I heard the bird-shriek, the blackbird’s repeated cry; it cried distress not anger or alarm.
From the window, I saw beneath the honeysuckle, owl wings beating, overcoming, and the owl face that turned to mine as if to say, this is life and death, and you, behind your glass may watch, but stay away.
A final tightening of the grip, and the brown brindled wings spread, flew to the trees, was blackbird, a black bundle of dead feathers or in a pre-death trance,
and I felt like a thing in a zoo behind my glass, living an artificial life, an exhibit that no one comes to stare at anymore.
I thought I’d post this anecdote, just passing on information like amateur naturalists do.
When we arrived in this house, the roof beams of the porch were festooned in tin foil strips. Logically, you’d say it was to stop birds nesting there, but since the old folk who had lived here were nature lovers that didn’t seem very likely. Shortly after we moved in something large and angry ripped off most of the tin foil and chucked it on the ground. Owl we said and thought no more of it.
For the last few mornings we have noticed that the table out on the porch has been awash in a cloudy liquid, as if someone had thrown a bucket of dirty water over it. There has been no rain lately so it wasn’t that. This morning the pool of liquid was like diluted white paint, splashed all over the table and the floor.
I finally realised that the culprit is an owl, possibly the same as the one that sits on the half-open shutters over the bedroom window at night and dumps pellets onto the window frame. Imagine something the size of a cat peeing paint from a great height and you understand why placid, nature-loving Georgette hung tin foil up in the beams to scare the buggers away!
When an owl hoots, sends out that soft, soothing soulful call bouncing back from sky and trees, falling like feathered leaves, we listen, enchanted to the words we wish we understood, a song in a language older than human speech. Owl magic, we think, soul-searcher, guide to the otherworld. More prosaically, it is actually telling other owls to feck off.