Contrary to yesterday’s forebodings, the Burrowing Owl has not yet started its return migration. Where it hid yesterday remains a mystery. But this morning it was very much present in its habitual spot. And what a day it had! Just in the time I watched it, the bird entertained a visiting ground squirrel, ignored an obnoxious American Crow, ducked from overhead raptors, anxiously peered at an approaching loose dog, observed a trespassing cross-country bicyclist, and basked in the admiration of a group of Feminist Bird Club members doing a walk today in honor of International Women’s Day.
Their daytime ground-level lifestyle exposes the Burrowing Owls to a greater variety of stimuli, most of them potentially life-threatening, than probably any other owl. To handle it all, they come equipped with great vision and lightning reflexes. To live the way they do, they have to stay alert to anything and everything all day long, especially on the busy weekends with good weather. I wonder what the owl will tell its family and friends up north when it gets there about its stay here. I can’t help thinking that when it looks at us with those great big eyes, it’s asking if we couldn’t do more to provide a safer environment. Squirrels, hawks, and crows it can handle. But loose dogs and cross-country bicycles? Can’t we do better than that?