So long, owl

We see dead wild animals in the middle of the road all the time. Usually it’s a rabbit or quail or squirrel, sometimes it’s a lizard or red racer snake, very occasionally it’s a coyote or someone’s dog that had got loose. Turkey vultures, crows and coyotes clean up. It’s sad, but you get used to it — you have to, it’s just part of being here. At least the dead animals provide food for other wild animals.

Several Saturdays ago, I was driving on Sunfair and saw a lump in the road that had a shape and color I hadn’t seen before. I turned the truck around and went back to have a second look. It was a dead owl. I couldn’t immediately tell how the owl had died: she (he?) wasn’t crushed or mangled, and she wasn’t bleeding. She was definitely dead, though. On an impulse, I picked the owl up by her feet, and carried her upside down, her head swiveling in that unnerving way that owls do, and placed her body gently in the bed of the truck. When else was I ever going to feel an owl’s foot, or look one in the eye from just inches away? I brought the owl home and placed her on a newspaper on one of our outdoor tables. Stephanie and I had a look…

The owl was at least 18 inches long and had yellow eyes. She had some kind of wound on her torso. Maybe she had been shot? Or clipped by a car? Hard to say. Whatever happened, it was strange for her to die right in the middle of the road, on the edge of nowhere.

We left the owl to lie in state for a couple of days. A few friends saw her. A couple of days later, I moved the corpse out onto the land, far from the house and cabin. A week later, I went back, and retrieved all that was left: a couple of gorgeous feathers.

My best guess is that she was a Desert Great Horned Owl, but I’m no expert…

More on the Great Horned Owl: digital-desert, wikipedia

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About jay babcock

JT Homesteader, Arthur Magazine ... Joshua Tree, CA ...
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