On the way home from work this afternoon I stopped by Shelburne Pond to take a quick walk. I trudged through the snow on the trail, looking and listening for birds. I didn’t find much–a couple of distant crows, a few chickadees hiding in the thick evergreens. I figured it would just be a contemplative walk without much in terms of avian fauna. And then an owl took off right next to me.
I heard it. This may not sound like much but owls are quiet. Their feathers are designed for silence. That is how they can sneak up on their prey at night. They make almost no noise when they fly, but I was close enough that I really heard the whoosh of its wings as it passed me. It flew up into a tree above me and I got to watch it for a while.
It flew off again and then again, back the way I needed to go. I walked back and had another great look at it. “You are an amazing creature,” I told it, and I was not fibbing a bit. After a few minutes I left it in peace, in the silent gray woods.