The Great Horned Flesheater With the Golden Eyes

I was walking the dogs at sunset, and I was in some considerable pain, due to arthritis on my spine; the pain visits me most on walks. Then I heard whirring wings, and I knew it was a large creature flying over. I looked up to see its big coppery eyes, it’s broad wingspan. To my delight, the great bird landed on a fir tree near me, a tree of no great height. The big raptor was only about thirty feet up, on the tip top; a frail looking tip, but it did not bend under this large bird that seemed perfectly poised and centered, though it was as bulky as a wild turkey. I saw its “ear tufts” clearly–it was a great horned owl.

A mockingbird flew screeching at it, diving at the far more formidable bird, presumably because the owl was close to its nest. The owl took no notice of it. It was quite aloof; had the air of a nobleman who does not deign to notice some angry peasant shaking a fist at him. Again and again the mockingbird tilted at the owl; the great horned owl ignored him. It kept calmly still, occasionally turning its “facial disk”, as ornithologists call its visage, to look for early rustlings of juicy rodents.

Perhaps the owl had inadvisedly roused for the hunt a little early–it was not entirely dark out, and the big owl’s distinctive horned silhouette was too visible to fretful birds and fearful mice.

It shrugged off another hysterical mockingbird swoop, looked around a little more, then flew off into darker places, to wait for night. In the darkness the great horned owl is camouflaged against tree boles; is most difficult to see against a cloudy sky. It is like a ghost, then, but those big round doubloons, its eyes, are among the most powerfully perceptive eyes in nature; and if you do not see it, you may be sure it sees you.

I went home, then, having forgotten my pain.

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