Monday, September 12, 2011

Legend of the Guardian

Living in the country offers our family many opportunities to view wildlife.  Deer, pheasants, fox and coyote are the most common, and for some reason skunks and snakes seemed to be populous this year.  They made my daily running routes interesting, well, actually stinky and freaky (I'm terrified of snakes!).  

Anyway, last week, we were given a rare treat when Steve's dad pulled up the driveway with a "surprise" in the back of his pick-up.  "Hallelujah!" I says to myself (in my inner Southern voice - don't judge, you know you have one too!), knowing that whenever Grandpa has something to show us, it's usually fun and educational.  
Oh, the blessing of spontaneity, excitement and enthusiasm in a school day.  And, blessed be the teacher when she doesn't have to plan, or search creative web-pages at midnight only to admit that she doesn't have enough of the "stuff" needed to make the perfect craft or she lies awake in bed at night straining the noggin' in hopes of light bulbs, flickers, flares, or flashes of inspiration. Blessed be the teacher who lives close to Grandpa Bob.  That's me - yippee!!

So, skipping out the door, baby in arms, camera on neck, bagel in mouth, spit up on shoulder, I found that this was the surprise.... 
In the early morning hours of work, two of the hired men discovered a nest of baby barn owls taking refuge underneath a hay tarp, and managed to coax one into the back of the pick-up.  This little guy doesn't exactly look like a baby, but despite all appearances, he wasn't technically ready to leave the nest.  (I mean, let's face it, we're all babies until we leave the nest.) His wings were just shy of being fully developed for flight. And check out those baby fine feathers swirling around on top of his head. So cute!
We were in awe of such a wild, tenacious creature.  He definitely knew he was in a foreign land, amongst foreign faces.  Giving no hint of intimidation, he stood alert, ready for action.  
To show the boys just how dangerous an owl can be, Bob teased him with his hat, and the little guy instinctively fell into pounce position.  
In fact, he hissed and screeched at the "enemy" with as much ferocity as one baby barn owl can muster.

Then, the kids hissed and screeched back.  And, that's what we humans do, we moo at cows, bark at dogs, and screech at owls.  Don't think so?  The next time you're at the zoo, just casually observe the fellow attendees. I don't know why we do this, but we do.  Here's proof:
Baby barn owl screeches, kids screech.  And back and forth, yada, yada.
Not wanting to shirk my teacherly duties, I felt compelled to demonstrate some knowledge of avian wild life.  So, I simply translated the owl's behavior to my kids (imagine the Planet Earth narrator-type voice here):
"Back off homo sapiens or I shall be forced to demonstrate the power of the claw!"
And, demonstrate he did! Right on cue. The owl and I were in sync.  How I love cooperation! He was such a show off -  a lot of fowl fitness and ferociousness going on here. Someone call Animal Planet.

Before we could blink he snatched the hat into his talons, and we all took a quick step back.

The one on the left may be permanently owl-o-phobic after that maneuver.  
I love this pic.  It looks like he's protecting the Diet A & W.  At that moment I began contemplating adopting and training him to strategically guard a few of my things, namely chocolate, I-Pod and scissors.  I can never find my scissors.

Finally, we all agreed that our new-found "friend" so wonderfully reminded us of the incredible and memorable characters in the movie Legend of the Guardians, the Owls of Ga'Hoole.  Our family loved the movie so much.  I would not recommend it for very young viewers, because although the movie is beautifully animated, some of the scenes are very dramatic and intense (not inappropriate, however).  If you have boys, they will especially enjoy it, and it offers many topics to discuss with your kids, namely the virtues of courage, loyalty, sacrifice and the value of family.  Clicking on the link will take you to Focus on the Family's Plugged In resource which contains a quality review of the movie.

If you get a chance to see it, let me know what you think!

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