The owl house

A haibun for the dverse ‘owl’ prompt.


This is the owl house. It rocks itself to sleep in the feathery ripple of the owls’ call. They used to live in the attic, but it’s too cold to leave it open to the sky, so we mended the windows. Now they roost in the roof of the porch and eat their midnight meal by the front door, dropping their pellets and shredding the bird scarers of aluminium foil that the old lady who lived here before us hung from the beams. We stand beneath the stars and listen to their voices filling the trees. The night listens too, and answers with the gekkering of foxes and the slight rustle of deer in the low trees. I stand here until a tree shakes its dry leaves, something scuttles through the brambles reminding me that I am a foreigner. My place is not here, eavesdropping on the conversation of the owls, the hunters that fly on invisible wings through the woodland of the night.

No snow this winter,

no white shadow in the night,

red berries shine bright.


Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

88 thoughts on “The owl house”

  1. If only more of us remembered we were foreigners here. Perhaps we would be more kind in placing our “footprint”.

    I like your owl. That they tear up the bird scarers made me laugh. This owl has attitude.

    Would be very cool to be so close to them though. We get them so seldom.

    1. We get a lot of noisy birds, jays, buzzards, woodpeckers, but I love the gentle noise the owls make, as if they have no intention of actually killing anything 🙂 You’re right, we ought to keep back and observe rather than riding rough shod over the world.

  2. I love the way you opened:

    “This is the owl house. It rocks itself to sleep”

    “gekkering” … What an attention-grabbing verb.

    This is a beautiful piece; I always enjoy your writing.

  3. Sounds wonderful to have owls live so close (except perhaps the pellets)…some of us fit in with nature more than others…yours is a peaceful presence…love your use of ‘gekkering’ , a new one for me 🙂

    1. I don’t mind the pellets. It’s interesting to see the tangle of tiny bones. Gekkering I learned is the description of the noise foxes make when they’re fighting or playing. You tube is a great source for discovering what exactly it is I’ve been hearing 🙂

      1. she is a mix and she is foxy but doubt fox is in her…maybe some sounds are shared across canine species…(i know you were at least half joking anyway 🙂

    1. You know, I feel ashamed of being a member of the species that strikes fear into the hearts of absolutely every other species. Even the big predators give us a wide berth where possible. The songbirds fly away when we go outside the house, whereas they won’t budge when it’s the cats. Just keep a wary eye on them. Sad.

      1. Sometimes I wish they all wouldn’t run/fly away as soon as I appear even at a distance. But it’s best that way. I wouldn’t hurt anything, but a huge percentage of the population would.

  4. This is such a lovely account of you and nature, Jane. Your words are elegant with wonderful imagery. Owls have always been fascinating to me, so I especially loved this post.

  5. I love this haibun from the first sentence to the last of the magnificent haiku. I kept searching in my mind for “gekker” when describing the gentle speech of the owls. All I could come up with was clucking, and they do seem to do that as well. I love owls.

      1. I reckon scientists could easily work out what messages they were communicating. It’s just that research costs money and owls don’t have a vested interest in letting us know anything, so I don’t suppose it’ll happen.

    1. Thanks Willow 🙂 It’s one of those forms I never even tried to get to grips with, assumed it was far too complicated. In fact it isn’t. The prose part, most people seem to just keep prosy though I like to make it poetic prose, and the haiku at the end is just a haiku, related to the content.

      1. This post has me texting my neighbor upstate asking if she’s ever seen an owl. They’re probably thinking “this nut from the city is loosing it again”, lol!

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