Tuesday, July 3, 2012

An Unidentified Guest

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.

That's the face. I did not notice the dark eyes, nor any kind of striping, nor those white flecks. To me, he seemed grayish brown and dark brown.

My other choice, based on the face, is a short-eared owl, also pictured from Google resources.

Unfortunately, I did not see any tiny ears, nor the yellow eyes, nor whether his belly area was pale. But the body coloring seems right with this one. And the face.

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.


knancy said...

Perhaps, you should slow down and try to enjoy where you live (Gag). I only say gag because you seem not to enjoy it. When and if you are able to retire, I hope you will get in tune with where you live. I love your posts on the backside of your life. But, come on, be ready for all kinds of things we would enjoy in photos to help us understand your HM ways. Personally, I would love to see a picture of you throwing food off the back deck to the chickens! It would forever vindicate my WV Hillbilly stereotype! Especially if the poolio is scummy.

Sioux said...

Your brush with the owl reminded me of a summer I worked for the Youth Conservation Corps in the Mark Twain National Forest.

We lived there as well as worked there, so on one of the first nights, we saw a movie on venomous snakes. (We did encounter some rattle snakes when we walked to the latrine.)

We were told that we would be able to determine if they were venomous or not by the shape of their pupil. I laughingly said, "If I have to get close enough to a snake to figure out what shape the pupil is in their eye, well..."

This made me remember something I might be able to use in a post. Thanks.

Chickadee said...

Short-eared Owls are in Missouri only during the winter months, so I'd say you encountered a Barred Owl.

I love Barred Owls. For awhile I volunteered in a raptor rehab facility and I just loved it when we got Barred Owls. They are so sweet.

Hillbilly Mom said...

Hmm...I actually like where I live. It seems Farmer H's perception of me has been right all along. That I'm a smart-mouthed b*tch!

It's some of the people, not the place. In fact, my unofficial blog motto in years past was People Piss Me Off.

I refuse to be photographed, but I do not object to my refuse being photographed. However, Poolio is clear to partly cloudy right now. I can't guarantee his transparency after a few more butt-soakings, though.

Have you heard that the Mark Twain National Forest has been on fire for several weeks? Bummer.

Right back at ya! You have given me an idea. We're a regular mutual inspiration society.

Well, even an owl could not mistake recent months for winter in Missouri. I figured the Barred Owl was the most logical explanation. But the ones I saw in pictures were very barred.

This fellow appeared calm, but he was certainly suspicious of me, and flew to a high perch to continue his observation of me.

knancy said...

Personally, I would take "smart mouthed b*tch" as a compliment from a man as that at least lets you know they heard instead of acting deaf. I certainly did not intend to offend. I was trying to convey my love of seeing your place of abode in all of its glory; especially Farmer H's inventive additions and how you veiw them (that was the gag part). Perhaps, I was being a "dumb mouthed b*tch". So sorry. I used to live in the country and so enjoy the individuality of the homes.

Hillbilly Mom said...

No offense taken. I once won a writing contest, the host of which said she LOVED my voice above entries in all other categories. But that I should beware that some people would interpret me as mean-spirited. Apparently, she was some crazy psychic! Or Farmer H contacted her behind my back.