Squeaky noises emitted from the huge maple trees that shade our back yard. I knew early last week that it was the same sounds heard three years ago when two screech owls raised their tiny duo in the tree tops.
One parent appeared at dusk in recent weeks. My neighbor, Myrna, joined me on Friday night to watch the small owl glide between the branches, calling in muted tooo-tooo-tooo-toots. We saw a dead rodent dangle from its beak, and heard the delighted response of a little one as it received an evening meal.
Saturday afternoon the distressed cries of the baby drew me to the fence. It may have fallen from the protection of its nest. (I put up an owl box last year - but it was claimed early on by the rascally starlings.)
There it was - the baby--at the base of the 100 plus year old maple tree.
I ran for my camera and hoped that there were no cats, crows, or magpies also attracted by its distress.
When I returned, the fledgling was climbing the tree. I appointed myself photography and protector and stood by.
Several times it flapped wings - but always held tightly to the bark with its talons.
A curious magpie lighted nearby as the owlet rested from a hard-struggled 20 feet of trunk. The long tailed black and white birds have a reputation for stealing and eating eggs and fledglings.
My flailing arms distracted the hunter. As did my shrieking and yelling "YOU GO AWAY YOU NASTY OLD MAGPIE!" (Even though I know their babies have to eat, too.)
Suddenly, the parent owl swooped between trees and made its presence known.
The magpie retreated.
After dark I cooled off in the hammock by the pond.
Soon, the sounds of the owls discussing their nightly details echoed over the quiet music of our little waterfall. I was relieved.