Barn Owl (Tyto alba)
The Barn Owl (Tyto Alba). A mystic, divine and stunning bird. During my trip to California visiting family for Christmas, we spent a couple of days to my wife's cousin house, located in a beautiful Avocado grove in Oceanside, San Diego County.
This place is a heaven for wildlife. Coyotes spent most of their days in the middle of the grove, in the shade of tall and beautiful Avocado trees. And many birds species can be easily seen : Red-shouldered Hawks, Red-tailed Hawks, Turkey Vultures, Hummingbirds, etc etc... it felt so great to be surrounded by animals, completely immersed in nature.
I spent a lot of time walking through the grove. On one walk with my wife, we very briefly saw this big white bird flying away. Just enough time to know it was a Barn Owl!
The next day, I went for another walk in the grove in the afternoon, with the only objective to spot the Barn Owl and hopefully have time to really see it. The grove has about 1000 avocado trees. I tried to focus my attention on the tallest and oldest trees, which I thought would provide a better and higher shelter for the owl to rest during the day. Walking up back to the house, I look up to one beautiful avocado tree on my right, and here it was, facing me, about 30 feet away from me. I could not believe it!!
I stopped moving and waited. The owl was looking at me at first, intrigued, but after one or two minutes it closed its eyes and rest on one foot. Its white throat makes me believe it is a male. I tried to go two steps closer, he opened its eyes widely, started to move his head and put his second on foot on the branch, showing obvious signs of disturbance. He was basically getting ready to fly away. So I instantly stepped back, moving very slowly. I lied down on the floor and stopped moving. He relaxed again, closed his eyes and rest.
I believe it is crucial to always deeply respect the animal in front on you. If you do so, the animal will start to trust you and feel ok with your presence. We can interact with wild animals. We can even get close to them. Always move slowly, be as quiet as possible, and keep your distance as soon as you notice any sign of stress.
I texted my wife so she can come meet me and enjoy this very unique encounter. She came with her brother, her cousin and her cousin's husband. As they came very slowly and very quietly, the owl did not fly away. He was totally fine with it and we all enjoyed watching this magnificient raptor for a few minutes before leaving him alone.
This moment was memorable. Since then, I have visions of it day and night, every day. It was seriously incredible. I feel so lucky and grateful.
When I arrived at their house on the first day I read a great quote framed on the bathroom's wall:
"Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you." Frank Lloyd Wright