I met Bubo (Bubo Capensis) during an evening stroll and was happy when I realized he wasn’t scared of me. He didn’t even seem to think of flying away. He sat on his branch, orange eyes taking me in, as well as his surroundings, while the wind was playing in his ear tufts. He looked straight through me, as if he just knew.
Watching him for a while made me realize (again!) that it is no surprise that people of all – or at least most – cultures have always been captivated by owls:
Symbol of wisdom for the ancient Greek, wizard’s mate in parts of Africa, harbinger of death in certain areas of the Americas and messenger of the gods and divine ancestors in Asia; ‘Owl’ is Winnie the Pooh’s wise friend, ‘Hedwig’ Harry Potter’s trusted companion, and ‘I heard the Owl call my Name’ by Margaret Craven was a New York Times bestseller.
Cape Eagle Owls are monogamous, call in duet and sometimes like sunbathing in the early morning. They eat mostly small mammals, including bats, but also small lizards, insects and crabs. Like many other species of owl, they are able to fly in effective silence, their unique wing and feather design suppressing all sound that lies within the range humans, and apparently most of their prey, can hear. Recently, scientists have been researching the owl’s flight mechanisms and wing design to improve human-made aerodynamic design.
A wise old owl sat in an oak,
The more he heard the less he spoke
The less he spoke the more he heard
Why aren’t we all like that wise old bird?
Ever since writing “Healing Rhinos and Other Souls”, I’ve been fascinated by owls. Many a night they accompanied my late writing sessions with their calls, some near, some in the distance. And to this day they remind me of Walter, who always maintained that he could chat to them.
“Walter had a special relationship with owls all his life, and the night after he died, the eagle owl in the terminalia tree outside his house in Vaalwater called incessantly, until the early hours of the next morning.” – Healing Rhinos and Other Souls, p298