Mini Trip Diaries: This One Is a Hoot (Yeah, There Are Owls)

Yesterday, I was looking like a damn Gryffindor with my comfy burgundy cardigan, turtleneck, and round glasses…

Oh, and a HUGE freaking owl.

Is it a crime to accidentally enjoy my Christmas present for my brother more than my brother? Sorry, but these creatures are incredible. Up close, this was the most beautiful bird I have ever seen (and the screech owl was one of the most adorable things I have ever seen). When I was little, my father took me to some kind of renaissance fair or wild flea market where I felt in love with a tiny screech owl. This desire to have one in my life fought the urge to cry that any one would have them as a pet-keeping them from flying free-within my little 5-year-old body. Quinn’s own love of animals and owls lead me to choose a gift that would help us get out of the house amidst winter blues and give him what I think is his first encounter with wild animals. I was grateful to see his special brand of subdued happiness on his face.

Despite being only a half hour long and taking place in a small room where we were simply told owl facts and met two of them, it snapped us both into the moment, and I teared up with gratitude and happiness at getting to be so close to such amazing, time-honored creatures. There was a little magic in the room-which I felt potently as the larger owl-a Milky Eagle flew right over my head multiple times. Due to the adaptation of frindged wings, their flight is relatively quiet. It felt like a brief, peaceful gust of wind and the presence of a mythological creature overhead.

Loving science and fantasy equally sure adds whimsy to one’s life…and meeting owls was a beautiful convergence of the two.

Note: I always do research on animal facilities and programs before participating. These owls were acquired by the zoo as the alternatives were determined to be dangerous or otherwise subpar. The screech owl, Pinecone, imprinted on humans at a young age after being born near them, and his frequent visits/living near human households put him at risk for injury and other dangers. His preference for being around people landed him at the Oregon Zoo, where they are attempting to rehabilitate. These owls are not on display at the zoo, and the Oregon Zoo is seriously revamping their facilities to better accommodate particular species.

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