April 24, 2013: What a Hoot!

~ by Mary Galvano

One evening my husband gave me a startle by calling for me to come look outside. All the lights were off and as I approached the open door there on the fence outside sat a great big owl. It’s head looked like a cat’s. It was too dark to determine the exact species of owl but my guess being the size and the large tufts of features protruding from the ears it was a Great Horned Owl. The owl actually stayed there for a while under our motion lights and gave us a chance to look at it through the binoculars. After a while it flew away. We were so excited about seeing the owl because it is not too common to be able to get that close to an owl and actually look at the face.

This wasn’t the first time, though, that we had an encounter with owls in our backyard. A couple of months before there were two of them on separate roofs (one on our neighbors and one a few houses down) hooting back a forth to each other. Our area with all the different species of birds apparently has become quite a bird sanctuary!

These encounters with owls bring me to one of the most memorable times of my youth, our owl Oscar a Florida Screech Owl. Yes, my family had an owl! This owl was found stranded on my father’s golf course in Bradenton, Florida. We tried to leave it alone long enough for the mother to find it but unfortunately it was never rescued. My father decided we would help it the best we could so we nurtured the owl in our own home for a short while. As a little girl this was the best science lesson I could have. We named the owl Oscar. At night Oscar could be heard throughout the house hooting. It was kind-of spooky for a young child, but fun! The eyes on him were so mysterious and the way his head turned was amazing!

My mother brought Oscar to my school one day for show and tell. It was during the time when children of Thailand were refugees to the U.S.A. because of the fighting happening in Thailand, and there were quite a few of Thai children in our schools. One of the children asked my mother what the Owl likes to eat. She told him cockroaches and the little boy said, “That’s what we eat!”

Eventually, we ended up having the bird & wildlife sanctuary in town come and help find a home more fitting for a wild owl. Although we all missed Oscar we knew this was the right thing to do.

Owls are one of God’s most amazing and useful creatures. These magnificent birds of prey are extremely necessary for the environment. Without owls our environment would be overrun with harmful insects. Although we should love and appreciate all of God’s creations, even the creepy crawly ones, the owl’s diet helps keep the rodent population under control in Florida as they eat mice, rats, skunks, snakes and of course the very tasty Palmetto Bug (I thank them for that one). Their big eyes, great hearing and ability to rotate their heads nearly full circle gives them great advantage, making these birds one of the best hunters in the world. Owls are able to capture many night creatures because of their special feather construction, which quiets their flight and enables them to sneak up on the fastest prey.

The biggest threat to Owls is humans. Many of their habitats are destroyed through man-made developing. At this time, only the Burrowing Owl is endangered.

Overall, Owls are a “Hoot!” They are indeed fascinating in many ways, as are so many of God’s creations. Keep a look out, there might be an owl in your own back yard!

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Mary Galvano-Bajohr is a singer/songwriter, LPGA golf instructor, speaker and author. On the golf course she is a dedicated professional, but go to a Yankee game, a Pro-life event or other venue and you just might see her step up to the microphone and sing the National Anthem or the Ave Maria.

Visit Mary’s website at www.marygalvano.com.

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