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Getting ready for next Wednesday, October 31, we’ve been giving our house a good dose of spookiness: carving Jack-o-lanterns and decorating our front porch with ghosts, gourds and ghouls. But we weren’t expecting the real life mysterious creature that came out of the dark night to give us a thrill last week.
On Thursday morning, Rick Maloney awoke to find a large owl trapped in his backyard. Rick raises bees, chickens, ducks and turkeys on his property in the Luxton Lake community. Apparently this great horned owl had swooped down in the night and chased a chicken into an enclosed area that used to be a honeybee apiary. After making a meal of the chicken, the owl could not find his way out. Come morning, he became the fascination of many Luxton Lake friends and family (including Rick’s six-month-old puppy, Queen).
Owls have been long associated with ghoulishness. The screech owl’s call is thought to sound like a witch’s cackle. Ancient Greeks believed that the gods gave the owl a magical inner light, allowing them to see in the dark. And Romans believed owls were harbingers of evil. An evil creature that hunts at night and sounds like a witch: it was inevitable that owls would become symbols of Halloween.
I, for one, have never seen an owl in the wild, so it’s was a treat to get a close look at this fascinating creature. The two prominent feathered tufts on their heads give the great horned owl the look of having ears or horns. Her eyes were large, yellow circles about the size of a nickel, always facing straight ahead. Owls can’t move their eyes side to side; they have to turn their head to look around. Her mottled golden-brown coloring perfectly matched the October landscape.
When we released her, I was amazed at how quietly she took flight. And despite her wide wingspan, she easily navigated the woods. I spotted what I believe was another great horned owl fly out of a nearby tree to follow her. Mated pairs are monogamous, and when you hear two owls hooting in the night they are likely defending their territory.
Lulu and Pedro took the story of the owl to share with their Kindergarten classes at the Homestead School. At their age, Halloween is less about being frightened and more about dressing up and getting candy. My cute cowgirl and spooky ghost will be on the Narrowsburg flats playground on Halloween night for a community trunk or treat. We went last year, and the kids had a great time running around playing games, collecting candy and gobbling up free pizza. Of course, there’s also traditional trick-or-treating throughout Narrowsburg that evening. On Friday, October 26 at 6 p.m., kids are invited to the Tusten-Cochecton Library (198 Bridge St.) for pumpkin decorating. Sign up at www.wsplonline.org.
Happy “Owl” ween everyone!