Quick, amusing story from the weekend:
We’re outside in late afternoon, as the low sun is filtering through trees and really lighting up everything it’s still reaching. I’m splitting a pile of wood while Joanna carries it inside and stacks it. We hear a sudden commotion, and turn around to see a barred owl come swooping low toward us, out of the woods to the east, chasing a panicking robin who is making all the noise. The robin escapes about the time the owl sees us and brakes upward to land in a large cedar tree nearby. From here, (s)he has a clear view of the nearby free-ranging chickens, who I’m sure are quite a bit tastier than a robin. The sun is highlighting the chicken yard as well as the owl, who is perched in an exposed west-facing branch and just lit up by the glow.
So we get a good look, then go over and shoo her/him back towards the woods from whence (s)he came before any ideas are hatched. We hear barred owls all the time, but rarely get a good look at them for various obvious reasons.
Joanna, who has always been an avid birder, would normally be thrilled with such a sighting (and was). Yet given the location, her first thoughts also turned to the chickens. It’s been a bit surprising that we haven’t lost a single one all year to hawks or owls, and would hate to start now with our small and valued egg flock. So she turns to me and comments, “I know I’m a farmer when I see a barred owl and my first thought is OH $%@#! instead of OH WOW…”