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Tree Child

Story by Ellen Ensley Created 2002-08-06
Page 11 of 19

Chapter 11 - Chicken Momma

Finally, the storm abated. Glorious Florida sunshine was sparkling off emerald wet leaves. That morning I ran outside in my nightie and bare feet calling Sushi. This time, I didn't have to go far. Sushi had left the forest, the houseboat, Sushi's tree and the marsh behind, and was waiting for me in a tree branch just outside the house. He had never ventured to the house before.

The owl was dripping wet, bedraggled, but very much alive, and very hungry. He was making pathetic garbling noises at me. "Gooobniaaane!" Leerrogogmer? Reeeinnnowe!!" I could have shinnied up the tree and hugged the owl. I was so happy to see him alive. Instead, I grabbed a live mouse out of the emergency mouse aquarium in the greenhouse and simply tossed it on the ground below him.
Sushi made a graceful swoop and perfect landing on his breakfast. This process was repeated several times. The owl had been perfecting his flying and landing technique in the wild. It was quite impressive. He was elegant and awesome in the air.

Unfortunately, still convinced Sushi had not been able to feed himself in the wild, I turned chicken. No matter how I had promised myself that the owl would stay in the wild, while he was still hungry I lured him back into his pen with a mouse, where I locked the door on him. At least now I knew he was out of the weather, and had food.
When I called Steve out to show him the owl was back, he gave me that LOOK. The LOOK that says that says, "I knew she couldn't do it." But, he didn't say anything. Steve just shook his head. But, I saw the relief in his eyes upon seeing the owl alive.

It was "meals on wheels" again for the owl. Back and forth from the shop, to the pet store, to the bait shop. But, Sushi was "safe." That's all that mattered to me at the time.

One afternoon, returning from work, I walked up to Sushi's pen and didn't see the familiar silhouette sitting on the tree perch. The door was still locked. There were no holes in the screen. As I began to panic and run around the yard calling "S O O O S H I!!", I heard that familiar little garble and owl chuckle.
Somehow, Sushi had squeezed himself through a little open space in the roof of the chicken house, and was roosting with the chickens inside their pen! That was the last place I would have looked for him.

I rushed across the yard to the pen, expecting to see dead chickens everywhere. Instead, the chickens were milling around on the ground below the now full grown owl... ignoring him. One brave chicken was actually on the roost, way over on the other side, eyeballing this strange visitor. These birds had lived side by side for so long, separated only by chicken wire, they were quite comfortable together.
Besides, Sushi had no idea there was a walking smorgasbord at his feet. How was he supposed to know this was food?

Steve had a good laugh when he got home and saw the owl in the chicken coop. There was quite a wrestling match trying to get Sushi out of the chicken pen and back into his own pen. He liked it there with the chickens. The hole in the roof between the two pens was fixed, and everything went back to normal. As least as normal as things can be with an owl in residence.

"The owl's reputation as a bird of wisdom may have arisen through its association with Athene, the goddess of counsel." - E.A. Armstrong - The Folklore of Birds

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