The owlets are getting ready to fledge.
The owlets are now about 21 days old. They look like tiny ostriches when they stretch their necks and heads up and rotate their faces. Staring straight into the camera, they do not know they are being watched. The owl box is the only world they know, with its cedar shavings and scattered feathers.
It is a noisy morning in the backyard this first day of April, this Easter Sunday - doves cooing, grackles whistling and bluejays squawking. Wednesday’s rain has left the ground soft and revived the grass. A grackle perches on the sunflower seed feeder; he shimmies down the cage and pokes his long black beak in between the grate squares, black feathers shiny in morning light.
I look at the empty entrance of the owl box and feel only sadness, mostly for the male owl. There is still time for him to find another mate, but disappointment weights on me right now. I have not heard him during the night and can’t find him roosting in the wax leaf ligustrums.
December is an in-between time here, not fall and not winter. Autumn lingers, its golden mornings stretching through December. Here and there, a sudden cold front snaps us all to attention, freezing plants forgotten outside and reminding us to dig out warm coats and boots.