Whoo-oo’s in the Net?

by Glenda Newswanger | Dec 9, 2021 | 0 comments

Eastern Screech-Owl caught in volleyball net
Eastern Screech-Owl. Photo © Glenda Newswanger.

Sammy Screech-Owl glided on silent wings through the dark night. His stomach growled in anticipation of a fresh meal. His sharp ears caught the muffled scratching of mice beneath a stack of firewood.

No hope there, for now. Sammy flew on past a henhouse, then circled back to the woodpile. There! One mouse had ventured into the open to feast on the grass seed heads from the waving stems beside a sandbox.

Sammy put on more speed, aiming for the unsuspecting mouse, when something stopped him in midair. Using his hooked beak and sharp claws, Sammy frantically tried to loosen himself, but his struggles only produced greater entrapment.

An hour later, totally exhausted, Sammy gave up the fight. The unyielding strands of the net hadn’t given an inch. Sammy wrapped his claws around the band under him and settled down to sleep.

Dawn was slowly creeping over the land. Sammy jerked awake when hands gently cradled his body and tried pulling him off the net. Sammy tightened his grip, hanging on for all he was worth. Slowly the fingers probed around his neck. They pried his claws off the binding on the net.

This was terrifying. Sammy had never been this close to any human before. He started fighting again, using his beak to defend himself.

The people paid no attention to his snapping beak. They turned him this way and that way, right side up and upside down. At every opportunity, Sammy grabbed the netting with his claws, but each time his claws were pried loose.

Then Sammy realized the rope around his neck felt looser, and soon he was pulled free of the net, cradled carefully in those gentle hands. He found himself being passed from one pair of hands to the next and being exclaimed over. At long last he was carried into the woods and placed on a tree limb. Ah! Freedom!

Sammy wasted no time sitting around. He spread his wings and headed straight for home, ignoring the excited and fearful cries of the daytime birds.

Landing on his home tree, Sammy settled down again to sleep. He gave a contented sigh and closed his eyes. He’d remember to stay away from that volleyball net after this.

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