Owl Spotting by Carol Guzman
This morning, we woke to the sound of magpies right out our bedroom window. This is always an indication that something is going on – food or foe in the area? As I entered my studio to start working, I spotted a Great Horned Owl on my balcony railing. It was all puffed up and sitting in the sun. Did she eat one of the many cottontails hanging around our buildings this winter?
I’m always amazed how approachable they are. They don’t seem to mind me with my telephoto lens. Watching its beautiful body breathe and puff up its feathers, I thought how close our two hearts were together, beating, each in nature with our unique senses. I watched her effortlessly turn her huge head. The eyes seemed to not be focused together.
One was half closed, the other wide open. An owl is a pair of binoculars with wings, the eyes making up one third of the head. Owls are colored blind because they only have rod cells, no cones. They do have a tapetum – a thin iridescent layer of reflective cells behind the retina allowing it to see in faint light. This
causes them to shine in the dark. Other animals with these reflective cells include spiders, caimans, cats, moths and birds. Later, I saw her swoop down from our roof; her silent wings just a few feet off the ground. But the bunny escaped quickly into the tall grass. After her attempt for a meal, she perched on the fencepost. A flock of magpies surrounded her squawking complaints of not getting to scavenge part of her kill. The bunny won this round!