21 September 2012

Five Minute Friday ~ Wide


Wide…

 


Aren't those wide, bright orange eyes phenomenal?

They belong to a northern white-faced Scops owl, that we've recently had living with us. A friend told us that one of the markets in town had it in a cage for sale and that it was looking pretty traumatized.

Brendan asked, told us he had the money - and so Tim took him to get it.

This is the second time our oldest has tried to raise/rehabilitate one. He also spent several months caring for a Lanner falcon just prior to our last furlough.

The first time, he went looking for one and he cared for the owl for nearly a year before it ate tainted meat (we think) and died. The wings and tail feathers of that particular owl - Silver was her name (although she didn't like Tim and growled every time she saw him, so he called her Mrs. Grumpy) - had been so damaged when it was captured that Brendan knew after a very short time it would never be able to fly again. So he'd kill lizards with his slingshot to feed the bird and kept her in a cage in his room or on our terrace. He thoroughly enjoyed caring Silver - she was a magnificent creature. I think that his experience with Silver and a few other birds of prey he's helped rehabilitate is a part of his desire to study environmental science as he looks at heading to university next year.

We enjoyed that owl while we had her and we all learned so much... One of Brendan's friends was also rehabilitating a barn owl at the same time. Whenever the two were in the same proximity, Silver would puff, flare his wings a bit and make herself look nearly twice the size she really was. Apparently, this is an instinctive trait for these owls when feeling threatened by a slightly larger animal.

She responded totally differently with a much larger, or more aggressive (i.e. our cats) animal. Then she'd pull inward, stand up as tall and thin as she could, completely narrow her eyes and, seriously? She would actually look like a stick or a twig. Some scientists consider this a type of camouflage, or instinctive protective behavior. 

This is Brendan's senior year... most likely his last year in Africa for a significant time, at least... He was super excited to stumble on this amazing bird and to have the gift of another opportunity to work with one of these magnificent creatures. It doubly thrilled him to find that when this one spread wide its wings, they looked strong and the plumage appeared full and healthy. It could fly. So Bren figured he'd rescue, care for and work with it a bit (continuing to gain bird handling skills and pursuing his long-standing interest in falconry here, where it is much less regulated and more affordable) until the damaged tail feathers grew back. Then he hoped to release the bird, returning it to the wild.


Sadly, Bren noticed the past few days that the owl was very lethargic and last night, it refused to eat. 

This morning, it died.

We're all sad, Bren especially.

When you open your heart wide and risk: loving for, caring for and dreaming for eventual restoration and freedom... it hurts when less than that is the result.

Whether here... or elsewhere, I hope he has the opportunity to explore this passion again.   




12 comments:

  1. hi! linked up after you at lisa-jos. what an amazing thing to nurture a wounded animal! I'm so sad that he didn't make it. A couple of summers ago, my little ones found baby birds running around near the bus-stop (I think quail). They wanted so badly to rescue them and try as we did, every one of them died. It is amazing to me that God notices when the sparrow falls. Nothing is too common or insignificant for him to love.

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    1. our gang has tried several times - sometimes successful and other times not. it is always a great learning experience b/c a hurt or tiny animal that is completely dependent on them teaches lots of responsibility. our oldest daughter spent 3 weeks nurturing baby finches - waking every 2 hours to feed them, etc. we actually thought they were going to make it b/c they lived as long as they did...

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  2. Awe, loss is hard.. Praying for your beautiful family <3

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    1. thanks, melissa! we appreciate the prayer.

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  3. How wonderful that your son loves God's creation so much! Great post!

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    1. thanks - it has been fun to watch God develop this passion in him. :-) thanks for stopping by today.

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  4. Wow! How amazing to have such animals in your home being cared for by you/your family. I'm sorry it didn't make it. I look forward to reading more of your blog. Thanks for coming to visit me.

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    1. i very much enjoyed stopping by today. where in alaska are you?

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  5. Wow, that is a gorgeous owl, and how exciting for your son to be able to explore his passion...Sorry about his loss...it must have been hard...thanks for visiting my blog...a woman from our church is in Niger teaching missionary kids...Blessings, Richelle...nice to meet you :)

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  6. now i'm really curious - who is the lady in your church, since there is a really good chance i might know her since teaching mks is one of the ministries i do here in niger too.. the expat community here is pretty small/tight. :-)

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