It has been just over a year since we built and installed an owl house, optimistically expecting a homeless young owl to take up residence and join our family. I bet you can guess that the owl house is very much still unoccupied. Not even the squirrels, which we call the Harolds, have decided to move in. It has been tricky to not take this personally, especially as we do have an owl who visits us from time to time.
From our research thus far, and from watching our feathered friend, it seems as if owls love nooks – forested away places to retreat to once the cockerels begin to cockle-doodle-doo and dawn soon follows. Our little owl house was just far too exposed – a boxy river-side apartment where everyone could see what the owls would be up to. Oh no, this elevated pad would not do at all. My husband is still hoping that a visionary owl will one day see the glaring opportunity right in front of him and make the box his home. Yet we are far more likely to be successful if we were to position new boxes amongst the foliage and just above the enclosed veggie garden, where mice and frogs roam galore. Who would not want an apartment with close access to the grocery store? I do hope that over the next season I will be able to report some happy news on this front.
Back to our owl. We have a Cape Eagle Owl that shows himself from time to time. Our first exciting encounter happened while we were all relaxing in the lounge watching television. In the lounge, we sit in front of a giant glass sliding door that provides a great view onto the garden and trees. The owl swooped in and landed on the grass, checking out the territory with peppy neck twists. We were all so shocked that, right in front of us, an owl had landed. He made many such showman-like appearances. One evening, we were binge watching a series of Doctor Who episodes when the owl returned. My husband commented that we really should name our owl seeing as it was clear that he quite liked our premises, even if he didn’t like the provided accommodation. Without thinking, it popped out of my mouth: Doctor Who! The laughter eventually subsided and the name stuck.
One of the more exciting experiences, was when Dr Who landed in the garden in front of us and pounced around as if he was doing an owl version of the moonwalk. It was then that we noticed the 1 1/2 m snake – his prey – that he was playing with before his dinner. He struggled to get aloft carrying this heavy snake and dropped him on the river bank opposite our property. I do sincerely hope that he had his fill that evening. Exit snake, stage left.
On another occasion we got up at the sheer silly hour of 4:30 AM on a Saturday morning to start-up a cold drum smoker in advance of smoking a brisket to share with friends later that day. We could see Dr Who on the telephone cable, looking at us and hooting. Perhaps we was saying ‘Good Morning Folks!” With every hoot he would hunker down as if pushing on a bagpipe that required concentration. It was terribly cute.
We love hearing the owls hooting to each other in the dark. There is something wondrous and mystical about them, and dare I say it, even hard to describe. In our family, they are especially meaningful. It was, after all, an owl that started our journey of moving to the country – a series of synchronicities that compelled us to step into the unknown and leave the city. When I hear the woot-hoot of Doctor Who, I am reminded of the blessings that come when you follow your heart and the signs all around you that say: go for it, take that leap, do something unusual, dare to change, be the change.