with that bright shop light you see glowing within the fireplace. Then s-l-o-w-l-y, push the damper up in the hope of releasing the misfortunate one...whatever IT was. Much to our surprise and amazement, this youngster plopped out. By all appearances unscathed, he was nevertheless very peeved. Barn owls can throw quite the hissy fit, literally. Here he is protesting at the top of his lungs. Please pardon the blurry photos -- it was quite the moment!
My young visitor was soon released into the night, gliding away on little grateful wings, I'm sure. A successful outcome and a good memory.
This lucky Great horned (see the garter snake he's gobbling?) was one of last years welcome visitors, having decided to devour its meal *outside* on the front gate arbor rather than, shall we say, showing up at the dinner table or somewhere else meant more for humans.
The past few nights I've heard them...owls in the woods again, hooting it up . Although it's the last day of August, my most favorite heralds of autumn have certainly returned. I checked the damper -- it's closed. :>]]
Painting by Valentine Cameron Prinsep, first exhibited 1863
~ Il Barbagianni (The Owl) ~