I was almost rammed by a fine feathered friend on my way to town around noon. It was quite unexpected. One moment, I was piloting T-Hoe along the gravel road, over the dry creek and through the woods, and the next moment, Birdie shot across my hood and plopped onto the overgrown right-of-way. Which is not really a right-of-way, but more of a three-foot strip of underbrush next to a stand of trees.
Well. I was on quite a steep grade, but I stopped. I'm sure my mouth hung open. I was alone, not even The Pony as my witness or official phone photographer. I reached for my phone. Birdie sat on the ground, looking over his shoulder at me. Or perhaps I should say, looking over his back at me.
This was some kind of owl. I don't know my fowl. But I know an owl's face. And that turny head thing they have going on. My new friend was apparently in the witness protection program, or feared that I was about to steal his soul. As soon as I reached for my phone, off he flew, up into a tree. I could barely see him. A photo would not have picked him out of his camouflage amongst the dead limbs and dry leaves.
Having done my internet research, I have reached the conclusion that Birdie was either a barred owl, or a short-eared owl. I am not a good observer. No field work for me. Because I did not even notice the glaring characteristics that would have settled my quandary. Birdie was not all that big. It's not like I would say he swooped across my hood. He glided. He was about 12-14 inches from the top of his head to the tip of his tail as he was sitting on the ground.
I'm guessing that Birdie was most likely a barred owl, seen here in a picture from Google.
My other choice, based on the face, is a short-eared owl, also pictured from Google resources.
I don't know what this fellow was doing in the heat of the day, wafting over my auto. But I sure wish I had been able to snap a photo of my own. It seems that the key element I did not notice was the eyes. Dark eyes, barred owl. Yellow eyes, short-eared owl. I'm guessing on dark, because the yellow eyes are striking.
I would be a terrible witness to a crime. Never, ever trust Mrs. Hillbilly Mom to identify the perpetrator from a police lineup.
Here's a link to the Missouri Department of Conservation's page on barred owls. With a sound bite. I have not heard that sound around here, though. Again, I must be excessively unobservant.