Last night after the sun had set and all objects outside were reduced to only silhouettes, a barred owl caught my eye through the window. It flew from branch to branch and I followed it from different spots in the house until it made its final flight - directly over the loft window I was peering from, over the house, and out of sight. Later that evening we started hearing the owl. We joked about it dining on the flying squirrel population that live in the roof of our cabin (Shack) next door. It went silent for a moment. Then we heard a horrific hoot outside the door followed by a deadening thud against one of the upstairs window. Then another hoot.
I knew exactly what had happened. I immediately thought of Ed Abbey and this passage from his book Desert Solitaire:
“I am not alone. From the vicinity of Balanced Rock comes the cry of the great horned owl. Suppertime, for the owl. The mice, squirrels, gophers, rabbits know what I mean. What is he up to? Rather than hunt for his supper the owl seems to be calling his supper to come to him. He calls again and again, always from the same place, not moving, in a voice which seems to come from not one spot alone but—anywhere. A war of nerves.
His nervous, timorous prey, terribly insecure, hear that cry and tremble. Where exactly is the owl? Perhaps the next shrub, the next rock, would offer better concealment than this. They hesitate. The great horned owl cries again and a rabbit breaks, dashes for what might be a better place, revealing his position. Quiet as a moth the owl swoops down.”
Only last night it was a barred owl and a flying squirrel - not a great horn and a rabbit. And this time it was the flying squirrels shattered trust in the ground that failed him. His last lesson being glass really does exist and is not something found only in bird folklore.
This morning I looked around for the carnage. I found nothing.