The owl grips a thin branch of a walnut tree overhanging the driveway and regurgitates a large mass of hair and bones in the shape of its gizzard.
When an Owl is about to produce a pellet, it will take on a pained expression — the eyes are closed, the facial disc narrow, and the bird will be reluctant to fly. At the moment of expulsion, the neck is stretched up and forward, the beak is opened, and the pellet simply drops out without any retching or spitting movements.
I find it there the next morning, frozen solid. Tiny pelvises and femurs, jaw bones and vertebrae, and somewhere the miniscule bones from the inner ear. The owl doesn’t retch, no — owls are silent creatures, and besides, this is more like a turd, albeit one that travels in the wrong direction. I can imagine it making a quiet little blog.
“Look for antennae,” says the note beside me on the table. It’s in my own handwriting. I scratch my head.
Nope, nothing there.
I was listening to robins singing this morning while I drank my coffee. Despite their Latin name, Turdus migratorius, American robins are year-round residents throughout much of their range. They roam around in the winter in large gangs, foraging for wild fruit (Hercules’-club, sumac, fox grapes, etc.) and generally avoiding areas with heavy snow cover, so it’s common not to see them for a month or two at a time. And the wimpier ones do fly south, so I guess that’s how people started thinking of robins as the archetypal harbingers of spring. I liked what David Lynch did with that notion in Blue Velvet: at the end of this very strange movie about a small-town psychopath, a mechanical bird lands on a branch and the college-kid hero says, “Oh look! The first robin of spring!”
Although actually I prefer Gary Larson’s twist on the spring arrivals motif: bird bath in the foreground, typical Far Side fat kids with their eager faces pressed against the picture window, and their mother saying, “Look children! The slugs are back!” If you grew up in a family of nature nerds as I did, trust me, that’s hilarious.
Yesterday, I got into a pointless argument with a friend about whether it was possible to be mildly obsessed. I said I thought mild obsession was the only kind I’ve ever experienced. Full-blown obsession is entirely too much effort.
Take these robins, for example. When they start singing, it is a sign of (very early) spring, because it means they’re starting to pair off and defend territory. But birders like to interpret their song as: “Cheerily, cheer up, cheer up, cheerily, cheer up.”
Yeah, right. Much more likely, they’re saying, “Look at me, look out, look out, look at me, look out!” There’s an obsessive quality to their singing that just isn’t captured by the first interpretation.
There are at least two different web-based businesses built around the sale of owl pellets. I had no idea they were such a hot commodity. At Genesis, Inc.,
All of our owl pellets are from the Common Barn Owl (Tyto alba) and come from various locations. The majority come from the Pacific Northwest and are of the Highest Quality in the United States. Each pellet is inspected for quality and size. They are then heat treated and wrapped in aluminum foil. You can order 3 different sizes. The “SOP” are under 1.5″ and are usually between 1.25″ and 1.5″ in length. The next size are the “BOP’s”. These Owl Pellets are 1.5″ and larger. The BOP’s can contain pellets that are well over 2″ but will never be smaller that 1.5″. The BOP’s are the same pellets we fill our kits with and are the most common ones to order. The BOP’s are a great choice! If you can afford the price, the “JOP’s” are excellent! These owl pellets are 2″ and larger (may be limited to stock on hand).
The purchase of Owl Brand Discovery Kits help support humanitarian efforts around the globe.
Here is a highlight of just a few of the projects that you have helped OBDK participate in:
- Funded 9 short term missionaries to a children’s home in Mexico
- Promoting humanitarian outreach through our corporate structure
- Participated in building hundreds of wells in Africa
- Sponsored, coached, and managed more than 50 Little League players
All through the sale of barn owl pellets. Amazing.
I saw something on a tech blog the other night that absolutely horrified me. At the top of each post, right under the title, there was an extra line displaying the word count, followed by an estimate of how many seconds it would take someone to read the post.
I mean, blog.