My first Barred Owl sighting, at Eagle Creek.

Whoooo’s there?

Meet the Barred Owl. This was my first sighting. A couple of expert birders and Eagle Creek devotees led Louie and I to this spot. There were no guarantees we’d find one, but they knew the regular haunts of the owls. We ventured off trail, sank through snow half-way up to our shins.

We were given tips to help scout. In the winter, Barred Owls will likely roost in evergreen trees. Their feather markings blend with the tree, so we should look out for a strange lump on a branch – we’d likely notice the shape being off before really “seeing” the owl. Finally, they’d be higher up in the tree, around 20′ up or so.

Louie had his pair of binoculars – he’s had them since he was a kid. I looked through the zoom lens of our camera. I forget who saw the owl first, but someone called us over, pointed up at the sky. Even then, it took a while for my eyes to focus in and find him. Looking at the picture, it seems obvious, but this is with the benefit of zoom. Without the expert birders, I doubt I’d ever have noticed this quiet soul resting up there.

Getting to know birds helped me understand the power of awareness in a new way. Louie and I put up backyard bird feeders in January. With the help of a guide book, we’ve learned the names of a lot of new birds. Some of them, being both common and distinct, make me wonder how in the world I never noticed them before. Now that I know what a Nuthatch looks like, I see them all the time as I walk the Monon Trail. I’m beginning to recognize the calls of some of the birds too. Now that I know these things, I see and hear them everywhere.

I can’t help but wonder what other secrets of the universe my brain is hiding from me. What happenings am I editing out? What other beings share my space, undetected? I know my mind is just trying to parse out what’s important and protect me from being overwhelmed. Birds helped me realize just how much I’m capable of filtering out. They’ve pushed me to see what I don’t see, or at least to try.

This post is part of Think Kit by SmallBox
Prompt: “Hi, I’m ______. Nametags and punchbowls aren’t necessary (but we’re okay with that!) – who did you meet this year? Was it awkward? Enlightening? Was your first impression correct? Was it accidental & meant to be, pre-arranged, or somewhere in-between? Whether you found a soulmate, held a new baby, or finally trusted someone to style your hair just so, write about a new person (or people) in your life.”