Massive, magical, mythical wings beat silently through crisp winter air. I feel the atmosphere shift, even from within the house. Suddenly, a blurred flurry of motion. My eyes see what I had only sensed. A barred owl flaps past my window then glides upward with graceful lift, landing softly in our dormant Maple. Downy feathers fluff against the brisk chill, shrouding a pair of massive feet. The hard stare of two big, black eyes softens as they close, slowly. Mine are wide with wonder, consuming the majesty of this magnificent being napping before me.


Three times in a week, the owl returns, cozying up to our feeders for several hours before sunset. The head slowly turns. Facial feathers hone in, gathering sounds of scrambling squirrels and curious cardinals. Interest takes hold but the mood is fleeting, set adrift like a feather on a gentle breeze as sleep settles in.

With each visit, the owl lingers longer, closer, allowing me to open the window, to speak, to photograph. My unyeilding attention is ignored but for my disruption of dinner, when I startle a curious chipmunk back into his snowbank – on purpose.


More than an occasional guest, we name the owl Whistler, welcoming this wise, beautiful spirit to sit in our Maple, always. Whistler’s visits are a tremendous gift and the extension of our invitation is a gift in its own right.

We aren’t always so eager to accommodate.