Steve White’s Animaux

I had been told there was an owl around Villa Turbulenz, the building that housed me at the AIP. After the better part of a year, I hadn’t seen any though. There were lots of other nice birds in the trees outside the window, including Eichelhäher, that made an awful racket most of the summer.

I was watching these Eichelhäher one day, wondering what they were complaining about, and I saw there were four of them out there, screeching and hollering at one another, hopping around the branches like monkeys... what is that, I thought? A little feud? Then I noticed they were hopping about one area of the tree, where a branch was broken… and something moved on the other side of the branch… what was that? another jay? But… it didn’t move like the other jays.

During a similar performance the next day, I opened a window, and it looked right at me. Big black eyes, big brown flecks on white, and a white V on the brow. This is Waldkauz, the Tawny Owl.

I got several good looks at it with binoculars, and I got to see it fly. Also, I poked around under this branch, and found several owl pellets (but they looked rather old.)

I don’t know why the owl was active at all—I read that it’s almost completely nocturnal outside the breeding season. But the jays weren’t making a fuss about nothing: Waldkauz eats birds!