Scrolling through Instagram on Friday afternoon, a baby bird looked at me through the phone. I was surprised to see that this wasn't taken with a telephoto lens, but on my dad's android. In the caption I learned that a baby owl had fallen from my parent's willow tree in their backyard.
They called the wildlife rescue who instructed them to tie a laundry basket to the tree, fill it with pine straw, and place the scared bird in it's new nest. My dad told me that he would put a ladder up so I could see it when I came over on Sunday.
When I got there, my dad placed me a couple feet from the tree, telling me the path that the mother flew last time he went up the ladder. Poised with my camera pointed at the tufts of feathers peaking above the handles of the laundry basket, I waited.
With a quiet but deep rush of air, the great horned owl flew from her nest.
As it flew, I could feel the power of its wings.
Once the mother was out of site, I walked up the ladder and peered into the nest. The baby kept her eyes on me as I looked through the slats of the basket.
I saw its clear eyelid close before blinking. It's talons were almost as long as its wings. The wind ruffled its down as it seemed to shiver. I reached my hand in and lightly touched its feathers.
After climbing down and going back inside, we waited for the mother to come back. We looked at her through binoculars as she hopped between branches swiveling her head. We watched with amazement at every movement until she jumped back into the nest, her tufted ears still poking out.