The Bird with the Crayola Eyes

now, would this stop you in your tracks or what?!!

Walking in a cemetery is not usually an uplifting experience, though it can be an enlightening one.  It brings a person back to reality to see how we all end…but you don’t always find a pair of eyes watching you.  You really don’t want that.

Last weekend, I took a walk through a cemetery in central Illinois, an area with broad, high glacial moraines and back-to-back farm fields that go on forever.  This particular cemetery lies on the top of one of those tree-topped moraines.  It has some creepy qualities that my brother and I like: old weathered white stones that feature a pair of hands clasped in greeting (or farewell?), lots of mysterious children’s deaths (there must have been an epidemic in the 1870s), and sections with unmarked graves that I’ll come back to in a later post.  As I walked along with my eyes on a crypt ahead, my husband yelled, “There’s an owl here!”  What?  An owl carving?  An owl doll? (people seem to be in a trend of leaving little totems on graves these days).  But it was…an owl, lying like a football, and about the same size as a regulation ball.  It didn’t look real, except for the fact that it would turn its head and blink now and then.  This didn’t strike us as normal behavior, even for a grave-blanket football owl, so we made some calls (I kiss my Smartphone in gratitude), consulted the experts, and arranged a raptor rescue.

A county animal control truck arrived in about an hour, driven by a lanky man equipped with a pair of thick leather gloves.  He inspected our owl and attempted to intercept the football, but the owl made an awkward fifty-yard flight, about two feet off the ground, and tumbled to a halt in the grass.  As our rescuer approached it again, the baby turned toward him, spread its wings, and made a sharp clattering noise..and let the man gently pick it up.  He said the baby was a Great Horned Owl, and that owl babies regularly fall out of nests.  The parents often come back to feed the baby at night, but that was a good eight hours away.  It would have made an easy meal for a fox, or for the hawks that were circling as we spoke.   The baby was placed in the back of the truck for delivery to the conservation officials.  It was a large and confused bunch of fluff, horn puffs, and those eyes…

I was in love with Crayola crayons when I was young, and after twenty-four hours of wondering just how to describe the little owl’s eyes, I realized they were Lemon Yellow.   I hope the little owl is eating lots of Maroon meat scraps and growing strong so it can sail into the Sky Blue, which slowly fades to Midnight Blue.

scared, confused, but not in the mouth of a fox

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~ by rebuildingholly on April 23, 2012.

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