Owl Have Bird Watching For...Ever?

Okay, that was a terrible title. Cut me some slack. I couldn't think of anything!

Nearly every night, just as we are falling asleep….well, I’m falling asleep, Bryon has been asleep for hours; I know this, because I’ve been poking him while we watch T.V. and saying, “did you see that?” and invariably, he has not seen that…anyway, we hear an owl. This owl is decidedly not off in the distance, providing a sort of sound-machine soothing, off-to-dreamland, light whoo-whoo for us. He is WHOO-WHOOOING, as it sounds, directly outside our window.

As you may remember, we live at the apex of a crazy ocean current, which makes sounds whisk around like we are in a Kitchen Aid on bread-dough day. Still, it sound sounds like it’s, no kidding, coming from either our roof, or the tree, right outside our window, the tree the tree man said would fall on our house on day. In other words, it sounds, positively, like if were closer, the bird would be on our headboard, leaving pellets in such a vast supply, I could sell them to third grade science teachers to dissect. So, this conversation has, definitely happened, perhaps more than once:

R: Bryon! The owl!
B: Mmmmph.
R: (now with the poking) The owl! The owl! Do you hear it!?
B: (taking off his ear plugs and face mask, as if I’m loud!) Mmmph
R: The owl! Let’s go find it! He’s back!
B: No.
R: C’mon! It’ll be fun! I want to find him!
B: We’re not dressed.
R: So, what! I go outside in my PJ’s all the time! Besides, it’s night.
B: No. You’ll never find it.
R: Not with that attitude.
Collin, farting around in Daddy's mask. He's a goofball!

Collin, farting around in Daddy's mask. He's a goofball!

Alas, we’ve never found the owl. Yet. Mostly, because I want us to find the owl. I’m very persuasive, so I think we will find the owl; or, at the very least, go a-lookin’. I’m very convinced that the owl lives in our tree, or in the eaves of our roof. The cats are obsessed with our bedroom window, and the top corner of our roof. Of course, it could be pigeons, the flying rats of the world, which I still adore watching.

Our pigeons make the weirdest sound I’ve ever heard. And, I learned they aren’t pigeons, exactly, anyway, when I rescued a baby one, and called the bird sanctuary to take it. They refused it, and said it was some fancy name that I forgot; but basically, it’s an invasive species. I could save it if I want; but, essentially, it’s their policy to let “nature take its course.” GAH! I was holding a baby tweeting bird!

She told me the protocol to save it myself though, and gave me very precise directions. It lived. Phew. Also, it smelled really, really bad. Like, it stunk up my bathroom so badly, that we couldn’t get the smell out for weeks, no matter what we did, even though it had only lived there two days. Powerful little guy!

I count that save as wiping my slate clean after saving the last baby bird I found, that my dog and cat ate, after either Bryon or I accidentally left the bathroom door open before we went to work. The carnage. I joke now, but I cried for days. I nursed that little hatchling from a featherless ball of ick to a full-grown bird that was just learning to fly. He’d be ready to release in a matter of days. I suppose that, at least, they got a good meal. A feather, in my stupid dog’s bed, was all that was left.

Anyway, maybe that’s why those “pigeons” make a weird sound…they aren’t pigeons at all! I wish I remember what they were. My mother-in-law, the first time she stayed here, woke up insanely early the first morning, looking for what was making that weird racket. I intercepted her, because I heard her wandering my home, looking a bit confused. She’d woken, “with the birds,” shall we say. I hope she wasn’t hoping to get a worm. Ba-dum-ch! I had to explain it’s the “pigeons,” and that they sound like that hear. They sound like a machine motor running and whirring. She thought we’d left something on and was trying to figure out what it was. Nope. Birds.



I can thank my dad for my love of birds. He didn’t tell me to love them. He didn’t specifically sit me down and talk to me about them. He just off-handedly would remark, “Oh there’s a chickadee,” or, “look closely, there’s a goldfinch in that bush!” When we went camping, he’d get very quiet and crouch down, and I knew we were about to see something special, and making me know that I should mimic him, and sure enough, he’d whisper, “there,” and spread some branch for me. I learned bird songs in this way, and in remarks that weren’t meant to teach, just conversation.

When my family and I are, say on the freeway to Ikea, and I point out the dozen or so hawks on phone poles, they are used to it. But, they have also grown used to me saying, “oh look a wren!” when we are sitting at a picnic table, or, “that’s not a crow, it’s a raven, look at its beak.” And, they are no longer surprised that I can point out all the song birds. At first, when I was first married, my husband used to say, “where does all this knowledge come from?” I’d say, honestly, “I don’t know? Doesn’t everyone just know this stuff?” I didn’t realize that every home didn’t have the Audubon field guide by the window with binoculars. Ours did, and does. For that, I can truly thank my father; because, I truly adore birds.

Still, they've not yet got to hear me say, "look, there's my owl."

Speaking of the idea that people didn’t realize that every family doesn’t do something; did everyone read about the poor soul who didn’t realize that every family does not, indeed have a communal poop knife hanging in the laundry room. Oh my god. The horror.




Back to my original reason for writing, I just got off the phone with my husband, who I spoke with nearly his entire drive from El Segundo, to pick up our son, in which I read him descriptions, and nesting habits of owls that live in Southern California. Folks, in traffic, this was about 45 min; spend a minute honoring the heroics of my husband. This is who I am, and who he is. He tolerates my weird obsession with birds, and he pretends he cares.

He insists that when we retire, we can go for hikes with binoculars and a bird journal, and that we can find a Burrowing Owl, because they are the cutest lil’ things I can imagine. Look, but don’t touch, Rachel!

Thanks  Audubon Society.  Go to there. Give them money. They are good people.

Thanks Audubon Society. Go to there. Give them money. They are good people.


 And, hopefully, we’ll see a Great Grey Owl in Yosemite, before they all disappear, because I think if I put my eyes upon one, the secret of life will reveal itself to me, that’s how majestic and powerful they appear.

Thanks again,  Audubon Society ! Go to there. Give them your first born child. They do good things!

Thanks again, Audubon Society! Go to there. Give them your first born child. They do good things!


I think I will settle, for now, for finding the owl outside our window. We have a little less than seven months left in California before (damn military orders, making me leave my state!) we can find that owl. Do you think we can find it, and I can get, at least a blurry night-time shot, in which you can make out nothing of substance, of my mysterious nighttime visitor? When I call him, or her, that, it sounds so swarthy.

P.S. I deeply hope it’s not a screeching owl. Apparently, they are so protective of their nesting area, they will attack humans. Terrifying. I don’t want to die of death-by-owl.

Speaking of intelligent birds. Did you know that crows can remember human faces? In scientific experiments involving cruelty to crows, such as stealing their eggs, the scientists who took the crows eggs, had to cover their faces on the way to their cars at night, with burlap sacks because the crows would form teams and attack those specific scientists. The scientists, prior to this experiment, did not know this about crows, and learned it, early on in the study. It was a major breakthrough in recognizing how intelligent they are. Seriously don’t get me started on birds…wait, I started it! Anyway, I don’t want to die by death-by-crow either!


Wait! Re-reading this post for typos (which I always miss anyways), I just realized something: first of all, I'm weird (which I don't particularly care about). But, now I'm officially super-weird; and I'm an old bird lady. SEND HELP!

My Bookman

I check out a lot of books. It shouldn't be a surprise that I would do something like that. I'm home a lot. I have a lot more "free" time than I used to. And, I like to read. I always have a book on me, and I read in every spare moment. Every year, my goal is 100 books. Last year, I got really close. I'm the kind of person you catch reading in line at a supermarket. But now, now I'm afraid to go the library.

When I don't have something to read, say at a doctor's office, this is what happens. I deface their educational materials regarding the male prostate. But, look how happy this bladder looks in my urologist's office looks!! Personally, I think that they shouldn't leave the marker RIGHT THERE, if they don't want patients to draw on the bladder. Isn't the goal to have a happy bladder?

When I don't have something to read, say at a doctor's office, this is what happens. I deface their educational materials regarding the male prostate. But, look how happy this bladder looks in my urologist's office looks!! Personally, I think that they shouldn't leave the marker RIGHT THERE, if they don't want patients to draw on the bladder. Isn't the goal to have a happy bladder?

Actually, I’m afraid to go back to my library. It all started when we went to Michigan this past spring and I accidentally ruined a book with toilet water from the RV, forgot that I did that, and returned said ruined book, on time, to the book drop outside. I feel that, since I did, indeed ruin the book, it’s important to emphasize that I turned it in on time. It was dried out when I turned it in, just a little crinkly from the damp, but now dried, water.

Bryon's reaction to my "happy bladder." You can't tell, but he's laughing on the inside.

Bryon's reaction to my "happy bladder." You can't tell, but he's laughing on the inside.

They tried to charge me for the book the next time I went to check out books, and I indignantly refused to pay for it, having forgotten my husband’s erratic driving style, as he thinks all roads are serpentine, and all stops require skid marks. They acquiesced because I’m a good library customer, with no fines, and regular check-outs, and why would I ruin a book? We came to an agreement and I paid half the fee.

Well, now I’ve lost a book.

It’s gone. Forever. Seriously. I’ve looked everywhere. The last place I remember seeing it was at a Rite Aid. I feigned trying to concentrate on reading it, as I waited for yet another antibiotic prescription, for yet another UTI, before I gave up, and started browsing through the selection of sundries near the pharmacy section. They sell baby clothes! At a Rite Aid! I was this close to buying my friend’s baby a onesie that said “Someone in Pedro Loves me” but I was afraid I’d have to stop at the pawn shop to also buy him a tiny matching gold chain.

I even looked there -- at the Rite Aid, not the pawn shop. It’s just, gone. Poof. It’s not even a good book. It’s just a mystery that I selected at random, which is how I pick all my mysteries, blindly grabbing by what color I feel like that day. It was a yellow one. I lost a yellow mystery. I feel terrible about it. I wish it were blue. Then I could feel blue, and it would be appropriate. Instead, I think it ran away, afraid of something. Get it? Yellow. Now, I have to be yellow about going to the library, instead of sad. Damn. It’s appropriate.

I waited until it was overdue, and I faced my yellow-bellied fear, and went to the library, to tell the librarian, who for some reason always knows who I am, that I lost the book. He’s always a little too nice to me, and he said that he’d renew it an extra time, to give me more time to look for it, and waive the overdue fees while he was at it. Ummm, okay. But, it took me six weeks to face you this time! “Just let me pay for the damn book,” I was secretly screaming in my head. But, he seemed so proud of being nice, that I couldn’t say it aloud, and I thanked him, instead.

Now, the stupid book is overdue again, and I have a pile of others to return. I’ve still not found the missing yellow book, of course. I have to go face the nice man and tell him that I have to pay for it. It’s karma for the book that I realized I had ruined, only after I got halfway home from the library, after refusing to pay for it. “Oh yeah,” I said to Bryon, “that was that one book I was reading in the bathroom of the RV. Whoops!” 

Somehow, the library always gets their money, I suppose. I guess the idea of letting people take anything they want, on the honor system, small late fees attached, isn’t such a poor business model after all.

This whole thing reminds me of the Seinfeld episode with the library cop, Bookman, though. So, I’ll pay for the stupid book, as I fear he’ll find me, regardless of where I’ll move. Even if he doesn’t, I’ll know I didn’t pay and the metaphorical Bookman will leave a yellow-book mark on my conscience. Stupid book.

I promise to pay for my book, Mr Bookman!