Chapter 8 - The Fledgling
Sushi was now more than a month old.
The owl was weaned. He had graduated from an eye dropper, to a spoon, to a dish
of food and the ability to catch live minnows swimming in a low flat dish of
water. He was still small... so we put him in a second story outdoor porch, with
screened and glassed in windows, as well as a tile floor.
The owl could make a serious mess.
The porch was an easy clean situation. We made him a special tree branch perch
up high on the porch. He could look out from the windows and watch other birds.
Sushi seemed to enjoy the nature around him, feeling the cool breeze and
listening to sounds of nature. The owl was free to fly, or waddle about the
Steve and I went to work every day
now without Sushi. Fresh catfood would be left in a bowl, and he had a huge flat
dish full of water and live minnows. The fledgling would spend hours wading in
the bowl, trying to catch the minnows. Sometimes, he would forget this was his
lunch and take a bath in the bowl, knocking squirming minnows everywhere on the
floor...where he would have to chase them.
Now that Sushi was "fledged", he
began acting very much like an adolescent. He didn't like to get in his basket
anymore. He barely fit in the basket, but it was the only way we were
comfortable transporting him. We never physically picked him up and forced him
to do anything. It was his choice. Occasionally, he would get in the basket.
We were only able to take him out to
Sushi's tree a few more times. Since Sushi could now make short flights, poor
Steve had to climb trees more than once to retrieve him. When Steve had to climb
trees to get the owl, he would give me that LOOK. The LOOK that says... "I wonder
how much a divorce would cost me?" But, he didn't say anything.
It was during this time that other birds began to attack poor little Sushi. All
birds hate owls. Owls are a predator. Owls steal their young. Many full grown
birds will attack an owl, and band together to harass an owl out of their
As Sushi grew, he began to draw the
attention of the wild birds. Now, when Sushi was in Sushi's tree, the birds
would gather. The first bird to spot Sushi would shrill a loud warning. The
trees would fill up with birds of all species, calling back and forth to each
other. The brave ones, usually the bigger birds like Cardinals, Blue Jays or
Mockingbirds, would come in for a closer look. All the birds fascinated the owl.
One of the last times we had Sushi
out, perched in Sushi's tree, a large, male Blue Jay swooped down behind the
owlet, and gave him a nasty peck on the back of the head!
This time Sushi made a sound we had never heard before. He started crying... ."ohhhhhhweai!"...
"ohhhhhhweai!" The little owl fluttered out of his tree and landed on the arm of
my chair. Strangely, the fledgling laid his head on my arm and continued with
the little crying sounds. It was the only time the owl ever touched me. How
difficult it was not to pet him and comfort him.
Sushi didn't understand why the big
bird pecked him. He didn't understand pain, because he never had any. But, I
knew in my foster mom's heart that the little owl was in for a lot of attacks,
and I wouldn't be there to help him. He had to learn this lesson on his own. I
spoke softly to him about the mean old bird and he calmed down, but didn't go
back to his tree. He stayed close to me all afternoon... garbling at me about his
Soon, the trips to the houseboat
ceased altogether. We couldn't retrieve Sushi, and he was too young and small to
make it alone, yet.
We would be gone all day, and
sometimes into the night, at work. Sushi was alone on the porch most of the
time. He had plenty of food and water. But, he started pitching "owl fits." The
bird was furious that we left him alone so much, and his outdoor trips had
Sushi would either screech loudly at
us when we came home, or turn his back on us, refusing to speak (garble), or
acknowledge our presence. Occasionally, he would refuse to eat. The owl was
acting like a spoiled teenager who doesn't get his way.
Sushi was miserable. We were miserable. It was time for another change.
"An old-time society of the Sioux was
called The Owl Lodge. This society believed that nature forces would favor those
who wore owl feathers and, as a result, their vision would
become increased." - The Owl Pages - Owls in Lore and Culture
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