Chapter 3 - Sushi gets Identified
It was very difficult not to pet
Sushi. The bird was never allowed to perch on a shoulder, and was only handled
perched on a glove when he had to be moved. This was not a pet. This was to be a
wild bird. In the meantime, while Sushi was still a helpless baby, (a brancher),
he had to go everywhere with us.
At sunrise every morning, Sushi went
to work with us at our upholstery shop. There he would sleep the day away
in-between frequent feedings of live minnows and canned catfood. In no time
Sushi could expertly eat catfood out of a spoon. All of our employees would take
turns feeding him. He was always hungry.
In between his naps, Sushi would hop
up on the edge of his big basket on the countertop, and there he would sit,
watching everyone with that funny circular head motion. He was an unusually
quiet bird, as long as he had a full tummy.
The silver ball of fluff began taking
on color. Now there were distinct, beautiful, striking, barred feathers popping
out of the down. The new feathers were quite lovely, but the bird was still ugly
because he was molting.
By now, we were sure this was an owl,
but a brown-eyed owl? His eyes had remained the color of dark chocolate with big
black pupils. The eyes were mesmerizing. Sushi didn't mind staring directly at
you for hours. It is unnerving to gaze into the eyes of an unblinking owl. It
seems as if you could look right through to another world if you stared long
enough into those deep, dark pools.
Once Sushi's feathers came into full
bloom, we were finally able to identify him through pictures on
The Owl Pages. Sushi was
one of only a few brown-eyed owls in Florida. Sushi was a
Barred Owl, species Strix
varia. Also known as the Swamp Owl. No wonder he was so happy in our
back yard. It was the perfect habitat.
As I researched owls, I was struck by
the superstitions, fear and folklore surrounding these birds. On one hand they
are considered as representing great wisdom, helpfulness and having the gift of
prophecy. On the other hand, they were considered evil harbingers of death,
destruction and ill omen.
It was hard to believe that our
charming little owlet had once been hated, feared, killed, and even eaten over a
lot of superstitious nonsense. If Sushi was a messenger of ill omen, it was
because he arrived shortly before September 11th 2001. But, he was also a source
of many hours of entertainment and enjoyment for a lot of people, both old and
"The custom of nailing owls to
barn doors to ward off evil and lightening persisted into the 19th Century in
England" - Man, Myth & Magic
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