I promised an update on my owl post from a couple of weeks ago. You remember the owl, right?
We had a bit of drama the night of the post. My husband and I were cleaning up the kitchen, sorting through mail, doing the sorts of tasks we normally do at the end of the evening. Our dog, who had been asleep in the living room, all of a sudden went berserk by the window closest to the owl house.
I saw something moving on one of the window panes and flipped on an outside light to see what was happening. I realized it was the owl—clearly a juvenile out of its nest but unable to fly—clinging as if for dear life to one of the thin bars across the window. On the ground below, staring up at it, sat our next-door neighbor’s cat.
We’re usually happy for the cat to stroll through our yard, figuring he helps keep the mice at bay, but that night, I was less than thrilled to see the cat looking up at the frantic little owl. My husband went to shoo away the cat while trying not to upset the owl even more. Not an easy task.
When he came back in, he got online to find out what to do. He discovered fledgling owls leave the nest before they can fly and spend two to five days on the ground, a critical time during which they learn survival skills. The parent owls usually attack anything (other than humans) that threaten the fledgling during this time.
While he was learning all of this, I went outside, hoping someone from the house might come out so I could ask them to bring the cat in overnight. Another couple walked by with their dog, and we chatted about the owl and the cat.
“I know it’s silly to have gotten attached to an owl, but I’d like for it to survive,” I said. They wished me luck, and as they were saying good night, someone came out of the neighbor’s house.
Though the next-door neighbors may think I’m a little crazy now, they were very kind and took the cat in.
I went to bed that night, hoping the little owl would survive the night, believing it had a better chance without the cat wandering back into the yard. (I also believed the cat would have a better night inside than fighting with a protective adult owl.)
A happy ending
The next day, I kept our dog out of the backyard, too. An encounter with the fledgling or its mama would not likely go well for any of them. Around 9:30 that evening, our doorbell rang. The same couple was out walking their dog and had seen the owl near their house (several houses away from ours). They even saw it fly, not far off the ground, and not very far, but high enough and far enough to keep away from a cat.
We walked up the street, and with the help of the couple’s flashlight, found the fledgling sitting on the ground near some bushes, its yellow eyes staring at us. That’s the last time I saw it, but I walked away hopeful about its chances of surviving the next few nights. I wish it a long and happy life.
For those of you familiar with Edward Lear’s poem The Owl and the Pussy-Cat, our little owl may dance by the light of the moon someday, but I can’t imagine it will set sail in a pea-green boat or marry the neighbor’s cat.
Do you have a fun animal-kingdom story that has its own happy ending? I’d love for you to share it below.