My Encounter with a Great Horned Owl

Owls are one of the most fascinating bird in nature.  A majority of the species of owl are primarily nocturnal hunters, best known for their ability to see prey in the dark.  However, if you have ever trekked through the woods after dark and heard one, you might have been touched by a sense of the chills.  Their hoots can be heard for miles, and trying to isolate their location in the pitch black is near impossible.

Known for their ability to see prey movement in complete darkness, owls are incredible hunters.  They also have an acute hearing which enables

The Great Horned Owl

The Great Horned Owl

them to find prey even when they are hidden beneath a layer of snow or leaves.  Barn owls in particular have been known to catch a vole beneath a layer of straw in an open field entirely be listening to sound.

The memorable moment I can remember when I was hiking as a young boy involved an incident with an owl.  I was hiking in Arizona with my boy scout troop, and following a trail.  For a time on a section of trail I had drifted behind the group ahead of me, and was still a few hundred yards ahead of the group behind me.  During this time when I was alone on the trail, I turned a corner of the trail through this wooded area that suddenly overlooked a small canyon where there was a river below.

I had paused for a moment to take in the view, and suddenly an enormous bird took flight before me and is soared ever so silently over the small expanse of the canyon disappearing into a thick outcropping of trees.  It was a great horned owl, and I was struck by its majesty and silent movement, as well as its breath taking size and features.  I had never before seen an owl, and this being my first experience in the wild witnessing one I was awestruck.

That moment has been etched in my mind for year ever since.   It was one of those unforgettable moments in nature that I hoped to repeat, but to date I never have seen another of that size in the wild despite my many hours of hiking.

In native American culture, the owl as a spirit guide has many meanings.  It offers the ability to see beyond deceit, embrace wisdom and he can also be an announcer of death or a symbolic of a transition in life.  It is a powerful spirit animal offering intuition and the ability to see where others cannot see.  It is a powerful totem.

In my life, since my encounter in the woods with one so very long ago, I have always considered the owl to be not only a majestic bird, but symbolic of grace and beauty in nature.

photo credit: Sleepless in Somerset via photopin cc