OWLS: Friend or Fiend??

On my hike down memory lane, I stumbled across this gem……….

OWLS: Friend or Fiend??

There are many different beliefs about owls. Some are so stupid they’re laughable, such as the one that if an owl fixes its eyes on you and you walk around the tree it’s sitting in three times, it will end up wringing its neck.

Some beliefs are great tho, for instance, the Native American Zuni tribe believe an owl feather laid in a baby’s cot kept away evil spirits. They also believe the owl to be a symbol of wisdom.

There is a quote though that I do believe,

*‘Those who drink whiskey with the owl at night, cannot soar with the eagle the next day’.

There were also those people who believed owls ate the souls of the dead. In the British Isles, some thought hearing an owl hoot meant terrible news on its way or death.

Sir Walter Scott referred to them in the most derogatory way as:

” Birds of omen, dark and foul.”

Of course, being a bird lover, I didn’t believe any such nonsense, and when one day a friend of mine, Trevor Schultz, brought me two owls he had rescued from some lowlife I was happy to take them.

The owls were caged in a wooden box about a meter wide, half a meter deep, and half a meter high with a wire netting front covering. The floor was a filthy, black mess of faeces and maggots about 7 centimetres deep. It was appalling. I was horrified at how people could abuse God’s creatures so cruelly; it was beyond me. The owls were hunched inside the cage, hardly able to move, no less stretch their wings.

At that time we had an old wooden contraption in our garage. It was, I think, a relic of days gone by when it served as some sort of pantry, or food storage facility. It stood about two metres high and was deep and wide. My dad fitted it with a perch, giving the birds a chance to stand upright and stretch their wings a bit. I kept them there for a while, trying to build them up and make them stronger.

Finally, the day came for their release.

We carried the cage into an old rondavel, we had on our property. Then opened its doors, and retreated, leaving the owls free to wing their way to glorious and total freedom.

That night I dreamed of them flying free and wild, silent shadows against the night sky. I dreamed of those great wings unfurled and outstretched, soaring without restraint.

The next day, as soon as I woke up, I rushed outside to see if they had gone. To my relief, the cage was empty; The birds had flown. I was so happy to think of them finally living as God planned and not cramped in a tiny, dirty cage.

My greatest joy was yet to come, though. One day I was walking in the garden in broad daylight, picking flowers. When from a perch in a tree high above me, an owl flew down and just fleetingly and gently, touched my head with those massive talons, nails so sharp they could impale mice with them, then it flew off. It was as though he was saying

” Thank you”.

It felt so good, that brief union of souls, from bird to girl.

As the song says’ fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly…’ We should respect that fact and not cage our feathered friends.

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