It’s almost impossible to sneak up on an owl.
No, really. Their eyesight is near the top of the charts. Their vision is better than ours during the day, and there’s that whole night vision thing they’ve got going for them.
Their hearing? Well, their hearing is enough to make one wonder why we even have charts. They don’t need to see their prey in order to capture it — the sound of a rustle in the grass or even the beating of an excited heart is more than enough for them to locate their next meal.
Owls don’t typically have much of a sense of smell, so that works in the favor of any would-be sneaker, but that’s about it.
All of that said, I recently found myself wishing I could sneak up on an owl.
An owl who was awaiting my arrival.
A hungry owl — an apex predator — who was waiting for me.
Okay, really, I just needed to feed Max.
I’ve written before about the volunteer work I do with the RISE Raptor Project here in north Alabama. We’re a small stewardship and conservation education organization that works with birds of prey to communicate our message to the public.
Those birds have to eat, and it was my turn to feed them. Max’s food, though, was still frozen, so my presence — which should have meant dinner was about to be served — didn’t really mean a meal was imminent. That’s why I wished I could bring my car up a gravel driveway, turn off the engine, shut the door, unlock and open the building he stays in, thaw his food, and go into his enclosure, all without him knowing I was there. As if.
He knew I was there.
Did he let me know he knew? Yes.
Did I thaw his dinner as fast as I could? Yes.
He gave me grief in the form of an impatient squawk until I finally fed him some 20 minutes later, but he did eventually get his well-thawed meal.
Did he shower me with thanks afterward?
Well, no, not really. He was quieter, though. I guess that counts.