One Fell Out of the Cuckoo's Nest...

Something fell out of our tree.  In the backyard we have a 60 year old silver leafed maple, it is twice as big as the house and a number of creatures use the tree for homes, shelter, a place to perch, etc.  We love this tree, it shades us in the summer, protects us in the winter, and offers us a glance at the wildlife that is around us.  We have had hawks stop to rest and hunt, starlings raising generations of little naked screeching birds, and robins by the hundreds.  You don't realize the impact of one tree until you look up and notice what uses it.

This morning, I let the dog out.  A few minutes later I happened to glance out the kitchen window to see the dog sniffing something odd.  I am still a little hung over from my 100 mile bike ride yesterday (not to mention crippled), so my first thought was that it was the most extraordinary fuzzy mushroom.  (Okay... really hung over... don't laugh!  Ride 100 miles, you will know how I feel.)  Then, the mushroom moved.  I rushed out of the kitchen shooed the dog and what I was looking at was a fuzzy baby owl.  He was just sitting there, on his little talons, taking in the morning, his eyes closed.  I picked him up and promptly called for my family and my phone.  "Oooohs" and "Awwwws" later, he was in a box and I was on the phone with the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah (WRCNA).  The WRCNA is a non-profit organization that specializes in raptor and endangered birds, although they occasionally  take other animals.  They had just taken in a red tail hawk, a few osprey's, and an owl before we arrived.  They are located in Ogden Canyon and have a great team of volunteers, and they also have a big list of needs.  You can check out their website HERE.

An hour later we were dropping off this cute little guy.  He has conjunctivitis which probably led to him falling out of the nest.  We are anticipating more owlets dropping out of the nest for the same reason, so now we are on owl patrol.  The staff thought that he was in good shape, except the eyes, just a little hungry and tired.  He is a Western Screech Owl and we have high hopes for his survival and return to his natural habitat.

One of the parents, not sure if it is the male or female.  The hubby climbed up on the house to get a view.  Grateful for a very good lens on the camera so we could get a good look at what is living in the tree.  

Part of being connected to the land is having a respect for the life around us.  Holding this fluffy baby and teaching my kids about him was a once in a lifetime moment.  I feel like I have a great responsibility to teach my children to respect the life that surrounds them.  I am always dragging the kids places to give them opportunities to learn to help them gain a respect for nature and our planet.  This time, our lesson was as close as the backyard, where people and nature intersect.  It was a great opportunity to teach them about impact, specifically how we impact nature and how it impacts us.  For instance, did you know that a barn owl that lives 10 years will eat an estimated 11,000 mice in it's lifetime?  It's impact is significant to us, it changes our environment.  Did you know that changes in irrigation patterns can drastically impact food sources for the white faced ibis that migrates through Utah?  7,500 of them move through Utah every year and we support the largest breeding population of them in the world.  How we impact them is significant to their population and success.

Wrapped up and on his way to the WRCNA.
Will promptly made a sign to put over the owls box.
"Leave the baby owl alone.  You can pet him but do not make loud noises."
 He was so concerned.  
The boys had to pose next to their little fluffy friend.  
Impact is so important, it was a great lesson for us to learn.  I hope that we impacted this little owlet for good.  High hopes for his return...


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