I honestly don’t know why I do this job. Day after day they get me up, weigh me then bring me in here so I can show off how quietly I fly. Granted, they have the decency to turn the lights down – not off, because my species doesn’t often hunt in total darkness. Oh, we can do it alright, but it’s not our preferred way. We’re what they call crepuscular. Can you say that, children? Cre-pus-cu-lar. No. Thought not. What’s it mean? It means that in the wild, we hunt at dawn and dusk. That’s right, we prefer low light to no light.
This time of day, my wild cousins would be sleeping – except in the spring when they have to find food for the wife and kids and end up starting earlier and finishing later. Yes, it is hard work and no, we – or rather they, my wild cousins – don’t do it by choice. But it’s necessary to bring on the next generation.
What’s that? Is it easy to catch stuff? No. And let me explain why.
First off, there aren’t as many small animals as there should be. Something to do with farming or land use, I’m told. Secondly, and this is important, the little critters we catch for ourselves and our families don’t want to be caught and eaten. Now that might sound obvious to you, but imagine if you went into the supermarket and the sausages or pizzas disappeared down holes to get away from you – that’s if they’re not hidden already.
I’m glad you asked me that and I know that a lot of people believe it. Think about this, though. If we flew silently so the little critters didn’t hear us coming, how much would that help? How close do you think we’d have to be for them to hear the air over our wings? Pretty damned close, I’d say; and if we’re that close, there’d be nowhere to run. No. We use hearing to find our food. The little fellahs scamper around, often in long grass, and although their heat trace will give us a clue that’s just to get us started. Did you know we close our eyes during the last part of the hunt? Well, we do. It stops them from being injured if the little guys fight back or if the grass is sharp and so on. We need to hear any slight movement. If we didn’t fly silent, the tiny sounds wouldn’t get through the wind over our wings.
You’re very kind. Thank you. Don’t feel sorry for me, though. The wife and I have food brought to us every day, we have safe shelter from bad weather, and no predators – and if we get the sniffles a vet looks at us. Yeah; I sometimes wonder what it’d be be like to be wild and free, but…
I’m afraid that’s not true. Birds of prey don’t fly for fun. In fact, they only fly for food and to escape from danger, to defend territory, to find a mate – oh, and some migrate. But never for fun.
Anyway. It’s been great talking with you, but I have to get ready for the next lot. Meanwhile, Ill leave you with a little limerick I wrote:
When owls go out in the dark
Don’t think that it’s just for a lark
It gets kind of rough
To find and kill stuff
It sure ain’t a walk in the park.
This was written in response to Kreative Kue 286 published on this site.