Residents of a rural South Surrey neighbourhood are mourning the death of this owlet

LETTERS: Grieving the brief life of owlet

Editor:

Re: Young raptor enraptures residents, April 15.

Editor:

Re: Young raptor enraptures residents, April 15.

For those of you who saw this article, this is a follow-up. A baby great horned owl fell out of its nest at approximately one week old. It was spotted on the ground on March 25. Each day, this little owlet would be bigger than the day before, showing the abundant care its parents were doting on him/her, even spending the day and night on the ground sheltering the baby from rain.

With super parents, little owl baby grew very quickly.  We watched as his white, fluffy down gradually turned grey, then took on brown hues and the beginnings of lined markings. He became more coy, hiding behind the Douglas fir tree and occasionally peeking around to see what was going on at the street and sidewalk. At night, when my husband would take our dog Sunny for a walk, he would hear Owlet making little high-pitched chirps (but not during the daytime). By mid-April, Hooter Jr. had grown to just over a foot in height with a wing span of four feet and was periodically seen jumping/running and getting off the ground to about one foot in height. The gorgeous flight feathers still needed to grow more for him to be able to actually fly.

I heard the crows one day and put out the call to my husband and our neighbours. The parents were hooting non-stop and Owlet was hugging his tree as tightly as he could trying to look like an inconspicuous bump on the side of the tree. The crows were successfully chased away and the area guarded until dark. Owlet then emerged to the ecstasy of the neighbour guardians. Soon, a parent owl brought food and all was calm for the night.

Owlet was not seen for two days, so the farm lady was asked to check the owl tree. He was not there, but was found about 30 feet away, limp and lifeless. He was buried on the farm.

OWL Rehabilitation Society was called and came to pick him up for an autopsy. The damage to him showed the work of crows. Now I understand the meaning of a “murder of crows”.

At 5:30 one morning, his parents came to the village guardians to hoot. Was this to tell us the news of their little one? We greatly miss his little chirps; his leaps towards flight; his delightfully fuzzy body; his dedicated parents.

In the evening after OWL removed the lifeless owlet, my husband took Sunny for his 9 p.m. walk. The parent owls above emitted the saddest hoots – very different from the normal sequence of hoots. It was their way of grieving and sharing their grief with the village that tried to be of help.

For several more evening walks, Sunny would gaze towards the farm field waiting for the soft high-pitched “chirp” to emerge from the darkness – in vain.

Our eyes still longingly cast in the direction of the Owl Tree.

Marilyn Hirsekorn, Surrey

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