I was sitting on the back porch this evening, listening to music and the spring rain, when I saw a tawny gold shape drop from a tree and glide silently through the woods behind the house. At first I thought it was a hawk, but when it alighted on the branch, I saw the ear tufts and realized it was a great horned owl. It stayed there for about ten minutes, watching the nearby field, giving me a chance to get the binoculars and observe it more closely. A couple of jays eventually showed up and shrieked their displeasure at its presence, but it maintained its calm dignity, only leaving once they had flown away, perhaps not wanting to give them the satisfaction.
I attended a powwow in Pennsylvania nearly thirty years ago. One of the attractions was a bird handler, and he had a great horned owl with him. He explained that the owl’s reputation for wisdom was greatly exaggerated, as this particular species is one of the skunk’s few predators, and as they always attack from behind, they usually stink. Nonetheless, I felt honored to have this majestic fellow visit me. I’ve never seen one this close to the house before.