Little Screech Owl and our Three-Legged Boxer
Would a Screech Owl go after a Big Dog?
I enjoyed a few exciting encounters this summer with a screech owl. My daughter did, too. The three family dogs in my daughter's household who wait all day for their midnight walks might not describe it quite this way, if they could talk, but to me it was exciting.
My daughter's dogs' names are Lily, Tika and Hansen. I've written about Hansen, the three-legged boxer Priscilla rescued. He's a hefty, muscular dog. Yet this little screech owl who waited and screeched at our arrival every evening seemed intent on grabbing Hansen by the back of the neck and flying away.
Let's give the little screech owl a name for the sake of brevity. I shall call him Lucas. I can only assume he was male because he was so aggressive. And I think he was motherless and rather confused.
Midnight Walks in Hot Arizona Summertime
On a hot Arizona night at midnight with the temperature at 101 degrees and the humidity, oddly, at 65, the brain isn't always working at top speed, but those were the impressions I imagined of the baby owl each night as we walked a mile-and-a-half with the family dogs to the neighborhood down the way -- at the edge of civilization. It is one of those neighborhoods on the southern fringe of Metro Phoenix which was being built in 2008 when the economy was teetering. Suddenly, finances started to fall away for many big developers and neighborhoods that were only half-finished, stayed unfinished. Along this particular half-finished development is a long, big greenbelt where the dogs can run through the sprinklers under the stars while most Arizonans are sleeping.
Each evening when we arrived, we walked briskly into the housing development and as we approached one of the streets which had houses on one side of the street and big, vacant properties on the other side, this little owl, Lucas, would come screeching over our heads and seem to hover immediately over Hansen's backside. Then Lucas would fly away, screeching, to go perch on the top of the nearest street sign.
A Strange Little Owl
Hansen may have been a bit perplexed the first time it happened, but he's a brave and positive-minded Boxer. He must have decided the little screech owl wanted to play, so he put on his 'Come and Get Me' posture. Hansen sits on his haunches, very straight and then leans just slightly to the right, tilting his head, saying in effect, "Come chase me and I'll run away so you can't!" Other dogs know right away what Hansen's body language is saying. But Lucas isn't a dog. He didn't fly after Hansen immediately and joyfully. He waited until Hansen gave up hoping for a game of tag and as we walked jauntily away, little Lucas came swooping over Hansen as though ready to attack, but then he dove away and flew into the darkness. This happened on several evenings.
Did the Little Owl think He Could Bring Down a Dog?
Lily barked a couple times at Lucas. Tika was on guard several times, too, as she is the leader of the pack.. Correction: Tika is the second leader of the pack -- Priscilla, my daughter, is the actual pack leader. But Lucas was undeterred by the dogs, undeterred by us humans and undeterred by our unsuccessful camera-flashing attempts.
I do have one photo of Lucas' shining eyes on the vacant lot. It's not a really impressive shot, so I will resist the urge to display it, but it does show that this feisty little owl would dare to land on a barren piece of property at munching-level of three dogs. I have several camera shots of the street sign in the dark with the elusive little owl perched on the sign. For some reason, the street name shines brightly, but the owl cannot be seen. So I've written this little hub to remember the excitement of those evenings.
Each night as we left the vicinity, we couldn't help but wonder if this little owl had lost its mother before being taught how to catch prey or how to measure what constitutes too big of a meal.
If you have any ideas or notions as to what this little owl was doing in trying to get close to Hansen, please share your thoughts. One theory of ours is that the owl was just curious about Hansen because Hansen doesn't have four legs. Could he possibly have thought this big strong dog was easy prey?
What in the World is the Owl Up To?
© 2012 Pamela Dapples