A fictional (but fairly accurate) short story about a day in the life of a Northern White-Faced Scops Owl.
A Day In The Life Of A Scops Owl
Crickets chirped loudly throughout the soft brush of the savannah. Hidden in the brush, but sat on a low branch in a tamboti tree was a messy nest that had been abandoned long before by the bird that had built it. A new resident had begun to live there. Within the nest slept a beautiful owl with fluffy feathers that covered its body. The bird had feathery tufts that stood up and looked quite a bit like the ears of a cat and a snow white face lined with black war paint.
The rest of its body was mostly gray with white and pale gray under-feathers. The back of its body was marked with thin, black lines. Its beak was curved and a very light shade of yellow with soft, white whiskers sticking out around it. The owl was fairly short and round, so much so that it almost looked like an oval. This particular owl was slightly larger than other owls of her species, which was the only thing that marked it as a female Northern White-Faced Scops Owl.
Bright orange eyes opened slowly and the owl's ear tufts stood straight up to show that she was alert. Her head turned every which way and her eyes scanned the distance for any sign of a predator. When she saw no danger her ear tufts relaxed slightly and she turned to look at the ground below her nest. She could see that a little ways away was a small mouse scurrying around to find a late meal. She could easily swoop in and the mouse wouldn't stand a chance, but…. Scops owls were lazy.
She'd wait. The mouse would come to her eventually-- which it did. As soon as the mouse was right below her nest her wings spread and she brought her clawed feet up as she dropped onto the mouse. He wings silently moved up and down to keep her from landing too hard on the ground. The mouse had never expected her. She had made no noise until she hit the ground and crushed the mouse in her talons. With that, she had her meal and flew back up into her tree.
She had flown to a branch higher than the one that her stolen nest resided on. Her big, orange orbs scanned the distance for any sign of danger or her mate. When she saw nothing she began to call for him with a high and weak, "po-prooh~" She repeated her call multiple times. After each call, she waited a few seconds to see if her call would be returned. A soft noise, almost like a cat's purr emits from the owl. Her eyes are narrowed and her feathers puff out to make her annoyance clear.
When it becomes obvious that her mate will not be returning to the nest anytime soon, she busies herself with preening and watching for danger. As she is working her feathers into their proper places with her beak she hears a rustle in some brush nearby. Her ear tufts shot up and her eyes locked onto the brush. The face of a meerkat poked out and a squeaky growl began to emit from her throat. Her feathers spread out like a turkey's and she leaned down and stared at the smaller predator. She continued to growl as she made herself look as big as she possibly could-- which was almost three times her usual size of ten inches. Her feathers stuck up and ruined all the hard work she had done to put them back in place.
Eventually, the meerkat was scared off and with an annoyed purr the orange-eyed beauty went back to preening and fixed all of the feathers that had been messed up in the exchange with the other predator. It took her a few hours, but she eventually decided that she would be presentable if her mate returned. She looked down at her nest and hopped back down to lay over her three shiny, white eggs.
They were fairly small and the larger nest left a bit of room for them to roll around, but their mother had them situated so that they would stay in place. The gorgeous owl laid in the nest while keeping her ear tufts stuck up and her eyes trained on the open area surrounding their tree. Every so often the annoyed purr would escape her, as her mate had not returned and it was supposed to be her night to hunt and he was to care for the eggs, but it seemed that that wouldn't happen.
Hours passed and the Scops Owl had had a few more meals of mice that had ended up beneath her nest when she was called to alertness once again. A harsh caw echoed through the air with a distinct, "kak, kak, kak". Her eyes found the source of the sound in the distance immediately.
She recognized the Peregrine Falcon was flying in her direction and knew that she must hide before it saw her and she became the larger bird's next meal. She stood over her eggs to hide them from sight and instead of puffing her feathers out she pulled them in tightly into her body and pulled a wing over her chest and stomach to hide the lighter colored feathers there. She stood up straighter to make her body look stretched out and she narrowed her eyes as much as she could so as to hide the bright orange color that would be spotted by the predatory bird immediately.
She held her position and watched the falcon scrupulously. A person would think that she was trying to scare the larger bird away, because of how monstrous and scary the bird would look against a background that she would easily stick out against, and with the fact that she looked like a stereotypical villain or Count Dracula, but that's not the case.
She was trying to hide. Against the tree and her nest, she looked just like another tree branch and she could blend in easily with a tree stump.
The Scops Owl watched as the falcon looked at her tree, but when it didn't see anything out of the ordinary it turned and flew in a different direction to look for food. After she was completely certain that the falcon was gone and that there were no other threats that she needed to protect herself and her babies from, she blinked her eyes open again and let her feather out and her wing fell back to her side. Her beak opened slowly as she yawned and the rising sun shined against her eyes. She laid back down slowly and let her eyes closed and fell into a blissful sleep as she felt the heat of her smaller mate press against her and with a soft and low, "to-whit-to-wheet" he fell asleep against her.