My aunt knew it all. “There’ll be three of them: mama, daddy, and baby. Could be more than one baby.”
“It’s adorable cute,” said my mother.
“Don’t even SAY that,” yelled my aunt. “It is a predator! They are night hunters! It probably was in a dark area of the house for several hours and then it woke up and flew to hunt!” This, coming from the woman who fed the buzzards that would land every afternoon in her back yard, scared my mother and she started trembling.
The phone rang. It was Our Hero in the radio truck. “You called for animal control?”
“I have an owl! In my living room! Could you come get it?”
“Wow! Never heard THAT before.”
I gave him my address and info. “Can you come now?”
“I have one more call to make. Lady has a fox on her roof looking into her bedroom window. I’m on the opposite side of town. But this should take only about ten minutes to do, and then drive time. I’ll call you when I leave there. Just stay away from it, and stay calm. Oh, and close the doors into that room so it won’t fly off.”
“House is open plan,” I said miserably. “No doors to close.”
“I knew the open floor plan would bite us someday,” muttered Hubby, who was watching the owl. It was watching him. They had a perfect Mexican standoff, staying warily on guard.
I heard Hubby scraping the door from the living room into the kitchen hall closed. It has always stayed open, so it made some noise. This put the owl, who had been laid-back, on alert. It swiveled its head 180 degrees back and forth. “What? These sorcerers have closed the wall. I must be aware and keep watch.” I wasn’t so sure it would help that much to close that door, either.
The cheery phone voice was apparently looking forward to the adventure. “It’ll probably be around thirty minutes before I get there. Hang on.”
When he hung up, I realized our situation. We had to stare down the little owl so that it stayed where it was.
“It could have been in here for days,” said Mama from the kitchen, where she’d sneaked. “You kept telling me you heard something. And I did hear fluttering in the kitchen for the past three nights. I told myself, ‘Shut up and go to sleep, you crazy old woman.’ But it was my Choctaw Indian instincts. I kept dreaming and having flashes of something trying to fly down and get our dog! This is why!”
“Go in there and guard the dog,” I commanded. Dog whined. “It’s OK. A man is coming to get the owl,” I told him inanely.
It could be true–the owl could have found a hiding place and could have been here overnight or more. I think I posted here (or I e-mailed Dennis, or wrote it in a sticky note, or something) about how the other night at 4 AM dog and I went outside in the courtyard to tinkle, and as he was making one last pass at the bushes in front of the window, a great fluttering commotion took place and a bird flew straight up from behind the bushes and hit the roof overhang. I thought it was a large brown robin, and both the dog and I rushed into the house. I didn’t think the bird had followed us into the house, but . . . if it was nesting under those bushes, it could have come in at any time. It was just learning to fly, and had been hopping around . . . who knew?
It was getting really hot and sticky inside. “Close the front door–who knows what else might come in? I don’t think the owl will fly out on its own. It’s lost, doesn’t know where it is, doesn’t know what to try.” I sighed. “Poor thing.”
Just in case, we turned on all the lights in both of the big rooms so there wouldn’t be a “dark” for it to head towards. We took up our spots in the hall at a safe distance to watch it.
Then we waited.
Eventually, the doorbell rang. Hubby opened the door and a tall guy holding a HUGE butterfly net, a cage, and two blankets smiled. “Owl?”
(I wish I had a still photo of him when the door opened to reveal The Catcher On The Fly, but I just didn’t have the presence of mind by that time. I have Flip videos of him catching the owl, and I’ll put them on YouTube in a bit.)
“This is the place,” said Hubster, stepping back to let the guy in. He waved a hand at the living room, and the guy spied the owl immediately.
“Holy cow,” he said. He lifted the net.
I’m sure he was chuckling to himself, thinking he’d find a dumb girl who just didn’t know what that chickadee was and was unduly panicked about it. Heh.
Now, if you knew me, you’d know I have all sorts of little breakable thingies sitting around that room. Right next to that window is a collection of snow globes, and on the dining table is a collection of crystal bowls. But I had already said, “If it all gets broken, so it goes.” Having an owl flying full speed ahead at your FACE, even if it is only a baby and it’s just trying to scare you or doesn’t even know what is going on, IS SCARY and will provide a good survivalist wake-up.
“I don’t think we’ll have to make things crash.” He approached the owl slowly and eased the net down. It crouched and tried to get behind the curtain rod, but it fell into the net. He lifted the net and it flew out and into the opposite wall. It grabbed the top of my large “cranes” screen that hangs over the buffet, but couldn’t stay balanced. It hit the ceiling as it flew up. Eventually it got back to the curtain rod.
Try #2 worked better because he raised the net to the ceiling. Then he said to Hubster, “Could you do me a huge favor? Could you hand me that blanket?” Hubs threw him one of the blankets he’d dropped on the floor in front of the sofa, and he tossed the blanket into the net. This reminded me of the time a mouse got into the house on Melrose when we lived there, and hubby bonked my expensive trash can (specially ordered from Charles Keath for $100 during one of my insane moments, a brass can with a lithograph of a magnolia on it) over it and then grabbed my best LP record (a recording of all the songs in Shakespeare played on the lute and sung by some famous person, an old record I had found at Bill’s Records and Tapes years before and had never even PLAYED yet because at the time we didn’t have a turntable any more) to slip under it. He carried the record-covered can out to the creek a block away and dropped BOTH of them in along with the mouse. I still have not really forgiven him–he could have just removed the record and dumped out the mouse!! But I digress.
So . . . the guy tossed the blanket into the net, but it didn’t cover the owl completely, and it panicked. It extended its wings (I would say the wingspan was at least two feet) and it headed straight for the two of us (Hubby and I) standing in the front hall. By George, HE can shriek and run into the bedroom hall, too!
“Here it comes,” said the guy, a bit late. Dang if it didn’t fly right into the den, through the open plan arch. It circled the room and landed on one of the blades of the ceiling fan.
Intrepid hunter with net headed after it. “Stay there,” he called back, “because it’s panicked.” Join the club, birdie! We huddled in the bedroom hall like a couple of huddling things. “Got it,” the guy said, “but it’s just barely holding on to the edge of the net.”
“Get the front door open!” I said, shoving poor Hubby into the hall.
“That’s a good idea,” said the guy. “Oops! Almost lost him.”
I didn’t get to see (nor did my video camera’s lens) the final triumphant exit into the courtyard. “Fly away,” commanded Our Hero. The owl flew over and landed on the brick courtyard wall.
“I guess I’d better not take the Pom out there,” I ventured.
“NO, I definitely wouldn’t.”
“But it’s out of the house, at least,” said Hubby in an awed tone.
“Thank you. Thank God for you!” I fawned over the guy.
“All in a day’s work.” He gathered his cage and blankets and headed out. The owl flew up into the crape myrtle on the other side of the courtyard wall.
Visitation from Athena or her messenger: complete. Message: unclear.
We closed the door. “Now where is the dog going to ‘go’?” I said.
“I guess we’ll have to get a dog litter box.”
We tried that when he was a baby, but it didn’t “take.” It will have to take better this time.
But anyway. How many people can say they’ve had a baby owl in the house? My aunt was duly contacted to tell her that at 11 PM the baby had been returned to its parents in the tree. “My God,” she said, “my sister has an owl in the house, and I had buzzards in the yard. What else will Nature pull on us?”
“Coral snake infestation in the county,” offered Hubby. “Shortage of antivenin. Film at 10.”
“Shut up,” I explained. “Tomorrow at lunchtime you and Johnny go over to Fry’s and get one of those doggie litter box things. I’d go now, but they’re closed.”
“We’ve had enough excitement for tonight,” said my mother. “But I don’t think I can sleep. Ever again. To think there was an OWL in the HOUSE and we let the dog run all over and left him unsupervised!”
A sobering thought. For now, if he has to tinkle, I’ll either put his leash on and drive over to the nearest lighted parking lot, or we’ll try to go in the garage on newspapers. Fun!
But I’m not going to give three owls a chance at us. This one really does know how to fly. . . .