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Small Wonders: A miracle burrows into their hearts

February 15, 2013|By Patrick Caneday
  • A Burrowing Owl.
A Burrowing Owl. (Photo courtesy…)

Three miracles happen each day: the sunrise, the sunset and a third you need to discover in between. Each day offers the chance to see something rare and beautiful. Usually, you have to seek it out. But sometimes, if you are lucky, it visits you.

I'm no bird watcher. Yet I've written in this column about herons and mallards in the L.A. River, emerald parrots making cacophony overhead and omen-inducing ebony crows on the street in front of my home. Even a myna bird from some real or imagined childhood memory.

I don't have a particular fascination with our feathered friends, save my hatred of their using my truck as a toilet. But on rare occasion, they do capture my attention. The latest avian emissary to do so is somewhat of a find I'm told.

An owl.

Old? Maybe. Wise? Perhaps. Lost? Very likely.

A burrowing owl to be specific, unlike the barn owl or great horned owl which would be more common in these parts.


The Wife saw it first, but we didn't believe her. And she only half-believed herself. But she knew there was something very different about this bird, so unlike any you'd expect to see in our urban wonderland.

Yet, when our girls opened the blinds in their room one recent morning, there, in the lower branches of the communal lemon tree in our neighbor's yard, he sat. Or perched. Or roosted. Whatever.

Sprightly in stature, but dignified and peaceful. An up-close look tells why owls have some perceived wisdom. He (and I assign the masculine with no preference or knowledge either way) gazed in upon those of us who were entrapped in our own exhibit with a passing, learned curiosity. The Polar Bears, he must have thought, will be far more interesting.

With the Wife's vision and sanity momentarily confirmed, they set to naming our diminutive visitor, choosing Hedwig — of Harry Potter fame — over my suggestion of Hootie. Probably best since we have no blowfish.

I've never given owls much thought. But I've also never seen one in the daytime, and not one as unique as this outside a zoo. Higher authorities confirmed our Google Image assessment that our now-daily lemon tree tenant was indeed a burrowing owl. As well as its rarity in these parts.

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