The Richmond Nature Park drew hundreds of people on a damp December afternoon. Children and adults of all ages had come to see four live owls who had been rescued from dire circumstances and rehabilitated. Each owl sat perched on the gloved hand of a member from the Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society. Each owl was different in size, colouring and nature, as pictured below.
The Great Horned owl (upper left photo) is known for its aggressive nature and habit of eating other owls. Not surprisingly, the Barred owl (upper middle photo) who sat six feet away from the Great Horned, was a little nervous. She anxiously spun her head from side to side until her view of the Great Horned was blocked. The smallest owl, known as a Saw Whet (upper right), sat at the other end of the room, a safe 20 feet away. In between the Saw Whet and Barred owl, was a Barn owl with her peaceful heart-framed face (lower left).
On this very busy afternoon, the Great Horned owl became agitated by the overwhelming crowds of people. As a result, she was removed from public viewing for a while. When she returned (photo above right), she still bore the same angry look with her seemingly large furrowed brow and round glaring eyes.
Cameras big and small clicked all afternoon long. Streams of people flowed through, many stopping for extended periods to marvel at each amazing bird. One curious woman reached out her finger in an attempt to touch the Barred owl but was swiftly reminded by a member of the O.W.L Society: “These owls are wild. They can hurt you.”
As a spectator and fan, it was easy to forget that the owls are wild since they were indoors, perched on a human finger with one leg tethered to a 6 foot long strap held by its host. It was easy to forget because the owls sat so regally for long stretches of time, posing for photographs.
The big eyed owls stared at the humans while the humans stared big-eyed back at the owls. “Wow!” “They’re beautiful!” “They’re amazing!” were frequent exclamations from the public. On the other side of the table, the owls remained quiet, seeming to not ‘give a hoot’ about the admiration they were receiving. They only batted their eyes demurely and twirled their heads nonchalantly as if it were another day in the park. It was the members of the O.W.L. Society who spoke on their behalf, answering the myriad of questions thrown their way. “They can hear your heartbeat.” was one response, which brought another chorus of wows and simultaneous jaw drops!
Nature has so many lessons for us. I suspect if we stopped our continual activity and sat still long enough to hear our own heartbeat, life might not be so harried or even taken for granted. During this holiday season, take time from all the busy-ness to ‘listen’ to your heart, and then bring this intention into the new year! Remember the wisdom of these wise birds.
Wishing you and your loved ones a safe, warm and joyful holiday season, plus all he best for the new year!