This last week I've visited Rosetta McLain Gardens five times, checking the progress on the fledging of four screech owlets.
The park is full of photographers with long lenses, all eager to capture the birds' image. The people on the ground cluster together and point while there is a soft whirr of shutters clicking when the owls shift position.
My first visit I nabbed a fledgling with my camera phone. The fuzzy image didn't do the creature any justice, although it does capture a preternatural vibe.
There was nothing spooky about the sightings. The owlets were simply adorable with their fluffed up feathers. I watched one in the nest sticking one big foot out of the knothole, stretching it's toes, and then testing the other foot, but I didn't see it make it's first flight.
The owlets have all fledged now and are branching - testing their wings on short distances, hopping branch to branch. The adults will feed the young meals of mice and small birds until they learn to hunt. The silence of the night would be broken by the sound of other birds defending their nests and the adult owls calling to each other with their soft warbles. Humans whispered.
In twilight, the owls become more active, but they are even harder to locate. Penny was great at spotting them all up in the branches. The long lenses all clustered in a different direction, we were able to marvel in another corner of the park. Eventually the photographers picked up their sticks and followed us. The owls don't seem to mind the humans; they must think us a curious species.