The Mystery of the Gray Bird

copyright © by P. R. Lowe
March 9, 2016

I was puttering about the kitchen doing morning stuff when I glanced out the window at the bird feeder, as I often do. Usually there is a bustle of activity there from the Finches, Pine Siskens, Chickadees, Titmice and an amiable Squirrel that often hangs about hoping for an offering of peanuts. This morning there was no one, save one lone bird perched at the top of the shepard’s hook. S/he was completely still, like a statue, rather than a living bird. I watched for movement and took in it’s appearance. At first I thought it was a Titmouse as s/he was about that size and color, but had no tuft at it’s crown and the gray color was much lighter; a light silver gray, with no markings at all. S/he wasn’t as long as a titmouse, especially the tail and the body was rounder and the head smaller and less elongated. Still no movement. Was the wee creature okay? I wondered.
I took up my binoculars for closer inspection and found to my delight that this bird had absolutely marvelous eyes; huge puppy dog eyes, seemingly too big for it’s face. It brought to mind the “Big Eyes” paintings of the sixties and seventies. I was fascinated and my “to do” list went right out the window…literally.
The eyes roved around ever so slightly, with no movement from anywhere else, as if s/he might be lost or unsure or even injured. As I pondered this, the head, very slowly, began to turn… and turn…and turn. I thought for a moment that it might turn all the way round like a scene from The Exorcist, but at last it stopped, completely over it’s back, then ever so slowly wound back again, becoming motionless.
Was this a baby owl? My neighbors have occasionally spotted what they believe to be a pair of Great Horned Owls sitting motionless in their front yard like garden statues. But this bird had no markings at all, and wasn’t it too small to be an owl? Even a baby one?
I watched for some time hoping s/he would make some flourish of movement; that I would be assured
of her or his well being. Finally, and a bit regretfully, curiosity won out and I creaked open the storm door….the strange gray bird immediately and quite swiftly flew up and vanished into the woods. I’ve not seen it since. And I wonder who was s/he? And will s/he return? I hope so. Such is life in the valley…sweet and full of mystery and wonder.

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