Owls seem to have landed themselves a fashion moment. Perhaps it is the current enthusiasm for all things Scandinavian or an interest in the natural world but their images abound – fabric for clothes and furnishings, tableware, tea-towels and jewelry. But they have not often been as popular. Their eerie nocturnal cries have induced shivers of fear and artists have created impressions of them to depict deeds of darkness and horror over the centuries. They have also been inextricably linked with wisdom – perhaps because of their silent, fleeting shadows through a candlelit night and their reclusive nature by day. Is it this perceived wisdom that generated the group term 'A Parliament of Owls'? But how often are they seen in a group?
I have thought of owls as solitary creatures, a glimpse of their wings in the headlights or flitting from a tree, but I learned recently that their cal,l 'To whit - To whoo' is in fact a conversation. Apparently one (perhaps the female but reports contradict) calls out and their mate answers. This is thought to keep them in contact, denoting territory or good hunting areass, but those are probably only speculation. Lying in bed the other night listening to the owls I was actually eavesdropping on a conversation.
If the much reported hoot of an owl is two way communication, how often do we jump to conclusions about what we hear without realising that, instead of a concise comment we are in fact tuning in to part of a conversation with contributions from different speakers. The wisdom to glean from owls may be to listen to all the contributors to the conversation before pouncing on our prey!
Owls - the feathered ones - are also incredibly camera shy and have eluded me to date!