Thursday, February 11, 2010

Today is Wesley's Hatch Day!

February 10 is the date of Wesley's hatching. Valentine's Day is the day he went home wth me. When he was alive, I used to celebrate his "hatch day" by giving him a live mouse. He would cower away from the mouse as if it was the creature from the black lagune, but he would also be curious enough that finally he would pounce. his instincts were such that the mouse never felt a thing. But WESLEY! WOW! He would go from the cowering, frightened little baby to this macho, warrior, tough guy with his chest thrust out, his head high, and he'd literally strut around with the mouse in his beak crowing loudly with his victory cry, "Deek! Deek! deeek! DEEK! DEEK! DEEK! DEEK!". And I would suddenly be completely expendable - of no consequence - an annoyance almost. HE was the MAN. He'd strut behind the toilet w/ the mouse then crouch over it with his toes crossed over it on the ground, then open his wings and spread them along the ground while he crouched over the mouse. This meant, "Don't get too close. This is MY mouse and no one had better even THINK about approaching me or I'll ATTACK, cuz I'm a BIG, BAD, MEAN, TOUGH, MACHO OWL!

And this attitude would continue for about 3 days. He'd do this screech-hiss/scream - the HUNTER. He'd threaten me, lunging at me with a hiss and a click of his beak when I walked by, just to let me know that He was the MAN. He wasn't seriously threatening me. I could swoop my hand in and pick him up and snuggle hiim under my chin even as he was "threatening" me. I knew it was all bluster because he was just so proud of himself that he couldn't help the super-wild behavior. He would never dream of hurting me. But if I did snuggle him unde rmy chin when he was trying to be macho, he'd kick his feet and want down. So I'd let him down.

For those 3 or so days, I gave him his daily allottment of 3-4 mice and he mantled over them as if he had just killed them himself, too. Never mind that I gave them to him! He was such a card - such a bundle of personality!

For the rest of the year I fed him pre-killed mice that I took out of the freezer and defrosted in the microwave, because if I let him kill each one, he'd turn into this rowdy guy.

He and I had a lot of fun together on his hatch day, and every day. He was like a kitten with wings, so full of curiosity and life, celebration, expression, playfulness, affection...

There are times when I just need to be near a barn owl - just get my barn owl "fix". I need to sit near a barn owl nest and just hear them and feel their presence, or next to a barn owl enclosure at a wildlife rehab center. Their sounds, their body language, their smell, their faces, every feather, is absolutely precious to me. Better than a chest full of gold. Just watching them soothes my soul to the deepest level. Looking into their eyes soothes my soul. Man, I miss him.

What a miracle the hatching of one little barn owl turned out to be!