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Lorrie, Ashton, ON

As a resident of Eastern Ontario I have been blessed with many visits from a wide-range of wildlife, right in my own back yard, but this winter brought two unusual surprises.

During the cold, snowy months I like to sprinkle seed along the banister of our backyard deck for small birds to feast on and throughout the day observe them through the glass of our patio door. One day as I glanced outside, I did, indeed, see birds, but not the little fluttery fellows I was accustomed to. What greeted me, instead, was a gathering of gangly wild turkeys! My movements startled them and they dispersed in a flurry of feathers and throaty gawks (making me jump as well), but that didn’t discourage them from returning. (Or me from checking them out again. I learned to approach the door more cautiously after that.)

Throughout most of the winter, these comical creatures made regular visits to my deck, pecking eagerly at whatever leftovers they could salvage. Sometimes they got lucky and showed up just after I’d replenished the supply, a veritable feast that they consumed in no time, but I (if not the little birds) was delighted by their visits.

The second surprise resulted from performing a similar task.

I have a bird feeder attached to our dining room window and can easily re-fill it from inside. We have crank windows that open vertically and one day as I leaned out to top up the seed, something from below caught my attention. Looking down I noticed a reddish-brown figure perched on the lip of the basement window well. It took a second for me to realize that it was a bird, and when I did, I started talking to it. There was no response at first, but after a few more coos of Hey you, how ya doin’? Are you okay? its head turned a little to one side, then slowly rotated upward and I was greeted by a pair of sleepy, soulful eyes that looked directly into mine. Oh my gosh! I was staring into the adorable little face of a saw-whet owl!

Thinking it was injured I donned a pair of gloves and went outside to tend to it. It allowed me to get quite close (I later learned that this is not uncommon) as I moved cautiously toward it, but after a certain point the lazy-eyed expression instantly morphed into wide-eyed mistrust and it flew into the trees nearby. At least it wasn’t injured.

I went back inside and sat at the window to study it. I had a great view. The little owl stayed in the same tree for about fifteen minutes before something caught its attention and it took flight. I was delighted because it returned to the basement window and I hurried downstairs to get a closer look.

The little fellow (or gal) remained as a guest outside our residence for three days, coming and going as it felt the need. I have a feeling that the window well harboured a juicy tidbit because at one point, while filling the window feeder again, I looked down and noticed the owl was eating something. Trekking to the basement for closer examination I noticed a rodent clutched in the bird’s talons.

Oh, how I wish I’d had a digital camera . . . or even film for the old 35mm I own . . . but these birds really did visit and I’m so fortunate to live where I do!

Ashton, Ontario