Bring wisdom to me.
Help me make the right decisions.
Assist me in planning my future.
Fly with me on my spiritual path.
Show me the way.
As I write this there are three burrowing owls in my front yard, digging underneath my roses to find cool, damp earth to ward off the hot Arizona sun. They are ever present in my yard and have long been the animal I associate myself with. These owls reside underground in expanded rodent burrows while nesting, and they emerge with new life once a year from these underworld domains. They are amazing birds.
This year there were four youngsters. We watched as they emerged from their burrow to peer with eyeballs barely over the edge of the hole. In the coming weeks they will learn how to catch prey and eventually learn to fly. In time, they will find my backyard, and there they will stay for most of the summer. It is the same every year. Why they came to settle near my home and take up residence in my back yard I do not know. My side yard has become a safe haven for them. It is shady long after the sun is up, with tall hollyhocks, creeping fig, and damp rose beds. Many times they dig down into the wet earth and lie down to keep cool. Most days I wake to find four or five owls lined up on my wall in some sort of stoic memorial.
Occasionally it doesn’t go well with the owls. Last year we had a baby that was injured and couldn’t walk. It basically rolled into the burrow to escape danger. People drove around looking at it and talking about it, but eventually walked or drove away not knowing what to do. As with most things concerning the owls, I made up my mind that the burden fell to me. Trying to catch it was a problem. It couldn’t walk but it was still lightening fast down that hole! Then there were the parents to contend with. I eventually found it farther from the burrow one night and I scooped it up before it could disappear. It was light as a feather. A little puff of nothingness in my hand. It was calm and trusting with its big round eyes. It went to a rescue that just rehabilitates birds of prey. It was the best I could do.
This year one of the young flyers was hit by a car. Normally very wise, they avoid cars well but this one couldn’t navigate the road yet. Not wanting to leave it in the road, I buried it by my roses. I placed owl charms and crystals over its lifeless feathers and flowers from the garden on its grave. Its siblings looked on as I did this. The next day I spied one of them lying on top of the burial with its wings spread open on the ground. I imagine that the owlets missed their fallen fellow. I witnessed them on many occasions during the summer standing with wings touching and occasionally head butting each other affectionately. They gave the impression of a family. The three owls did this for a few days, each taking turns to rest on the grave.
Living with owls has taught me a lot about nature and how fragile even birds of prey can be. I feel sometimes like a steward of the owls or maybe a caretaker. They are special and worth saving. My son thinks I embody an amusing owl woman. Once, I warned some neighbors walking near the owl burrow that they shouldn’t get too close with their dogs because they had babies in the hole. The owls tend to get quite cross about dogs. They have been known to take people’s hats off with their claws and dive bomb dogs and cats. My son started laughing quite hard at me. I realized I had my “Defenders of Wildlife” shirt on while I was “defending” the owls. It was quite humorous.
Most years I dream of leaving Phoenix with its never ending summer. But then I realize I would miss the life cycle of the owl. I would miss the feathery cuteness that has somehow found me and my yard and woven its magic into my heart.