in which witness is borne: birds, politics, fiction and critical art theory

there are invisible owls everywhere

Thursday, January 12, 2006
Sometimes being a birdwatcher is like being paranoid--if the definition of paranoia is that you believe you possess knowledge that no one else has. Like the knowledge that, as the sun sets, owls are alighting on branches all around me, and my eyes never quite adjust to the dimness in time for me to catch a glimpse. Owls are one type of bird i really want to see more of--I've only ever seen one in the wild, and its wildness was called immediately into question due to the fact that we saw it at the zoo. But it wasn't in a cage or anything, that's why I say it was in the wild.
I was told by an Audubon naturalist once that you should look deep into every hollow hole in a tree-trunk to check for a pair of eyes glowing back at you. Who can resist that kind of invitation? So i've been looking ever since, with no result. I've stopped repeating that advice to people until such time as I've verified its value independently, e.g. seen a dang owl.
There's been a flood of snowy owl sightings in Illinois recently, including one subject line of an email claiming to have found an owl that had been killed by a car. This evidently happens quite often when there is an irruption of a certain owl species in an area outside its usual wintering grounds. Snowy owls are supposed to occur here, but not really in the numbers that people are seeing them now. ANyway. How ironic would it be if I missed seeing my first snowy owl cause I went to the Bahamas in January?
I want to amend that definition of paranoia above. I think there is a darker sort of edge to it. Webster's second definition (the non-pathologizing one) is "a tendency on the part of an individual or group toward excessive or irrational suspiciousness and distrustfulness of others"; in other words, lack of faith. I definitely have been suffering from that lately and am aswirl with thoughts of how to have more faith. More trust in the world, in others, you name it--there is that in me that wishes to control all aspects of a situation because i think no one can do a better job with it than me. Sha right! The paranoia I'm guilty of has its roots in a family history rife with betrayals of the small and large kind--and it wasn't always necessarily me being betrayed or doing the betraying. And I'm certainly not capable of doing a better job of most things than anybody else. So I caution myself to have a bit more compassion all around--compassion for myself for being only human (and a fairly dilettantish and anxious human to boot) and compassion for those around me who are only doing their level best, after all.
In other news, the delete key has been my friend today. In other news, i enjoy typing "in other news" almost as much as I enjoy saying it to begin many sentences.
5:01 PM :: ::
  • Owls are indeed everywhere around us, but I count myself lucky to see or hear them. Almost every owl sighting that I have had has been by accident. The only time I saw one (actually a pair) by active searching was with substantial aid from a group of crows that found it first - and let the world know about it.

    Good luck finding some.

    By Blogger John, at 8:18 PM  
  • When I was in my early teens my family lived in a small village in England. One night, while sitting on my bed, I heard a loud thump on my window. I looked up to see a startled bird flying backwards. That was the only owl I've ever seen.

    Enjoy Bermuda!

    By Blogger Eva, at 8:25 AM  
  • Umm -- I guess that should be enjoy the Bahamas :-)

    By Blogger Eva, at 8:26 AM  
  • Well, as long as the invisible owls everywhere aren't out to get you, I won't worry too much about your paranoia. Or perhaps even more appropriately, you might worry that the owls you are trying to watch are sitting there, silently, watching you!

    I thought of you when birds entered my blog the other day, but I'm afraid that they really entered it more through ignorance than observance. Sad....

    Have a great trip!

    By Anonymous a.h., and my doppelganger j.b.c., at 7:35 PM  
  • I think that little guy was in visiting his captive bird friends at the zoo. Maybe the wild ones have a need to see how the other half live.

    The only other owl I've seen was in a stand of trees at my college apartments. Most seniors were moving too fast or were too intoxicated to notice, but it hung around hooting hauntingly for hours.

    Remember when you had to assemble rodent bones, etcetera, from an owl pellet? I was so grossed out.

    By Blogger Kan, at 9:00 AM  
  • mar!

    my e-mail is down a few days. so i am posting this here.

    you must check out this fellow's cameras and his gallery. b&w digital in the +100 megapixel range... look at the cityscapes and the wild stuff that is going on with time.



    much love,

    By Blogger lex, at 10:21 AM  
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