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Watching Over Me

June 27, 2024

Watching Over Me

- as seen by -

Stacy Ratel Stacy Ratel

As I crouched beneath the sprawling branches of a magnificent maple tree, camera in hand, I felt a rush of excitement. There, on a single sturdy limb, sat an owl family of three. The gray eastern screech owl (Megascops asio) father was perched to the left, his vigilant eyes scanning the surroundings. Beside him, a fluffy owlet nestled close to its red-morph eastern screech owl mother (above).

The youngster, still clumsy with its nine weeks of life, had not yet mastered the art of flight. Instead, it dug its tiny talons into the bark of the tree, wobbling up to the first sturdy limb. This determined little creature was a bundle of curiosity and energy, constantly exploring its immediate world.

The owlet’s wide eyes, set into its red facial disc that is still evolving, seemed to take in everything at once, a mix of wonder and confusion. When it noticed me, its head bobbed and swayed in an attempt to change its field of view, a behavior known as motion parallax, perhaps trying to figure out what I was. Then, the young owl turned its attention back to its mother that tended to her prize by preening its neck feathers.

Being so close to this interaction filled me with an overwhelming sense of privilege and gratitude. Each snap of the shutter of my camera captured not just an image but a fleeting moment of natural beauty. I hope to see this owlet grow and eventually fledge, but I also understand that one day I might return to find the tree limb empty.

Each moment spent with nature is a reminder of the delicate balance of life and the beauty that surrounds us if we only take the time to look.

Canon R5 with 100-500 lens and 1.4 extender

, US Map It


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